Sunday, 29 April 2012

Just some background knowledge before I introduce its cuisine. In the Peranakan culture, females are called 'Nonyas' and the males are called 'Babas'. These families are usually English educated and wealthy. The females, however, were preferred to be less educated as it was assumed that if the women were more educated, they would be more independent and because of their education, it would make them difficult to get along with their mother-in-laws when they get married. However, among the duties that a female had to assume, one important duty was cooking. Their Peranakan cuisine, which is very complicated and to actually make extremely good and authentic Nonya food, one must undergo years of training in order to learn and master the art of this cuisine.

Peranakan cuisine is a cuisine that we are all familiar with. From the number of trips that Singaporeans make to Malacca, one can simply understand how much we appreciate its culture and cuisine. Peranakan cuisine is also known as Nonya cuisine, and it has Chinese, Malay and other influences that shapes its unique taste. Nonya food is usually aromatic, tangy and spicy at the same due to the use of Chinese ingredients together with Malay spices and its method is usually Malay or Indonesian.

Familiar to us are well known dishes such as Ayam Buah Keluak, Penang Assam Laksa and Sayur Lemak Keledak.

So today, I will post about this eatery tucked behind a row of shops in the heart of Toa Payoh.

 My quest today is to check out how good this place is based on the following criteria:
  • Food taste
  • Food presentation
  • Menu variety
  • Pricing
First, looking at the menu, I realised that their menu features several well-known Peranakan dishes. Though the variety is not what I would term as 'being spoilt for choice', I would say that one will still take time to decide what you would want to eat.

So we decided to choose four dishes, a soup, a vegetable, a meat and a fish dish. The first dish that came was the soup.

Bakwan Kepeting Soup - $4.20
This Bakwan Kepeting Soup is actually meatballs, which is made from minced pork and crabmeat, and bamboo shoots soup. The presentation was not bad. The meatballs were of a generous size, the texture not too dry and the soup was tasty. The only slight drawback was that the meatball was a bit bland but maybe it is to contrast the tasty soup. The portion is good for two if you have ordered  a main course and you are sharing this soup. They have another soup on the menu which is the Hee Peow Soup, which is fish maw, fish ball, meatball and cabbage soup. It is also on sale for $4.20. My take on the Bakwan Kepeting Soup is that it is not bad. Something that I may consider re-ordering again on my next visit.

Did you know? Bawan Kepeting is a traditional Peranakan soup that is served at weddings. The main ingredients used in this soup usually consists of minced pork, minced fish meat, crab meat and bamboo shoots.

Next up on the table is the vegetable dish...

Nonya Chap Chye - $4.20
This is the vegetable dish that we ordered. This is a braised dish of cabbage, black fungus and beancurd sticks in soybean and prawn stock. Also, you may find bits of glass noodles or tang hoon in this dish. This is very different from the typical chap chye or mixed vegetables that you eat the the mixed rice stalls. This stock is tasty and thick and goes well with white rice. So, for taste, I say this is nice. Presentation, good. My pick is that you should try unless you want something spicy. For me, next round I will try a vegetable dish that is spicy, the Sambal Longbeans Titek, on the menu for $4.50.

Other variations of this dish may include ingredients such as small prawns, belly pork, lily flowers, black fungus, dried Chinese mushrooms, bean curd sheet, thin rice vermicelli, cabbage and salted soybeans.

Next, is the meat dish...

Soybean Pork Stew - $5.80
Soybean Pork Stew is traditionally and affectionately known as Babi Pong Tay. This dish is slighly on the oily side but I must say that the pork has been braised to close perfection. The taste is just right, not too bland but not too overpowering either. The meat is tender and the pork that they use contains the soft bones which has a good portion of meat and fats. I suppose this is why the meat is not dry and tough even though it is braised. For me, the taste is good and the presentation is ok. I suppose on my next visit, I will try their Nasi Lemak Ayam Rendang which sells at $3.50 on their menu. My take is that you MUST try this lah... and it is this that is drawing me back there. FYI, I am not a fan of this dish and even the ones in Malacca does not appeal to me.

Last but not least, our final dish... the fish.

Seafood Assam Pedas - $5.60
Just before I talk about this dish, I have to let you all know. This dish contains seafood. What you see in the picture only has fish as we specifically told them not to put the prawns. The original dish contains dory fillet and prawns with lady fiingers in spicy assam gravy. This is quite a well known dish and one of my personal favourites. For me, I felt that this dish was a bit bland. There was no 'oomph' unfortunately. Personally I have tasted better ones such as the ones in Malacca. No biggie to me but you may give it a try if you have not tasted this before. For me, taste is ok and presentation is ok.

In conclusion, my dining experience was good. The food in general is not bad, i.e. worth travelling there to give it a try and the service is good. My rating for this place is
  • Food Taste: 7.5 / 10
  • Food Presentation: 7.0 / 10
  • Menu Variety: 6.5 / 10
  • Pricing: 8.5 / 10 
There is also the Keluak Toast that is one of their signature appetitizers so I may try that on my next visit too. My wish is to see my other favourites on the menu in the future. Dishes such as Itek Tim, Curry Devil, Tempe Goreng, Opor Ayam, etc.  Either way, I will definitely visit them again!


Blk 190, Lorong 6 Toa Payoh #01-528, Singapore 310190   Tel: 8288 0189
(Closed on Tuesday. If you are planning to visit them on Sunday, go after 12 noon)

For those who don't know where this is at, here are some directions to ease the pain of finding this place..
  1. Coming out of the bus interchange you will see a row of shops in front of you. Walk towards it.
  2. You will also be able to see Watsons. Walking down from Watsons, you will pass a shop selling handphone accessories and other hair accessories. You will see a passage on your left where you will see an eatery selling roasted meats. Turn into the passage and then walk straight, passing the porridge shop and YOU HAVE REACHED! Congrats!


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