Defined by its tangy, aromatic, and spicy flavours, Peranakan food is almost guaranteed to make your mouth water. Plus, it brings back memories of warm, hearty dinners as the whole family convenes at the grandparents'.
The Peranakans are the descendants of Chinese immigrants who came to the Malay archipelago between the 15th and 17th century, and their cuisine is characterised by a blend of Chinese ingredients with Malay and Indonesian techniques and spices.
Here are 10 restaurants in Singapore that do it best.
Godmama, housed in the newly-refurbished Funan mall, is the brainchild of Peranakan co-owners Christina Keilthy, Derrick Chew, and Fredric Goh.
Armed with a knack for classic and modern interpretations of Peranakan fare, Godmama dishes out the good stuff (think heirloom recipes like Assam Babi ($18.90) and Sotong Masak Hitam ($20.90)) alongside inspired cocktails.
The restaurant gets its namesake because most of the recipes are inherited from both Christina's mother and godmother, yum!
Godmama is located at #04-07, Funan, 107 North Bridge Rd, Singapore 179105, p. +65 6970 0828. Open Sun-Thu 10am - 10pm, Fri-Sat 10am - 12am.
INDIGO BLUE KITCHEN
A personal tribute dedicated to his grandmother, Indigo Blue Kitchen is a heritage project of sorts by Les Amis Group Chairman Desmond Lim.
A recollection of flavours from a bygone era, Indigo Blue Kitchen invites its guest to gather around the table and share a communal dining experience with comforting Peranakan classics as it aims to recreate the tender feeling of dining at home with family.
Indigo Blue Kitchen's signature egg skin Heritage Poh Piah ($32++), made with a traditional family recipe, is definitely a must-try for all diners.
Indigo Blue Kitchen is located at #03-09/10/11, Shaw Centre, 1 Scotts Rd, Singapore 228208, p. +65 6235 3218. Open Tue-Sun 12pm - 3pm, 6.30pm - 10pm. Closed Tue.
Executive Chef Raymond Khoo and his team prepares very authentic Peranakan recipes lovingly handed down by their ancestors.
It is also the only restaurant to offer the grand Peranakan feast "Tok Panjang", typically served by wealthy Straits families in the past to mark special occasions.
If you can't get enough of Peranakan cuisine, specialty Nyonya cakes and desserts are also available for takeaway so that you can enjoy them any time.
The Peranakan is located at Level 2 Claymore Connect, 442 Orchard Rd, Singapore 238879, p. +65 6262 4428. Open daily 11am - 10pm.
The Michelin-starred Candlenut is helmed by Chef Malcolm Lee, who discovered his love and passion for Peranakan cuisine since a young age in his mother's kitchen.
As expected, all the rempahs (the spice paste that makes up the base of Peranakan cuisine) he uses are prepared from scratch without any MSG or preservatives, combined with a contemporary approach to the cuisine, resulting in creations such as Red Lion Snapper Fillet with Black Green Mango Sambal ($32++) and Westholme Wagyu Beef Rib Rendang ($36++).
It's no wonder Candlenut is the first Peranakan restaurant in the world to win a star.
Candlenut is located at 17 Dempsey Rd, Singapore 249676, p. 1800 304 2288. Open Mon-Thu, Sun 12pm - 3pm, 6pm - 10pm, Fri-Sat 12pm - 3pm, 6pm - 11pm.
VIOLET OON SINGAPORE AT BUKIT TIMAH
Local culinary celebrity Violet Oon has opened plenty of restaurants around Singapore, but why not try her award-winning food where it all started?
The household name brings all her years of expertise and knowledge to the kitchen, resulting in legacy dishes that are cooked the old way without compromising on flavour and aroma.
Take a bite of the slow-braised Babi Pong Tay ($18) pork belly or the signature Aunty Nanny's Daging Chabek ($36) - beef cheek braised in a rich tamarind gula melaka gravy.
Before you leave, satisfy your sweet tooth with the Bubur Cha Cha Panna Cotta ($10), generously loaded with sweet potato and yam.
