Best Peranakan restaurants in Singapore: Baba Chews, Violet Oon Singapore, Candlenut and more
The Peranakan cuisine is a beautiful one — it brings together a blend of different cuisines to create dynamic dishes that are aromatic, spicy and rich all at the same time. With Singapore's multi-ethnic background and our adventurous makan spirit, it should come with little surprise that the cuisine has been gaining popularity over the years, made evident with the burgeoning of Peranakan restaurants across the city. We bring together a list of the best in town.
Violet Oon may have rolled out its fourth restaurant, but we return to its first restaurant in Bukit Timah where it focuses on Peranakan cuisine. The focus is made apparent in the interior design: think rattan fans hanging from the ceiling and beautiful floral-patterned Peranakan tiles adorning the walls. Classic Nyonya dishes such as ngoh hiang and kueh pie tee can be expected on its menu. Singapore is a melting pot of different cultures and that can be seen in their buah keluak noodle — a creation of spaghetti doused in a generous amount of buah keluak sauce. Bring home a little Peranakan charm with their in-house retail store where you can get your hands on pineapple tarts, cashew cookies, Nyonya kaya etc. Perfect for the upcoming Chinese New Year celebrations.
881 Bukit Timah Rd, Tel: 9834 9935
Opening hours: (Tue-Sun) 12pm-9.30pm
Steeped in history and known for its heritage shophouses, Katong is home to Baba Chews. Known primarily for their Peranakan food, they also specialise in cuisine native to Straits of Malacca so expect to find Penang delicacies like char kway teow, among others on the menu. Preserving much of its 1920s colonial charm in its interior, you'll find classic and modern Peranakan dishes such as chap chye and baba keluak rice (a fried rice dish cooked with buah keluak, or black nut and char siew) respectively. Do try their beef rendang — a rich and mildly-sweet stew of beef short ribs, coconut cream, spices, gula melaka and tumeric leaf. Finish your meal with a dessert featuring our king of fruits — kueh durian. Picture this: durian mousse and gula melaka cooked shredded coconut, wrapped in pandan crepes and topped with gula melaka ice cream. Yes, yes and yes.
86 East Coast Rd, Tel: 6723 2025
Opening hours: (Mon-Sun) 6.30am-11pm
Named after one of the essential ingredients in Peranakan cooking, Blue Ginger specialises in traditional dishes such as ayam buah keluak, ngoh hiang, etc. For those not familiar with the cuisine, buah keluak is derived from the black nut and made into a fermented, thick, and subtly sweet paste that can only be found in the Southeast Asia region. For those with a sweeter tooth, try the udang kuah pedas nanas — tiger prawns cooked in a sweet pineapple gravy. Other signature dishes include chap chye masak titek and durian chendol.
97 Tanjong Pagar Rd, Tel: 6222 3928
Opening hours: (Mon-Sun) 12pm-2.15pm, 6.30pm-9.45pm
The world's first Michelin-starred Peranakan restaurant can be found in Dempsey, spearheaded by chef Malcolm Lee. Candlenut dishes out traditional Peranakan cuisine, with a modern and refined twist. Take their wagyu beef with buah keluak for example, usually cooked with chicken, this dish features tender pieces of beef complemented by the distinct and heady buah keluak. A notable mention is its rempahs, or spice pastes that are made from scratch.
17A Dempsey Rd, Tel: 1800 304 2288
Opening hours: (Mon-Thur) 12pm-3pm, 6pm-10pm, (Fri-Sat) 12pm-3pm, 6pm-11pm, (Sun) 12pm-3pm, 6pm-10pm
A little bird told us that Guan Hoe Soon was the takeout choice for the late Mr. Lee Kuan Yew. Being one of the oldest Peranakan restaurants in Singapore, the restaurant is stripped of any fanfare and serves up simple and hearty traditional Peranakan food. Don't judge the Crab Foo Yong by its appearance; despite its plain-looking exterior, the texture of eggs is light and smooth and packs a whole lot of flavor with the crab meat and vegetables. Another favorite is the ayam buah keluak which features tender chicken thigh meat in a tasty black gravy. You can never go wrong with tradition.
40 Joo Chiat Pl, Tel: 6344 2761
Opening hours: (Mon-Fri) 9am-9pm, (Sat-Sun) 9am-9.30pm