The new Singapore high tea at National Kitchen by Violet Oon wows out-of-town guests and foodies alike with gorgeous surroundings and a unique menu
Singapore’s culinary doyenne, Violet Oon, gets it right every time – and the newly introduced Singapore High Tea at her National Gallery restaurant, National Kitchen by Violet Oon, is sure to wow out-of-town guests (or help newcomers fall in love with Singapore just a little bit more).
Sure, they might be impressed with the gallery itself, but settle into her exquisitely decorated restaurant for a spot of tea (or kopi!), and you will not want the experience to end.
Served daily (2.30PM – 5PM; last order 4:30PM), the three-tiered tingkat-inspired stand comes laden with several of Singapore’s favourite foods and some modern twists to Peranakan classics. If you have never tried her food, the high tea set is an excellent introduction. At a totally reasonable $28++ per person, the tea set includes six savoury, and six sweet nibbles.
The bottom layer is where we recommend you begin; there are fluffy steamed baos with a spicy sambal pulled beef filling and “cucumber” sandwiches, where soft white bread has a hae bi hiam (spicy shrimp floss) filling and is wrapped in slivers of cucumber. Go a level up and you are in for a treat. The crostini topped with a dollop of buah keluak paste flavoured with spices, dried shrimp and coconut milk are the best part of the high tea set. The black coloured paste is a key ingredient in Peranakan cuisine, and is painstakingly made with lemongrass, galangal, shallots, turmeric and the kernel of keluak nuts. At Violet Oon’s this – and all other sauces and spice pastes – are made in-house. There are also crostinis topped with otak (spiced, ground mackerel fish laced with coconut cream) and the much-loved Peranakan appetiser of kueh pie tee, where stewed turnips and bamboo shoots are placed in a crisp-fried cup and topped with a prawn. Delicious.
All the savoury flavours in this meal are bold and punchy, but manageable for those who don’t like too much heat. With your palates tingling from the spices, it’s time to move onto the sweet stuff.
The kueh dah dah is a green coloured pandan-infused crepe that encases gula melaka laced coconut shavings. The filling is ample and each bite is decadent. There is also the kueh beng kah, cleverly served in shot glasses, where skewers of tapioca cake are sitting in pools of gula melaka and coconut milk. You might be intimated to order these kuehs at a traditional Peranakan restaurant, thankfully the high tea set is a good way to familiarise yourself with these flavours and their delightful combinations.
Should you still be feeling peckish after all that, top-up $7 for two portions of their signature dish, the dry laksa. It may look like a pasta dish, but it has all the trimmings of a good bowl of laksa. Fresh rice noodles, tofu puffs, bean sprouts, fish cake and a coconutty laksa sauce chock full of chopped up daun kesum (laksa leaves).
The sets are served with a choice of tea (a customised blend by The Singapore Tea Company), or Kopi VO (local-style coffee made with top quality beans). We can’t think of a better high tea to show off Singapore with guests or visitors (or merely to acquaint yourself with the best in Singaporean cuisine).
Singapore High Tea is offered daily from 2:30 pm to 5pm (last orders at 4:30pm). Cost is $28++ per person, with a minimum of 2 pax. Click here for full menu options.
National Kitchen by Violet Oon, National Gallery Singapore, 1 Saint Andrew’s Road, #02-01, Singapore 178957, Tel: (+65) 9834 9935, www.violetoon.com
All images courtesy of the author.