Candlenut Cravings

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Click here for this week’s pungent Peranakan episode!

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We feature another hot favourite amongst chefs here in Singapore, especially if you want good old Peranakan comfort food served with both a nod to tradition and to imagination, innovation and modern technique. Our Makan Kaki Chef Anthony Yeoh says you’ll get the best of both worlds at Candlenut, run by talented young chef Malcolm Lee. Previously located at Dorsett Residences near Outram MRT, this Michelin-starred restaurant has since moved into the swanky Dempsey area and yes, was arguably best known as the place where you could get served the rather unusual Buah Keluak ice cream! But Chef Malcolm is no one-trick pony and he uses Buah Keluak expertly in a couple of other dishes Chef Tony wants to highlight. For the traditionalists, you can’t go wrong with Candlenut’s Ayam (chicken) Buah Keluak, but if you’re keen to try something a little more unique, you’ve got to order the Wagyu Beef Shortrib Buah Keluak.

You have that distinctively pungent, bitter, very earthy taste of the black gold encased in the nut, which is the perfect accompaniment to the Wagyu shortrib. This is one cut of beef that is fatty, sinfully marbled and stands up well to the slow-cooking process, yet emerges absolutely tender and melt-in-the-mouth. Employing modern cooking technique, Chef Malcolm sous vides the beef and buah keluak together for a thorough infusion of meat and marinade. All you need is mountain of white rice to go with this supremely flavourful dish.

Another dish you’ve definitely got to try is the yellow coconut curry of crab, which is Chef Malcolm’s take on Prawn Nanas. Here, Blue Swimmer, or Flower Crab is used for its sweetness of flesh, along with an aromatic rempah. Mixed with the creaminess of the coconut and you’ve got an outstanding curry that again, only needs white rice as the perfect accompaniment.

Although Chef Malcolm serves food with a modern slant, make no mistake, fresh rempahs made from scratch, spice by spice, herb by herb, ingredient by ingredient. What many customers don’t realise how much effort goes into the preparation of Peranakan food. This is back-breaking, time-consuming work, well worth the price tag (though some have been known to say the food is expensive), because you have this labour of love lavished over fresh quality ingredients. We’re pretty sure even the staunchest of Peranakan food purists will enjoy the surprises Chef Malcolm brings to his respectful take on classics.

TASTE:
CANDLENUT
17A Dempsey Road, S249676
Open Daily: 12 – 2.30pm; 6 – 9.30pm (Sun – Fri) & 12n- 2.30pm;  6 – 9.30pm; 12 – 2.30am (til late on Sat)
Tel: 1800 304 2288

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Creature Comforts – Inspired Heritage Food

img_6731HEAR:
Click here to catch up with KF Seetoh and what he’s been up too, including details on the latest on his ultimate food guide, Makansutra 2017 edition!
Click here to listen to this week’s mouth-watering makan recommendation, or simply read on…

SEE:
Our very first Makan Kaki, KF Seetoh is back! He’s got 5 copies of the latest edition of Makansutra for you to win and you can go straight to Gold 905’s FB page to enter our contest! For today, let’s talk Asian Heritage food that’s creative, beautifully presented and completely delicious! Seetoh loves meeting people who love and embrace their culinary heritage and move forward using that history to create amazing meals. Case in point, CreatureS, which serves up “comfort food with an Asian flair while staying true to the origins of the dish”. Check out some of Seetoh’s favourites from this little restaurant dishing out big flavours on colourful Desker Road in Little India:

cod-and-nasi-ulamNasi Ulam balls with Miso Cod. Nasi Ulam, in particular, is such a labour of love, involving rice cooked in rich fish stock and perfumed with lots of finely chopped Asian herbs. CreatureS does theirs Japanese onigiri-style and they are WONDERFUL!

lamb-shank-rendangLamb Shank Rendang. Spicy, rich and fall-apart-fork-tender, add a little lontong and you’re in meaty heaven!

babi-gulingCreatureS’ version of Balinese Babi Guling is another winner, as is their Nyonya-inspired Babi Pongtay, of which the pork belly is outstanding – a deep, burnished soy-brown, the babi is caramelised soft and is absolutely delicious.

babi-pongtayDurian Lovers, you’re gonna combust when you check this dessert out…

durian-cake-2CreatureS’ Durian Cake sounds very simple, but trust us, it is so layered in favour, you’ll want to eat the whole cake, not just a slice.

durian-cake-1Can you imagine smooth Mao Shan Wang durian paste (pungent, unctuous durian meat mixed with cream) layered between soft pandan sponge cake and smothered in pandan-vanilla chantilly cream? They make it a mind-blowing reality at CreatureS and it is a definite must-try!

