PeraMakan

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It was my father’s birthday, of course I had to take him out for good food. He requested Peranakan food and PeraMakan naturally came to mind. We’d eaten at the now-defunct restaurant in Joo Chiat and were crestfallen to find that it’d disappeared. Only much later did I find out from a friend that it’d reappeared at Keppel Club. Said friend raved about the food and especially the durian pengat. I’m not a durian fan, but Dad is. We were all set.

We started of with something not normally associated with Peranakan food, a salad. The jantung pisang kerabu was a salad of banana flowers, green mango and cucumber topped with cooked prawns, a light sambal belachan sauce and covered with a generous dollop of thick coconut cream. The sambal belachan was accented with lime juice and ginger flower, making it a surprisingly light-tasting dish. Goes without saying that the prawny tangy crunchy salad was a hit with the whole family.

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Next up was probably the star of the show: ayam buah keluak. I’m not sure why but the dish came with four pieces of chicken and only two nuts. I was pretty surprised when later I passed by a table of two and saw at least three nuts in their dish. I certainly hope it’s because the other table somehow requested for extra nuts and not because of inconsistency because I’m such a buah keluak fan! The dish was very well made, with tender chicken and very thick black and flavourful sauce. The best part was obviously the buah keluak,which was scraped out of the shell and stuffed back in.

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The deeply smoky, earthy nuts were so ambrosial I scraped out every tiniest bit and even licked as much of the insides clean as I could while at the same time avoiding an embarrassing trip to the dentist or worse!

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Now the dish I remember best of the old PeraMakan was the amazingly well made sambal terung. The brinjal was perfectly grilled till the skin turned a beautiful deep glossy purple. It was smothered with slightly sweet tomatoey sambal and topped with yummy prawns. Just like the ayam buah keluak, I could probably gobble down a whole dish of it all on my own.

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Next up was the only dud of the evening. It was a special: pomfret in assam nanas. The fish wasn’t particularly fresh and the flavours seemed rather watered down. A downer next to everything else on the table.

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The last main was almost an epiphany. You’d think otak otak would be a quotidian type of dish, but this one is the Platonic ideal of otak otak. The grilled dish looked almost like a lasagne, it was so well browned on the top. But bite into the coconut and seafood cake and taste the unctuousness of coconut. Couple this with perfectly cooked fish, prawn and sotong as well as uber-complementary spices and, well, you’re in otak heaven!

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Then came the desserts. I can’t personally vouch for the durian pengat, but considering how quickly it disappeared into my Dad’s stomach (yes, Dad’s usually queasy about dessert, no less rich ones), it must’ve been pretty darn good!

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I had the sago gula melaka and the gula melaka! It was so thick and rich and oozy I fell in love with it instantly. The only downer was that the sago was presented in the usual moulded jelly lump rather than separate pearls. I much prefer the little sago bits to be, well, in bits than in one slightly chewy lump. It was the fly in the ointment, but what lovely ointment that gula melaka was.

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DC had chendol which was very excellent too, again thanks to the superlative gula melaka and nicely cooked red beans.

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Mum had the apom balik filled with kaya. I quite liked the coconut-pandan fragrance of the pancake but felt that the kaya was a tad overpowered, I felt that the kaya could have been more flavourful, either with caramel flavour from slow-cooking the kaya longer or from more pandan flavour. That aside, it was a well executed dish and a nice sweet bite to round off the very excellent meal.

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PeraMakan
Level 3, Keppel Club
10 Bukit Chermin Road
Tel: 63772829

Chronicles of MPT: 132 Mee Poh Kueh Teow Mee

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My obsession with mee pok tah continues. I persuaded Eeyore to finally try the famous 132 Mee Poh Kueh Teow Mee along East Coast Road (from $3). Not wanting to be left out, Shinta and KK came along too. It was 12 noon on a Sunday and the wait wasn’t very long, only about 10 minutes. I think the MPT craze comes and goes when the newspapers write about them.

Eeyore and I made the fatal mistake of asking for extra chilli. The chilli overwhelmed the noodles, making them far too one-dimensional. This style was the chilli sauce and lard only type, no vinegar or other condiments. I’d imagine (heaven forbid!) a touch of ketchup would have helped it along. The noodles weren’t anything special, even slightly on the soft side.

Ingredients-wise, we weren’t impressed by the fishballs (KK: too much flour, too soft) nor the prawns. The prawns tasted fine, but the tails broke off in the shell. That’s my pet peeve and shows that the prawns aren’t very fresh. A pity. Shinta liked it all a lot though. He had no quibbles with it and thought it was one of the best MPT of this style he’d had.

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What really worked for me was the soup. It’s fresh and full of flavour, very pleasing and soothing. Nice.

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I wasn’t expecting to get good teh bing (iced milky tea, $1) here but this place gave me a pleasant surprise. It was smooth and milky yet with great tea flavour.

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While waiting for their noodles, Shinta and KK ate three of these mackeral otah between them. It was pretty good with chunky fish and spicy, coconutty, smooth custard. Good stuff.

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132 Mee Poh Kueh Teow Mee
53 Upper East Coast Road (Opp the DBS and Shell station)