Folklore – Singapore Heritage Cuisine by Chef Damian D’Silva, Worth The Visit At Destination Singapore Beach Road
People have asked me when the next food trend is, and I said Singaporeans would likely go back to “heritage food” and “back in the roots”.
It wasn’t surprising to find Folklore full-house on a weekend evening. I saw large families, groups who brought other ang moh friends, all gathered in anticipation of a feast.
Folklore is helmed by Chef Damian D’Silva, in which the menu constitutes a nostalgic homage to the food he grew up with as a child of Eurasian-Peranakan parentage – Eurasian on his father’s side, Peranakan on his mother’s.
The dishes he cooked up were reflective of the major racial cuisines of Singapore, made from scratch, using largely manual kitchen methods.
The restaurant is located on Level 2 of Destination Singapore Beach Road, a new hotel managed by the Park Hotel Group. I didn’t know of its existence previously, and it is found right next to ‘mini-Thailand’ Golden Mile Complex.
Peranakan food has always been a part of my growing up years, as I remember fondly pounding chillis as my ah-ma wanted to make rempah, and she would make several things from scratch, including kueh pie tee shells.
Recommended dishes at Folklore included Singgang ($20), a long-lost Eurasian dish of wolf herring, de-boned and cooked in a non-spicy paste; Mulligatawny ($14) – an Anglo-Indian dish of shredded chicken and spices in a chicken broth; Hati Babi Bungkus ($18), a Peranakan dish of minced pork and liver wrapped in caul fat then grilled; and Pork Leg with Salted Vegetables ($16) stewed till meltingly soft.
I was intrigued by the Sambal Buah Keluak Fried Rice ($22), a signature dish Chef Damian created in 2001.
It featured the labourious ingredient of Buah Keluak in which the pulp of the nut has to be extracted by hand one at a time. I find not many dishes can serve up a mean version of Fried Rice. It may look easy to cook, but very difficult to present an impressive one – a test of the chef’s wok skills.
This version was wonderful – fragrant, almost every grain evenly cooked and flavoursome, complete with the much-needed wok-hei.
I loved the Ayam Lemak Chilli Padi ($20), which reminded me of my ah-ma’s cooking.
The chicken pieces were cooked till tender-soft, and the curry-like thick gravy was rich with spiciness that went so shiok with rice.
The only dish I did not fancy that much was the Ngoh Hiang ($14) of minced pork, prawns and water chestnut wrapped in beancurd skin. Perhaps the flavours were too subtle and fillings could be juicier. I am saying this in comparison to the other dishes.
I was already about to leave after a fulfilling meal, but decided to add in a dessert order of Kueh Bengkah with Ice Cream ($10).
After having so many so-so versions elsewhere, this baked golden-yellow tapioca cake had a slight crisp on the outside, with semi-soft and moist texture. Absolutely pleasurable with ice cream. (Was it coconut ice cream though?)
Without intention to sound old, I think Folklore will appeal to people my generation and above, because you really cannot find such dishes so easily in Singapore anymore – the type that grandma will cook so lovingly and put on the family table. Because it is good for you.
Destination Singapore Beach Road, 700 Beach Road, Level 2, Singapore 199598
Tel: +65 6679 2900
Opening Hours: Lunch 12:00pm – 2.30pm, Last order 2.15pm
Dinner: 6:00pm – 9.30pm, Last order 9.15 pm
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