We haven't had Peranakan food for some time and since we were in the Upper Thomson area, we decided to head to Ivins for an early dinner. Although the restaurant only opens at 6pm, it was already half-filled when we reached the restaurant at 5.45pm.
We got a nonya classic, Babi Pongteh ($8.90), stewed pork belly in a rich brown soy bean gravy. The pork belly was tender, juicy, and laced with a guilty layer of fat. Whiffs of cloves, cinnamon and taucheo (preserved soya beans) infused the aromatic gravy and titillated the senses. The distinguishing feature of Ivins' version is the addition of sliced green chilis for a subtle heat. We ladled spoonfuls of the fragrant gravy over steaming hot white rice.
We also got the Nyonya Chap Chye ($6.50), stewed mixed vegetables in a soy bean gravy. This was nuanced, delicate and subtle in flavour. I've had better in Malacca, but this was a light alternative to the stronger flavoured curry dishes that came in quick succession.
We got the curry version as well, Sayur Lodeh ($6), chopped cabbage, long beans and julienned carrots stewed in a coconut and turmeric curry gravy. This was fiery and delightful.
We got the Ayam Rendang ($8.90), chicken stewed with a viscious coconut gravy. The chicken was incredibly tender and juicy and the gravy was robust and addictive.
The only (slight) disappointment was the Ayam Curry ($8.90) traditional nyonya chicken curry. Compared to the rest of the dishes, this was really very ordinary fare.
Ivins does not charge GST or service charge, the prices are as stated on the menu, without any further charges.
Update 31 Dec 2011: Ivins has been replaced by Irvins Seafood, a cze char restaurant previously located at River Valley Road
Ivins Nyonya Specialties
Peranakan Casual Dining
No. 4 Jalan Leban
Upper Thomson Road
Tel: 6451 4622
Open daily from 11am to 3pm for lunch and 6pm to 10pm for dinner. Closed every Thursday.