Looking to spend an afternoon eating and wandering? You can’t beat East Coast Road and Joo Chiat in Katong.
Maybe not as sexy as Orchard Road, as popular as Arab Street or as hip as Holland Village, Katong has just as much to offer — especially for the hungry. With constant construction and the promise of the MRT, the East Coast is movin’ on up.
Heeding my own jet lag advice, I packed my two kids into our cumbersome double stroller and headed out to reacquaint ourselves with our neighbourhood.
First stop, Group Therapy. Tucked in the back of the Katong V mall, the cozy cafe serves all day breakfast, coffee and more substantial mains (from 11 am). The banana, strawberry pancakes were a hit with my companions. The portion was large enough for the three of us but what fun is it to only order one item? I go the spinach and feta roll which was too much puff pastry and not enough filling for my taste but the coffee and fresh juice were excellent.
You never know what you might find. The second floor is home to frequent pop up shops and it seems just when I need a birthday gift, I find toys. When I “need” a new cute dress, I find a cute boutique. When I’m looking for new beauty products, I find them. You get the idea.
Din Tai Fung. I know it’s a chain restaurant. I know the dumplings, soup and rice are not as healthy as I blindly will them to be but I can’t resist. It’s the spicy cucumbers.
Stepping back into the glorious, mid-morning sunshine, we found ourselves on the corner of East Coast Road and Joo Chiat. Maybe not the most kid-friendly street (especially with said barge of a stroller) but Joo Chiat is the perfect opportunity to restore your faith that Singapore is not, and will not, become one giant series of malls.
There’s nothing particularly outstanding on Joo Chiat road but a walk amongst the shophouses will help you feel that the history of Singapore goes beyond its recent Jubilee milestone.
That said, there are plenty of shops and stops worth your time:
Avenue: Disappointingly, this shop was closed but the sign reading, “Cafe, Architecture, Interior,” did pique my interest. A quick visit to the website affirms my disappointment. (It is an interior design store where you can grab a cuppa and chat with professionals for advice.) Must go back.
Next door to Avenue, is Sinpopo Brand, a cool cafe/restaurant whose menu includes everything from Crab Wontons to Chargrilled Pork Chops to Nutella Tart. Like any good hipster cafe, they have both coffee and kopi, shakes and smoothies and beer. Must go back.
Get crafty with the kids at Jay Jay Jolly Crafts. This sweet shop runs holiday camps or stop to shop for craft kits and environmentally friendly supplies for creative-types of all ages.
If crafting isn’t your thing, head next door to InTrigg Hobbies. This shop specialises in radio controlled products suitable for beginners through long-time enthusiasts and will please “kids” of all ages. A great pit stop where you can play before you pay!
Across the street is Teong Theng Co., packed with Rattan furniture that would certainly add a little Singapore charm to any room.
Heading home, back down East Coast Road, we (okay, just I) couldn’t resist the distinctive smell of 328 Katong Laksa. And really, no trip to Katong is complete without this iconic bowl of steaming, spicy but slightly sweet, prawn and noodle soup.
We took a quick detour down Ceylon Road to admire the Sri Senpaga Vinayagar Temple which has just enough vibrancy to keep the kids interested.
Had I been in different company, there are several places I could have washed down my laksa with a pint including: Carvers and Co., Rabbit, Carrot, Gun, Bergs, Alibabar, or Two Pigs Fly. They all provide the perfect chill atmosphere to kick back and relax (and one of the many reasons, we love our ‘hood).
Instead we stopped into Baker’s Well for a sweet treat to take home. With freshly made baguettes, muffins, cakes and more (as well as a quaint seating area with a few toys), go ahead and treat yourself to a latte. I did!
I’d be remiss not to mention the newly opened Holqa Cafe + Coffee which seems a bit of a misnomer as the menu is more wings and craft beer then cakes and coffee (though you will find it all in the minimalist cafe/bar).
Are there other places I missed, food I didn’t eat, shops I didn’t visit? Yes. (I didn’t even make it to Tanjong Katong Road!) So just one more reason for you to visit Katong!