Peranakan food is the cooking of the Straits Chinese, a product of intermarriage between Chinese (mostly Hokkien) and the native Malays and is found primarily in Singapore and Malaysia. It's sometimes known as Nyonah (or any of its variant spellings) food (Nyonah refers to Peranakan women).
In Singapore, Peranakans and their cooking are concentrated in the Katong area, somewhat off the East Coast; but a Peranakan family friend recommended House of Peranakan Cuisine at the Hotel Negara, and it turned out to be very good. (Note: some of the best restaurants in Singapore are hotel places.)
The best dish was easily the ngoh hiong, minced meat and a bit of taro wrapped with a bean curd skin, deep fried to such a crisp that it shatters upon a bite. But the best part is the cool sharpness from perfectly sized pieces of water chestnut, their snappy bite more apparent from within the soft meaty filling.
Chicken (ayam) curry with buah keluah is a Peranakan speciality. A good spicy curry, tender chicken, and buah keluah, nuts with a deep black sludgy interior, immensely rich on the tongue with a slight dark flavour. It's a lovely delicacy, blending nicely against the curry.
Large grilled tiger prawns with a sweet sauce was merely acceptable, not too tough, but nothing exceptional.
Very satisfying beef rendang, excellent slow cooking, lovely spice mix, could catch bright lemongrass notes among the deep curry spices.
Great kangkong belacan, stir-fried to a perfect verdant crunchiness.
Condiments and sides included the never to be missed belachan chilli, grown chilli with fermented shrimp (belachan) zinged with a freeze squeeze of local calamansi lime. Also chilly tibun (cucumber) salad, lightly pickled, acidic and given a sweet thin bite by half rings of onion.
Dessert are bite size pieces of a delicate, chewy tapioca kueh (cake), very refined in texture, utterly smooth and coated in the light snow of coconut shreds, the coconut cut as thin as possible, for that sweet microscopic juicy and strawy bite.
by Susannah Chen | Spring asparagus is absolutely worthy of celebration, so we rounded up some of our best asparagus...