Candlenut at Dempsey – World’s 1st and Only Michelin Starred Peranakan Restaurant
Candlenut Singapore is the world’s 1st and only Michelin-starred Peranakan Restaurant.
The restaurant helmed by Chef Malcolm Lee moved from New Bridge Road (starred in 2016) to COMO Dempsey (starred in 2017).
Gone was the space with simple, bare furnishing.
This new space is designed by world-renowned architect and designer, Paola Navone, and boosts of a classy-type of al fresco dining area, and an eight-seat private room.
Though Michelin supposedly DOESN’T award restaurants based on interior, this Candlenut looks more contemporary and posh, closer to the layman’s impression of a “Michelin-starred restaurant”.
Reservations have been said to be very full. So much so that when I called to make a booking, the staff on the other side mentioned, “Sorry Sir, reservations are coming in like a tsunami.” .
Yes, “Tsunami” was what she said.
Favourites from Candlenut’s signature Peranakan Ah-ma-kase dinner tasting menu – including the Red Lion Snapper Fillet with Black Green Mango Sambal and Ginger Flower ($28), and the King Tiger Prawn with Fresh Chilli Sambal and Charred Garlic Chives ($32) – are now available on the a la carte menu.
Diners can choose from more than 40 appetisers, mains and desserts from the a la carte menu for lunch and dinner, including Homemade Kueh Pie Tee ($12), Buah Keluak Wagyu Beef Short Ribs ($36).
For those who prefer to leave it to the chef, there’s an option for a 10-course tasting menu for dinner at $78.
The server Dexter (who is actually also a chef) gave a few candid recommendations.
I brought a few friends for lunch. One was a Peranakan, the other a fussy (maybe choosey is a better word) eater and VERY particular about food.
So I held my breath to wait for the verdict of the Babi Pongteh…
”It’s actually not bad…”
Okay, moment of relief. Seriously. I enjoyed the Babi Pongteh, a stewed pork with fermented beans dish.
The pork was melt-in-your-mouth soft, coated with delicious preserved soy beans gravy. Though it would have been on the ‘sweetish’ side.
The Ayam Buah Keluak ($20), which printed on the menu is called “Braised Local Chicken with Peranakan Signature Black Nut Sambal”, is done in classic “Malcolm Lee” style.
The ‘black gold’ fillings of the buah beluak (black nuts) are only extracted after they are soaked for a minimum of 5 days.
My other friend was wondering, ”Where’s the Buah Keluak?”
The chicken pieces were instead coated with thick, black, unique tasting buah keluak that was lip-smacking good. However, to some others who have NEVER tried this before, it could taste… repulsive?
The nuts were chosen to be left out of the dish. We figured it would be a ‘cleaner’ way to eat without needing the actual digging, but felt it lost a bit of the authenticity, fun and ‘interaction’ with the food.
The other of my favourite was the Blue Swimmer Crab Curry, otherwise called Yellow Coconut Curry of Crab ($28).
It was cooked using blue swimmer crab meat, inspired by the classic prawn nanas dish, with the gravy contains an exciting and appetizing myriad of flavours of sweet, tanginess (from the lime?), and light spiciness.
Some of the other items we tried – Shellfish Bisque (good), Bakwan Kepiting Soup (okay, not exceptional), Kueh Pie Tee (better ones around), and Buah Keluak Ice Cream (expensive at $15, try it if you must, because it is somewhat spicy).
Some Peranakan purists may lament at the lack of authenticity, and food slanted to a more modern taste. Flavours are not as strong or robust as what granny would cook at home.
However, I do Candlenut hits a sweet spot in balancing traditional Peranakan fare with some modern way of cooking and presentation. A worthy recommendation for foreign friends and corporate partners.
Block 17A Dempsey Road Singapore 249676
Tel: 1800 3042 288
Opening Hours: Lunch 12:00pm – 2:30pm (Mon – Sun)
Dinner 6pm – 9pm (Sun – Thurs), 6pm – 10:30pm (Fri, Sat, eve of PH)
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