Traverse the stretches of East Coast Road and Joo Chiat Road for hidden hawkers and well-loved restaurants the colourful district named after an extinct species of sea turtle has to offer.
1. Delicious Boneless Chicken Rice
Contrary to its name, don’t expect to get deboned cuts of chicken unless you ask. A single serving of roasted chicken rice will snag you a sizeable portion of smooth meat topped with crispy fried garlic and a free bowl of vegetable soup. Help yourself to free-flow achar and add a braised egg for a total of $5. Tue-Sun 10.30am-8pm
#B1-85/87 Katong Shopping Centre, 865 Mountbatten Road
2. Dona Manis Cake Shop
“Auntie, what does the name mean?” “It’s the name of a small banana kueh.” They no longer sell that item, but banana still features prominently in their much-raved about banana pie ($2.20), sans cinnamon. For over 20 years, the unassuming old-school bakery has been churning out delicious mini chocolate tarts ($0.80), egg tarts ($2.40 for two), raisin scones ($1.30), strawberry cakes ($3) and one-bite rum balls ($1).
#B1-93 Katong Shopping Centre, 865 Mountbatten Road. Tel: 6440 7688
4. Yong Huat
They started out in 1949 selling Teochew fishball noodles, but now dish out a variety of chow mian, from Hokkien prawn mee ($4/5/6) to char kuay teow ($4/5/6). Regulars will order the ’special’, which is their fried mee suah ($4/6/8), a haven of wok hei, prawns and crispy pork lard. Nurse a beer or a side of buffalo wings ($7.90) from the nearby stalls while you’re at it.
AlibabaR the Hawker Bar, 125/127 East Coast Road
5. 328 Katong Laksa
What’s Katong without its namesake? There’s much dispute over the original Katong laksa (purportedly the one at Roxy Square I) but this is certainly the most prominent. Japanese tourists were spotted slurping the milky broth ($4.50/$5.50/6.50) and snacking on otah ($1.20) in air-conditioned comfort.
51 East Coast Road
6. Qiu Rong Ban Mian
To find this ’hidden’ food court, look for a flight of stairs labelled ’Parkway Parade Steamboat Food Court’. Many come for the steamboat, but we’re interested in the 14-year-old ban mian stall, run by a husband-and-wife team from Fuzhou. Order the crisp and fragrant guotie ($4.50 for 8 pcs) to eat with your generous bowl of ban mian ($3) or their daily soup: ABC ($3), red wine chicken ($3.50). Props to Shaun Lim of Azzura Gelati (#01-01/02 Katong V, 30 East Coast Road) for the tip!
#B1-14 Roxy Square II Food Court, 50 East Coast Road
7. The Mango Tree Indian Coastal Restaurant
After former construction manager CK Chin and his wife, Reeny Kosman set sail to the Indian coastal region of Goa over 13 years ago, they brought the flavours back to Singapore. Discover rasam ($5.90), a peppery and light tamarind soup to whet your appetite, squid molaga ($9.90), their signature garlic crab ($36) and mango naan ($4.80), and homemade kulfi ($6.50), or Indian ice cream. There’s also buffet lunch (from $19) and vegetarian dishes.
#03-11 I12 Katong, 112 East Coast Road. Tel: 6604 9661
8. Nam San
Fancy some mackerel otah ($1.10) at 3am? Nam San’s open 24 hours and they also have prawn ($1.20), sotong ($1.20), fish head ($1.20), Nonya ($0.90), white fish ($1.20, non-spicy) and raw versions perfect for a barbecue. Free delivery for orders $120 and above.
261 Joo Chiat Road. Tel: 6345 5542
9. Dunman Road Char Siew Wan Ton Mee
If you enjoy the wanton mee at Eng’s Noodles House (287 Tanjong Katong Road), you’ll find the one here familiar, down to its eye-wateringly spicy chilli. Here’s the goss: Eng’s started in Dunman Food Centre, and his former helper opened Dunman Road Char Siew Wan Ton Mee. Which do you prefer?
#02-19 Dunman Food Centre, 271 Onan Road
10. Dunman Duck Rice
It’s not just braised duck on rice ($3/3.50/4), there’s porridge too ($2.50). The well-marinated duck is tender and the accompanying herbal soup satisfying. Pick up a duck to go ($17 for half, $34 whole) or try their kway chap ($0.50). Sat-Thu 11am-9pm
#01-10 Dunman Food Centre, 271 Onan Road
11. Lau Hong Ser Rojak
Expect to see long queues for this rojak stall which uses a thick and fragrant hae gor (prawn paste) from Penang and homemade chilli ($2/3/4). Be patient: the uncle toasts dough fritters over a small charcoal fire and grinds and toasts the heap of peanuts himself. Call in advance so you can swing by to pick up your order an hour later. Mon-Sat 4.38pm-1.38am.
Address: #02-14 Dunman Food Centre, 271 Onan Road. Tel: 6346 6519
12. Bonus: Tau kwa pau
This is a fast disappearing Nonya-Teochew dish of fried stuffed beancurd. There used to be two stalls at the busy junction of Joo Chiat Road and East Coast Road but they have since moved. You’ll find Sheng Cheng Tau Kwa Pau, once where Brotzeit is now, at the Peranakan Village Food Centre (369 Tanjong Katong Road). Mary’s Corner (pictured) went from Alibabar to Dunman Food Centre but we heard they’re now without a home. If you’ve found them, please let us know: firstname.lastname@example.org