Big flavors and lots of heritage
|Part of our new SG Eats 2017.|
It’s been a big year for Peranakan cuisine. Celebrity chef Damian D’Silva may have closed both his legendary Immigrants Gastrobar and his stall at Timbre+, but Candlenut became the first Peranakan place to win a Michelin star, Nyonya doyenne Violet Oon opened two restaurants in relatively quick succession and both Tiong Bahru and Orchard got much-needed Peranakan establishments. Here are the new and the legendary.
It’s got a very exciting space—the Joo Chiat Police Station, built in 1938, part of the new Hotel Indigo in Katong. Technically it’s the hotel’s all-day dining place, but serves local delights with creative flair like the ayam buah keluak and foie gras tau kwa pau. #01-01 Hotel Indigo Singapore Katong, 86 East Coast Rd.
Blue Ginger strikes a nice balance between hip and traditional, with its shop house space in Tanjong Pagar, date night vibes and pocket-friendly prices. Try the namesake ayam panggang Blue Ginger, grilled chicken with spices and coconut milk, and the Nyonya fish head curry. 97 Tanjong Pagar Rd.
Malcom Lee’s freshly Michelin-starred restaurant does seasonal communal degustation menus for dinner. Lee fuses innovation with the deep, robust and complex flavors of Nyonya cuisine passed down through his family, to create dishes like the tiger prawn lemak nanas and the snapper with black mangga sambal. 17A Dempsey Rd.
This riverside restaurant does buffets for breakfast, lunch and dinner, as well as an international and Asian a la carte menu. But the big draw is their selection of local and Peranakan fare, such as Nyonya laksa, black bean slipper lobster and babi pongteh. There are good vegetarian options, too. Swissotel Merchant Court, 20 Merchant Rd.
A colorful foray into Tiong Bahru by Katong’s Peranakan Inn people, this small 30-seater restaurant serves affordable classics like otak otak, ngoh hiang, and mains like itek tim soup and babi assam made with sour plum and beanpaste. The dessert menu is extensive, with durian chendol and gula melaka sago pudding the main draws. 42 Eng Hoon St.
It’s not the most atmospheric of spots, but the food is pretty outstanding, with classic dishes like babi pongteh, ayam buah keluak and Nyonya chap chye. Go straight for the babi pongteh. It’s not too oily and is braised to perfection with a side of mushrooms for added aroma. 3/F Keppel Club, 10 Bukit Chermin Rd.
This is an old-world gem dishing out traditional Nyonya cuisine like buah keluak ayam and pig trotter pongteh. The highlights are the set menus: Tok Panjang, where signature items come in rattan baskets; a fancier six-course degustation (for six people); and omakase-style Chef’s Table with wine pairings. #02-01 Claymore Connect @ Orchard Hotel, 422 Orchard Rd.
Despite more pan-Singaporean offerings this year, Oon’s revamped venture in Bukit Timah still specializes squarely in Peranakan food. The black-and-white space is now interspersed with colorful Peranakan tiles and classic bistro furniture—fine environs to tuck into pong tau hu soup, ngoh hiang, kueh pie tee, udang goreng chili, dry laksa and buah keluak noodles. 881 Bukit Timah Rd.