Peranakan Flavours

Peranakan Flavours

A taste of our uniquely local Nyonya flavours.
Xing Wei Chua
Xing Wei Chua

From Noa; a rare opportunity to check this place out in the heart of the CBD when they are opened on Hari Raya Haji — otherwise a place that I probably would have to miss out on for a bit considering that they only operate during weekday morning to the afternoon before Laut takes over the operations for dinner service.

Went for the Fish Rendang Set here; described as “Fish of the Day, Rendang Curry” on the menu, the item comes with ala-carte and set options — the set sees the item come with Nasi Ulam, Seasonal Vegetables, and Homemade Sambal Belachan. Thought that the entire item came as a great package altogether — the Nasi Ulam certainly giving the dish much of its attractive aesthetic; fluffy and hinted lightly of an umami note that is extremely appealing on its own. It pairs well with the home-made sambal belachan, which adds a savoury and spicy kick that tantalises the taste-buds — those who are less tolerant to spiciness, you have been warned! Otherwise, the Fish Rendang presents a mellower spiciness in comparison; hints of a coconut-y fragrance that’s pretty alluring, while the fish served comes in a rather substantial portion — fresh, moist and plump; flaky and easy to eat without any undesirable fishiness. The seasonal vegetables seem to be the Nyonya Achar here; provides a good tang and a nice crunch that resets the tastebuds especially from the spicy elements in the dish.

Must say I am pretty wow-ed with the offering of a Peranakan-themed lunch menu at Noa, which also somewhat goes hand-in-hand with what Laut has to offer despite its separate operations — taking inspiration from the culture and flavours of Southeast Asian cuisine. Would say that it’s a spot I would gladly want to visit again — a gorgeous environment, and a familiar theme with well-executed food and coffee that resonates well with their concept; what’s more that I can ask for?

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From Casa Bom Vento Express at the new Xin Tekka; the food court being located in Tekka Place a short distance away from Rochor MRT Station. The stall is by the same folks behind Casa Bom Vento; a Halal restaurant that used to serve up Peranakan cuisine at Joo Chiat Road.

Admittedly the other offerings do look very attractive, such as the Buah Keluak Fried Rice and Debal Curry; just wanted to go for a fish option during the day of my visit. Coming with Blue Pea Flower Rice, the Ikan Pari Assam Pedas is essentially stingray cooked in a Peranakan hot and sour stew. Liked how the stew was mildly spicy whilst tangy; fairly balanced here with a very slight tinge of sweetness — pretty comforting with quite a good portion of stingray that is all plump and succulent; came off the bones pretty easily. The eggplant that is added in the stew adds a good burst of flavour from the stew; cooked to the point where it’s soft and absorbed all that flavour from the stew. The Blue Pea Flower Rice features basmati grains; pretty fluffy and works well especially as one drenches it with the stew; pretty delightful.

Wouldn’t want to comment on how authentic this is; am one who rarely touches Peranakan cuisine enough to have a deep understanding — still pretty excited though to give the other menu items a try. Must say it adds for a very good option to dine around this part of town!

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Had not tried Violet Oon Singapore proper until this visit was made a few days ago — the only other time I made a visit was for their Otah Toast a couple of years back at the Bukit Timah Road branch when they only had a single location. Having heard so mhch about this item from the very same person who ended up making the reservation so that I could have a taste of the item, the Beef Rendang clearly does not disappoint — really enjoyed all that Lemak-Ness of the Rendang; very creamy and decadent; not too spicy yet incredibly fragrant. The beef shares the limelight here with the rendang; the meat being incredibly tender without any effort required in chewing — all that without being particularly gamey and provides just enough meatiness alongside with the flavourful Rendang that carried a satisfying, familiar medley of flavours despite the complexity of the Rendang itself. It goes without saying we ended up mopping up the sauce clean with a bowl of Chicken Rice on the side; not that the Chicken Rice wasn't spectacular (it was extremely fragrant in its own right), but we just could not bear wasting it all. Service here is also what I am really fond of here; passionate, honest and friendly staff that is helpful with their recommendations and even engaging in small talk with their guests — things that really matter considering the bland service that many joints provide these days, which is also notch up from my experience back at Bukit Timah Road just a couple of years ago. Would really not mind coming back again another time, considering there are a couple of dishes that caught my attention — really impressed with how they do their spices here too as well!

The Nonya Chap Chye here features braised cabbage with beancurd skin, rice vermicelli, mushrooms and black fungus. Cabbage was soft yet delivered a light crunch, while the black fungus created some chew along with the bouncy mushrooms and springy rice vermicelli; all that served with a mildly savoury braised liquid that also carried an evident garlicky flavour.

