Seems like Peranakan restaurants and cafes are back in the radar once more, with the opening of The Peranakan, Tok Panjang, Chong Wen Ge, Peranakan Khek (takeaway shop) and Baba Chews all in succession, few months apart.
Katong is already known for its heritage shophouses, many with Peranakan influence. Housed within the former Joo Chiat Police Station, Baba Chews at the Hotel Indigo Singapore Katong looks set to attract hipsters with its modern meets Straits Chinese cuisine.
The name “Baba Chews” is derived from the name of wealthy Chinese landowner in the early 20th century, Chew Joo Chiat (Singaporeans should be familiar with the road named after him). ‘Baba’ is an honorific name that Peranakan men are known as.
In wanting to keep the menu wide enough, Baba Chews offer varied items at different times of the day, with an All-Day Dining Menu, family style Dinner Menu, bar bites and Weekend Brunch Menu.
Other than the recommended Chilli Crab Cake with Mantou Chips ($15) and Foie Gras Tau Kwa Pau ($20), the Ayam Buah Keluak Burger ($18) looks intriguing enough.
This consist of chicken patty doused in a special buah keluak sauce, with achar (pickled vegetables) in a multigrain ciabatta burger.
The patty was moist enough, while I wondered with the token spread of buah keulak sauce was enough to lift up the taste, and truly make a difference.
Achar with burgers – why not? That spicy-sourness could work. But leave the dry ciabatta aside.
It is a creative take, and I hope they will expand on this modern-Peranakan selection, which I feel is generally lacking in Singapore.
For more Asian and local favourites, there is a variety from Penang Char Kway Teow ($15), Nonya Fried Rice, Hokkien Mee ($16), Nonya Laksa ($18) and Hainanese Chicken Rice ($17). Portions surprisingly quite satisfying.
With no offence to the chefs, I felt their dishes were out-of-place in the whole spectrum. You see their signature items of Wasabi Prawns, Yam Nuar (beef sirloin with Asian salad), Moo Yang Ta Krai Kra Tiem (seared pork chop with lemongrass), placed alongside Peranakan-local items, sticking out like a sore thumb.
I like the whole look, feel and space of Baba Chews, and will likely make a return for its family-style Peranakan Dinner Menu with items such as Iberico Pork Ribs Pongteh ($25), Beef Short Ribs Rendang ($25), and Barramundi Goreng Chilli ($29) which probably fits better to its theme.
86 East Coast Road #01-01 Katong Square Singapore 428788
Opening Hours: 6:30am – 2:30pm, 6pm – 11pm (Mon – Fri), 6:30am – 11pm (Sat – Sun)
Reserve Online Now – Baba Chews
* Daniel’s Food Diary pays for food reviewed unless otherwise stated.