True Blue Peranakan Cuisine at Peranakan Inn
Peranakan food is famed for its richness and complexity of flavours; however it is not a simple cuisine to prepare. It is the result of marrying Chinese ingredients with spices and cooking methods of the Malay and Indonesian community. The Peranakans are the descendants of the early Chinese migrants who settled in Malacca, Penang, Indonesia and Singapore. These Chinese married the Malays and the men are known as Babas while the women are called the Nyonyas. Over the years, preparing authentic Peranakan food has become something of a lost art. I was therefore happy to discover Peranakan Inn a few years ago. Since then, it has become one of my favourite Peranakan restaurants.
Nestled in a century old shophouse along East Coast Road, this quaint restaurant evokes a nostalgic and homely ambience. Founded by Chef, Bob Seah, the award-winning Peranakan Inn has been serving traditional Peranakan cuisine since 1985. The décor of the restaurant is simple and is akin to stepping into the home of a Peranakan family. The walls are adorned with news clippings, as well as pictures of past presidents and other notables enjoying the cuisine at the restaurant.
There are many tantalising dishes such as the itek tim (duck and salted vegetable soup), bakwang kepiting (crab meatballs), garam assam fish (fish in hot and sour gravy), babi ponteh (stewed pork with fermented soya bean), ayam buah keluak (stewed chicken with black nuts), ngoh hiang (minced pork and prawn roll seasoned with five spice powder), ikan otak otak (spiced fish cake).
Garam assam fish (fish in hot and sour gravy)
My favourite dish is the garam assam fish (fish in hot and sour gravy). This classic dish is characterised by spicy and tangy flavours. The gravy is so flavourful and appetising that I could not help but finish all the gravy in the claypot.
Another delightful dish is the ngoh hiang (minced pork and prawn roll seasoned with five spice powder). The beancurd skin is thin and crispy and generously filled with minced pork, crabmeat, carrots, Chinese mushroom and water chestnuts.
Bakwan kepiting (crab meatball soup)
The bakwan kepiting (crab meatball soup) is another item not to be missed. Although this soup looks simple, every mouthful is simply gratifying. Bakwan kepiting is usually served on special occasions such as Chinese New Year as crabmeat is quite pricey and the preparation method is laborious if you follow the original method of using fresh live crabs. The crabmeat balls at Peranakan Inn are crunchy, succulent and irresistible.
The chap chye is also extremely satisfying. The vegetables are braised in a tao chio (fermented soya bean paste) and the sweet and salty flavours are infused into the vegetables making the dish extremely tasty. My husband remarks on every occasion that the Peranakan Inn’s chap chye is the best he has ever eaten.
The otak-otak is another popular favourite with many diners. It is a unique blend of fish, coconut milk, chilli paste, galangal and herbs wrapped in a banana leaf and char-grilled to perfection.
Other dishes include ayam buah keluak and babi ponteh. The former is a chicken dish prepared using the nuts from the “Kepayang” tree, a mangrove tree that grows in Malaysia and Indonesia. The “Keluak” nuts have a tough exterior but ooze a piquant liquid which goes extremely well with rice. The robust flavour of this dish makes it one of the top choices for many diners. The latter is pork stew cooked with tau chio salted fermented soy beans) and gula Melaka. It is usually sweet and salty and can be substituted as a soup dish in Peranakan cuisine.
Overall, the Peranakan Inn is an ideal place to dine with your family and loved ones if you enjoy good, wholesome and authentic Peranakan cuisine.
The restaurant is located at 210 E East Coast Road, Singapore 428909
For reservations, please call 6440 6195.