Modern Peranakan cuisine takes center stage at this all-day dining restaurant in the heart of Katong
Photos: Baba Chews
The all-day dining cafe is a modern day Peranakan muse.
Shall we meet at Baba Chews? I can almost imagine my dining companions giggle in amusement.
Cheeky sounding name aside, the all-day dining cafe is a modern day Peranakan muse that encapsulates the charm of the yesteryear.
Housed in the former Joo Chiat Police Station, the conservation space has since been transformed into a photo-worthy cafe featuring patterned floor tiles, beaded slipper inspired peony artwork and tin paneled ceiling.
The ambient, at once nostalgic yet homely, extends to the dining menu, which takes influence from cuisine across the Straits of Malacca.
The Beef Short Ribs Rendang was stewed to tender perfection.
The menu is unabashedly Peranakan, with traditional favourites like Ayam Buah Keluak and Pork Ribs Pongteh making their appearance.
However, a closer look reveals the ingenuity of Head Chef Alvin Leong. You’ll find creative renditions like the Ayam Buah Keluak Burger ($18), a chicken patty coated in special ‘Buah Keluak’ sauce, served between two multigrain ciabatta buns and a side of ‘Achar’, and an appetizer of pickled spicy vegetables (think: achar).
Our palates were first teased with an amuse bouche in the form of Salted Egg Kaya with Blue Pea Chiffon, morsels of fluffy kuehs topped with a salty-sweet spread.
Afterwards, we sampled a trio of light bites from the all-day dining menu. The Chilli Crab Cake ($15), fried to a golden brown and packed with fresh shreds of crab meat, stole the show. The side of ‘mantou’ chips added a lovely crunch to the dish, with moreish chili crab sauce for dipping pleasure.
The Kueh Durian, a contemporary spin on the traditional ‘Kuah Dadar’, is a must try.
Hits and misses
The mains, though hearty and tasty, felt like they could do with a slightly heavier hand in terms of spice and flavouring. That said, the Beef Short Ribs Rendang ($25) was stewed to tender perfection and aromatic with the homemade ‘Rempah’ paste.
For a lighter meal, go for the Barramundi Goreng Chilli ($29), a simple dish of pan seared locally bred sea bass drizzled in homemade ‘Sambal’ chilli for a bit of a kick.
When it comes to dessert, expect similar Strait Asian elements. The Kueh Durian ($12), a contemporary spin on the traditional ‘Kuah Dadar’, is a must try.
Each thin-as-air pandan crepe hides a portion of homemade D24 durian mousse and is topped with gula melaka or teh tarik ice cream. While the durian crepes were delicious, the scoop of teh tarik ice cream wounded up a little too icy for my liking.
As a vibrant addition to the Katong neighourhood and the newly opened Hotel Indigo, Baba Chews looks set to be a potentially popular dining spot for locals and tourists alike.
Meanwhile, I’ll be rooting for the team as they iron out the kinks of the menu.
Baba Chews Bar and Eatery, Katong Square, 86 East Coast Road, Singapore 428788
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