I wonder how many of you know about the existence of Peranakan in Singapore. You’re not alone, I’ve never heard about them before too. So, this is the right time to be acquainted with Peranakan culture, specifically with their cuisine.
I’ve learned few things about Peranakan from the Owner/Executive Chef Raymond Khoo during our chitchat over dinner at his restaurant “The Peranakan”. It’s currently the only Peranakan restaurant along the Orchard road and the only restaurant to serve a ‘Tok Panjang’ which I had the chance to try. He has over 30 years of experience in F&B and came out of retirement to do Peranakan cuisine from the three generations of delicious Peranakan recipes, lovingly handed down by the Nonyas and Babas in his family.
Peranakan Chinese or Straits-born Chinese are the descendants of Chinese immigrants who came to the Malay Archipelago including British Malaya (now Peninsular Malaysia and Singapore). Members of this community in Malaysia address themselves as “Baba Nyonya”. Nyonya is the term for the women and Baba for the men.
I’ve learned from him that most of their descendants have lived for generations along the straits of Malacca before they finally came to Singapore. And there’s quite number of Peranakan community here and many are the elites of Singapore. It’s amazing to have this opportunity to meet and listen to a Peranakan who spoke very passionately about their culture and food. Isn’t it nice to learn about their existence from a Peranakan itself? So when you meet one in the future you won’t longer be surprised as I did.
He also mentioned the misconception about Peranakan cuisine that most people think it’s all spicy food when it’s not. It’s also known as Nyonya cuisine comes from the Peranakans, descendants of early Chinese migrants who settled in Penang, Malacca, Singapore and Indonesia inter-marrying with local Malays and combines Chinese, Malay and other influences. Nonya cooking is the result of blending Chinese ingredients with various distinct spices and cooking techniques used by the Malay/Indonesian community. This gives rise to Peranakan interpretations of Malay/Indonesian food that is similarly tangy, aromatic, spicy and herbal.
Personally, I’ve never tried any of their food before, so everything is quite new to me. Because of that, I don’t think I am the right person to say if the food is truly authentic Peranakan. But, rest assured that the food taste, preparation and presentation are nothing very similar to any Malay, Indonesian and Singapore local food I’ve tried. Peranakan food is probably the most diverse and distinctive of all local cuisines. They were also featured by The Straits times sometime last year.
Upon reaching the restaurant, outside you will notice the vibrant colors. You’ll have the idea what to expect inside. That’s right! Elaborated interior design that is so rich of Peranakan culture. The ceramics, floral wallpaper, plates and huge chandeliers all over the place. The love for anything fabulous and unique in me shouted WOW. Aside from food, the restaurant is one of a kind in Singapore too. I feel like taking photos in every corner.
PERANAKAN MERCHANDISE for sale in the restaurant too.
THE PERANAKAN “TOK PANJANG”
Feast Set Menu at S$45++/S$65++ per pax (min 2 persons to share)
Refers to a feast laid out on long tables to accommodate the kaleidoscope and magnitude of food especially prepared for very special guest. The Peranakan chefs have selected two extensive tasting menus all laid out in a tok panjang style. This feast inclusive of signature soup, chef’s dessert platter and choice of malacca coffee or tea. One day advance order is required. FREE TP Certificate for each order. You’ll received a Tok Panjang certificate once you’ve finished the feast.
SIGNATURE SOAP: Bak Wan Kepiting or Itek Tim
KUEH PAI TEE SET (starter)
CHEF’S DESSERT PLATTER
These desserts on the spoons are my favorites from the set. It’s sticky rice paired with durian and gula melaka.
Here’s the closer look of each dish.
AYAM BUAH KELUAK
A true blue peranakan dish. Stewed with chicken from great chef’s Raymond grandma’s recipe.
Prawns cooked in sambal chili. I love this dish from the set. The gravy is not too sour and not too spicy.
AYAM GORENG KETUMBAR
Deep fried chicken with turmeric and coriander. I love the twist on this fried chicken sided with special chili.
Eggplant topped with chinchalok and some spices.
The texture of the beef is just right, easy to chew.
Cabbage and vegetable stew.
IKAN GORENG SAMBAL
Deep fried fish stuffed with sambal, drizzled with sweet dark sauce.
Not your typical BBQ satay: this is the Peranakan version, no skewers/no peanuts.
Aside from “Tok Panjang” feast set, you may opt to order by dish from their menu. They also have “Peranakan High Tea” and they served signature Asian Martinis too.
Have you tried Peranakan cuisine before or which dish you would try?
Share with us at the comments below.
442 Orchard Road Level 2
Claymore Connect Singapore 238879
Tel. No. 65 6262 4428