Friday, March 22, 2013

Corner Coffeeshop to Gourmet Gastrobar

Katong is slowly becoming gentrified.  Humble coffeeshops are giving way to gastrobars, restaurants, cafes, all-day breakfasts - the eating scene is changing slowly.  Interesting new ideas and concepts are starting to evolve. The new AliBabar is one good example of this slow evolution.

Once upon a time, at the corner of East Coast Road and Joo Chiat Rd, was a humble little corner coffeeshop, called AliBaba, famous for selling tau kwa pau. But there was something special about this humble little corner shop. Over time, it gained a reputation for incubating new restaurants. Aston's started out here.  Casa Bon Vento (Eurasian-Peranakan food) took up residence when it wanted to return to the East. A little French stall (Saveur) also had its start here before gaining popularity and moving off to the CBD. As such, one entrepreneur felt that it was timely to do up the place a little and introduce a new concept marrying the tradition of the old coffee shop with its reputation of being a place where one could get good food at hawker prices. Enter AliBabar, coffee shop by day, bar at night!

A longer review is available here, so I'll just give a brief run down of what's available. Just like a normal coffeeshop, there are a few stalls serving their fare- Le Petit Paradis, the new French stall, a   Filipino stall and a fried noodle stall (my uncle swears by the fried mee sua).  The first two are open for both dinner and lunch, but the fried noodles are only available during the day. At the time I visited, there was one more stall which was not opened yet..And, of course the bar.

I had dinner at Petit Paradise, a really nice pork collar with sauerkraut on the side.   The pork was nicely cooked - moist, savoury and tender.  It went really well with a glass of Silly Saison - did I mention that the bar sells specialty Belgian brews?

Variety, choice, new types of eateries are indeed very nice to have.  But I do hope that some of the traditional corner coffeeshops stick around for a long time to come.

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