Thursday, June 2, 2011

Spice Peranakan: Biopolis

What do you do when you crave peranakan, and don't have time or skill to make a true blue peranakan meal yourself? Go out, of course. I have written about Ivins - the inexpensive eatery which gives you a taste of peranakan. Or even at Pow Seng in Serangoon Gardens. Or Peramakan...the current reigning queen of peranakan restaurants in Singapore.

I had a quick lunch with my friends - Dr. Mycroft and Larry one afternoon...and doc was kind of bound around his office area because of meetings...and suggested Spice Peranakan...just the next block from where he works.

As we settled in, a joyful Mr. Wee, the owner came trotting down and introduced himself...promising, methot.

For the three of us, as certified gourmets, of course we ordered a lot of food...I guess we could easily add perhaps another one or even two other diners, and still have enough food...but I digress...on to the food.

First off the Ngor Hiang

Not bad. The skin was very crisp, and though deep fried, remained quite light to the palate. The pork within was cleverly marinated and blended with some binder...and was good.

Kuih Pie Tie...a speciality of the Penang peranakans,

The shell was excellent...but these days, these can be purchased off the shelf from supermarkets. But the filling, similar to that used in pohpiah was quite savoury and appetizing...a halved prawn adorns the top, and a splash of chilli sauce with plenty of parsley for garnishing.

So those were the appetizers...and off to the main courses:

I never really warmed to buah keluak...the taste and aroma is nice, but I don't have a craving for it like some peranakans do. I understand this is possibly due to buah keluak as a mainly more southern dish, treasured by the Malacca peranakans, as well as those in Singapore and perhaps Indonesia than in Penang.

But this is a difficult dish to make...complicated. The buah keluak has to be prepared in a very specific way to get rid of the poisons that are on the shell. The nut is evacuated, minced with pork or chicken, and stuffed back into the shell. And the whole thing braised slowly in spices and chicken. The result...ayam buah keluak. Most peranakans would remove the filling from the buah keluak, mince it on the plate, and mix it more or less evenly with the rice. Add a generous helping of the sauce...and for some...pure heaven. Spice's buah keluak is nice. I am not sure if its truly mind blowingly good, for I am not a connoisseur of buah keluak.

We also have bagi pongteh:

This one I really like. Superb. The pork was not belly, but perhaps a more healty cut...though possibly not by much, as it was obviously still marbled, and tender. Full flavour. The spices used in slowly braising the pork was very well balanced. I love this dish. Very good.

And the standard form a peranakan kitchen...the chap chye

Again a good dish. Quite similar to the one done by my mother at enough praise indeed.

We also had an omelette:

An adaptation of the western omelette...this one has chinchalok added. Chinchalok is a wierd but wonderful concoction...prawns which are too small for regular consumption is not wasted, but fermented in a heady concoction, which is good to flavour the more bland food like plain or potato rice porridge. And in this case to embellish the lowly omelette. This version is quite nicely done. The egg remains fluffly inside, slightly crispy on the outside. The chinchalok providing fortification of flavours within. Loved this dish.

And we ended with durian chendol:

I must say, this is a fitting end to the meal. Not mind blowingly spectacular, this chendol, but sufficiently sweet, fragrant, wonderful to be a fitting conclusion of a nice lunch. Burp!

Overall Spice provides a nice alternative when one pines for peranakan. Good food, reasonably good service. Reasonable price.

Spice Peranakan
20 Biopolis Way, 138668
6738 8887
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