Finding that authentic experience in a bustling city like Singapore can be difficult. But here’s something different – a private Peranakan lunch at Baba Pui Dapur.
The Peranakans, the children of inter-marriage between Chinese travellers and local Malays, blend Chinese ingredients with spices and techniques used by the Malay/Indonesian community.
The food is tangy, aromatic, spicy and herbal – sometimes all at the same time.
A female Peranakan is known as a nonya (also spelled nyonya), and a male Peranakan is known as a baba.
Baba Eugene Lim learned his recipes helping his mum and grandmother. The result: a huge a-la carte menu of over 30 dishes. But don’t worry – he will choose dishes to suit you and your party.
He invites a minimum of six and maximum of 14 people to his home in Sims Avenue, about 40 minutes by train or bus from Marina Bay Cruise Centre.
Our party of 10 tasted 12 dishes – including three delicious deserts.
We went from tiny tarlets of vegetables and a delicious herbal soup with pork to beef rendang, fish curry, chicken, peppery Assam prawns and wing bean salad.
The rice was blue! And our final course was an amazing durian with sago pudding, coconut and cream.
Mr Lim’s home is decorated with Peranakan trinkets and he and his helper serve up each dish with delightful stories of how it was created and where the recipe came from.
A truly immersive dining experience, and a delight for cultural buffs and food lovers. Eugene entertains at weekends. Call +65 9040 1003 for bookings or see facebook.com/babpui. He works mostly at weekends.
Peranakan’s more upmarket face is Violet Oon. Her National Kitchen at Singapore’s breathtaking Nation Gallery features her own recipes and an amazing array of biscuits, cakes and sauces for you to take away.
Ms Oon is a Singapore Food Ambassador – and given the country’s reputation as a foodie capital, that speaks volumes about her cooking.
She also has outlets at Bukit Timah, Ion at Orchard Road and the new mega terminal at Changi Airport, Jewel.
This is upmarket dining with a really authentic local take. Former US President Barack Obama was a recent visitor.
Her repertoire includes Rojak (a salad of guava, sour mangoes and jellyfish) gado gado (friend bean curd, hard boiled eggs, long bean, cabbage and rice with creamy peanut sauce) – and, of course, Singapore’s famous chilli crab, fish head curry and laksa.
See violetoon.com. Bookings essential.