Joo Chiat / katong
Joo Chiat is an area in the east of Singapore known for its multicultural heritage: Malays, Indians, Peranakans and Eurasians; and derives its name from a number of roads in the area named after plantation owner and philanthropist Chew Joo Chiat, also known as “The King of Katong”. (Learn more about the legacy of Chew Joo Chiat ) The Peranakan people are the descendants of early Chinese settlers in Southeast Asia, many of whom married local women. The Eurasians were born of mixed parentage; part European and part Asian, have played important roles in nation building and developing the arts and sports. The Eurasian Community House resides in Joo Chiat and facilities include restaurant / bar and a museum. Next is the Sri Senpaga Vinayagar, the second oldest Hindu Temple in Singapore. Founded over 150 years ago, its unique architectural features and Ceylonese Tamil community support has led the National Heritage Board to designate the temple a Heritage Site in 2003. Today, along with its multi-ethnic influences in its architecture and dining, the National Heritage Board has crowned Joo Chiat as Singapore’s first Heritage Town. Read more in the Joo Chiat community website
Shophouses—a historical source of delight and nostalgia—are a prevalent building type in Singapore’s architectural and built heritage. Commonly found throughout the historic cities of South East Asia, they are narrow, small terraced houses, with a sheltered ‘five foot’ pedestrian way at the front, used for both business and living.
Constructed between the 1840s and the 1960s, these shophouses formed the majority of the pre-WW2 urban fabric of the old city centre as well as several other parts of Singapore. These buildings are generally two to three storeys high, built in contiguous blocks with common party walls.
Since 1991, Joo Chiat was designated as a conservation area comprising mainly two-storey shophouses and terrace houses of the Transitional, Late, Modern and Art Deco styles. It boasts the largest number of conserved buildings in an area in Singapore, numbering over 1000 buildings. Conservation means the buildings cannot be demolished.
Nowadays, the Joo Chiat area is a haven for food lovers and its eateries are famous all over Singapore. Here are some of our favorites.
The famous Geylang Serai Market & Food Centre; one of the liveliest and best markets to visit in Singapore. There are numerous stalls selling everything from kitchen and household wares, textiles to vegetables, fish & meat and all sorts of foodstuffs, spices and local delicacies.
Kway Guan Huat Popiah. Watch how popiah skin masters twirl dollops of dough in mid-air and coax paper-thin popiah skins out of baked dough on a searing hot pan.
Hailed as one of Singapore’s National Dish by foodies; Katong Laksa is a humble dish of rice noodles, shrimps, cockles, fish cake and chilli padi in a thick coconut-based broth which won over fans including expatriates, visiting dignitaries and celebrity chefs; Anthony Bourdain and Gordon Ramsey.
Other noteworthy includes Chilli Padi Peranakan Restaurant, Kim Choo Kueh Chang and Quentin’s Eurasian Restaurant.
About 20 minutes’ walk from the hostel is the East Coast Park Beach; the largest park in Singapore. It has variety of facilities available for sports and entertainment. For sporting activities, there’s bicycle/rollerblade rental kiosks, canoe/windsurfing rentals, tennis centre, fitness parks as well as fishing on the jetty. For food and entertainment, try the many restaurants and bars at the East Coast Seafood Centre, and East Coast Lagoon Food Centre.