Nonya food lovers looking for a quick fix for their cravings may know of this cozy establishment called O’nya Sayang at Tampines Mall, or at their most recent outlet at Paya Lebar Square. Three months into the opening, and after nearly getting lost (as Google Maps told me that Paya Lebar Square was at Tai Seng), I finally made my sojourn down to the East to experience the flavours. Straight up, O’nya Sayang features homely dishes that are both traditional and modern. As their founder Zan Ho told me, the restaurant is targeted at the younger generation who may or may not know about Peranakan cuisine. From all the dishes I tried, I must say that these dishes are generally flavourful and good. While there is only so much you can do to make Peranakan dishes healthier (i.e for the younger crowd’s demands), I thought that O’nya Sayang is worth the try.
I started off with the Ayam Keluak Fried Rice ($14.90). Rice is uniquely fried with the bitter savoury keluak flesh and served along side a serving of Ayam Buah Keluak, Achar, Keropok and Sambal Belachan. I thought that the rice was decently flavoured with a hearty keluak bite with each serving. The belachan was also fresh, a little sweet and yet robust in chilli flavours.
Notably, the Buah Keluak is not served mixed with others meats. It is seasoned with spices and a little sugar, pureed and then repacked into the shell. Personally, I enjoyed this version over others as it reminded me of how my dad and grandmother used to do it. While it is still not the purist version, this is possibly the closest yet for a retail outlet.
Next, I was served the Assam Fish ($16.90). A good portion of fish, egg plant and long beans with a whole bowl of gravy. While I appreciated the effort that goes into the rempah base, I found it a little salty for my liking. Perhaps the assam’s sourness accentuated the flavours, but this is one dish that has to be moderated.
Bakwan Kepeting ($12.90). A simple soup that I always look forward to. Made of crab and pork meat, each meatball was very juicy and firm. The soup was cabbage sweet and interspersed with bamboo shoot slices for that added texture.
The Lor Bak Noodles Set ($12.90) is one meal that I will come back to O’nya Sayang for. A plate of yellow noodles, served in the braised pork gravy is superbly delicious. Unabashedly oily with a good amount of sodium through and through, each slurp provided a good bite and flavour that encapsulated each strand of noodle. I thoroughly enjoyed the noodles. The Braised Pork (Lor Bak) on the side was good, but personally, I found the meat to be too dry and tough to appreciate. I looked forward to pieces of fatty belly pork, but I guess this was one way to make the dish slightly healthier. The otah otah was also hearty and delicious. Finish off the meal with a portion of sambal kang kong.
I am slightly indifferent about the Chap Chye ($10.90). I loved the tau cheo that was used in this portion, as it created a hearty, sweet flavour that cannot be found elsewhere. Still, while I thought other Chap Chyes were too hard, the portion that I was served was a little too soft for my liking. Also, I would have appreciated a a little more tang hoon, and I couldn’t find the kim cham (dried lily buds) anywhere. My Nonya grandmother (whom I brought along for the tasting) also noted that the dish could have been better with some sliced samcham (belly pork).
The best dish for the lunch has to go to the Chendol Ice Cream ($5.90). A serving of excellent coconut ice cream imported specially from Thailand is topped with smooth chendol, kidney beans and thick gula melaka. I loved the dessert as it was simply refreshing after all the hearty flavours. Excellent!
I enjoyed dining at O’nya Sayang. Dishes that left a memorable impact were the Lor Bak Noodles and the Chendol Ice Cream. The rest of the dishes were generally okay with some hits and misses along the way. It definitely goes beyond the traditional with innovative sparks here and there. While the portions are very good for the pricepoint, I must say that I would love to check out Zan’s other place at Dulukala. I hear that the dishes that are much more authentic with everything prepared straight from the kitchen.
Thank you O’nya Sayang for the invitation.
|Paya Lebar Square
60 Paya Lebar Road (next to Paya Lebar MRT Station)
Daily 10am – 10pm