Violet Oon's Kitchen is located at 881 Bukit Timah Rd, Singapore 279893, p. +65 9781 3144. Open Tue-Sun 12pm - 10.30pm. Closed Mon.
GUAN HOE SOON RESTAURANT
Guan Hoe Soon is the restaurant of choice for an unpretentious, no-frills Peranakan meal.
Ever since its opening in 1953, Guan Hoe Soon has been serving affordable Peranakan fare to its diners and it has now been passed on to the third generation.
The restaurant is best known for its Ayam Buah Keluak ($16.80), Sayor Lodeh ($11.80), and Udang Assam Pedas ($15.80).
It goes without saying that the restaurant gets very packed at night, so do make reservations if you're planning to dine here to avoid disappointment.
Guan Hoe Soon Restaurant is located at 38/40 Joo Chiat Place, Singapore 427762, p. +65 6344 2761. Open Mon-Fri 11am - 3pm, 6pm - 9.30pm, Sat-Sun 11am - 3pm, 5.30pm - 9.30pm.
STRAITS CHINESE RESTAURANT
Straits Chinese Restaurant is a restaurant managed by the previously-mentioned Guan Hoe Soon Group, serving up traditional Peranakan fare in a much more modern setting.
Sink your teeth into Peranakan classics like the tangy Udang Assam Goreng spiced with tamarind, and the rich Itek Tim, duck soup with salted pickles.
Straits Chinese Restaurant is also known for their catering services, so if you're looking to impress, you know who to call - and we don't mean the Ghostbusters.
Straits Chinese Restaurant is located at 133 Cecil St, #B1-01 Keck Seng Tower, Singapore 069535, p. +65 6225 8683. Open daily 11am - 3pm, 6pm - 9pm.
THE BLUE GINGER
The Blue Ginger is a crowd-favourite among Peranakans in Singapore for its intricately designed interior, ornate furnishings, and overall nostalgic feel.
It's pretty much like a home-cooked family meal. Start off with the traditional Kueh Pie Tee ($8) prepared with bamboo shoots, turnips, and shrimp, and the signature Duck Salad ($12.50), smoked and served with a zesty plum sauce.
For a true Peranakan experience, try the Nyonya Fish Head Curry ($32) consisting of a red snapper head, okra, and egg plants stewed in a traditional home-style curry.
The Blue Ginger is located at 97 Tanjong Pagar Rd, Singapore 088518, p. +65 6222 3928. Open daily 12pm - 3pm, 6.30pm - 10.30pm.
Baba Chews is a stylish Peranakan restaurant located in the former Joo Chiat Police Station, paying homage to the Peranakan culture of the Katong neighbourhood.
Baba is an honorific term for Peranakan males and Chew Joo Chiat was the wealthy landowner of the area.
The all-day diner serves up a diverse menu of modern cuisine with strong Peranakan influences, coupled with quality brews from Common Man Coffee Roasters and TWG Tea. Dishes to try include the Chilli Crab Tagliatelle ($20), Pork Belly Char Siew Rice ($19), and Peranakan Pulled Pork Burger ($20).
Baba Chews is located at 86 East Coast Rd #01-01 Katong Square, Singapore 428788, p. +65 6723 2025. Open Sun-Thu 6.30am - 11pm, Fri-Sat 6.30am - 12am.
Step into PeraMakan and be transported into a world of nostalgia with a gorgeous setting and intricate Peranakan tableware, including an ornate rice-serving bowl modelled after those used in the olden days.
As fantastic as the savouries on the menu are, PeraMakan is also well known for its impressive desserts.
Indulge in the Durian Pengat ($6), or the Apom Berkuah ($6) - sticky rice pancakes served alongside warm banana sauce.
PeraMakan is located at 10 Bukit Chermin Rd, Keppel Club, Singapore 109918, p. +65 6377 2829. Open daily 11.30am - 3pm, 6pm - 10pm.
This article was first published in City Nomads.