Thursday, December 15, 2011

My Peranakan Spice Box

Here's a new place you ought to check out whenever you're at Toa Payoh. My boyfriend stumbled upon it and suggested that we check it out together.

For all who are familiar with Nyonya cusine, it takes an arduous amount of time, love an dedication to produce a wholesome meal. For a modern family, we're lucky if our grandma or mum cooked a pot of curry once a week. Well in my case, I get to eat my granny's cooking once a year. Otherwise be prepared to fork out $30-40 for a good Peranakan restaurant out there.

Opened for only 6 months; Chef-Owner Dale Wang wanted to highlight that Peranakan food can be enjoyed by all without breaking the bank. Using all of his family recipes and twitting it with his own flare; as most Bibiks and Baba would do - My Peranakan Spice Box was born.

I was skeptical at first judging from the menu.  There is always a risk trying to pull a modern twist to good ole classics. Given the location and demography, HDB hub and a mecca of realty offices, everyone has to move and eat in a 'chop chop chilli chop' (hurried) way. So it makes logical sense to have dishes served with la mian (pulled noodles) or rice. Dishes are order over the counter and served quickly to your table, no fuss no hassle. Whlist digging into your meal you will be engage to read some signage with description on what My Peranakan Spice Box is about.

We tried the Black Sauce Pork Stew Rice Set ($4.20) aka Babi Chin with rice. This is one of those comfort food that your mum would usually cook a huge pot and we will be eating it for a week. A generous portion of meat was served and I must say taste factor was really good, its sweet, full of body with the flavor of  yummy dark sauce; I could taste the distinct spices such as star anise. The meat was tender but I felt it could be braised longer and I wished I had a hard boiled egg to go with my rice.

I must say they serve really good chilli sambal, once of those that you will keep coming back for more serving of rice cos the sambal is so darn good.

One of my favourite soup of all time is Bakwan Kepeting, I often cook this dish cos the ones outside sometimes has too much MSG or not enough umph to it. I decided to try it with la mian ($4.50, w/o noodles $4.20)

I give the soup 3 tummy rubs, its was cooked well, clean clear soup that contains the goodness and sweetness of pork, crab and bamboo shoot. There were no brining bamboo smell or taste in the soup which is a good sign, the meat ball was made almost perfect, hardly the homemade texture with bumps and blemishes. It does lack the fried garlic taste that I would prefer; not too sure about the bland la main, I rather prefer having tang hoon (mung bean vermicelli)  to revisit my childhood days.

How can we not order Buah Keluak at a Peranakan joint? Described by Chef Dale as Nyonya cavier, he has recreated it to Buah Keluak Toast ($2.50). The meat was well done, soft and spreadable. If you don't know any better, its like tapanade on crostini. I admire the innovative twist to this, perfect for buah keluak virgins as you do not have to hassle of digging into the nut. I reckon I would like just a little more taste of the rempeh, (gravy).

Finally Dessert!

Pulot Hitam ($2,20) This glutinous black rice dessert was delicious. It has the balance of perfectly cooked rice where every grain pop in your mouth. Its just right, not too watery, not too thick, not too overwhelmingly sweet or under sweeten. I can taste the pandan flavour in it.

Gula Malaka Sago ($2.20) is one of those good and simple dish that can delight any child of any age. Once again it has strike a balance in flavour & texture.

The only order I thought should be greatly improve was the Red Date, Logan drink, it have been too watered down and was not sweet enough.

My Peranakan Spice Box is a prefect place for a quick, cheap and good meal. It certainly revive the notion that you can have Peranakan food everyday.

As we ended our meal, I realised little aunties were slowing streaming in to order food and several people were ordering take away family size packs.

Obviously this humble eatery has already struck a chord in the heart of this heartland location. I'll definitely be back!

3.5 Tummy Rubs!

Blk 190 #01-528
Toa Payoh Lor 6
+65 8288 0189
Opening Hours: 7am -8.30pm
Close Tuesday

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