Three to try: Le Binchotan, Pyxiemoss, and Baba Chews
A familiar colonial landmark along East Coast Road now captivates passersby with a refurbished visage and new tenant. Housed in a former police station, Baba Chews might not be family-owned or steeped in dynastic history like those of its rival Peranakan restaurants, but the delectable dishes and discerning decor that it houses are no less enchanting. In keeping with Hotel Indigo's DNA, Baba Chews draws upon the culture of its neighbourhood and is named after Chew Joo Chiat, whose namesake Joo Chiat Road gazes across from the neighbourhood's brand new bistro and adjoining boutique hotel, Hotel Indigo Katong. Self-taught in the culinary arts of the blue-blooded Straits Chinese, Head Chef Alvin Leong might not be of Peranakan descent, but his experience with accentuating and juxtaposing textures shines through Nonya nibbles like his Chap Chye, Ngoh Hiang spring rolls, Peranakan-style dim sum, Beef Short Ribs Rendang and Kueh Durian, which would probably win the approval of most Peranakan matriarchs. In an ancestrally Peranakan precinct known for its quaint watering holes, Baba Chews' sprawling bar, hearty mains and deftly prepared tapas encapsulates both these facets of this distinctive district.
Hotel Indigo Katong. 86 East Coast Road, #01-01 Katong Square. Tel: 6723 2025
A discreet door along an alley between Amoy Street and Gemmill Lane opens to reveal a ravishing tunnel-shaped restaurant-bar that draws patrons inward along rich wooden and brass-toned surfaces. Named after the white charcoal over which its French-Japanese-style tapas are smoked, Le Binchotan wields a wide variety of menu items, such as Angus Short Rib, Tenkasu skewers, Brochette of Champignon and Shishito, and Truffle Fungi that uses Japanese rice, which are small in portion yet unforgettable in flavour and texture. Le Binchotan is backed by Jessica Lim, who has found success as the co-founder of French outfits Salut and Au Petit Salut. Its local Head Chef Jeremmy Chiam and Chef Atsuhiko Hagiwara from Ginza, Tokyo have curated a menu of memorable morsels, which include succulent and sweet Wagyu Striploin skewers and Iberico Pork Jowl, all served in unique pottery created by local sculptors Mud Rock. The best way to enjoy these small plates? Wash them down with the bistro's bevy of beers, wines, and inquisitive cocktails.
115 Amoy Street, #01-04. Tel: 6221 6065
After his first restaurant in Singapore was criticised for being too snooty, Chef Tim Ross-Watson locked himself in his room for ages, listening to Guns 'N' Roses while brainstorming how to better please the Singaporean palate with his fine dining expertise. His brand new brainchild is the rock 'n' roll-themed Pyxiemoss, an amiable cocktail bar whose innovative small plates like Coffee Lox (coffee-flavoured cured salmon) and The Tribbiani (duck liver mousse, duck heart and focaccia chips themed on Joey and Chandler of Friends) leave lasting impressions. In essence, Pyxiemoss is an untinted window into Chef Tim's rebel soul. Labours of love like his Not Just The Tip salad and Mother's Lamb platter have garnered returning clients for this unassuming eatery facing Hong Lim Park. Of half-Indian parentage, Chef Tim enthusiastically uses the Tandoor oven left behind by the shophouse's previous Indian restaurant tenant. Mused by his British and Asian roots, the uncommon flavours of his discerning delicacies are meant to invigorate the palate when accompanying liquid concoctions like his SRWMC aperitif negroni, Japanese wine and vodka Poto cocktail, and Ginger Julie, a gin and tonic libation created with top-shelf Monkey 47 gin. Landmarked by Chef Tim's Harley ride parked at its front door, Pyxiemoss also peddles sweet treats like its Banoffee (banana, plantain, creme brulee, bacon walnut and sour cream) and Pina Colada (coconut, pineapple, pineapple caramel ice cream, coriander, olive oil and granola), which have been instant hits with dessert lovers.
43 North Canal Road. Tel: 6532 2171