Singapore - A taste of Peranakan at PeraMakan
Despite my Peranakan heritage, I do not really have a predilection for consuming Peranakan (Nyonya) food too often - Nyonya cuisine, with its generous use of spices, coconut milk, sugar and oil in copious amounts tend to overwhelm one's tastebuds.
However, a couple of grand-aunts insisted on a big family get-together this evening and, since I'm back in town, there's no getting out of this event. But turned out I'm very glad I made it - PeraMakan still delivered where it counted: churning out above-average Nyonya fare where Singapore is concerned:
- Bakwan kepiting soup - conpetently turned out and not too oily like in many other places. Many fellow true-blue Singaporean-Peranakans insisted that the peppery version at Peranakan Inn in Katong (next door to Peter Wee's Katong Antique House) is the best in Singapore. I beg to differ - my personal preference is the one at Guan Hoe Soon in Joo Chiat Place. Peramakan's pork balls were too dry and did not contain enough pork fat which gives the meatballs their distinct texture and flavor. But the bamboo shoots were finely julienned - which indicated how careful the kitchen is;
- Babi pongteh - PeraMakan's version is right up there amongst the best - in fact, I think only Dulukala (Beauty World Centre, Bukit Timah) has a version which trumps this one, which was full of all the right flavors;
- Nyonya chap chye: very good and not overcooked like in many Nyonya restauranrs in Singapore, but still way, way behind homecooked versions which tend to have rempah besides taucheo (beanpaste);
- Otak-otak - PeraMakan fails this one. The best version in Singapore is undoubtedly found at Guan Hoe Soon. This version here was too hard and dry - overbaked;
- Ayam buah keluak; the most authentic version I'd ever come across in Singapore. Generous amounts of buah keluak used imparted a strong scent and tinged the gravy dark. Hints of lemngrass, tamarind, blue ginger and onions permeate the casserole. Delish;
- Chenchalok omelette - okay but overly salty. Could have been better had the omelette been moister and better quality chenchalok was used;
- Ikan masak Geram Assam: very fresh pomfret pieces used. Pity that the geram assam "rempah" (spice mix) lacked the spicy-sour flavors that were the prerequisites for this dish. My grandaunts were very satisfied with the good quality fish used but lamented that the cooks in rhe kitchen are MOST probably NOT Peranakan-Nyonyas. "The rempah was all wrong", one grandaunt quipped. Best version to be found in Singapore? Guan Hoe Soon in Joo Chiat Place.
- Hati babi bungkus - this is the one of the few Peranakan restaurants in Singapore where one can find this rare fish: pig's liver, seasoned with coriander powder and other spices, wrapped in pig's caul then deep-fried. The meaty parcels were good but not mind-blowing;
- Apom berkuah: spongy (but not soft enough) with not-too-sweet banana "pengat" gravy. Good but not something that I'll come back all the way for;
- Pulot hitam: the black glutinous rice grains had a lovely texture, very good quality Gula Melaka used, together with thick coconut creme (not sure if the coconut creme's fresh - most probably a mixture of fresh and canned coconut milk);
- Jelly with sea-coconut: light and refreshing. Best dessert this evening;
- Sago Gula Melaka - also very well-made - best version I'd tried in Singapore.
PeraMakan's definitely worth checking out - overall, I'd rate it behind Guan Hoe Soon and Peranakan Inn, but above Ivins, Dulukala, Kim Choo, Chilli Padi and a whole host of other Nyonya restaurants. Sorry to over-priced True Blue (Armenian St) and Blue Ginger (Tanjung Pagar Rd) - good Nyonya food does NOT equate high prices. Moderately-priced PeraMakan passes this test.
P.S. - Special mention for PeraMakan's refreshing lime juice with aloe vera drink.
Level 3, Keppel Club
10 Bukit Chermin Road
Tel: +65 6377 2829