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Oldies but goodies reign supreme in this part of Singapore. Photos (clockwise from left): Instagram/@janggut_laksa, @sshcurrypuff and @zaffron_kitchen

What I Eat In My Hood: Lifelong Katong Resident

“There are lots of new and hip cafes that have popped up here over the years, but the old-timer restaurants still get my vote,” says Gwen Lim of her beloved Katong enclave. The 36-year-old finance executive has lived here her whole life, and like most diehard Easties, swears she will never move out of the area.

“Sure, it’s nice that you can get great coffee at places like 40 Hands, but I love that I can get an old-school cuppa from the kopitam at Jago Close too,” she says. “Katong is the embodiment of how old and new businesses can thrive side by side.”

The following are the favourites from her ‘hood.

Zaffron Kitchen

Location: 135/137 East Coast Road

“I love the bright and airy vibe here, which is quite different from most other Indian restaurants. Restaurants tend to come and go on this stretch, but the food and service at Zaffron Kitchen are testament to why it has stood the test of time. I always order the vadai to start. They are crisp and fluffy, and served with red chilli and regular coconut chutney. You can see a tandoor oven when you walk into the restaurant and that’s where the magic happens. The garlic naan is always buttery and the charred and blistered fish tikka is a thing of beauty. When we come in a larger group, we make it a point to order the dum chicken biryani too. Otherwise, call me basic, but the butter chicken here is a must-have for me.”

Chin Mee Chin

Location: 204 East Coast Road

“I know everyone knows about Chin Mee Chin, but I can’t talk about places I love to eat at here without mentioning this institution. If feels like the queue outside its entrance hasn’t gone away since the day it reopened several months ago, but I got lucky one afternoon when my wait was just 10 minutes. I once waited for 25 minutes just to order takeaway! It’s definitely not the same anymore, but I don’t mind. I like that they’ve employed older workers so the vibe is still genteel. The bakes are different too, but the prices have been kept relatively low. To be honest, a lot of the new offerings are better now. Like the chocolate cupcakes, which now taste like chocolate. The kaya buns and eggs always hit the spot. Another new thing that’s really good is the brownie cheesecake slice.”

Soon Soon Huat

Location: 220 East Coast Road

“I heart curry puffs and Soon Soon Huat makes some really good ones. The crust is light and flaky, if a tad greasy, and the filling in the chicken curry puff is so lovely and creamy, with a lot of kick. There are also durian puffs, which my family loves. Even if you come late in the day, the curry puffs still taste nice and fresh.”

Janggut Laksa

Location: 50 East Coast Road, #01-64 Roxy Square

“This is my go-to laksa, hidden away in a echoey food court in Roxy Square. It’s a lot lighter than the other Katong laksas in the vicinity (Janggut is considered the original Katong laksa, by the way) in the sense that it’s not so greasy even when you dollop your sambal into the gravy. I could eat two bowls of this, but I don’t… cuz fat. Anyway, best to order an otak otak on the side so you can cut it into the gravy, which means you have extra liao in the laksa. I’m telling you, it’s damn shiok.”

Ampang Niang Tofu

Location: 225 East Coast Road

“When I’ve eaten too much laksa and need to eat clean, this is where I head to. The yong tau fu here feels so cleansing. It’s light but full of flavour. That said, I always order some of that fried bean curd skin to soak in the broth. The ladies fingers stuffed with fish paste are my favourite and I love that there are soy beans in the broth to sink your teeth into. Word of warning: the chilli sauce is potent.”

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