Peranakan guru Peter Wee, owner of Katong Antique House, gives us an insight on the heritage-rich Katong
Few know Katong – Singapore’s vibrant east-side neighbourhood – better than owner of Katong Antique House, Peter Wee. We chat with him about his beloved neighbourhood, its amazing grub, and the history of his antique shop-museum.
Katong is mini-Singapore; it has all these sites representing various cultures in one place. There are Chinese and Indian temples, churches and mosques, Eurasian restaurants, and Peranakan (Straits Chinese) dining spots.
Some of my favourite eats around Katong include hokkien mee (stir-fried prawn noodles) from Geylang Lorong 29 Fried Hokkien Mee (Food R Us Coffeeshop, 396 East Coast Road) and Peranakan kueh (bite-sized desserts) from Glory Catering (139 East Coast Road).
I inherited this building (Katong Antique House) from my grandfather more than 40 years ago. It’s basically an antique shop, and everything on display has a story behind it. The people who bring these artefacts in – special cabinets, kebayas (a traditional blouse-dress) – don’t necessarily know the history behind these things, so I make it a point to research their origins. ￼￼￼
The biggest misconception people have about the Peranakan culture is that they think we’re either Malay or Chinese. In fact, our blood is 80 percent Chinese (old China, not modern China) and 20 percent Malay.
If you’re a tourist exploring Katong for the day, start your morning with chok (congee) for breakfast, then in the afternoon you can explore the Joo Chiat area for its architecture and many photo opportunities. Then, head over to the East Coast area, or walk around to visit the temples and mosques. End your day with dinner at one of Katong’s many zi char (home-style Chinese dishes) restaurants, or have something classic like chicken rice or laksa (coconut milk-based curry broth) – these things can be found almost anywhere in this area!
Katong Antique House, 208 East Coast Road, Singapore 428907, p. 6345 8544.