Babi Pongteh! Ayam Buah Keluak! Nyonya Chap Chye! I was looking forward to all these Peranakan favourites when we confirmed the date to visit Baba Chews Bar and Eatery, but.....
Their refreshed menu which was recently launched in February took me completely by surprise.
Featuring Asian-inspired cuisine and Western classics, what Baba Chews offers now is certainly not the kind of dishes that the Babas and Nyonya has passed down from generations. While I must admit I was a tad disappointed, the feeling quickly disappeared once we started tucking into the delectable spread.
Traditional might be good, but a modern take on it can be just as pleasing, if not better.
Do not expect a Peranakan setting too, as the space of Baba Chews - nestled in the old Joo Chiat Police Station which is now a heritage building named Katong Square - is contemporary with cosy banquettes.
It even has a stylish bar that shakes up specially-concocted cocktails, completed with a list of well-priced wines.
The group of us are teetotalers lol! We went for homemade sodas like Lychee Mint ($8) - lychee syrup, lychee, mint leaves and soda water, as well as Little Flower ($8) - lime juice, pineapple juice, gingerbeer and rose syrup.
The executive chef behind Baba Chews is none other than Alvin Leong who has close to two decades worth of culinary experiences. He should be a familar figure if you watch local programmes such as Toggle Foodie Makeover.
Together with Miss Tamchiak, they created the Crispy Nasi Lemak ($12) which is available at Baba Chews for a limited period till mid-March. Of course we have to give the interesting creation a try.
An item which I like a lot is the Otah Yu Tiao ($12). The black charcoal yu tiao or dough fritter is crisp and texturally contrasted well with the soft homemade otah, with sambal sabayon sauce adding a bit of moisture.
While my friend thought the otah itself can be more flavorful, the combination was enjoyable as a whole.
The Quinoa Salad ($17) - a light and healthy medley of quinoa, feta cheese crumble, cucumber, beetroot, pomegranate, avocado, sunflower seeds, almond flakes, and micro cress with lemon dressing - was a great appetizer to start off the meal too.
There were a few of us that evening, so we had quite a number of dishes to "share share eat". But if you're dining alone or need something quick and fuss-free, rice bowls such as XO Pork Belly Char Siew Rice ($19) would make an excellent choice.
I personally like the pairing of pork belly char siew with fragrant Hainanese oil rice and premium XO sauce (spicy seafood sauce), while some felt the bowl will be equally good even if the char siew is just paired with plain white rice because of the meat's rich flavours. Less is more or more is better? Let your own palate decide.
Baba Chews combine Asian flavours with Western dishes very well, evident in offerings such as Laksa Salmon ($26), Chicken Rendang Lasagne ($18), Peranakan Pulled Pork Burger ($20), and Chilli Crab Tagliatelle ($20) which was especially memorable.
The al-denta pasta was enveloped by sauce that was sweet at first taste before morphing into an intense spiciness which lingered on the tongue. To say it's super shiok is an understatement. Tempura soft shell crab, sous vide egg and fresh cilantro completed the dish.
At first glance, it might look like just any other pulled pork burger, but the version at Baba Chews is made with Iberico pork stewed pongteh-style in fermented soybean sauce. Love the buns which gave such a lovely soft and fluffy bite.
For diners who wants to stick to convention, there's always Barbecued US Pork Ribs ($30) made with homemade barbecue glaze and served with fries and coleslaw. While the dish was well-executed, it did not elicit the same excitement as the Asian-influenced items.
The "fragrance" of Kueh Durian ($15) was way too potent for "super-scared-of-durian-me" to handle, so I'm glad to have the comfort of Baba's Chendol ($10) to escape into.
We were actually given chopsticks and spoons to eat the long strands of pandan jello in the shaved ice dessert! Together with red bean mousse, gula melaka popcorn, fresh coconut milk, gula melaka syrup and shaved ice, it was a refreshing end to our meal.
Address: 86 East Coast Road, #01-01 Katong Square, Singapore 428788
Contact: +65 6723 2025
Opening Hours: Sun-Thu 6.30am-11pm | Fri & Sat 6.30am-12am
Prices are stated in Singapore dollars and subject to 10% service charge & 7% GST. Information is correct at point of published date.
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