If it’s yummy, satisfying, Asian-inspired food that stays true to its heritage, this is the place to eat at. Bonus is, CreatureS have got what it takes in both the style and substance departments – skillfully-made, delicious food that still looks great, is beautifully presented and totally instagrammable!

TASTE:
CreatureS
120 Desker Road, Singapore 209639

Tel: 6291 6996

Opening Hours:
Tuesday / Wednesday / Thursday / Sunday: 12.00 noon –10.30 p.m.
Friday / Saturday: 12.00 noon –11.30 p.m.
Closed on Mondays.

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Refined, Contemporary Peranakan Cuisine

chef jordi nogueraWe have a new foodie friend joining our panel of culinary personalities this week! Please meet Chef Jordi Noguera of FOC Restaurant. Today, we talk about this hot Catalan-inspired culinary destination on Hong Kong Street, their plans for more FOC outlets, Chef Jordi’s approach to food and also what he likes to eat since moving here to Singapore…

HEAR:

  • Click to hear more about FOC (it sounds so naughty! LOL) – the space, the food, the drinks and some of the must-try dishes at this cutting-edge Catalan inspired bar-restaurant.
  • Click to get to know Chef Jordi’s food philosophy and why he eats his Hainanese Chicken Rice with garlic mayo!
  • Listen to this week’s mouth-watering Peranakan episode here!

SEE:
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Chef Jordi recommends Peranakan food with a contemporary twist at Candlenut. He found his entire encounter with the unique cuisine really amazing, especially since each dish is carefully sequenced for maximum flavour. For a visitor to Singapore, Candlenut is a wonderful, elegant introduction to the varied herbs, spices, flavours and heritage of Peranakan cuisine. That said, for dinner, you really can’t go wrong indulging in their tasting menu, which promises an experience like stepping into Grandma’s house for a lovingly home-cooked meal. With witty reference to their ‘ah-ma-kase’ menu, you can expect weekly changes because they use only the freshest ingredients available each day.
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For a refined restaurant that really cares about preserving old traditions, yet pushing new boundaries (Hellooooo BUAH KELUAK ICE-CREAM!!!), do pay a visit soon to Candlenut. Chef Jordi dined at their current location at Dorset Hotel, but hears they will be moving soon to Dempsey.

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TASTE:
CANDLENUT
Dorsett Residences
331 New Bridge Road
#01-03
Singapore 088764
Tel: +65 81214107

Open Monday – Saturday:
Monday to Friday 12 noon – 2:30pm; 6 – 10pm
Saturday 6 – 10pm
Closed on Sundays & Public Holidays

Classic Peranakan – Magnificent Matriarchal Meal!

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HEAR:

  • We talk about Peranakan cuisine and the importance of food heritage with Awfully Chocolate’s Lyn Lee here!
  • Click this for this week’s Mothers’ Day meal recommendation – a treat for the whole family!

SEE:
Mothers’ Day is just round the corner and what better way to celebrate than with a marvelous matriarchal meal at the oldest Peranakan restaurant in Singapore? Our Makan Kaki, Awfully Chocolate’s Lyn Lee, shares with us her family’s favourite place and also her ideas for sweetening mum’s special day with a chocolatey gift set (scroll all the way down for Awfully Chocolate‘s Mothers’ Day selection)!

