Violet Oon Ion Orchard: A retail and all-day dining flagship that shines the spotlight on British colonial cuisine

Violet Oon Ion Orchard: A retail and all-day dining flagship that shines the spotlight on British colonial cuisine

Heart of the city

Text: Janice Sim

Expanding your business in Singapore can be tricky; more often than ever, restaurant owners need to tread carefully with the vision for each new outlet. Any careless slip, and that could jeopardise the entire empire.

Safe to say, Violet Oon Singapore has mastered the tactical bit, with its fourth (and largest outlet), erected front and center on level three of ION Orchard. But unlike its previous outposts, this snazzy brasserie setting encompasses a retail space for the first time ever.

Violet Oon ION Orchard

While it's meant to be the relaxed café-going sister of the group, the space is still dressed to impress — in Violet Oon's signature black, gold and emerald green hues. Peranakan shophouse tiles echo the same sentiment of the Violet Oon that our city has fallen in love with since their first flagship emerged at Bukit Timah.

Every restaurant from Violet Oon serves a purpose that ties back to the heritage of its location. "Our first restaurant had to be Peranakan, because I'm Peranakan. As for National Kitchen by Violet Oon at National Gallery, we wanted the cuisine to embody the Singaporean life. Our satay kitchen and bar at Clarke Quay was a result of listening to our customers as well as the enclave's origins of The Satay Club. This time, with our fourth iteration, we wanted to highlight the Hainanese way of cooking — Hainanese people were the first ones to be chefs back in the time of British colonial ruling," muses Oon.

Violet Oon ION Orchard

As for ION Orchard? Seducing more tourists wasn't the reason, but it was because of Orchard's history of Hainanese chefs setting up their own restaurants, if not manning the F&B in hotels around the area. We inferred that in Oon's perspective, folks of Hainanese descent nailed the culinary game in Singapore first. If we could so boldly name them as pioneers, even.

Violet Oon ION Orchard

Half of the menu here will be new dishes that aren't available at the rest of the other outlets. You'll get the best out of Nyonya, Chinese, India, Malay, Eurasian, and more importantly — Singapore's British Colonial cuisine. First off: the Mulligatawny soup — a resurrected classic that you probably can't find anywhere else. It's a mild creamy curry broth, bursting with a myriad of spices along with moreish chicken bits and rice. Dishes like crispy marmite baby sotong salad also made us question why no one thought of this heavenly combination earlier. Why have we been wasting ourselves on the Caesar salad?

Violet Oon ION Orchard

Classics that have been gaining traction include the Hainanese pork chop — a deep fried Kurobuta pork loin crusted with a cream cracker crust, unlike the usual breadcrumbs. To top it off, it's drizzled with a housemade tomato reduction. Another British Hainanese interpretation — the oxtail stew; elevated with a brandy reduction and made hearty with a generous serving of mash. As for dessert, the winning item had to be the gula melaka tea cake, perfectly warm and moist and paired with a dollop of coconut ice cream. You'll leave the mall happier and a little heavier, that's for sure. 

#03-22, #03-28/29, ION Orchard, Tel: 9834 9935
Opening hours: 12pm-10pm

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