Monday, May 3, 2010

Value for money Peranakan: Ivins

Ivins is an old favourite. Kin and I used to frequent Ivins, at their original outlet in Binjai Park for years, and then, for no reason other tha perhaps boredom, we stopped going and almost forgot about them for some years. We recently rediscovered them, and have been going back for several visits in a couple of months.

The restaurant has been around for many years, and for me, they serve quite authentic peranakan food, unebelished by the modernities and fashions of the day. Smallish portions, but suffient for sharing with 2/3 persons, and very reasonably priced.

Here are some of my favourites:

Ayam Rendang

Two pieces of chicken...what seemed to be about a quarter a small chicken...perhaps spring chicken, well marinated, and served in a claypot. I can tell that the chicken is not cooked in the claypot, but the claypot is used more as a presentation than a cooking vessel. It did not impart any smokey flavour characteristic of claypots, but allowed the contents to remain hot for a longer period.

The rendang is quite well done. A bit more spicy would cater to the taste of the Baba more, but as it was served, it was mildly hot, but the spices were very nice and flavourful. The chicken is rendered almost to a state where it fell off the bone and was super tender.

Fishcake lemak is also a favourite.

Fishcake, cooked in a gorgeous, thick, rich, yellow curry. Not a typical nyonya dish, but cooked in an inspired way which is true to the peranakan spirit. I always find this dish to be very appealing.

Otah is also a must order:

Not the tpyical peranakan otah, which tends to be steamed rather than broiled. But this version is very tasty, and made with the right balance of spices. I could have wished for more fish, as the taste of the fish was barely discernable. My mum makes the typical Penang Nyonya with coconut milk, huge chunks of fish, wrapped in a banana leaf, steamed, and if desired, then broiled for the smokey flavour.

The kangkong is also typical...

Young kangkong, stir fried in a very hot wok, with spices and seasoning, and in double quick time, so as to thouroughly cook the vegetable, but not overcook it. Young kangkong is crucial, and many a times, the chef spoils this dish by being less fastidious on the selection of the vegetable. Old kangkong is tough, and unappetizing.

A venerable bastion of peranakan cooking tempered with good sense in value pricing. I highly recommend this restaurant.

19 Binjai Park
Tel: +65 6468 3060
Mon–Wed, Fri–Sun
11.30am – 3pm, 5pm – 9pm
Closed on Thursdays
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