Lyn is a busy working mother of 3, but always finds time to find us great places to try, because she believes food is a huge part of being a mum. But on this special occasion, apart from feeding the family, it’s time to feed yourselves with something really spectacular. In Lyn’s humble opinion, nothing comes quite close to the complexity and depth of flavours wrung from traditional Peranakan cuisine, with its complicated preparation and balancing of both Malay and Chinese ingredients. Lyn married into a Peranakan family (in fact, her husband’s grandmother used to sell Satay Celup many moons ago!) who swear by this particular restaurant for authentic Nyonya food. It’s true that everyone claims their own homecooked Peranakan food is best, but for those occasions where it’s simply too much work, this Katong institution is a sedaptastic MUST!

Guan Hoe Soon has been around since 1953 and claims to be the oldest Peranakan Restaurant in Singapore. With decades of food heritage under their belt, you can be assured of quality dishes here. Lyn can’t get enough of their addictive appetiser (she’s not sure of the name, but she is 100% sure of the taste!), which beats a packet of peanuts anyday:

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The addictive appetiser!

This is a wonderful combination of chicken gizzard, liver and heart chopped up and tossed in a fiery sambal and balanced with crunchy-cool cucumber. Don’t be shy to ask for more! Her family always does! When it comes to Peranakan food, there are just some classics you absolutely need to have, one of which is of course Ayam Buah Keluak:

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Classic Ayam Buah Keluak!

To the uninitiated, the black nut is an acquired taste – earthy, almost like a pungent tabacco, but once you learn to love its heady bitter-sweet richness, you’ll be digging in with bare hands to “gorek” the goodness out of the shells!
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At Guan Hoe Soon, they do it a lovely way by mixing minced meat with the black gold filling before stuffing it back into the shells for a texture with more bite. This is a must-try with a mountain of rice!

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Chap Chye

Nyonya Chap Chye, the classic saucy mixed vegetable dish is another must, for freshness, crunch and the wonderful sauce, which mixes so well together with everything else on your plate! Be sure to contrast your meal with something crispy and deep-fried. Lyn recommends their delicious Noh Hiang. And next, even though it’s not necessarily Peranakan, you’ve got to order the Crab Foo Yong!

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Crab Foo Yong

This beautiful golden eggy omelette with chunks of sweet crab is a hit with the kids and adults alike. Plus, it’s such an old-fashioned dish, it’s rare to find a place that does it well. Luckily, Guan Hoe Soon does!

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Bakwan Kepiting

While they also do a wonderful Itek Tim (salted vegetable duck soup), Lyn’s family favourite is the Bakwan Kepiting, a clear broth studded with bamboo shoot meatballs, that her children absolutely love. Lyn has managed to convince them that our local version of meatballs are far more impressive than the western variety!

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Dinner Crowd at Guan Hoe Soon

So there you have it, the favourites of Lyn & her family, after which they always wash everything down with a light, sweet dessert of old-fashioned Gula Melaka Sago or Chendol or Bubur Chacha.

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Antiques displayed at The Oldest Peranakan Restaurant in Singapore

For a hearty, traditional Mothers’ Day meal, you really can’t go wrong with Guan Hoe Soon – Lyn urges everyone to go and try it, support it & be very proud of our Singapore food heritage, of which Peranakan food holds an important place. Its complexity, labour-intensive preparation and unique flavours are worth celebrating and preserving!

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Step in for a really fantastic meal!

TASTE:
GUAN HOE SOON RESTAURANT
38/40 Joo Chiat Place S(427762)
Tel: 6344 2761
Open Daily: 11am – 3pm; 6 – 9.30pm

MAKE MUM’S DAY EVEN SWEETER WITH THIS GIFT SET FROM AWFULLY CHOCOLATE!
If you happen to be in the Katong Area for the Nyonya makan at Guan Hoe Soon, you might also want to pop across to the Awfully Chocolate outlet there to grab Mum a lovely sweet gift!
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M-Day 2016 Gift Set

To purchase this for mum, visit any of their stores, including their brand new outlet at Marina Bay Link Mall!

 

Hamburgers with a Luscious Local Twist!

HEAR:
Audio for this week’s episode!

