Being a true-blue Peranakan Baba, finding a new Peranakan restaurant is always exciting. Dulukala is a simple, no-frills little restaurant situated on the top (4th) floor of Beauty World Centre in Upper Bukit Timah. Outrageously cheap, it serves homecooked Nyonya cooking as good as those in Katong & Siglap. What we had:
- Bakwan soup: 4 generous pork meatballs in a peppery cabbage soup. The portion, enough to serve 2-3 persons, was only S$7 (US$4.70) for a small earthenpot. Tastewise, it ranks behind Guan Hoe Soon (the eponymous Peranakan spot)'s bakwan kepiting soup, which is my personal favorite, but ahead of any other Peranakan restaurant in town. Great old-fashioned taste, almost like the version my Peranakan grandmothers cooked;
- Fish assam pedas: sourish-sweet spicy gravy liberally flavored with tamarind pieces (assam keping) and garnished with fresh tomatoes, okra & chopped torch-ginger flowers. The dish consisting of 2 pieces of fish steaks was S$12 (US$8);
- Babi pongteh: stewed pork belly & pork shanks pieces with potatoes (S$6.50). It's the best version of this dish I've ever had - better than Joo Chiat's Guan Hoe Soon or even the old faithful, Ivin's in Binjai Park, located a mere 1.5 kms away;
- Nyonya chap chye: it's hard to find good "chap chye" outside Peranakan homes. Restaurants often simplify the recipe, doing away with buah keras/chilli paste & only use taucheo (brown beanpaste) to flavor the stewed cabbage dish. Most restaurants also omit prawns & pork, which are needed to add flavor & depth to the stew. Dulukala used "tim juk" (sweet beancurd pieces), wood-ear fungus and tunghoon (glass noodles) - which are nice, but omitted the dried tiger lily bulbs & "foo chok" (beancurd sticks). Priced at S$7, it's relatively "pricey" as compared to other dishes.
Still, Dulukala is the real thing, and a real bargain - you certainly get your money's worth. Comparatively, its food is as good, if not better, than its nearby rival, Ivin's in Binjai Park, and also Red Lacquer Penang Peranakan in Jurong Point Shopping Centre (which was truly disappointing!!).
Dulukala Peranakan Restaurant
144 Upper Bukit Timah Road
#04-04 Beauty World Centre
Tel: 6465 2036 (reservations recommended on weekends)
Closed on Wednesdays.
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