Babas and Nyonyas, stop me if you know this one: What do you get when you cross a herb salad with rice? Any true-blue Peranakan will tell you the answer is nasi ulam. The combination of aromatic Asian herbs, rice and, sometimes, seafood, is what makes nasi ulam such a wonderful, cool dish for our Southeast Asian climate.
Found all over southern Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia and here in Singapore, recipes for nasi ulam differ from location to location, family to family, but this Peranakan version was recommended to me by KF Seetoh, the founder of renowned food guide Makansutra.
Chendol Melaka at Soy Eu Tua Coffeeshop along Upper East Coast Road is run by the irrepressible Daisy Tan and her husband Colin Yam. Once the regional director of a shipping firm, this self-confessed “200 per cent” bibik is now wholly dedicated to preserving her Peranakan culture through her culinary delights, like delicious chendol, kueh-kueh and her signature dish, nasi ulam.
TASTE:Chendol Melaka is located at Soy Eu Tua Coffeeshop, 15 Upper East Coast Road, Singapore 455207.
It’s open 10am-5pm (Tuesdays to Fridays) and 9am-5pm (Saturdays and Sundays). Closed Mondays.
To “reserve” your nasi ulam, call Colin Yam at 9777 6471.
All this month of August, in celebration of our Nation’s birthday, we shine the spotlight on homegrown brands and their success stories. We talk to some of the people working behind-the-scenes who work hard to make things tick and of course, get them to recommend their favourite makan places! This week, we warmly welcome back our Makan Kaki, Lyn Lee, one of the owners of local confectionery Awfully Chocolate & heritage-centric Sinpopo Brand. It’s been 3 years since she was last on-air with us, so we have a lot to catch up on, including the latest offerings from Awfully Chocolate and developments with Sinpopo Brand, which has expanded from a cute restaurant in Katong to a coffee bar and a grocer (Scroll all the way down for pictures & more)!
Lyn says she was never a fan of Bak Chor Mee until she tried the one from a humble stall in the Tiong Bahru coffee shop at the corner of Seng Poh Road (Block 71). This coffee shop is already famous for Loos’ Curry Scissor Rice and the Vegetarian Bee Hoon, but you’ve also got to try the Bak Chor Mee there, with one caveat – it HAS to be prepared by the Uncle. He made a convert out of Lyn. If the Uncle is cooking it, you’ll see a long queue, but if it’s not prepared by him, there’s something not quite right about the flavours & textures – he really does have the magic touch. Both times in the last month that Lyn has been, Uncle hasn’t been there, so she’s been forced to find another Bak Chor Mee which is more central. She was delighted to discover that an excellent stall from Maxwell Market has popped up at Capitol Piazza.
Guan’s Mee Pok is what Lyn calls “fancy”- you can get add-ons like an onsen egg, yaitori on a stick, dumplings, abalone and other luxe ingredients.
Something sweet, round and explosive to end your meal…
Not all ondeh-ondeh are created equal and this is die-die-must-try in our Makan Kaki’s books! While most of these delightful dough balls are green from pandan, today’s recommendation is different in not just taste and texture, but also colour! These little sweet treats are more orange because their creators lovingly use much more sweet potato in the dough then normal. Gula melaka is added in the heart of each sweet potato dough ball for an explosive, liquid centre and then they are boiled to a buoyant consistency before being rolled in a field of grated coconut. ADDICTIVE!
If you’re craving an ondeh-ondeh that’s a bounce above the rest, without that gummy, factory-made taste and texture, rush on over to…
216G Syed Alwi Road
Open Daily 7am – 5pm