Peranakan culture and cuisine has always held a special place in the heart of Singaporeans and Malaysians. Laksa and Nyonya Kueh can easily be found in most parts of Singapore; however, traditional Peranakan dishes such as Ayam Buah Keluak, Nyonya Beef Rendang and Nyonya Chap Chye might not be easy to source at a reasonable price.
Here is my go-to list for Peranakan restaurants & eateries in Singapore:
My first encounter with Executive Chef Raymond Khoo was in 2016. An International Chef and a true blue Peranakan, The Peranakan is his first foray into opening a Peranakan restaurant serving his family heirloom recipes. Over the years, The Peranakan has evolved from just being a restaurant, instead, it has become a celebration of Peranakan heritage in Orchard Road, Singapore. The menu has expanded to include full-fledged vegetarian cuisine, Tok Panjang (Peranakan traditional feast), Peranakan High Tea and Eight Course Heng-Heng Degustation Menu.
The execution of the traditional dishes remains the highlight here. Ayam Buah Keluak is based on great grandma’s recipe, delivering succulent chicken with thick, robust gravy infused with the chicken essence. Although the dish is served with 4 Peranakan’s truffle (buah keluak), you actually get double the amount as the fillings are taken out, blended and stuff backed in for the smooth and nutty texture.
Satay Babi Sum Chan is an interesting dish, as it challenges our preconception of satay. There are no skewers and no peanuts as well. Instead, this dish offers delicious, tender, sweet and savoury braised pork belly. Together with Beef Rendang, filled with a rich blend of coconut milk and spices, making it a trifecta of “rice thief” dishes for me.
While Nyonya Chap Chye is probably the most renowned vegetable dish in Peranakan Restaurant arsenal, it is good to try something different. Such as steam Bendeh (Ladies Finger) or Terung (Brinjal) with the choice of sauce: sambal, kicap manis or Chinchalok.
422 Orchard Road
Level 2, Claymore Connect.
Bonding Kitchen started as private dining set up in Johor Bahru, before gaining traction and open the first restaurant in Singapore. While most of the Peranakan Restaurants roots can be traced to Penang and Melaka, Executive Chef Danny Chew hailed from Johor. His style of cooking is still Peranakan centric, he continues to fine-tune the flavours blending modern cooking techniques and better ingredients.
Wagyu Beef Rendang, stewed wagyu beef ribs with coconut milk and spices. The gravy caramelised beautifully, delivering an intensely sweet and savoury flavour, with delicious, succulent yet bouncy beef cuts. Topping up the dish is kerisik (fried coconut) to give the crunchy to the dish.
Hokkien Lor Ark, Chef Danny family’s recipe. The duck is marinated for 24 hours to infuse the flavour and tenderised the flesh. It is then braised with local spices and soy sauce, resulting in fork-tender duck meat, infused with robust soya sauce and spices flavour.
Sotong Masak Hitam, Chef Danny’s version. It is recommended to have this at the end of the savoury dishes. The chewy yet tender sotong delivers a creamy, acidic and refreshing punch / palate cleanser. The flavours combinations are so powerful, they will leave you with a positive lasting impression.
Nyonya Taste by Brew & Bar
Nestled in the stretch of shophouses along Jalan Pari Burong, it serves home-style Peranakan dishes. The menu is compact, thus allowing them to focus on what they are good at. Testament to its ongoing progress, celebrities such as Zoey Tay, James Seah, Elving Ng and Xiang Yun have paid them a visit.
Ayam Buah Keluak. Normally, when you order this dish in a restaurant, you can hardly able to make out the cuts of the chicken as it will be covered in dark colour rempah (spices). The version here is like a blend of curry chicken with ayam buah keluak. The chicken is tender, while the gravy is thick and robust. Instead of serving the whole buah keluak with its shell, they took out the fillings and mould it into round balls.
Upping the game on Buah Keluak fried rice, Nyonya Taste dish up Truffle Buah Keluak Fried Rice. The rice is fragrant, al-dente and packs buah keluak flavour. Adding truffle oil to a certain dish can help to elevate its flavour, but not in this case. I find the presence of truffle oil clashes with the strong buah keluak flavour.
Nyonya Chap Chye deliver a comforting dish. The cabbage is cooked till soft and the gravy is sweet with a touch of umami. Digging into Sotong Masak Hitam is like flirting with danger. The portion of this dish is huge, with a generous amount of sotong, however, it is also comes with an almost equal amount of chopped chilli padi.
PeraMakan restaurant is founded by Executive Chef Kathryn Ho, who is a fourth-generation Nyonya of Melaka and Penang parentage. The concept of Tingkat Peramakan is to provide authentic home-cooked Peranakan food, minus the frills. Tingkat PeraMakan can be found in shopping malls and housing estates.
Beef Rendang. A huge cut of beef, cooked in coconut milk and spices. The meat is fork-tender and succulent, while the gravy is fragrant, rich and creamy. It brought back memories of Lamb Shank Rendang served at PeraMakan restaurant at Keppel.
Ayam Buah Keluak served here is the closest version to the traditional style. The whole dish is coated with buah keluak and spices, making it difficult to guess which part of the chicken. The thigh part is juicy and succulent, while the breast meat is a bit dry and tough to my liking.
Ikan Garam Sambal and Sayur Masak Lemak will be a darling for those who like super spicy food. On a scale of 1 to 10, the spiciness level is 11. After the first bite, I was scampering for a glass of milk to put down the fire. Not for the faint hearted.