We’ve been finding ourselves along East Coast / Joo Chiat rather often these days and it’s no wonder. This weekend, we dropped by Baba Chews, a restaurant that sits on the site of the former Joo Chiat Police Station and its interior design shows a heavy influence of the Peranakan heritage. To celebrate its 7th anniversary, Baba Chews is having a 4-hands collaboration between Chef Alvin Leong, the restaurant’s opening chef and Chef Kit, its current head chef.
To begin, we had the Kueh Pie Tee ($14) – a quintessential Peranakan snack of braised turnip with beancurd and prawns, chilli chukka, egg and peanuts. If only these came in larger portions.
The other snack we had was the firewood grilled oysters ($25 for 6 pieces). Grilled over binchotan, these grilled oysters are slathered in jalapeño butter and topped with shavings of pork crackling. The smoky and slightly briny flavors go well and the pork crackling gives additional texture.
For mains, we had the Grilled Assam Halibut Risotto ($30), which Chef Kit shared he drew inspiration from both Peruvian and local flavours – Cazuela Rice and assam marination for the halibut. This is one of my favorite dishes for that meal. The tang from the assam whets the appetite and is also visually appealing.
Those preferring heavier flavours should try their black pepper crayfish horfun ($24). The flat rice noodles have plenty of wok-hei and the black pepper sauce has a very satisfying kick.
Mix the sous vide egg into the dish and give it a good stir so the creaminess from the egg yolk coats the noodles evenly. Have this dish when it’s hot so the flat rice noodles don’t clump together.
If you are there in a group, don’t miss out on their beef short rib rendang ($32). The short ribs are stewed in a rich gravy of coconut cream, spices, gula melaka and turmeric leaf, resulting in tender meat and a gravy that you want to drizzle generously with rice. Tip – request for the blue pea coconut rice that Baba Chews serves for additional indulgence, but it’s so worth it.
We also had their Ayam Buah Keluak ($26) – grilled chicken breast with kamote chips. This dish paled in comparison to the rest as the meat was a tad dry and could not showcase the Buah Keluak well.
To round up the meal, we had their highly recommended Kueh Durian ($16), a variation of the traditional kueh dadar house-made durian mousse and gula melaka wrapped in pandan crepes and topped with a scoop of gula melaka ice-cream. Yes, it sounds as indulgent as it sounds, so we recommend sharing this dish.
The Baba Churros ($15) is an alternative for those who don’t take durian. Fried dough is dusted with cinnamon sugar and served with pandan dulche and coconut ice cream.
Even with many new offerings sprouting up in East Coast / Joo Chiat, Baba Chews is a place worth checking out, especially with families. Visit from now until 6 July to try out the signature dishes from both Chef Alvin and Chef Kit.
Budget per person: $30 to $40