Saturday, October 24, 2009

Kim Choo Kueh Chang

Peranakan 101

There are 2 sides to good ol Katong. One side comprises of seedy KTV pubs with unsavory influences. The other is practically bursting with all kinds of delicious eats (Katong Laksa, Boon Tong Kee Chicken Rice, Puteri Mas Durian Puffs and Tau Kwa Pau just to name a few).

Kim Choo is one of the few institutions left in Katong which has withstood the test of time. Housed in a refurbished shophouse, the restuarant is split into 2 quarters- an air conditioned one for dine- in customers and a non air conditioned one selling a mind boggling array of knick knacks including but not limited to nonya kueh, nonya dumplings, otah, cakes, pastries, biscuits and sauce mixes.

The owners take great pains to ensure that the restarant's interior stays true to its Peranakan roots. Pretty Perakanan tiles and Peranakan crockery/baskets line the counter and walls. The 2nd floor even houses a Peranakan museum.As we were only feeling peckish that evening, we ordered 4 dishes to share. Portions are generous and reasonably priced. Better still, the restaurant does not impose GST and service charge.

Achar (SGD2)- The obligatory appetiser. A little too watery for my liking.

Tofu with braised sauce (SGD6)- Cold pieces of tofu drizzled with a lip smacking oyster sauce and generously sprinkled with lashings of fried shallots, sliced chilli and Chinese celery. A simple yet refreshing treat for a warm evening
Satay Ayam (SGD12)- Boneless chunks of marinated chicken smothered in a rich peanut sauce. In other words, satay sans the stick. The accompanying sides of chopped cucumber and onions served as effective palate cleansers to offset the heaviness of the sauce
Chap Chye (SGD6)- Although this dish contained the right ingredients, the cabbage was a tad undercooked and had not fully absorbed the essence of the fermented bean gravy. I was a little disappointed
Hee Peow Soup (SGD12)- A hotpot laden with yummies like pork balls, fish maw, cabbage and button mushrooms. The soup base tasted weak and failed to impress. However, I throughly enjoyed the delectable yummies hidden withinRice: 70 cents each

Wet tissues: 20 cents each

Beverages- Good variety. Choose from local favorites like lime juice, sour plum drink and water chestnut drink (SGD2 each)..or drown your weekday sorrows away with a bottle of beer. Ps: Adam's Ale is charged at 30 cents a cup.

"Grocery" shopping at the second quarter after dinner is an absolute must- I ended up lugging back SGD77 worth of home-made sugee cookies, cashew nut cookies, kueh bankit, love letters and open faced pineapple tarts. (I tried the pineapple tarts this morning and give two thumbs up!). Nonya nazis would also give their stamp of approval to the restaurant's highly acclaimed nonya zhang (rice dumplings), otah and kuehs.

Overall, this place is highly recommended for folks looking for a comprehensive introduction to Peranakan food and culture. Service staff are very helpful and proficient in English. Unfortunately, the restaurant's dine-in dishes remain at best palatable (perhaps due to the owners' over diversification into too many product offerings?). Nonetheless, I applaud the owners for their labour of love

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