51 Ayam Buah Keluak
House of Peranakan Cuisine
Hotel Meritus Negara,
Level 1, 10 Claymore Road,
Open: 11am to 3pm, 6 to 10pm daily
Every Peranakan family and restaurant has its own recipe for this dish.
And if you ask a Peranakan, he will have a favourite - usually his Mum's - and no amount of persuasion will make him change his mind.
Well, I'm not Peranakan and I like this restaurant's ayam buah keluak because it balances the flavours particularly well.
The buah keluak, a black nut from Indonesian, has a strong taste with a slight acridness that can be overpowering if not handled well.
The House of Peranakan's version of the dish has enough richness in the gravy to lend it flavour. But it also has a tinge of sourness to lighten it.
The nuts themselves have the kernels removed and minced before being stuffed back into the shells with some minced pork.
The meat adds another layer to the flavours, making them sweeter and more complex.
The chicken pieces themselves are simmered till tender and full of the flavours of the other ingredients.
Each serving costs $12. WAY
HSBC credit cardholders get 10 per cent and a $20 dining voucher, until Dec 31 2007
52 Durian Pengat
Ellenborough Market Cafe
Swissotel Merchant Court Singapore,
20 Merchant Road,
Open: 7am to 10.30pm
Durian pengat ($13.50) comes under dessert on the menu of Ellenborough Market Cafe but it is really a main course.
This mousse is creamy, pungent and really, really satisfying - maybe a tad too satisfying.
I didn't need dinner after having a bowl of it late one afternoon.
If what you want is a big, fat durian fix though, please have it as part of the cafe's famed buffet. It's cheaper.
The dessert is always available at the daily buffet, priced at $26.90 per person for lunch every day, $32.90 for dinner Mondays to Thursdays, and $33.90 for dinner Fridays to Sundays. FWW
HSBC credit cardholders get 15 per cent off the food bill until June 30 2008.
53 Babi Panggang
Guan Hoe Soon Restaurant
214 Joo Chiat Road,
Open: 11am to 3pm and 6pm to 9pm, closed on Tuesdays
For a Peranakan restaurant that is not run by Peranakans but Hainanese and now a Cantonese son-in-law as well, Guan Hoe Soon has amazing staying power.
It has been around since 1953 and is possibly the oldest Peranakan restaurant here.
There is a good reason for its longevity: Its food is good and cheap.
While most of its dishes, such as ayam buah keluak and bakwan kepiting, can be found at most other Pearnakan eateries, the babi panggang ($8) is a rare item.
It's roast pig but has a unique, sweetish marinade that makes it taste like a cross between Cantonese roast pork and char siew.
The pork is equal parts meat and fat, and has a nice crackling.
Dipped in an accompanying sweet sauce, it is a delight to be savoured piece by piece.
The dish is available only on weekends, and you do not find it on the menu.
Ask for it. It's such a treat. WAY
54 Nonya Kueh
Copthorne King's Hotel
403 Havelock Road,
Open: noon to 2.30pm, 6.30 to 10pm daily
There are at least three reasons not to overeat too early at the Princess Terrace cafe's historic Penang buffet (it's been going for 35 years and counting).
And all these reasons are in the assorted Nonya kueh section, where the goodies are made daily.
Reason No. 1 is the pulot tai tai, an indigo glutinous rice cake that is best eaten with as much kaya as you can spoon onto your saucer without looking like an Ugly Singaporean. The salty, sticky cake goes well with the sweet egg-coconut jam, which is viscous enough to be a dish in its own right.
Reason No. 2 is the kueh lapis. Mass-produced nine-layered cakes tend to be so gummy that they are actually only one layer.But not this first-rate kueh lapis, which comes apart in nine layers in your mouth. Seriously.
Reason No. 3 is the tapioca cake. The hard root has been carefully crushed so you get its taste but not too much of its fibrous texture.
Reasons No. 4 to No.11 are, inevitably, all the repeat servings you will have of those kueh and that kaya.
Assorted Nonya kueh are available at the Penang buffet, $33 for adults, $20.80 for children under 12. FWW
HSBC credit cardholders get 15 per cent off the food bill until Dec 31 2008.