While most visitors to Singapore would head to tourist hotspots such as Sentosa, Orchard Road and the Marina Bay area, there is actually plenty to see and do around the city fringes. One neighborhood in particular that is worth checking out is Katong, a Peranakan enclave located in the eastern side of Singapore. Home to colorful shophouses, hole-in-the-wall restaurants and quirky boutiques, it’s easy to see why Katong is a popular hangout for people from all parts of the island.
As part of a campaign between Ink and the Singapore Tourism Board centered on the theme of Strength, photographer Mindy Tan takes us on a personalized tour of Singapore that you can watch here.
In this short video, Tan gets acquainted with some of the spots in Singapore that are full of local character. While wandering the streets of Katong and Joo Chiat, Tan pops by Kim Choo Kueh Chang to learn how to make the traditional rice dumplings.
Apart from heritage brands such as Kim Choo, Katong is also home to plenty of unique bars, cafes, restaurants and even a co-working space for creatives. Here are some of our favorite spots in the area.
Step back in time to Singapore in the 1960s at this charming restaurant along Joo Chiat Road. Housed within a conserved shophouse and with old-timey fixtures such as rattan chairs and white-and-green tiles, Sinpopo Brand manages to pull off retro without crossing over to kitschy. The menu is equally excellent, featuring new riffs on traditional classics such as hor fun with Wagyu beef or the HJK burger where deep fried prawn-paste chicken is wedged between pillowy soft buns.
Birds of Paradise
There’s always a queue at this popular gelato store but their mouthwatering desserts are worth the wait. Forget about getting your usual chocolate or vanilla here – Birds of Paradise boast their own gelato base that is infused with a wide variety of herbs, spices, fruits and flowers. Crowd favourites include the refreshing Strawberry Basil and White Chrysanthemum while those looking for dairy-free options would love the Mango sorbet or the Peach & Rose sorbet.
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If you’re hunting down that elusive vinyl LP of AC/DC or a limited edition copy of Miles Davis, Retro Crates is probably your best bet. What started as an online store in 2015 grew into a brick-and-mortar space when the owners realised there was a growing desire for records among music lovers in Singapore. Selling both new and pre-loved records across various genres – from pop to rock to jazz – they have hundreds of used titles added to their inventory every week.
This cat-themed lifestyle store offers a lot more than just an intriguing name, with the small space packed with an eclectic mix of books, home décor, knick-knacks, craft and other paper paraphernalia. With a proudly homegrown spirit, the goods here are mostly produced by local designers, with the books and magazines also published by local writers and illustrators. Be sure to say hello to the resident cat, Zoo-Zoo, often found resting by the entrance.
Lower East SideTacqueria
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With its extensive tequila and mezcal menu, this Mexican-themed restaurant is a popular watering hole for those who live and work in the area. Sup on fiery dishes such as the chilli con carne tacos (which comes in three levels of spiciness) or the chicken fajitas before washing it down with a rum-laced horchata (a traditional chilled Mexican beverage made with rice, milk and almonds).