If you think fusion food is a modern fad, you clearly haven’t sampled the fine fare at Peranakan restaurants in Singapore. With a history dating back centuries, this intriguing blend of Chinese cuisine and spicy aromatic Malay cooking is now firmly mainstream, attracting foodies in search of exotic dining. So whether you’ve got a birthday coming up or if you’re just hankering for some toothsome chow that’s sure to set your tastebuds alight, check out Quandoo’s guide to the finest Peranakan restaurants in Singapore.
A word meaning ‘native born’, Peranakan refers to the descendants of Chinese immigrants who married locals in the Malay Peninsula during the 16th-18th centuries. Living mainly in cities such as Melaka, Penang and Singapore, they created their own distinctive grub that fuses Chinese cuisine with the incendiary power of local Malay ingredients such as galangal, tamarind, lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, pandan leaves and turmeric. When blended together, these piquant ingredients form the rempah, the potent brew that gives zest to the food served in Singapore’s fine Peranakan restaurants.
So what can you expect at traditional Peranakan restaurants in Singapore? The quintessential dish is ayam buah keluak, a stew made from chicken and black nut from the Kepayang tree native to Malaysia and Indonesia. Another traditional treat is otak-otak which comprises fish, coconut milk, herbs and spices, wrapped up in a banana leaf. If you love Chinese duck, enjoy it Peranakan-style in the form of itek tim – a soup with tomatoes, peppers, and plums. Peranakan fare also boasts a rich array of desserts including mouth-watering cakes (kuih).
Singapore has always been home to Peranakan cuisine but it wasn’t until the 1980s when it was promoted as a part of the rich palette of the local culture. Today, this unique cuisine is undergoing another renaissance as young people discover its subtle pleasures at Singapore’s Peranakan restaurants. Take your choice between pocket-friendly street food and buzzy new restaurants with all the trimmings. For a richly atmospheric experience, head to INDOCAFÉ - the white house in Newton. The Peranakan on Orchard Road with its striking traditional decor and accessories, while a more casual vibe awaits diners at Simply Peranakan Cuisine in Punggol. The choice is yours when it comes to Singapore’s Peranakan restaurants. Take your pick from the list of restaurants on Quandoo and reserve your table now.