Feast On This @ Marine Parade GRC

Food, glorious food, is definitely a quintessential part of the Singaporean DNA. We Singaporeans love our food and many of us will travel from one end of the island to another for the best Roti Prata or the most scrumptious Nasi Lemak.

We embarked on a food trail in heritage-rich Joo Chiat and Katong to try a few local specialties. And who better than former NCMP Yee Jenn Jong to show us around? Having spent his childhood in Opera Estate, he is no stranger to the lay of the land here. We dropped in on food establishments that have themselves become institutions in the Singapore culinary landscape.

What’s cooking?

As we arrived at his home for the start of the food trail, we caught a glimpse of Jenn Jong preparing ingredients for pots of herbal chicken and beef stew. So, we learnt that other than checking out the food haunts in the area, we were going to be treated to a display of his culinary skills later in the day!

Popular popiah

First stop, Jenn Jong led us to a nondescript pre-war shophouse along Joo Chiat Road that is home to one of the island’s last few remaining popiah skin-makers. Here, fresh popiah skins are painstakingly made daily by hand, with a paper-thin, chewy consistency. When used to wrap juicy fillings of turnips, the end result is popiah that hits all the right notes!

Kway Guan Huat Joo Chiat Popiah (95 Joo Chiat Rd, Singapore 427389)

A dash of spice with otah

Next stop, Jenn Jong dropped in on an otah factory and supplier further down Joo Chiat Road. Each of us had a bite of freshly-grilled mackerel otah, which had a generous quantity of fish meat and just the right degree of spiciness.

We learnt that the vital ingredients that go into the otah consist of mackerel meat, spices and coconut milk. The resulting paste is wrapped in fragrant banana leaves and is freshly grilled every day.

Nam San Otah (267 Joo Chiat Rd, Singapore 427521)

Our grandfather’s  grand founder’s road

As we walked along, we spotted Marshall Lane, named after David Marshall, the founder of the Workers’ Party and Singapore’s first Chief Minister.

Pop! Goes the weasel ondeh ondeh

As we reached the junction of Joo Chiat Road and East Coast Road, Jenn Jong also picked up some ondeh ondeh, made of pandan-flavoured sweet potato dough wrapped around bits of Gula Melaka (brown palm sugar), and shaped like a ball coated with grated coconut. Jenn Jong popped one into his mouth and gave the thumbs up. Everyone knows that upon a single bite, legit ondeh ondeh has to have that instant burst of gooey, sweet palm sugar in your mouth.

Kim Choo Kueh Chang (111 East Coast Road, Singapore 428801)

We didn’t miss out Katong laksa

Next, we walked several shops down and popped into the air-conditioned comfort of an eatery selling Katong laksa. The spicy and soupy rice noodle dish in rich coconut milk gravy, with pieces of springy fish cake and slices of hard-boiled eggs provided quite an aroma. Certainly enough to tingle your taste buds and work up an appetite! Oh yes, this particular eatery only provides spoons, no forks or chopsticks. You have to eat it the way good food should be eaten – slurp it all up!

328 Katong Laksa (53 East Coast Rd, Singapore 428771)

It’s never too late for breakfast

If Taylor Swift can have ‘breakfast at midnight’, then having kaya toast and coffee on the brink of the afternoon should be perfectly acceptable. To satisfy our sweet tooth at this confectionery store near the junction of East Coast Road and Chapel Road, we added yummy custard puffs to our order.

Chin Mee Chin Confectionery (204 East Coast Rd, Singapore 428903)

Time for lunch!

At this point, we decided to head back to Jenn Jong’s place as his pots of herbal chicken and beef stew that had been cooking for the past few hours would’ve been almost ready!

Check out the videos on how to prepare Jenn Jong’s herbal chicken here and beef stew here!

Many thanks to Jenn Jong and his family for hosting us for lunch.

Written by WP Newsdesk volunteers ~

The Peranakan spirit and the heritage of Katong and Joo Chiat remind us of the unique blend of Chinese, Malay, Indian and many other cultural influences that make Singapore what it is today. Happy Racial Harmony Day!