To celebrate Pops turning 54, we deviated from the usual crabs-centric birthday meal to one that celebrated my paternal grandmother's heritage instead at Peramakan, one of the most beloved Peranakan restaurants around. Located in the yuppie club of choice, Keppel Club, it's a short drive in from Telok Blangah Road. The restaurant is totally accessible if you don't drive; we saw a number of people walking in from the main road as well. This club is right on the waterfront facing Sentosa, so even if you can't quite see the water's edge from the main building, you can certainly smell the salty seabreeze as you step out of the elevator onto the third floor where the restaurant is at.
One thing we noticed about Keppel Club: the club may not have the most impeccable greens (some of the plants on the green looked like they were parched of life) but they do have a couple of outstanding restaurants. Which are open to the public. It's little wonder then that their visitors' carpark has more capacity than their members' carpark. Another thing although it's not immediately apparent from the casual ambience of the restaurant: there's a minimum smart casual dress code here.
Lunchtime here is a breeze, without a need for reservations as the homely restaurant was barely filled. Dinnertime, though, is a different matter entirely, and reservations are highly recommended. Service was great, attentive and unintrusive. My water goblet was never more than half-empty. Food-wise, it was Peranakan homecooking at its finest. Not a single complaint can be raised about any of their dishes. Put it this way: our plans to go bowling after lunch (oh yes, Pops is embarrassingly old-fashioned) were shelved after all of us were hit by the slumbering stirs of a food coma seconds after we sipped the last remnants of dessert.
We started off with the Nonya Ngoh Hiang ($10), pork and prawn rolls served with chilli sauce and achar. Meaty, moist and textured, this was ravished in seconds by the littlest.
The Ayam Buah Keluak ($16), succulent hunks of chicken braised till fork-tender in a thin gravy dominated by the distinctive Indonesian black nut, was fabulous with plain white rice. Heck, all of the dishes were great with white rice. Even the Hubs who's practically allergic to carbs had second helpings of white rice to pair with the gravies.
The Itek Sio ($16) braised duck in tamarind and coriander seeds, was pleasantly fresh and tender.
The Babi Pongtay ($14), sinfully decadent chunks of pork belly braised in a rich bean sauce with shitake and winter bamboo shoots, was flavourful and without a doubt, the highlight of lunch.
The Beef Rendang ($16) merits special mention too. Here, the shin portion was braised till meltingly tender in a spicy coconut gravy and served with serondeng. Possibly the most tender beef rendang ever.
The Otak Otak Makanan Laut ($16), with fresh mackeral, squid and prawns blended into a spicy paste then grilled with turmeric was delicious as well. Its beautiful charring reminded me very much of creme brulee.
I particularly loved the Nyonya Chap Chye ($10), with cabbage, lily bulbs, black fungus, beancurd skin, and Chinese black mushrooms stewed in a mellow bean sauce. This was lusciously rich with the sweetness of the vegetables steeped into the sauce.
We shared a couple of desserts to round off the meal, with Bubor Pulut Hitam ($4) black glutinous rice porridge sweetened with gula melaka, coconut milk, and Vanilla Ice-cream ($2).
As nice as the aforementioned dessert was, the Chendol ($5) was undisputedly the better dessert. Smooth and slippery strips of pandan scented jelly floated in a pool of shaved ice, gula melaka and coconut milk with mushy kidney beans.
10 Bukit Chermin Road
Level 3 Keppel Club
Tel: 6377 2829
Open daily from 11.30am to 3pm for lunch; 6pm to 10pm for dinner