Joo Chiat ShophouseJoo Chiat Shophouse
 

YOUR GUIDE TO KATONG/JOO CHIAT

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The Katong/Joo Chiat enclave is steeped in a storied past harking back to the early 1800s – but before it became known for its pastel-decked Peranakan-style shophouses and foods, the precinct once comprised coconut and cotton plantations, seaside bungalows and country houses for the wealthy. By the early 1900s, the neighbourhood had attracted Eurasian and Peranakan (Straits Chinese) families who would go on to shape the foundations of the Joo Chiat/Katong of today. We take you ’round some of the best spots to visit (and feast in).  

 

Sri Senpaga

 

Admire the ornate facade of Sri Senpaga Vinayagar Temple

Singapore’s got no shortage of temples, given its past as an unassuming fishing village and vibrant trading port. Bartering attracted businessmen and immigrants from China, India and the Malay Archipelago – and with them, temples and relics that would stand the test of time. The 123-year-old Sri Senpaga Vinayagar Temple, in itself, has beginnings dating to the 1850s, when a statue of Lord Vinayagar was found near a Chempaka tree (or Senpaga in Tamil). The statue was stored in an attap house; a worship place of sorts, before the temple was erected in 1929 for the Ceylon Tamil community. It’s also Singapore’s second-oldest Hindu temple, just after Sri Mariamman Temple in Chinatown.

Sri Senpaga Vinayagar Temple is at 19 Ceylon Rd (6345 8176, http://www.senpaga.org.sg). 

 

 

Joo Chiat Popiah

Make a pit stop for popiah

Singapore’s original popiah makers have been issuing fresh spring roll skins since 1938, and really, it’s no good ordering the dish elsewhere after having had the best. For the uninitiated, popiah comprises julienned vegetables and meat wrapped in a paper-thin skin. Step into the pre-war shophouse restaurant to observe these popiah skins being made from scratch – think thick, sticky dough deftly pressed and spread on hot pans and cooked to thin, chewy perfection. Order one to-go from around S$2, or try the DIY standard and vegetarian popiah sets that make 15 to 20 rolls. Jonesing for chicken rice, laksa 

Kway Guan Huat Joo Chiat Popiah is at 54 Joo Chiat Place (+65 9620 2000, www.joochiatpopiah.com). Daily 9am – 2pm including PHs. 

 

 

The Intan

Admire impressive Peranakan artefacts at The Intan

Maybe the Peranakan Museum could be more up your alley – it sits just between City Hall and Clarke Quay – but if you’re in the Katong/Joo Chiat area, book a tour at The Intan for a schooling on the history and culture of the Peranakans. The private museum, whose collection of over 1,500 artefacts spans some three decades, holds all manner of tiffin carriers, spittoons, intricate embroidery and an impressive display of kasot manek, or beaded shoes made with French and Czech beads for the Straits Chinese community. 

The Intan is at 69 Joo Chiat Terrace (+65 6440 1148, http://the-intan.com). By appointment only. 

 

 

Rumah Bebe

Just bead it: Rumah Bebe

Rumah Bebe has become something of a celebrity in itself – if that celebrity were a restored 1928 shophouse packed with Peranakan artefacts and wrapped in a turquoise-shelled exterior. Owned by Bebe Seet, a beadwork specialist, you’ll find furnishings, porcelain wares, beaded bags and kasot manek within. Want a unique souvenir? Perhaps a ready-to-wear or custom-made sarong kebaya (a traditional blouse worn with a batik cloth skirt) will take your fancy.

Rumah Bebe is at 113 East Coast Rd (+65 6247 8781, www.rumahbebe.com). Tue – Sun 9.30am – 6.30pm. Closed Mondays. 

 

 

Shophouses

Stroll the stretch of Peranakan-style shophouses 

You’ll likely notice shophouses adorning almost every corner of Katong/Joo Chiat, but make for Koon Seng Road anyway – it’s where you’ll find pastel-decked, low-slung Peranakan-style shophouses dating to the 1920s with patterned tiles pressed on the walls along five-foot ways. Since being gazetted for conservation in 1991, these homes remain a draw for tourists, no less for their pastel-decked facades than the rich history each shophouse carries. 

 

 

Getting there:

The Katong/Joo Chiat precinct is accessible by train, bus or car.

We recommend taking the Circle Line to Payar Lebar MRT station – familiarise yourself with Singapore’s MRT map here. Then hop on bus services 43, 135 or 197 and alight at I12 Katong shopping mall. 

Looking for nearby accommodation? Book a stay at Marina Bay Sands: it’s a short ten-minute taxi or car ride to Katong/Joo Chiat. 

 

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