When one thinks of Peranakan food, perhaps ideas of an abundance of spices, curries/gravy and old school cooking comes to mind. But dining at Violet Oon's truly dispelled that notion of traditional old school cooking, but instead introduced me to a new experience of layers of flavours, textures and even scents.
I loved the black and white mosaic tiles on the floor, paired with black rattan chairs and marble tabletops at Violet Oon's - the whole place exuded a classic, timeless style which went well with the food, like flavours suspended in time. Wearing this beautiful lace number from Shona Joy available Luxe Boutique Sydney, which went along great with the vibe of the restaurant.
For starters, we had the Kueh Pie Tee, which is normally found in bigger hawker centres in Singapore. But this one was hands down the best I've tasted. The shell of the Kueh Pie Tee was crunchy yet slightly moist from absorbing the sauce from the bamboo shoots and turnip. It was topped off with a succulent prawn slice - so good I could've finished the whole plate by myself.
Another interesting starter which I tried was the 2 Dip Board with Pita Bread - the pita bread did give much to rave about but I thoroughly enjoyed the homemade black nut paste and chili crab dip.The Pong Tau Hu Soup was actually the most surprising dish thanks to the distinct, even slight bitter aftertaste of the prawn bisque cooked with julienned bamboo shoots. The meatball in the soup was really wholesome and I thoroughly enjoyed the crunchy texture of bamboo shoots with the prawn, pork & beancurd meatball.
Moving onto the mains, the Dry Laksa is a definite must-try. The laksa pesto sauce is made from reduced laksa soup, despite its "dry" appearance, it retains a very moist and creamy taste thanks to the reduction of coconut milk in the laksa soup. This was served with prawns, tau pok and beansprouts, making it a really good modern rendition of the traditional laksa.
For Nyonya mains, we tried the Garam Assam Fish, which was a mackerel fillet cooked in a slight spicy and sour gravy with pineapple slices. The fish meat simply fell apart in layers when cut and absorbed the flavors of its gravy in all its glory. I'm usually not one who appreciate such gravy-heavy meat dishes, but the slight tanginess in the sauce did not make the gravy taste very oily or overbearing.
Finally, ending off on a sweet note we had the Bubor Cha Cha Pannacotta and Bread & Butter Pudding with Whiskey and Custard Sauce. The Bubor Cha Cha Pannacotta was the winner out from all the desserts - the pannacotta is actually made out from reduced coconut milk instead of the usual heavy cream and made for a lighter version of this dessert. It went really well with the texture from the agar agar jelly on top and a gula melaka layer. YUM.
We even managed to met Violet in person, who was still going strong at 60+. When we met her, she was just visiting the kitchen to bring home ingredients for the paste, dips and sauces, preferring to make them personally for the bistro. And it pays off in the flavours of all her dishes - this dining experience clearly changed my notion of Peranakan cooking.
For the full menu from Violet Oon's please visit this link.
Thank you Alistair for the kind invite to the tasting.