NATIONAL KITCHEN BY VIOLET OON SINGAPORE
#02-01, National Gallery, 1 St Andrew’s Road, tel: 9834-9935.
Ayam Buah Keluak
National Kitchen, is the second brainchild of Violet Oon, the doyenne of Peranakan food. Her first restaurant is located at Bukit Timah, while this is housed within the grand pillars of the National Gallery.. Menu highlights include the restaurant’s interpretation of the Ayam Buah Keluak ($23), which is stewed in a spicy and tangy chicken stew that complements brilliantly with the buah keluak. The nuts have been infused with the spices of turmeric, so the flavours pack a punch. Another favourite is the Daging Chabek Beef Cheek ($36), where slow braised beef cheek is cooked in a rich and spicy tamarind gula melaka gravy and coconut. The meat literally melts in the mouth, while the gravy is an addictive mix of the sweetness of gula melaka, the fragrance of coconut and the tartness of tamarind.
Kuay Pie Tee
For a lighter bite, try the Kuay Pie Tee ($17), where thin bamboo shoots and turnip first poached in a prawn bisque is set in crispy and thin cups then topped with fresh prawn slices and a sweet fruit sauce. Don’t leave without trying the Kueh Beng Kah ($9), a grated tapioca cake that has a pudding-like texture, topped with gula melaka syrup and coconut milk.
BABA CHEWS BAR AND EATERY
#01-01 Katong Square, 86 East Coast Road, tel: 6723-2025.
Iberico Pork Ribs Pongteh
Baba Chews is nestled within the new-ish Hotel Indigo Singapore Katong. Besides the gorgeous décor – think bold red chairs and leather banquettes set against a masculine wood-dominant backdrop with a bar area that features a surfaces clad in monochromatic Peranakan tiles – the restaurant also has a pretty impressive menu. Actually, make that two. There is an all-day dining menu, which comes with a selection of local and international fare. The dinner menu however, features only Peranakan cuisine.
Barramundi Goreng Chilli
One of the notable dishes from the menu include the Iberico Pork Ribs Pongteh ($25), made with Iberico pork that is said to be slow-cooked for 12 hours at low temperature with fermented soya bean, mushrooms and potatoes. The gravy is incredibly rich and satisfying, while the meat manages to retain its tenderness and juiciness. Another favourite of ours is the Peranakan staple, Beef Short Ribs Rendang ($25). Here, the beef short ribs is stewed in a rich gravy of coconut cream, spices, gula melaka and turmeric leaves. Turning to seafood, Baba Chews also offer up the Barramundi Goreng Chilli ($29), a pan-fried sea bass fillet coated with homemade sambal chilli. The spice is addictive, going well with the perfectly seared sea bass.
#01-01 MDIS Building, 190 Changi Rd, tel: 8450-7996.
There is nothing fancy schmancy about the interiors of Old Bibik. With bright and cheery colour accents amidst a palette of light woods and whites, there is little evidence that this is a Peranakan restaurant. But what they lack in ambience, they make up for in good, authentic Peranakan food. Don’t judge a book by its cover as they say.
Rempah Ayam Goreng
We cannot rave enough about its rendang, particularly its Beef Rendang (from $9). The rempah sauce, which is made fresh every day, is thick, rich and absolutely delicious. Other mainstays include the Assam Prawns ($15), which are stir-fried with sour tamarind and lime leaves as well as the Rempah Ayam Goreng (from $12), featuring deep fried chicken marinated with all sorts of spices. The restaurant is halal certified, so there is no pork. For dishes that traditionally use pork such as babi pongteh (pork stew), use chicken or fish instead.
Level 3, Keppel Club, 10 Bukit Chermin Road, tel: 6377-2829.
Nonya Chap Chye
If there’s one dish you should order at every Peranakan restaurant, it’s chap chye. Here the Nonya Chap Chye ($12) is served with cabbages, dried shrimps and mushrooms in a tau cheow (fermented soybeans) stew and is delicious with white rice. The vegetables are well braised and soft, yet not so mushy that they don’t have bite. This family restaurant also offers up comforting classics like Ayam Buah Keluak ($18) and Beef Rendang ($20). The food tastes just like home, and we like it that way.
But if the mains were good, the desserts tasted even better! PeraMakan has an off-shoot store at the basement of Tangs, where they sell all sorts of Peranakan sweet treats. While the selection at their restaurant is not as big, they have a good selection that includes Sago Gula Melaka ($4), a sago pudding served chilled with gula melaka and coconut milk, as well as Durian Chendol ($6). The former is fragrant, but the latter is heaven. The durian paste is thick and creamy, just like durian flesh, and is best taken together with the coconut milk and gula melaka in the chendol.
Level 2, Orchard Hotel, 442 Orchard Road, tel: 6262-4428.
Stepping inside The Peranakan, you feel as if you’ve stepped into a completely different universe. There are chandeliers covering a good part of the ceiling. Bright, bold chinoiserie prints are seen everywhere, while ornate furniture are decked out at every turn. We love how audacious the style of the place is, and we expect the menu to deliver the same. And we were not disappointed.
The Ayam Buah Keluak ($19) had a rich enough gravy that was thick and full of the flavours of the nuttiness and bitterness of the buah keluak. You’ll also be glad to know that the nuts were also really stuffed. Other favourites include the Satay Babi Sum Chan ($19), where fatty pork meat is mixed in a spicy gravy that tastes similar to satay sauce expect the lemongrass is prominent here, as well as the Sambal Udang Petai ($29), where prawns and bitter beans are fried with sambal tumis. Flavours are surprisingly refreshing, yet also very flavourful.