Black Nut – Asian Inspired Bar Bites at Emerald Hill, Juicy Har Cheong Kai
“Black Nut” is the name of a “raunchy, rojak” gastropub at Emerald Hill. The name comes from buah keulak, a common ingredient of Peranakan cuisine, possibly to pay tribute to the roots of its location. Don’t think otherwise.
Location of Black Nut is opposite Somerset MRT, at the “heritage party stretch”. The entire décor is done in a dark, ching-chong (chinoiserie is another word) fashion. Two Chinese lanterns with the Chinese characters of “Singapore” hang outside the door way. The interior a mish-mash of a Manchurian dress hanging in a photoframe, neon-lighting going “Ni hao” and several vintage photographs. You know, anything goes.
Don’t attempt to take several food photos or welfies inside as it is REALLY dark. Sometimes the friendly service staff goes missing, but you can call them at the sister outlet (Odd One Out) next door. “Excuse me!!! Anybody around?” may not be heard.
Food offering include Asian inspired bar bites in the likes of Asian Fried Chicken Wings, Balukoo Wanton, Burgers, Pizzas and sides such as Satay and Spam Fries.
I am one of those who dare say the local Har Cheong Kai is easily as tasty as the trendy Korean fried chicken wings.
Black Nut offers you 4 courses – Har Cheong Kai ($15), Soy Lickin Good ($18), Swicy Hotchick ($18) and Not A Cock Up ($20) which essentially means pinnacle vodka infused crispy wings. (Oh, hate the last two names.)
The Har Cheong Kai was yummmmmmmy, the smell of the prawn paste apparent as you take that first bite off the juicy meat, with the outside crispy skin staying that way after minutes. Plus they were not overly greasy.
If there is no-zhi-char stall nearby and you are running some HCK craving, then make your way here (I think this wins the version from another gastropub 5 min walk away).
A pity there wasn’t an accompanying power sambal sauce or something.
The Balukoo Wanton ($18) stuffed with black flesh from buah keluak is possibly an attempt to include its namesake somewhere in one of the dishes. Unfortunately, the mushy black filling didn’t quite work overall. We will still say, “Good effort, but can try harder.”
The burgers didn’t fare badly. We all liked the Soy Good Chicken Burger ($15) and thought that the sweet sesame soy-garlic sauce was a winner that complemented tender chicken leg fillings.
The Ayam Bakar Burger ($18) while sounding promising, was being let down by a rather one-dimensionally spicy tasting paste, and a Indonesian-type sauce would have worked better.
Hope Black Nut has an expanded menu though, with some real (and not token) Peranakan-food inclusions. Could be promising.
2 Emerald Hill Road Singapore 229287 (Somerset MRT)
Opening Hours: 5pm – 2am (Sun – Thurs), 5pm – 3am (Fri – Sat)