Sitting adjacent to the Geylang district is the Joo Chiat/Katong enclave, which traditionally has been the preserve of the Peranakans, middle class locals and the wealthy merchant class. The Peranakans are descendants of 17th century Chinese and Indian immigrants who married non-Muslim natives from the Malay Archipelago.
They settled in several parts throughout Singapore, but their legacy is best showcased in the the Joo Chiat district. Named after wealthy Chinese landowner Chew Joo Chiat, this area is dotted by colourful shophouses and homes that are adorned by sculpted facades of animal reliefs and hand-crafted ceramic tiles. In fact, back in the day, Chew himself built houses and grew plantations in this district as well.
The junction of East Coast Road and Joo Chiat Road can be suitably described as the heart of Katong. Here you’ll find coffeshops selling local delicacies like tau kwa pau (minced pork in fried tofu), ba chang (rice dumplings) and the famous Katong Laksa, which are white rice noodles in a spicy coconut milk broth. Katong is a culinary wonderland with its main road (East Coast Road) dotted with a healthy variety of excellent local and international cuisine.
The olden day opulence and charm of the place remains intact with traditionally Peranakan houses like Katong Antique House and Rumah Bebe. Both are great places to pick up a Peranakan outfit, snacks and homeware, and are must-visit establishments that help you learn more about Peranakan culture.
For accommodation around the area, visit Le Peranankan, a boutique hotel housed in a row of conserved shophouses. Located at 400 East Coast Road, it features authentic Peranakan design, with rooms crafted in Nyonya and Baba styles.
Katong also has numerous cafés and old-world coffeeshops like Chin Mee Chin and excellent culinary fixtures such as Sin Hoi Sai coffeeshop and Five Star Hainanese Chicken Rice, all within a short walking distance of one another. Immerse yourself in Peranakan culture on your visit to Katong and Joo Chiat, and also enjoy its wealth of good food and cultural heritage.