SEE:

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Photo courtesy of Makansutra.com

HE’S BAAAAACK! With more awesome recommendations for unique local delights, there’s never a dull or untasty moment with Makan Guru KF Seetoh! This week, come with us to Upper Bukit Timah for a delicious & unusual hamburger – a BUAH KELUAK HAMBURGER! The brainchild of youngsters Ryan & Claire, they actually quit their jobs to start up this hambuger stall with no prior experience, because they believed so much in their product. And boy, does their product deliver in the taste department! Imagine if you will, that strange, earthy black nut usually used in chicken or pork curry – the buah keluak paste is extracted, mixed with spices, added to minced meat, shaped into patties and seared-to-order right before your eyes. The buah keluak meat patties are sandwiched between buns and topped with Nyonya chap chye! The combination of textures and flavours is incredible, so hurry to Beauty World for this hamburger with a luscious local twist!

READ MORE ABOUT IT ON MAKANSUTRA.COM!

TASTE:
HAMBAOBAO
Block 144 Upper Bukit Timah Road
#04-49
Beauty World Centre
Open Tues – Sun: 12 pm to 8 pm (Closed on Monday)

Irresistible Buah Keluak Fried Rice

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Our ever-popular Makan Kaki Willin Low is back this week with a killer recommendation! We’re all familiar with Buah Keluak, that mysterious Asian nut that’s poisonous until properly cleaned and cooked, the nut with the alluring pungent, earthy aroma, the nut used in curried dishes like Ayam Buah Keluak, but have you ever tried it FRIED WITH RICE?

Immigrants Gastrobar in Joo Chiat serves up a powerful Buah Keluak fried rice that you simply have to try! It’s intensely fragrant, rich and irresistible. Willin likens buah keluak to the Asian version of truffles and it’s absolutely true. No wonder they call Buah Keluak Black Gold.

Immigrants Gastrobar’s Chef Damian D’Silva, a man passionate about preserving our Singaporean food heritage, cleverly lifts our traditional cuisines to exciting new heights – from Eurasian favourites like Singgang & Seh Bak to Chinese treats like Ngoh Hiang and creative combinations like cold tofu & century egg relish or Spicy Squid bombs – the food at Immigrants is mind-blowing!

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What makes this Gastrobar in the east so worth visiting is how they manage to balance a delightfully relaxed vibe with the wonderful food, the gorgeous decor (witty little nods to Singapore’s heritage in the retro tiles and quaint door grills) and their interesting selection of craft beers, wines from boutique vineyards and rare whiskies.

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Willin thinks all the food is delicious, but what keeps him going back again and again is the Buah Keluak Fried Rice – it’s that good, especially with dollops of Chef Damian’s superb sambal belacan!

LISTEN TO THIS WEEK’S EPISODE AGAIN!

IMMIGRANTS
The Singapore Gastrobar
467 Joo Chiat Road
Open Daily: 5pm – 12midnight (Last Orders at 9:45pm)
Reservations: +65 85117322
Complimentary Valet parking available!

***UPDATE***
Sadly, Immigrants shut its doors on 31 August 2015, but Chef Damian is still dreaming, planning and cooking up a storm – we look forward to his next culinery venture! For details on Immigrant’s closure and Chef’s future plans, click here.

 

Dreaming of Local & Peranakan Delights?

Hello! We have a brand-new Makan Kaki joining our esteemed group of Gastronomical Gurus and she is none other than Founder/ Big Boss of local Theatre Company Dream Academy, fellow Dim Sum Dolly and my friend, Selena Tan! It’s not hard to see how much Selena loves her food and she has many wonderful places to recommend, but to start things off, she absolutely HAS to start with the one who started her love for food – her adorable mum, Daisy!

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Selena’s mum Daisy with Denise

Daisy has always loved to cook – from her days of growing up in a kampong and trading recipes with the aunties there, along with learning from her own mother and her mother’s mother, this original Kampong Bahru girl has amassed an impressive array of local and Peranakan dishes that are simply too good not to share! That’s why she decided to open up a humble little stall at Tiong Bahru Market to begin with. Fast forward a few years and that stall has since become a full-fledged family restaurant in the Clementi/ West Coast area, called Daisy’s Dream Kitchen. Selena and her brother are in on this venture and the food has loyal fans flocking back for more.

It was really hard to get Selena to narrow down a list of her favourites, but here are some of hers (and mine!):
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Delicious, deep-fried appetisers hot from the wok! Daisy’s wildly popular Ngoh Hiang (juicy little pork and prawn balls with lots of garlic and crunchy water chestnut). Sedap with her addictively pedas and limey sambal belacan.

