The Geylang district is known predominantly for its Malay and Peranakan cuisine. Katong, on the east coast, is particularly good for trying out Peranakan or Straits Chinese dishes. This hybrid of Malay and Chinese cooking is a legacy of the intermarriage between Chinese traders who came to the region at the end of the 19th century and the Malay inhabitants.
Their cuisine is a blend of Chinese and Malay cooking techniques and revolves around the use of aromatic roots, spices, herbs, and coconut milk. On East Coast Road, Nonya cake shops sell colourful sweets. The area is also famous for its Singapore laksa noodle soups. On the East Coast Parkway, a number of seafood restaurants have developed over the years by the beach.
Chilli Padi Nonya Restaurant
With an interior decorated with Nonya artefacts, the restaurant/shophouse has won accolades for its genuine cuisine. Among its popular dishes are sayoh lodeh (vegetable curry), Nonya assam curry fish and sambal sotong (squid cooked in spicy sauce).
Location: 11 Joo Chiat Pl, #01-03, Singapore 427744, Singapore
Open: Daily from 11.30am to 2.30pm and from 5.30pm to 10pm
Phone: +65 6275 1002
Old Airport Road Food Centre
In stark comparison to Lau Pa Sat, the Old Airport Road Food Centre is not particularly pretty, a little outside the city centre and not that well-frequented by tourists. Yet, this 30-year-old food centre is widely considered by locals to be the best hawker centre in Singapore, both in terms of value, and more importantly: taste.
Specialities here include satay noodles, char kway teow (noodle dish), and rojak (an Indonesian fruit/vegetable salad). Prices are consistent with the rest of Singapore’s hawker centres, with a basic noodle soup costing less than S$5 – although you can pay more like $S10 for larger meat-based dishes.
Location: 51 Old Airport Rd, Singapore 390051, Singapore
Open: Daily from 6am to 11pm
Phone: +65 6756 0266
East Coast Lagoon Food Village
An extremely popular location by the beach, this food village is designed with a tropical feel with boardwalks and beach umbrella tables.
It’s a fantastic place to chill out with a beer and watch the beach activities. Satay, laksa, rojak and oyster omelette are some of the popular dishes here.
Location: 1220 East Coast Parkway, Singapore 468960, Singapore
Open: Tuesday–Sunday from 5pm to midnight (closed on Mondays)
328 Katong Laksa
Well-patronised by the locals, 328 Katong Laksa is arguably one of the forerunners for this hearty noodle-in-thick spicy gravy dish. No chopsticks are required as the noodles have been shortened to eat with a Chinese soup spoon.
The dish comes topped with fragrant laksa herbs and a sweet chilli paste. Be prepared to wait for a table during peak times.
Location: 51 E Coast Rd, Singapore 428770, Singapore
Open: Daily from 10am to 10pm
Phone: +65 9732 8163
Sin Heng Claypot Bak Koot
Sin Heng Claypot Bak Koot is 24-hour no-frills restaurant whose speciality is pork ribs simmered for a long time in a peppery herbal broth in a clay pot.
Not to be missed also are the innards, pork leg and pig’s tail in a clay pot. Non-pork favourites include sweet & sour sliced fish, clay pot prawn with vermicelli, and chicken wings with prawn paste. Be prepared to wait for a table at peak times and at weekends.
Location: 439 Joo Chiat Rd, Singapore 427652, Singapore
Open: Tuesday–Sunday from 7.30am to 4am
Phone: +65 6345 8754
Boon Tong Kee Chicken Rice
One of the top local favourites with several branches, Boon Tong Kee serves marvellous chicken rice – tenderly poached white chicken placed on rice cooked in a chicken broth with ginger and garlic and accompanied by cucumber slices, chilli-lime sauce, pureed ginger and thick black soy sauce.
Location: 199 East Coast Road, Singapore 428902, Singapore
Open: Monday–Friday from 11am to 2.45pm and from 5.15pm to 10pm, Saturday–Sunday from 11am to 3pm and from 3.30pm to 10pm
Phone: +65 6478 1462
JUMBO Seafood – East Coast Seafood Centre
JUMBO Seafood – East Coast is an enormous one-stop centre on the East Coast Parkway with several restaurants specializing in Singapore-style seafood by the beachfront.
Must-try dishes are the Chili crab, Singapore’s unofficial ‘national dish’ – crabs cooked in a fiery chilli-spiked sauce which is usually mopped up with Chinese buns and the black pepper crab. They usually open from 5pm onwards.
Location: 1206 ECP, #01-07/08 East Coast Seafood Centre, Singapore 449883, Singapore
Open: Monday–Friday from 5pm to 11.45pm, Saturday–Sunday from 11.30am to midnight
Phone: +65 6442 3435
Mel’s Place Bar & Bistro
Akin to dining in a bucolic old residential bungalow, complete with a pretty garden, Mel’s Place offers a mixed menu of western fare ranging from pasta, grills and sandwiches.
Try their porcini chicken, Aglio olio mare or the chef’s burger. Sports programs play on TV screens and there is usually live music thrown in on certain nights.
Location: 2A Kuo Chuan Ave, Singapore 426897, Singapore
Open: Monday–Thursday from 4pm to 1am, Friday–Saturday from 4pm to 2am, Sundays from 10am to 1am
Phone: +65 6440 3573
Guan Hoe Soon Restaurant
A Peranakan landmark since 1953, Guan Hoe Soon is renowned for its authentic cuisine painstakingly preserved for generations.
Great selections to savour include ngoh hiang (spiced meat rolls), babi pong tay (pork stewed in soy sauce and spices), udang sambal (prawn in spicy paste), and hee peow soup (fish maw soup) to name a few.
Location: 40 Joo Chiat Pl, Singapore 427764, Singapore
Open: Monday–Friday from 9am to 9pm, Saturday–Sunday from 9am to 9.30pm
Phone: +65 6344 2761
Home-style Nonya cooking is the hallmark here. Feast on ayam buah keluak (chicken cooked with nuts in a rich gravy), chap chye (braised mixed vegetables), babi pongteh (pork in fermented soya bean gravy), itek tim (duck and salted vegetable soup) and many more.
Location: 210 E Coast Rd, Singapore 428909, Singapore
Open: Daily from 11am to 3pm and from 6pm to 10pm
Phone: +65 6440 6195