Growing up, I often wonder why my grandpa and dad don’t and are not acquainted to use chopsticks, and my grandpa don’t speak Mandarin, but only English and Malay. Only when I found out about my family history, everything just makes sense.
As a half-Peranakan and a lover of family history, I find myself digging up family stories from my relatives and while many stories involved around the juicy stories of family drama, another part of history I was drawn to was the cultural aspect.
Personally, to me, life during that time in Singapore was simply unimaginable, as I did not live through that period, and Singapore has always been progressing so fast that whatever tracks or marks they have left disappeared within a moment’s breath.
I was very fortunate to be invited to stay and explore the Peranakan belt in Katong with Village Katong Hotel; to live and feel like a little Nyonya, well, I should be it, a “modern” little Nyonya.
Situated just a stone throw away from i12 Katong Shopping Mall, Parkway Parade, Village Katong Hotel stands currently in the previous Paramount Hotel.
|Back of the hotel that is facing the Katong District|
The building itself has its part in history as it has stood there for as long as I could remember. My parents and my aunt loved to bring us kids there for some nice buffet lunches.
Fast East Hotels, the group that owns Katong V, decided to bring in some Peranakan style into their hotel to celebrate and honour the district that they are in. Although it may sound like a heavily designer boutique hotel, I am quite surprised that they had just add in the accent to the contemporary style of the hotel and just make it more chic than vintage.
|Deluxe Room — My room!!|
We stayed in Room 1120.
I was treated with a nice deluxe room with fuchsia accents. (Okay, the camera some how don’t get the hot pink, but I did see it with my own eyes!)
I always thought that the Peranakans were like the Eastern version of the Victorians, elaborate and stylish with an attitude, something very outspoken and individualist.
The hotel celebrated this Peranakan style by creating a signature geometric pattern that repeats on the mirror wall, curtains and in the embroidery.
The flavour of the Peranakan charms is then infused into the room with a unique tile design that ran thru the room, starting from the carpet in the bedroom to the tiles in the bathroom and also at a nook in the corner of the room where you can stow your luggage.
|Peranakan printed tile that mimic the style of traditional Peranakan tile patterns.|
Oriental furniture in the room are cherries on top of the cake.
The layout of the room and the toilet remains simple and minimalist.
I love to soak in bathtubs whenever I have a staycation.
I think it is kind of a luxury when I do not have the space to install a bathtub at home.
One issue we experienced was that the housekeeping closes before 10pm?
Lil Sis had used up the toilet paper and there wasn’t an extra roll in the room. I think it would help if they had an extra roll to standby in case of such situation?
Nevertheless, I felt it was quite a funny scenario when she came to tell me that we had ran out of toilet paper. lol~
Here are some other amenities in the room:
|The closet: Bath robes and bedroom slippers are always welcome!|
|Simple mini bar|
The Village Katong was cleverly designed for business travellers in mind, especially the technologists.
Universal electrical plugs were within reach in the entire room, from 2 on each side of the bed to those at the long table.
|Universal plugs electrical points everywhere in the room for ease of use (Photography by Bryce Koh Visuals)|
My lil sis was all ready to snuggle into that huge comfy bed and plugged into her virtual world (good strong wifi!) to continue working on her university thesis. *Oh teenagers~*
Anyway, instead of staying in, I dragged her out for lunch.
It’s Katong! We definitely have to have a bowl of that famous laksa.
Laksa, a famous local dish has its roots in the Peranakan recipes, and not coincidental that the famous and well-loved store is the one that stood in the corridors of its heritage.
Lil Sis and I had 328 Katong Laksa and Seng Kee Rojak for lunch.
Laksa is a traditional spicy noodle soup from the Peranakan culture.
There are a few versions of laksa that is popular in the Malay archipelago, but in Singapore, the coconut milk based curry laksa is the one that is most popular.
328 Katong Laksa was the same brand that had a throwdown with Gordon Ramsay.
Although he lost to 328 Katong Laksa, I felt that it was obvious since cooking a traditional dish well isn’t something one could learn overnight.
It was more of taste that was acquired and handed down through generations.
Today, the secret of their signature gravy is still closely guarded, as it was evident how the gravy had arrived and prepared in the store that day.
While lil sis had queued for laksa, I queued for rojak.
Rojak is a traditional dish from the Malay archipelago, and it is a fruit and vegetable salad with toasted tofu skins and fried dough sticks, evenly mixed with a fragrant mixture of prawn paste, fish sauce, lime juice, lemongrass and water and topped with chopped peanuts bits.
While I was queuing, I took notice of the store owner. An elderly man, probably in his late sixties, treats his business like an art. Patience is a virtue. Upon sensing a customer’s impatience to order or so I was afraid he couldn’t have heard me in the noisy surroundings, he broke a smile from his wrinkled face in acknowledgement to my order. He then responded to me by politely telling me to wait while he carefully crafts out a dish of his rojak.