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Probably one of the better dishes at Nonya Nonya Restaurant; a new Peranakan establishment run by the folks of House of Peranakan Group opposite myVillage @ Serangoon Gardens that also operate House of Peranakan, House of Peranakan Petit and Tok Panjang Peranakan Cafe. The Ngoh Hiang is tightly wrapped with reasonably crisp beancurd skin, packed with minced meat and prawn for that meatiness with chestnuts included for a crunch — perhaps also one of the better Ngoh Hiang dishes we have had.

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Char-grilled Stingray with Sambal Chili and Chinchalok served on the side. Thought the fish came with reasonable tenderness, and the chili was actually pretty much on point — spicy, tangy and umami that is always the draw factor of having the stingray (it's all about the Sambal here) though the local in me was yearning a little bit more heat for the Sambal. It's also worth noting that the stingray here is a tad smokier from the chargrilling somehow.

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Wok-fried sambal belachan fried rice with grilled tumeric chicken and achar. Pretty similar to the XO Crab Fried Rice that I have tried yesterday — as flavourful but less the crabmeat. Replacing the crabmeat would be small chunks of chicken and the sambal belachan which gives the rice it's moderately spicy flavour. The fried egg is served with some finesse here — shaped in a mound whilst being pan-fried instead of just being simply fried on the pan to hold its shape; yolk wasn't exactly runny but still gooey. The flavours of tumeric is easily detectable, though if I were to nitpick the chicken strips were slightly on the drier side. Achar was crunchy and was more sweet than spicy — loved how they didn't go all out on the peanuts here.

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Wok-fried Pork Belly with Green Apple and Sweet & Sour sauce. Listed as yet another dish by Chef Sam Leong on their menu. Thought this was actually pretty rustic like how sweet and sour pork used to be around a decade ago. The good mix of fatty and lean meat for the Sweet & Sour Pork gives it just enough bite whilst lightly-fried for just a wee bit of crunchiness in the exterior. Unlike conventional sweet and sour pork dishes, Baba Chews serves their sweet & sour pork with green apple slices instead of pineapples, onions and capsicum which provides for a soft bite from being stewed with a little zing. The sauce was also pretty flavourful with a good balance of sweet and sour flavours — pretty well executed I will say.

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Back for their lunch offerings after having tried their dinner items yesterday. Perhaps I was carrying expectations too high for this dish that it seemed a little more ordinary than what I expected it to be. The light fried batter does gives the fresh and plump prawns a little crispiness whilst drenched in a light wasabi mayo which was a good balance — you could taste the whiff of wasabi flavours less the numbing sensation amidst the creamy mayo. Thought the mango salsa on the side was a little unnecessary — seemed to have overwhelmed the wasabi mayo but was actually delightful to have by itself; fresh, tangy, sweet and everything refreshing to lift the tastebuds.

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Available ala-carte for $8++ for lunch, but it comes at a $5++ top up if you were to order a main during dinner. Of course, being a restaurant situated in a hotel this is a little more decent and lacks the crudeness and ruggedness of what would be churned out from a neighborhood tzechar stall hence it lacks that wok hei that some might be looking for, but the fried rice was immensely flavourful from the broth it was cooked in as it absorbed the flavours and tasted even in all parts — pretty well-executed. Shredded crab meat exists in small bits all over the plate; adds in a little sweet crustacean flavour as you chew upon them.

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A classic Nyonya Braised Duck dish with Tamarind and Coriander. Not sure how this dish is supposed to be prepared for it seems to be a pretty rare dish to me (or perhaps I am just not finding hard enough), but I pretty liked how the pool of sauce to be a little sweet yet tangy from the tamarind. For those who might detest this dish bearing the impression of how salty duck confit can be, be assured that the Itek Sio isn't cooked in duck fat hence the usual savoury flavours don't interfere with the sauce here. Instead, the juicy duck meat is well-complimented with the sauce, all of which is covered under the gelatinous skin where you could feel the fattiness I between the flesh and the skin of the duck.

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Finally got the time to have this for light lunch. Touted as one of the best Popiah you can get around and definitely deserves the title. These days, other vendors just seemed to scrimp on the sauces, but My Cosy Corner's popiah is just so saucey, the translucent skin takes up a dark colour from the sauce. As if not enough, they aren't shy when it comes to adding chili if you prefer to have your popiah with chili; adds a really potent spiciness to it! Wrapped within, the ingredients are warm, juicy and soft yet crunchy, delivering that fuzzy feeling right down to the soul.

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Up, down and everywhere around for food.

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