Easties may be familiar with Katong Square, which was converted to a collection of F&B establishments from the old police station. As with our beloved architecture, old things have evolved into new ones and so has the menu at Baba Chews Bar and Eatery.
Founded as a Peranakan establishment in Joo Chiat, the restaurant has undergone an extensive transformation on the food front, with 80% of its menu revamped to include modern twists while retaining traditional tastes.
The juxtaposition of traditional and modern flavours comes to play with the starters. The Otah Yu Siao ($12) packages the comforting flavours of homemade otah with a sambal sabayan sauce between two slices of charcoal dough fritter, a modern looking plating for a dish many have grown up with.
The Quinoa Salad ($17) is an unapologetically Western addition to Baba Chews’ menu, with quinoa tossed with feta cheese crumble, pomegranate, avocados, and all sorts of refreshing greens, making it an ideal starter for the health conscious.
The mains are beautifully plated and blend many flavours together. Western-style presentation runs through dishes like Peranakan Pulled Pork Burger ($20), Laksa Salmon ($20), Chilli Crab Tagliatelle ($20), and Chicken Rendang Lasagne ($18). Do not underestimate them, however, as the Asian influences are definitely in the preparation.
The Laksa Salmon yields familiar flavours of light laksa sauce, with the finishing touches of sautéed Asian greens and crispy beancurd puff making it somewhat like a deconstructed bowl of laksa.
The Chilli Crab Tagliatelle is unforgivingly spicy, while the Chicken Rendang Lasagne leans toward a more neutralising flavour profile.
For Western-leaning diners, the Barbecued US Pork Ribs and Peranakan Pulled Pork Burger (both $20) are great choices for those who wanted a heartier meal.
Those craving something a little closer to the restaurant’s Asian roots can indulge in the X.O. Pork Belly Char Siew Rice Bowl ($19), whose fragrant Hainanese ‘oil’ rice brings to mind the classic Hainanese chicken rice.
Baba’s Chendol ($10) is an artfully done dessert worth writing home about. This dessert strays from traditional plating, instead, arriving at your table as a bowl of homemade pandan jello noodles with red bean mousse, Gula Melaka popcorn, Gula Melaka syrup buried beneath shaved ice shaped in a ball. Pour some fresh coconut milk and smash it to enjoy a subtle sweetness that does not overwhelm.
With elegant furnishings amidst a quiet part of Singapore and a refurbished menu, Baba Chews makes a great spot to escape to for an intimate meal.