Is the food at newly-minted The Peranakan restaurant worth leaving your house for?

26351736 Singapore — The Peranakans are notoriously difficult to please when it comes to food. If you manage to persuade them to step out of their houses and head for a Peranakan restaurant in the first place, they are more likely to keep comparing the food to their matriarch’s or patriach’s. And it seldom measures up. Two weeks ago, Raymond Khoo opened The Peranakan, a 130-seat restaurant located on the second floor of Claymore Connect. Yes, the executive chef and veteran of Singapore’s F&B scene (he was behind concepts such as the now-defunct 3 Monkeys and Tong Shui Cafe) is Peranakan himself and he bravely decided to take the plunge, armed with the recipes passed along by the women in his family.
Ambience/Vibe There is a sense of nouveau riche at the restaurant, with way too many chandeliers adorning the ceiling and heavily wrought mirrors embellishing the walls. Unlike most new restaurants, this one doesn’t seem to employ inexperienced wait staff. The dining room is run by a tight group of mature servers who were confident and enthusiastic. What to order Khoo has brought all the classics of the Peranakan canon to bear in his extensive menu, including kueh pie tee (fried pastry cups filled with stewed jicama and topped with a prawn, $20) and ikan goreng sumbat sambal belacan ($15, fried whole fish stuffed with sambal belacan and drizzled with kicap manis). The latter is a regular standard in many Peranakan households and would satisfy any finicky baba with its crispy skin and flaky flesh. The kueh pie tee passed muster — delicately crisp pastry cups, succulent stewed jicama (bangkwang) imbued with a good balance of flavour, and a light, piquant chilli cuca (chilli-vinegar sauce) to brighten it all. Also good was the Nasi Ulam ($15), a traditional rice salad, here made with finely chopped fresh herbs including lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves and turmeric leaves, giving it a fresh, citrusy lilt. Minced fresh and salted fish imbued the flavours with a savoury depth. What not to order The kitchen doesn’t seem to have hit its sweet spot yet with other dishes such as the kaki babi pongteh (pig’s trotters stewed in soy and fermented soybean paste, $19) and the curry ayam istimewa (chicken curry, $17). In fact, most of the stews, including the satay babi sum chan ($19, pork braised in a satay spice mix) lacked depth and complexity. Our prawn ngoh hiang (meat rolls spiked with five-spice powder, $15) was mealy, while the deep-fried crab meatballs ($15) were tough and chewy. Verdict Khoo admits that there is work to be done when it comes to fine-tuning the menu’s flavours. “Some diners tell us that certain dishes are not sweet enough and others say some dishes are not salty enough,” he said. “So we are still tweaking and trying to find the right balance.” Our take? Give it some time to please your mama. The Peranakan #02-01 Claymore Connect@ Orchard Hotel Tel: 6262 4428 Opening hours: 11am to 10pm daily Is the food at new The Peranakan restaurant worth leaving your house for? Source: