Some days I enjoy chilling out in chic cafes and indulging in creative eats, but some days I just want local eats, old school style. That craving for some nostalgia brought me to heritage rich Katong for lunch and coffee.
Operating out of an old school shophouse, Mei Yuen Restaurant specialises in roasted chicken rice. Chicken rice is one of Singapore’s most iconic dishes and some even say it is the national dish. While everyone has their personal favourite (which they so fiercely defend), I am still on the lookout for mine.
Roasted chicken and vegetables with rice ($18.50 for 3 pax): Served on a bed of beansprouts, the roasted chicken was not only tender and juicy but the skin was crispy too. Now, that is the difference between a great roast and a decent one, the skin of course. The chicken rice was fluffy and tasty with a hint of garlic. Personally, I prefer chicken rice that isn’t too strong in taste, so this was just right to me, but maybe not so for hardcore fans of chicken rice. My only gripe was that the chili lacked the kick and wasn’t spicy enough. That aside, this was definitely one of the best roasted chicken rice I have had in Singapore.
Moving on after lunch, my friends and I headed across the road to Chin Mee Chin Confectionery. A traditional bakery and coffeeshop, stepping in here felt like I went back in time. Everything about this charming coffeeshop spells old school, from its mosaic tiles and wooden furniture to the way the coffee and buns are prepared. As the coffeeshop has limited seating available, do not be surprised if you have to queue for seats. Also, if you are alone or in pairs, you may have to share table space with other diners. Pastries on display are self-service, but you will have to inform the service staff which pastries you took so they can record for you to pay at the end of your meal.
Because I was there in the afternoon, the popular pastries such as the cream horns and custard tarts were already sold out. I opted for the toasted raisin buns, which were were served warm and slathered with kaya (coconut and egg jam) and a slice of butter. While the toasted buns were good (but not crazy good kind of good), the yuanyang (coffee with tea) was a let down. The coffee was aromatic and full bodied, but overall the drink was watered down. Diluted tea perhaps?
Overall, both Mei Yuen Restaurant and Chin Mee Chin Confectionery are worth a visit for honest food that’s cheap and good. Their proximity to each other makes the trip down to Katong more worthwhile too. And if you still need another reason, old style bakeries like Chin Mee Chin are fast disappearing and you definitely do not want to miss out on the opportunity to savour an uniquely Singapore dining experience before it becomes history.
Mei Yuen is located at 233 East Coast Road and it is open Mon – Sun: 0900 to 2100 (closed on Wednesday).
Chin Mee Chin Confectionery is located at 204 East Coast Road and it is open Tues – Sun: 0800 to 1630
Parking on the roadside is a nightmare, so you may want to consider parking at 112 Katong instead.