Monday, December 21, 2009

Peranakan cuisine at True Blue

I didn't know what Peranakan meant before I came to Singapore. The term refers to those Chinese people who migrated to the Malay Peninsula under the Dutch and then British rules. They developed their own culture half way between Chinese and Malay. Houses on Koon Seng Road are one example. And we are talking about East Asians, which means the unique culture, of course, includes its unique (and delicious, of course) cuisine.

True Blue Cuisine, recently relocated to 47/49 Armenian Street in the city center, offers authentic, if a bit pricey by Singaporean standards (which means not pricey at all, if not budget, by European standards), Peranakan cuisine. A friend of mine, who usually doesn't eat spicy food (thank you for having dinner with me at this restaurant, Joel), enjoys it. What blows my mind (or my taste bud) is a dish called ayam buah keluak. It's chicken stew with black nuts (seeds of a tree known as Pangium edule). The key is this black nut which is as big as a chicken egg. The waiter teaches us how to savor these black nuts. Open it, scoop the paste-textured black content inside, and eat it with steamed rice. When I start eating it this way, I cannot stop. The umami taste of black nuts just makes me keep wanting to eat rice. That's the kind of dining experience I miss a lot in Sweden.

All the other dishes are also excellent. There is a hint of Chinese-ness both in cuisine and in decor (see the above picture), but it's a whole new experience. Imagine what if China is located in a tropical area. A must-go if you are in Singapore.

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