First impressions matter and I was wowed the moment I stepped into The Peranakan, located at Claymore Connect (next to Orchard Hotel). The decor is gorgeous, full of opulence – chandeliers, ornate floral wallpaper, antiques and old-fashioned cutlery and plates. The old-world feel may be calculated, but it’s effective nonetheless. The added touch is the waiters, comprising a mix of senior gentlemen in white shirts and eager-looking young people. The gentlemen added elegance and they know the cuisine inside out. It’s not all beauty with no substance though. Chef-owner Raymond Khoo had these recipes in the family and fine-tuned them for the restaurant. While innovations and breakthroughs are important, it is wonderful too to be able to savour traditions. I haven’t had Nasi Ulam ($15) in a while. It’s a tedious dish to prepare and not readily available, so when I tasted this, I was nearly in tears. I miss that mix of herbs and crunchy vegetables, and the almost cold rice added to the sensation. And it’s incredibly fragrant. I thought I had swallowed a pack of potpourri, in a good way. For me, Sup Bakwan Kepiting ($9) – or pork ball soup – is the grande dame of Peranakan cuisine. This version smells heavenly and the soup is delicate and sweet. The juicy meatballs are just fatty enough and flavourful. A common soup is Itek Tim ($7). This duck soup is cooked for six hours, and the intensity is amazing. There is a density to it that demands repeat tasting. Petai is something you’ll love or hate. I love it for its supposed health benefits, but The Peranakan’s version, Petai Kicap Manis ($12), is very clean and raw (which is how some folks like it). I prefer it smothered in sambal to musk that signature bitterness. I’ve tasted babi pon teh cooked with pork belly, but this is my first encounter with it cooked with trotters. Kaki Babi Pon Teh ($19) is definitely a fattier option, which I like, but I do wish for more meat to balance it.
WHAT: The Peranakan
WHERE: #02- 01, Claymore Connect
WHEN: 11am to 10pm