We're always on the lookout for good Peranakan restaurants. We're both part Peranakan and short of inviting ourselves to our relatives' homes every other weekend for a throwback to our childhood, we've had to make do with satiating our cravings commercially. We've heard good things about The Peranakan, a new-ish restaurant in the recently revamped Claymore Connect, the mall annexed to Orchard Hotel and previously known as Orchard Hotel Shopping Arcade. So, after the initial furore of The Peranakan's official launch died down, we popped by for a visit.
The Peranakan is an intricate and vibrant, if a little kitschy, wallpapered tribute to the Peranakan design sensibility. And with a trove of Peranakan knick-knacks strewn around the restaurant, it almost looks like a museum. I was skeptical, wondering if the food was going to be a cheesy and underwhelming affair. The restaurant's half-capacity on a Friday evening didn't exactly bode a stellar dinner either.
Thankfully, the food impressed. It's not the best we've ever had; those superlatives are reserved for our beloved Maks' cooking, but the traditional fare at The Peranakan was wonderfully homestyled. In fact, the seafood Hokkien mee and sambal belachan were practically indistinguishable from the Hubs' Chek Joe's version.
Service was a little eager, but generally unintrusive. Although they'd forgotten my request to hold off the coriander leaves, the staff made sure to remake the soup proper (instead of just lazily taking out the greens), and offered profuse and sincere apologies.
The Kueh Pie Ti ($10), a DIY platter of fried flour top-hats, poached prawns, and stewed turnip was excellent. The julienned turnip was a bit uneven, but the stock was mellow and nuanced.
One of the best renditions around, the Sup Bakwan Kepiting ($9) was sweet but balanced, and the balls of crabmeat, pork mince, and chopped shrimp were juicy and meaty.
The Ayam Buah Keluak ($22) was heady and thick, jazzed up with a subtle heat, and I liked that they only served succulent thigh meat.
A must-try, the Sambal Udang ($27) was absolutely fantastic; the sambal was robust and bold, while the prawns were sweet and fresh.
Another must-try, the Sambal Sotong ($19) with ladies fingers was cooked to perfection.
A dish I haven't seen for some time, the Ikan Goreng Sumbat Sambal Belachan ($17) was a duo of tenggiri stuffed with sambal, deep-fried, and drizzled with kecap manis. Bony but exquisite.
The Hei Bi Hiam ($1.50 per person), served with sambal belachan, was addictively good. Like Pringles, you can't stop at one!
Another must-try, the Pandan Gula Melaka Chiffon Cake ($6.50) was an airy fairy confection showered with grated coconut and smoky-sweet gula melaka syrup. Ask for extra gula melaka, they'd happily oblige.
The Green Lime Juice ($6.50) and Passionfruit Soursop Juice ($8) riddled with biji selaseh for a seedy crunch, made for refreshing thirst quenchers.
442 Orchard Road
#02-01 Claymore Connect @ Orchard Hotel
Tel: 6262 4428 / 6262 4728
Open daily from 11am to 10pm