reasonably okay peranakan food at this katong institution. this place is rather refurbed-old-school, good for family meals and is packed to the rafters on the weekends – I think I was a little disappointed by the only okay food here.
there was something about the food here that made me feel like it had been rather brusquely scooped off a buffet-style food warmer into dishes before being served to us – I can’t quite put my finger on it, but it might have been the cold dishes or the slightly muted flavor profiles.
regardless, I expect more from a restaurant (though this would have been excellent as part of a catered buffet).
we started with rojak: crispy turnip, apples and dough fritters tossed in a sweet sauce and sesame seeds. this was pretty fresh and crunchy – and a distinct welcome from the more liquidy braises the cuisine is known for.
the beef rendang (a spicy dry-type coconut stew) and chap chye (braised mixed vegetables) are typical must-order dishes. the first was stringy (which is how it should be) though slightly dry (which isn’t how it ought to be), but the sauce was pretty tasty. as were the vegetables, but they were far too soft for my liking – even the cabbage spines had given up any hope.
the main part of the meal was a curry fish head – assam type, not the indian gravy sort – which was just alright. there were a handful of vegetables in the soup, but the fish wasn’t very meaty, and the meat was rather dry and overcooked.
the stir-fried dishes seemed fresher – possibly because the kangkong (morning glory leaves) were crunchy amidst the sambal, and the sweet-sauced, deep-fried squid tentacles were still slightly crispy.
we finished with bowls of chendol, a sweet coconut-milk dessert with syruped cooked beans and green jelly noodles, and this was pretty tasty. the durian rendition comes plopped atop with a rather-obviously commercial durian puree, which was acceptable – though I think the rich dessert could have done with something fresher and less sticky.
n.b. I read on their website that the durian puree is a home-made durian jam.. so I’m going to give them the benefit of the doubt. there is no doubt, however, that this would have been great with some fresh-tasting durian.
I was more impressed by the less-easy-to-find desserts. dad had the bubur terigu, which is wheat cooked with tender and served with palm sugar and coconut milk, and we ordered the apom berkuah – which I’ve never seen before.
this latter dish comes as a plate of griddled puffy rice-flour cakes served with a bowl of sticky cooked banana. that bowl of bananas was sweet and comforting, and a complementary rich counterpoint to the fermented-tanginess of the airy cakes. delicious, and a must-order.
I think my recent visit to the 2004 novena peranakan brought better food, but the service here wins out – as do the desserts. good for family meals, but remember to get a reservation in!
PeraMakan (East Coast Outlet)
#01-02/03 Santa Grand Hotel East Coast
171 East Coast Road
tel +65 6346 4202, +65 6346 4203
$$.5: 153 – for one fish head, 6 dishes and 4 desserts