National Kitchen by Violet Oon

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And so, one of Singapore’s famous food critic has set up her own restaurant and in the swanky new National Gallery no less! Sticking to her Peranakan roots, National Kitchen serves up Peranakan cuisine with slight twists on some of the dishes. There isn’t any pork in the menu but I did not spot any Halal certificate but if you’re one of those who aren’t too fussed, then this would be a good place for you to try very refined Peranakan food.

My parents and I went there to celebrate my mum’s birthday as my parents previously tried to eat dinner there but were told that they did not accept any walk-ins. Thus, dad made a reservation which you can easily do via their website. They have 2 dinner service time slots: 6.30pm and 8.30pm. We chose the 6.30pm slot and they emphasised that we had to leave by 8pm. Yes…this was emphasised even in their reminder phone call the day before.

Tauhu Goreng

Ngoh Hiang

For starters, we ordered the Tauhu Goreng (which literally means fried tofu; S$9++) and their signature Ngoh Hiang (fried meat rolls served with sweet sauce; S$15++). The Tauhu Goreng’s sauce was really good! Thick and yet not cloying. It wasn’t too pungent nor too sweet. This balance went really well with the shredded cucumber and fried tofu while the crushed peanuts added that crunch.

We were pleasantly surprised to see onions in the Ngoh Hiang as that is not an ingredient traditionally found in the dish. I liked that it wasn’t oily and were little bites of deliciousness. Went really well with the sweet sauce and a touch of sambal belachan. Yup…the nonya in me is peeking out.

Sayur Lodeh

The vegetable dish we ordered was the Sayur Lodeh (S$13++) which essentially is curried vegetables. Parents felt that it was a little too sweet but I begged to differ. I found that they managed to let the flavours not overpower each other (which is a tendency when there are so many spices involved) and this worked well in lowering the spice level of the Sambal Eggplant.

Ayam Buah Keluak

First taste of this Ayam Buah Keluak (S$23++) was a little shocking to me. It was too sour and definitely did not taste like the one mum cooks or even the one that Blue Ginger serves. That said, the buah keluak themselves were really good because you could tell that they removed all the flesh from the seeds, pounded them before refilling the shells. They didn’t add any prawn or meat into the flesh of the nut though, so it was pure buah keluak flavour. There wasn’t any buay keluak added into the gravy as well, which is probably why it didn’t quite have the same oomph as the one Chilli Padi serves. Nonetheless, their buah keluak itself wins hands down.

Beef Rendang

I’m not a fan of rendang but my dad is so we ordered this (Beef Rendang S$23++). However, all of us were very very impressed at how tender is meat was! The sauce was pretty good too. Mum, who doesn’t like beef, even managed to eat half a piece without complaining that it had ‘a smell’.

Sambal Eggplant

I really liked the Sambal Eggplant (S$12++) despite it being the spiciest and oiliest dish. I have no idea how they managed to fry this baby up such that the flesh is soft but the skin isn’t chewy. It was soooo good.

Because I had already mentioned at the start of the dinner that it was my mum’s birthday, the waiter surprised her with a complimentary cake at the end of our meal! We got to share her slice of Kueh Beng Kah (S$9++) which was served warm, drizzled with gula melaka and had a side serving of coconut milk. The combination was too delicious…we can never go back to Begawan Solo’s version of this cake.

The service was top notch, the ambience really nice as it was colonial meets Peranakan and was rather cosy as the restaurant is quite small. It is a bit pricey but when you consider how much effort it takes to prepare Peranakan food, I reckon that it’s quite worth it. I’m still thinking about the cake and the ngoh hiang…*drool*.

National Kitchen by Violet Oon
1 St. Andrew’s Road
National Gallery Singapore (City Hall Wing)
Singapore 178957


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