This must be the third time I am covering Straits Chinese and its group of restaurants. After reviewing the Queen Street restaurant twice, I was innately surprised to discover that it has expanded into the foodcourt arena but at the hip new Shopping Mall, 313 @ Somerset.
I simply had to get a shot of these pretty Nyonyas
When it comes to the Peranakan heritage and its cuisines, it is perhaps a culture and tradition that has been slowly taking a backstage role in Singapore’s multicultural scene. About a month ago, I visited the Peranakan festival at the SMU Concourse. It was perhaps a moment into history with the spread of stalls selling traditional costumes, accessories, jewellery and food. But while all might seem fun, it struck me that the majority of those around are friends who are nearly pushing into their golden years.
Of course there has been the spark of interest when Mediacorp aired The Little Nonya on Channel 8. Suddenly there was a frenzy for everything Peranakan once again in Singapore. Looking into the present, I feel that the strongest stand for this culture is the eloquence and rich flavours of its food.
I was at 313 @ Somerset enjoying the brew from Blue Mountain Cafe with my Grandmother, Aunt and Mum when we decided to have some light snacks at the food court. Coincidentally, I met Kevin (grandson of the original master chef and currently managing the business). And my grandmother being her, changed her mind to eat Curry Fish Head instead when she saw the attractive picture on the menu.
The Nonya Curry Fish Head, priced at $25.80, is the typical gigantic half fish head but simmered in a spicym slightly creamy smooth, tangy curry that will tickle the tastebuds and delight the senses. The spice factor is just above average where each sip of the curry will leave you wanting for more without breaking too much of a sweat. Portion of half a fish head is huge and is worth it for the price. And definitely not forgetting the generous amount of eggplant and lady fingers. Oh yeah, it goes fantastically well with steaming hot rice.
My personal favourite on the menu, and a must order for me everytime I visit Straits Chinese – Otah Good as ever and served up sizzling in a hot plate. Creamy, meaty with that just nice hint of chilli and coconut. Word of caution, there might be tiny fine bones in the fish cake. $6.80 for a decent portion.
The Nonya Mee is “pang pang” stir fried noodles with a generous scattering of prawns, fried shallots, chillies and beansprouts. The stock is rich in seafood and wokhei flavour. While it is good, I found it very similar to the ubiquitous Hokkien Mee but definitely with a more earthy twist.
When it comes to Popiah, Straits Chinese uses an egg skin to create the rolled stuffed snack. I found the egg skin to be smooth and it softens the entire Nonya Popiah into an easy to bite and savoury delight. However, I reckoned the sauce was a little too sweet for my liking and the turnips a tad too wet.
For drinks I had the Homemade Longan Tea ($3.00). A refreshing drink to quench the fiery curry, and you get a stick of longan as well.
A portriat with Head Chef Yap Kow Soon (far left), Kevin Yap (2nd to left) and family
Straits Chinese is perhaps one of the firsts for authentic peranakan food to be sold at the food court and it is worth it for its price. A moment of
revival, a moment to taste. Straight up at Somerset.
|Straits Chinese Nonya Restaurant
Food Republic No. 23 Level 5
313 Orchard Road