The month marks the opening of the latest boutique hotel in Singapore – Hotel Indigo Katong, by InterContinental Hotels Group, and Baba Chews is a restaurant that serves as a breakfast location for hotel guests in the morning and transforms into a restaurant and bar in the afternoon and evening. A 5-min walk from my house, I’m glad to be able to have an awesome peranakan/local restaurant to visit whenever craving hits! Inspired by the Joo Chiat neighbourhood, the interior has an eclectic theme, inspired by the Peranakan culture. You’ll see lovely tiles everywhere and there is even a bar in the middle of the restaurant where you can savour on some laksa-inspired cocktails and more.
Lovely furniture! Really loving my hood.
Apparently,’Baba Chews‘ is named after a wealthy Chinese landowner known as the ‘King of Katong’ and various roads and landmarks in this vicinity were named after him as well. This former police station where Baba Chews is housed was also formerly known as the Joo Chiat Police Station from 1928 to 1987. Photos below are a little blurry as I was busy entertaining my nephew that night.
Crackers with peanut sauce to start off with! Loved this!
Pong Tahu [Homemade prawn stock w pork meatballs & shoots] ($9) – The soup base is really similar to prawn soup so I would say that this is more local-inspired than Peranakan? The meatballs were huge, meaty and tasty though!
Iberico Pork Ribs Pongteh [With fermented beans, mushrooms & potatoes] ($25) – An atas rendition of the classic babi pongteh, this is a must-order for me(p.s. I have a few must-orders from the menu). The ribs were cooked at a low temperature for 12 hours, hence achieving a fork-tender texture and an extremely well-flavoured meat. It goes so well with white rice, you could just eat this non-stop. Those potatoes were soft and chalky, yum!
Chap Chye [Peranakan mixed vegetables stew] ($12) – My photo certainly does not do any justice to this authentic chap chye dish! I find it really difficult to find authentic chap chye nowadays with that particular taste of hei bee (small dried prawns). The vegetables were cooked till soft and every ingredient that is suppose to go into a chap chye was there. This includes dried beancurd skin, sweet beancurd skin, black fungus and vermicelli. Another must-order!
Sambal Terung [Fried eggplant w chilli paste w tamarind & spices] ($10) – Seriously, how can eggplants even taste so delicious? I believe that the sambal paste is homemade as it exuded immense fragrance. The eggplants were thickly cut and were cooked to soft. Great texture and flavours!
Fish Head Curry [Red snapper fish head w okra, onion, tomato & eggplant] ($34) – My preference is usually for assam but I am glad that I tried this fish head curry. Instead of a strong curry flavour, you could taste that hint of assam in here too. It’s almost a hybrid of both – the thickness of curry and that tartness of assam. Using red snapper fish head, the meat was smooth and tender. You could most certainly tell the freshness of the fish from this dish! The portion was huge and good to share amongst 3 to 4 people. The eggplants here were a let-down though, as they were not well cooked through, hence a little spongy. The gravy went well with the rice and would definitely whet your appetite further.
Penang Kway Teow [Rice noodles w prawns, fish cakes, egg, beansprouts] ($15) – Great wokhei flavour in here! Apart from Penang Kway Teow, they have numerous local and Western dishes within the menu that are good for one, including chicken rice.
I love how they serve rice from the traditional basket!
Chendol [Ice w fresh coconut cream & gula melaka] ($6) – Don’t miss out on their chendol when you’re here! The balance of coconut and gula melaka was perfect and was not overly-sweet. Total yums!
If you love peranakan food like me, you have to head to Baba Chews. Service was great (granted, it’s a hotel), and the entire ambience of the restaurant is rather captivating. Coupled with good food and reasonable pricing, I see myself coming here often.
Baba Chews Bar & Eatery
86 East Coast Road
#01-01 Katong Square
Tel: 6723 2025