Baba Chews: Nonya goodness
From the Laksa to a Ayam Buah Keluak Burger, Baba Chews offers a mix of traditional and novelty Nonya cuisine
One can never go hungry in Katong - there is just so much available.
Joining the long list of eating places around is Baba Chews, housed in the former Joo Chiat Police Station.
In an area steeped in heritage and located in a building that is a big part of the neighbourhood's history, it is not a surprise that Baba Chews offers Peranakan food.
The all-day dining menu here has a broader reach (with diverse dishes such as Hokkien noodles and portobello mushroom wraps), but it's all Nonya at night.
The dishes are mostly traditional, with a few meant to create conversation, like the foie gras tau kwa pau.
I wish there were more innovative dishes because it would be interesting to see how a young chef sees this cuisine.
But when you remember that you are dining at a former police station, that's enough novelty. And luckily, it's not all about that.
The food is good enough for you to return, too. The history is just a very big bonus.
It's a ballsy move to have laksa ($18) on your menu when you're across the road from one that scored a Bib Gourmand recommendation. This luxe version is very good, though not exceptional. It is pricey, but you do get lots of premium ingredients.
Another seemingly simple dish done well is the Penang char kuay teow ($15). The ingredients and the cooking method do not differ, but the flavours are delicious and traditional.
Innovation may not be what Baba Chews is known for, but when it tries, it gets interesting. Its Ayam Buah Keluak Burger ($18) is a twist on a much-loved Peranakan dish. It has a chicken patty doused in a buah keluak sauce, served with achar. It's a fun interpretation of a classic.
The beef short ribs rendang ($25) is so tender and the sauce so aromatic, it's a must-try. The rempah (the spice paste - the foundation of this dish) is house-made and it's full of herbal notes. It's easily one of my favourite dishes here.
Baba Chews' pong tauhu ($10) is a good reason to make your way back to Katong. It smells heavenly. The prawn stock has lots of impact, working with the sweetness of the pork balls and the crunchiness of the shredded bamboo shoots. You can't have too much of it.
WHAT Baba Chews
WHERE #01-01 Katong Square
WHEN 11am to 10.30pm (all-day dining menu)