The Katong neighborhood used to be a busy seaside area until it became renowned for its food and beverage (F&B) businesses, contemporary cafés, and colorful shophouses.
Before land reclamation happening at Marine Parade and the 19-kilometer East Coast Park (ECP) highway in the 1970s, this whole enclave was a sought-after weekend getaway for Singapore’s affluent, and the region was studded with mansions, hotels, and recreational clubs along the seashore.
Schools and other facilities are close by.
Because the CBD and the airport are just a 10-minute drive apart, the ECP provides more convenience. Meyer Mansion, as well as other condos along Meyer Road, are within walking distance of the Thomson-East Coast Line’s planned Katong Park MRT station.
Chung Cheng High School (Main) is one of the area’s most illustrious educational institutions. Aw Boon-Haw and other benefactors were the first to establish the institution. Aw is well known as the creator of Tiger Balm, a medicinal balm. Lim Bo Seng, a military hero, was the school’s first supervisor.
Many of the prominent local and foreign schools are located in the Katong region. The Canadian International School, located at 371 Tanjong Katong Road, and Pat’s Schoolhouse Katong, located at 26 Still Road South, are also nearby.
Moona Kader Sultan, a rich Indian cattle trader, constructed the historic Grand Hotel in 1917. Previously, it was known as Karikal Mahal. The Grand Hotel was once a four-house complex with lavish grounds. In 1973, it was divided in half for the building of Still Road. Pat’s Schoolhouse occupies one half of the old hotel, which has been preserved, while Odyssey The Global Preschool occupies the other half across the street.
The Goodman Arts Centre, once the LaSalle College of the Arts campus, now contains numerous art studios and dining choices, including Café Melba.
Tao Nan School, which was founded in 1906 and is one of Singapore’s oldest primary schools, and CHIJ Katong Convent (Primary and Secondary), which was founded in 1930, are two popular schools in the Marine Parade neighborhood. Ngee Ann Elementary (founded in 1940) and Tanjong Katong Primary are two more excellent primary schools in the region (established in 2001).
Victoria School in Siglap, a secondary school for boys established in 1876, is one of the best secondary schools in the region. Tanjong Katong Girls’ School was established in 1953, whereas Chung Cheng High School (Main) was established in 1939.
Heritage town of Joo Chiat
The Katong district is also linked to Joo Chiat, which was named Singapore’s first historic town by the National Heritage Board in 2011. In the 1920s, Joo Chiat Road start as a basic dirt road that ran through the plantations stretching from Geylang Serai to the sea. It was named after Chew Joo Chiat, a rich landowner and philanthropist renowned as the “King of Katong” for purchasing vast amounts of property in Katong.
Many of the preserved shophouses on Joo Chiat Place, Joo Chiat Road, and East Coast Road are home to well-known food and beverage establishments. The renowned Kim Choo Kueh Chang at Joo Chiat Place’s classic Nyonya dumplings, 328 Katong Laksa, and the old-school café Chin Mee Chin Confectionery, which closed in 2018 after the original proprietors retired. However, lifestyle company Ebb & Flow is bringing it back, with executive chef Maxine Ngooi, who also owns Tigerlily Patisserie at 350 Joo Chiat Road, in charge of the kitchen.
Its main store, Ninethirty by Awfully Chocolate, is located on 131E East Coast Road in a corner shophouse. The Islamic Religious Council of Singapore’s property arm has preserved the Red House on East Coast Road (Muis). Katong Bakery & Confectionery, which opened in 1931 and closed in 2003, was the first bakery in Singapore. Wang Café has inhabited the site since it reopened in 2016. Micro Bakery & Kitchen occupied the area two years ago.
112 Katong, across the street, is undergoing renovations and is expected to reopen by the end of the year. Next door is Katong Square, which has preserved the old Joo Chiat police station, which was constructed in 1928. The site has since been taken up by Starbucks and Baba Chews, an all-day eating restaurant.
Rows and rows of well-preserved pre-war shophouses with distinctive facades and motifs inspired by Chinese, Peranakan, and English colonial architecture can also be seen in Katong.
The appeal of the East Coast region as a seaside estate for people to work, live, and play will continue to grow thanks to its combination of ancient structures and contemporary condos.