I just stood there like a little school kid waiting for grandpa to pay the storekeeper for the lollipop that he decided to get for me as a treat.
I was mesmerised by his swift moves and felt pretty excited about the dish as I stood waiting.
The full flavour rojak did not fail. It was a nice appetizer to begin lunch with.
The sour of the tart green apples and the crunch of the toasted tofu skin and fried dough sticks mixed with a savoury sour goodness of the sauce was a delight! The fragrance of the peanut lingers in the mouth after and I like how the cucumber and sprouts just cleans your palette for the next bite.
I like how the sauce wasn’t too sweet or too sour, just enough to whet your appetite for a second helping.
The long awaited laksa was next. The laksa was served with a spoon as the thick rice noodles were cut into short strands and that’s the way how laksa is meant to be savoured.
The fragrance of the curry floods my mouth when a spoonful of noodles and gravy soup hits my lips.
Honestly, I don’t have much laksa in my life since I was not a fan of chillies, but I do think this laksa is pretty decent or as the local says “got standard”.
While some may debate there are better ones out there, I leave it to the laksa tasting experts to judge.
For me, this laksa gets my liking as it wasn’t too spicy for my taste buds and I was able to enjoy the curry alongside the noodles and the cockles.
Lil Sis likes to add their thick prawn sambal chilli into the soup and noodles as she preferred it to be more spicy.
|Pingerrain on Instagram|
After lunch, I let my lil sister to have some time to work on her thesis while I took a peaceful nap in the room. I wanted to take a dip in the pool but the skies said otherwise later that day so I had decided to stay in instead.
They also have a 24-hour gym if one wants a good workout.
|Even looking at the pool will make you smile, don’t you think?|
We were treated to a evening cocktail in the Club Lounge in the evening.
The Club lounge is only available to Club Room guests, and it serves up some nice snacks and bites to go with that nice glass of wine or other non-alcoholic beverages to wind down the evening.
|Club Lounge (Photography by Bryce Koh Visuals)|
There was another group of guests who were there on corporate retreat; and they probably had booked out the club rooms, so there was quite a huge crowd that evening when we were there.
|Lil Sis waiting for her coffee|
I really felt for the female staff who did her shift solo to make sure all of us (it was full house that night) were comfortable in the lounge. Although I didn’t manage to catch her name, but nevertheless, kudos for her good work!
The lounge serves quite a variety of food during cocktail hour. Besides savoury bites, there were mini mousse cake, cheese and crackers, cookies to accompany the variety of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages they had to offer.
Here are some of the yummy savoury bites I had during that evening:
I like how small little things remind you of home; or in this case the Peranakan heritage.
It’s those little things that doesn’t make the place feels ornate yet puts a smile on my face.
|Little Oriental design dish sitting beside hotel standard white cutlery|
Breakfast in Katong Village Hotel is served by Katong Kitchen, a small buffet area that serves up Peranakan dishes in its international buffet line during lunch and dinner.
The fare in the morning is a mixture of Western and Asian.
They have the usual breads, pastries, cereal, muesli, salads, fruits, cold cuts and cheese bar; the English breakfast line-up of eggs, sausages and baked beans. The Asian side would cover small variety of dim sum, congee and Nasi Lemak. They also have an omelette fry-up service station to serve up fresh hot omelette.
What I enjoy most was sitting alongside the corridor with the huge floor length arch windows that was preserved from the old Paramount hotel. I remembered how my parents and lil sis’s parents will take us out on Sunday brunch to Paramount and the old windows now stood as the testament to that memory.
|Reflecting the past over a cuppa|
In the fast moving pace in Singapore, it was nice to see some really old things stood against the test of time and the development here. It allows us to remember our past, our memories and our roots and heritage.
|View from room (click on picture to enlarge)|
Overlooking the view from my room, I told lil Sis that we were actually looking at the way Singaporeans have lived from the past to the present. The old shophouses that still stood today to the old buildings on the front left. The flats that flanked the background each built in a different time and era; and the far distance where the city area stands, and in the process of construction, a new sports hub.
A full history lesson can be taught from this balcony and highly possible, many stories indeed.
*CLICK HERE to enlarge picture to view in the actual size.*
Here are some of the other rooms that Katong V Hotel offers:
(all following photos were shot by Bryce Koh Visuals, otherwise stated.)
|Superior Room (Lime Green Accents)|
|Premium Peranakan Club Room (Turquoise blue accents)|
|Junior Suite (Turquoise Blue Accents)|
|One-bedroom Suite : Living Room|
|One-bedroom Suite : Dining Area|
|One-bedroom Suite : Bedroom|
24 hour Gymnasium
MY RATING FOR Katong V Hotel: 4/5
*All above facts and figures are valid as at 07 December 2013.*
More stories soon!
*Above staycation was sponsored by Quincy Hotel and Far East Hospitality. Please note that although the hotel stay is sponsored, quality of my reviews of hotel are not compromised.*