How well do you know Peranakan food, mama? This mama LOVES it, and reveals a new gem in Tiong Bahru, three generations and counting…
Peranakan food and culture has gotten quite some attention in the last couple of years, with many new restaurants sprouting all over the island. In my family we’re super excited because we LOVE Peranakan food! (For those unsure, it’s actually a fusion between Chinese ingredients and Malay spices and cooking techniques. Also sometimes known as Nyonya food.)
But while many Singapore restaurants boast “authenticity”, many also try to elevate this cuisine by marrying it even further with European cooking techniques (for instance: making a panna cotta out of a local dessert, or using wagyu beef in rendang). Sounds delicious, doesn’t it? But if you’re looking for something truly authentic – I’m talking about I-feel-like-I’m-eating-in-a-Peranakan-family-home authentic – then you’ll have to give House of Peranakan Petit a try.
While the restaurant only opened in 2015, the House of Peranakan Group of restaurants has been around for more than 30 years. A true family-owned brand spanning three generations, the current owner Seah Bee Leng works with her dad Bob Seah, who learned all the recipes used in the restaurants from his mother!
I loved how unpretentious and understated the interior was, yet also so bright, colourful & inviting. I happen to be privy to the fact that Bee Leng lovingly and painstakingly hand-picked each and every decor element in the restaurant when it was still in planning stages, travelling all the way to Penang for some of the items. The walls feature art from local Peranakan artist Carolyn Law, too!
But let’s talk FOOD already!
When we talked to Bee Leng and asked her what made her food different from other Peranakan restaurants out there, she only had one word: LOVE. Love and family (okay, two words). House of Peranakan Petit doesn’t attempt to re-create true Peranakan dishes in order to impress. Their food is pretty much the same dishes that Bee Leng’s grandma used to serve up at home, food that they all grew up eating as a family. So you’re truly stepping into a Peranakan home when you step into this restaurant and eating as a Peranakan family does. Keepin’ it real, people!
Freshness is also key in their restaurant so her dad, who is in his 70s, still goes to the market every morning to get ingredients for his restaurants himself!
In keeping with the honest, unpretentious theme, House of Peranakan Petit makes sure everything is quite affordable, so go ahead and order everything you want to try!
We ordered quite a lot ourselves, but here are the dishes that deserve special mention:
Bakwang Kepiting ($8): Crab meat and minced pork patties served in a crab shell, in a broth. Need I say more? The staff suggested one portion per person but we wanted to share a portion. Let’s just say we regretted the decision – might order 2 per person next time.
Long Beans with Shrimp in Sambal Sauce ($12): I know, what could be so special about long beans, right? Trust me, when I go to this restaurant, this is the first thing I order. The flavours in the sauce jump all around my mouth and the beans are cooked so perfectly and yet still so crunchy.
Ngoh Hiang ($12): They realllly know how to make ngoh hiang here. I know because ngoh hiang (kind of like a cousin to sausage, rolled up inside a beancurd skin) is normally not something I’d order. But the staff recommended it so strongly, I said ok well I’ll give it a try. Two words – sooo crispy! Correction: Ngoh hiang is not something I’d normally order anywhere else but here!
Scallops lemak ($28): Probably the only dish on the pricier side because well, scallops. But oh so worth it. A lemak dish like this is usually made with shrimp, or perhaps crabs in some cases. But using scallops is so creative yet a perfect match for the rich & flavourful lemak sauce.
Also notable: Their rendang & assam sotong dishes!
Bee Leng’s brother, who is a wine aficionado, specially selects wines that go perfectly with these dishes (all from France) – with prices ranging between $60-85 per bottle.
Mouth watering yet, mama? Head to Tiong Bahru to check them out!
Opening Hours: Mon, Wed-Sun (Closed Tuesdays), 12pm-3pm & 6pm-10pm.
House of Peranakan Petit, 42 Eng Hoon Street, Singapore 169785, Tel: (+65) 6222 1719, www.houseofperanakan.com.sg