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Monday, 31 October 2016

[Invited Tasting] Dinner at The Peranakan @ Orchard Hotel



442 Orchard Road #02-01 Claymore Connect, Orchard Hotel, Singapore 238879
Tel: 6262 4428
Opening Hours:  11.00am to 10.00pm (daily)





The beauty of The Peranakan Restaurant was simply dazzling - that was my first thought when I reached, enticed by the ornate décor - think floral, French boudoir setting, traditional Peranakan-patterned tableware and silver-gilt mirrors. While the exterior boldly makes use of vintage furniture, stunning tea ware and colourful fabrics to tantalize, the interior was wildly feminine and sophisticated.







Founded by Executive Chef Raymond Khoo who has more than 30 years of experience in various restaurants and hotels, skilled in different cuisines, he has decided to embrace his roots and bring the Peranakan culture alive through his traditional dishes - recipes passed down the family for years.

Homdmade chili which was robust and utterly divine



I was psyched to be invited here for a tasting, and could not wait to try some authentic Straits food. The menu was wide and varied, ranging from high tea to set meals to ala carte orders. Service was attentive, professional and polite. The Spicy Shrimp Rolls were utterly tasty and crispy with the right level of spiciness - when a restaurant takes care to serve its snacks in prettily weaved holders, you know they take their quality seriously.


We started with some Ayam Buah Keluak (SGD$22.00) - a traditional Peranakan chicken dish cooked using the black nuts from the Pangium Edule tree. Stewed from chicken from grandma's recipe, the contents of the buah keluak were taken out to be blended before putting back in - resulting in a creamy, velvety texture.


Kaki Babi Pong Teh (SGD$19.00) - pork leg slow-cooked for 6 hours with sautéed onions and fermented beans - remarkably delectable and the pork leg was succulent and chewy, mostly because of the jelly-like consistency of the cartilage part used.


Satay Babi Sum Chan (SGD$19.00) - if you were expecting your usual skewers of charred meat with thick peanut gravy, you would be utterly disappointed. This interesting dish uses salt-rubbed pork belly cooked for 4 hours, resulting in a sweetness rendered from the fats of the pork belly.


Ngoh Hiang Prawn (SGD$15.00) - mouthwatering minced-meat rolls handmade with diced water chestnut, prawns, minced pork and condiments. Loved the springy, almost crunchy texture of this palatable dish.


Next, the Sotong Masak Ayam (SGD$19.00) - squid slow cooked in tamarind concentrate with palm sugar and starfruit.  Note that traditionally, buah belimbing buluh is used, but due to its rarity in Singapore, starfruit replaced it, still resulting in a zesty, refreshing flavour.


Following that, we had Nonya Chap Chye (SGD$15.00) - traditional family vegetable stew with cabbage, clear vermicelli, black fungus and shitake mushroom. I liked the texture that retained its crunch but was not hard, and overall flavour was good as well.


The Bendeh (SGD$12.00) - lady's finger steamed with a flavorful Chinchalok - the latter is a delicious shrimp paste with chilli, lime juice and onions. Soft and juicy, the lady's fingers sure won hearts despite its perceived simplicity.


Then there was Nasi Ulam Istimewa (SGD$17.00) -a spectacular cold rice dish with 6 raw herbs julienned no more than 30 minutes before serving, salted threadfin fish, minced threadfin fish, lemongrass, chopped long beans and toasted coconut. The flavours burst was robust and unique.


Itek Tim (SGD$9.00) - clear soup boiled with tender duck leg, salted vegetables and sour plum. This sour-saltish soup has always been one of my favorites at Chinese restaurants; I never knew it was a Peranakan dish until now.


Another soup we tried was the Sup Bakwan Kepiting (SGD$9.00) - a saccharine, rich crabmeat broth consisting of springy pork prawn balls and bamboo shoots.


Time for desserts! We tried the Pandan Gula Melaka Cake (SGD$6.50) first, a cake rather redolent of pandan's fragrance and palm sugar. The dense texture of the cake bordered on roughness though -- we thought it would've been nicer if softer.

The Pandan Gula Melaka Cake with Durian (SGD$8.00) was another class of its own - soft, fluffy, slathered with the rich creaminess of durian paste to lend it a strong aroma, combining well with the palm sugar and pandan in a delicious union.


Next, Pulot Enti Kelapa (SGD$5.00) - dark blue glutinous rice stained with butterfly pea flowers and served with Gula Melaka and a sprinkling of dried shredded coconut. Sweet with coconut's distinctive aroma, this sticky dessert was a perfect wrap-up for a savoury dinner.


The durian version - Pulot Enti Durian (SGD$6.50) is made using the dyed-blue glutinous rice, but coated generously with rich, luscious durian paste which heightened the senses immediately.


The savoury version - Pulot Enti Hae Bee Hiam (SGD$6.50) consists of the butterfly-pea blue glutinous rice, topped with spicy, umami dried shrimp garnish - a lovely twist to the traditionally sweet dessert.



Finally, Pineapple Tarts (price unknown) with their thin, buttery crusts encasing a dense pineapple filling that was pleasing to the palate but not too sweet. 



Drinkswise, I had a refreshing Kumquat Drink with Basil Seeds (SGD$8.00) that was a lovely concoction between sour and sweet.


Malacca Milk Tea (SGD$6.50) was a pot of ingenuity in the form of milk and tea - literally that, but there was something very sharp about the tea fragrance here that made it immensely pleasing to the palate - the exact imagination and desire of how we wish Hong Kong's "stockinged" milk tea to taste like.


Finally, pot of Malacca Kopi-O (SGD$6.50) - pure black coffee bearing the fragrance of yesteryear, nicely-brewed.

Overall, dining at The Peranakan was a beautiful experience and a feast for both the eyes and the mouth. One cannot help feeling transported back in time, in these gorgeous settings, and the food standard was high, not-fussy, factored in with recipes enjoyed by generations of true blue Peranakans. Thank you Chef Raymond for hosting, and thank you Hence for extending the invitation.





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