Archive for the ‘Peranakan’ Category

I don’t quite get the hype and raves over National Kitchen. Most of the dishes are average-nice but definitely nothing spectacular nor memorable. For a truly kickass Peranakan meal, I’ll head to Candlenut any day!


Standard starters such as achar and rojak were good but not great. If you like refined hawker dishes, it’s time to make a reservation here.

Sambal Timun Nanas ($4++)
pineapple and cucumber with chillies, onions and lightly sweet rice vinegar


The most special item we ordered was the “kimchiam” salad. I have never had this combination before – boiled prawns, sweet and slightly tangy starfruit, chewy dried lily buds, all tied together by a spicy chilli dressing. Interesting!

Sambal Kimchiam Udang ($15++)
lily buds tossed in a sweet and spicy dressing topped with prawns and starfruit


Rojak ($7++)
guava, sour mangoes, rose apples, pineapple, cucumbers, julienne of pink ginger flowers, jellyfish and crispy crullers tossed in a sweet, sour and mildly spicy sauce


We were expecting the chicken buah keluak to be served with a thick fragrant gravy (maybe I went to Candlenut too many times) but the diluted version here was disappointingly akin to… Chicken curry?

Buah Keluak Ayam ($23++)
classic nyonya spicy and tangy chicken stew and buah keluak nut infused with fresh root spices of lengkuas and turmeric


I first tried the meatless meatballs back in 2013 at Violet Oon’s Kitchen and liked them a lot. Fast forward two years, the walnut and cheese “meatballs” turned out too mushy on my visit and could really do with a crisp crust.

Meatless Meatballs Rendang ($15++)
walnut and cheese dumplings braised in spices flavoured with kaffir and bay leaves in a coconut cream sauce


The description of “cod in laksa sauce” already had me salivating and thankfully, the execution was exactly what I imagined it to be. The fresh slab of fatty cod went very well with the sinfully rich and creamy laksa sauce. May be overwhelming for some people but it’s right up my alley!

Cod in Laksa Sauce ($34++)
baked cod in a creamy laksa sauce drizzled with coriander pesto


National Kitchen by Violet Oon
1 St. Andrew’s Road
#02–01 National Gallery Singapore (City Hall Wing)
+65 9834 9935

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Three dinners at Candlenut later, I’m convinced that this is now my favourite Peranakan restaurant in Singapore. We have tried most of the seafood (and a couple of meat) dishes on the menu and here’s my list of what (and what not) to order:

Must try:

1. Wing bean salad: had this thrice and still loving the refreshing combination of crisp wing bean, crunchy cashew and herbs tossed with tangy lime dressing!

2. Buah keluak: you can’t leave before trying this classic Peranakan “black gold”! The “buah keluak” or black nuts are soaked and scrubbed for a minimum of 5 days (phew!) and the filling is extracted to form an exquisite marinade. K loves the chicken version, done traditional style with buah keluak sambal, lemongrass and kaffir lime leaf but I think the wok tossed crayfish rendition is lovely too! And then there’s the homemade earthy buah keluak ice cream, oh my. Made with 80% Valhrona chocolate, served on a bed of salted caramel, chocolate crumble and chilli specks, and topped with warm milk chocolate espuma, this is one unforgettable dessert.

3. Yellow coconut crab curry: the thick creamy gravy infused with turmeric, galangal and kaffir lime leaf is one flavourful bomb on the palate and the blue swimmer crab meat is so fresh! The presentation and taste remind us of Nahm Restaurant’s (similarly named) coconut turmeric curry of blue swimmer crab in Bangkok.

4. Assam sotong: you know me, I don’t like squid usually but the sautéed squid with squid ink, chillies, tamarind and crispy shallots is too good to resist. I’m always amazed at how tender they are! The other squid item on the menu, sambal “choking” sotong (because apparently the kitchen “chokes” every time this smoky, spicy dish is fried), pales somewhat in comparison.

5. Sambal kacang petai: either you love this or you hate it. I belong to the former camp obviously – the stir fried petai beans with tamarind and chilli sambal are not stinky but fragrant! My friends refused to touch them (it’s the smelly tofu syndrome), all the more for K and myself yay!

Worth trying:

1. Coconut charcoal grilled wild caught red snapper: I only ordered this on my last visit and regretted not trying this earlier! The fish fillets are meaty and go very well with the fiery dried shrimp samba.

2. Candlenut satay: the grilled spiced fresh chicken leg skewers are tender but what steals the limelight is the rich homemade pineapple peanut sauce on the side. I love it so much and make sure that there’s always an extra serving on our table. They charge an additional $1.50++ per serving but whatever, just take my money, I want to dip all my food in it!


1. Omelette chincalok: fermented blend of salted baby shrimps and folded with spring onions, this omelette is easily replicable and average at best.

2. Chap chye: Nice homely dish of braised cabbage with mushrooms, sweet and dried bean curd, pork belly and black fungus in rich prawn stock gravy, but nothing exciting.

3. Gula melaka king prawns: the coconut butter sauce infused with gula melaka is delicious but $24++ for two prawns? Nah, I’ll pass!

4. Chendol cream and durian soup: Nothing can go wrong with coconut custard, gula melaka sauce and pandan jelly or potent durian ice cream with feuilletine and fresh durian purée right? True, but I find that the portions are too small. Can get better and bigger ones elsewhere!


Wing Bean Salad ($14++)
salad of wing beans with prawns, crispy fish, baby red radish, lemongrass, chilli flakes, cashew nuts, mint, coriander with lime dressing


Candlenut Satay ($10++)
grilled spiced fresh chicken leg skewers served with rich homemade pineapple peanut sauce, cucumbers & red onions


Sambal Kacang Petai ($14++)
stir fried stinky petai beans with tamarind & chilli sambal, crispy shallots


Yellow Coconut Crab Curry ($24++)
blue swimmer crab meat, turmeric, galangal, kaffir lime leaf


Sambal “Choking” Sotong ($14++)
wok fried squid with tomatoes, red onion, sambal chilli


Gula Melaka King Prawns ($24++)
coconut butter sauce infused with gula melaka, lemongrass & roasted coconut, fresh herbs & chilli


Buah Keluak Local Crayfish ($18++)
wok tossed crayfish with sambal, buah keluak, & kaffir lime


#01-03 Dorsett Residences
331 New Bridge Road
8121 4107

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