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Crispy-fried, well-seasoned chicken wings – MORE please!
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Instead of the usual Ayam Buah Keluak, Daisy’s serves Babi Buah Keluak – pork that is fall-off-the-bone tender, a thick rich gravy and that quintessential black gold – smooth, nutty, salty, bitter-sweet-spicy filling you must gorek lovingly from the shells to mix with the killer lime sambal belachan and white rice!

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Here are a couple more good ones – the tangy, earthy Black Ink Sotong. Assam is used very liberally in this unique squid dish. And Lagi best! An acquired taste, but Sambal Petai with ikan billis is pungent, tasty and has lots of crunchy texture. Also, look out for the weekly/ bi-monthly specials that always has diners requesting they be added to the permanent menu:

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Selena and one of her favourite weekly specials, Masala Chicken
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Nonya Laksa – a hot weekly special not to be missed!
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Typical feast at Daisy’s Dream Kitchen

From Nonya Chap Chye, to deep-fried ikan stuffed with sambal, to Bakwan Kepiting (pork ball soup), to otak-otak and chicken curry, a meal at Daisy’s Dream Kitchen is like coming home to family, and a heart-warming home-cooked meal that is both delightful & delicious!

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LISTEN TO THIS WEEK’S MOUTH-WATERING EPISODE AGAIN!

DAISY’S DREAM KITCHEN – Peranakan & Local Delights
Blk 517, West Coast Road
#01-571
Tel: 67791781
Open Tues – Sun (closed Monday)
Lunch 11am – 3pm
Dinner 6 -10pm

Nasi Ulam & Chendol – Sedap S’kali!

chendol melaka and nasi ulam at upper east coast road
Any true-blue Peranakan will tell you this is a traditional dish that is intensely laborious to make, which makes it a “special-occasion-only” dish in most Baba homes. And while it may not be much to look at, flavour-wise, it’s mind-blowing! The balanced combination of finely-chopped fresh Asian herbs, rice and sometimes seafood, are what makes Nasi Ulam such a wonderful, cool salad for our hot weather.

Even cooler is we now can get this home-cooked delicacy from a little stall in the East, run by the irrepressible Daisy Tan. Once the regional director of a shipping firm, this self-confessed 200% 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.

In this fresh Nyonya rice salad, Daisy painstakingly chops four-angled beans, long beans, duan kesom (laksa leaves), torch ginger flower (rojak flower), kaffir lime leaves, daun kunyit (turmeric leaves), daun kadot, lemon grass and cucumber and another five or six more super secret ingredients.

She then mixes fish stock and fish flakes with rice and adds the fresh herbs to create a dish that is an abosolute labour-of-love. Finish off the Nasi Ulam with a dollop of Daisy’s pungent, fiery, homemade sambal for a tsunami of flavour! But keep in mind, she only makes limited portions daily so you have to get there early to indulge.

But wait! There’s more! Turns out, the quality of her food comes from her exacting partner – none other than family friend Baba Kenny Chan, possibly the first chef knighted for Datuk-hood because of his contributions and dedication to the cuisine in Malaysia. He has written many books and now runs his own Peranakan restaurant, The Big Nyonya, in Malacca.

They specifically chose their spot in Siglap for the many Nyonyas in the area, but the dearth of Peranakan stalls once you pass the Katong stretch of Upper East Coast Road. It’s a decision that has paid off, since Daisy shifts over a hundred portions of the her nasi ulam , chendol (rich, delicious and redolent with gula brought in by Datuk Kenny from Malacca) and her few handmade Nonya kuehs. Try the gula melaka tapioca cake, which is soft yet filled with chunky bits of the tuber, or the tender onde onde bombs that squelch with oozy gula melaka with each bite.

Chendol Melaka (Don’t forget the Nasi Ulam!)
Soy Eu Tua Coffeeshop
15 Upper East Coast Road
10am-5pm (Tuesdays to Fridays)
9am-5pm (Saturdays and Sundays)
Closed Mondays

LISTEN TO THIS WEEK’S SEDAPNESS!