One of my greatest worry about food is that the local traditional tastes will be all lost by the next generation. When I tried Madam Tan’s Nasi Lemak and Curry Chicken, there was sudden warmth in my heart – I know I have found that taste back.
Madam Tan is the owner cum chef of Wok and Barrel, a new restaurant at Duxton Hill which serves many home-styled dishes with a modern twist. Those local favourites, along with some refreshing beer and lager, complete the Wok & Barrel picture.
I was a keen follower of Madam Tan’s tweets. And looking at her avatar, you would have imaged that she is some Peranakan nonya well-trained by her mother-in-law in rempah and sauces. Instead, this is a former director of Forbes who spots a short crop and wears a loose black tee, slightly embarrassed by her Chinese name “Xian Hui”.
The self-taught chef whips up dishes which will make any mother proud. Forget Changi and Boon Lay – Madam Tan offers one of the best Nasi Lemak ($1.90) around. The fragrant rice is painstakingly cooked by twice steaming over a three-hour period, ensuring a fluffy texture and a lemak taste which is not too heavy. This is complimented with its unique brands of both home-made sambal belachan and sweet nasi lemak chilli. That is two chills for the price of one.
The rice should go well with either chicken curry or crispy chicken. The chicken curry ($8.90) is created by a special recipe, richly lemak and on the drier side which she confessed that not a single drop of water was added.
The crispy chicken ($7.90) is my favourite dish with boneless chicken thighs marinated for a day. Crispy breaded and deep fried on the outside, the tender meat was slightly sweet and highly addictive.
Other popular local-meets-west finds include a Bak Chor Mee Pasta ($19.90) which is 5-spice roast pork with homemade tagliatelle, and Rendang Pizza ($11.90) where fork tender beef is topped on light homemade pizza crust. Simply sedap!
Wok & Barrel, 13 Duxton Hill, Tel: +65 6220 0595
Opening Hours: Tue–Sat: 12pm – 9.30pm, Sun: 12pm – 3pm (Closed on Mon)