[Updated] Candlenut has been awarded 1 Michelin Star in the Singapore Michelin Guide 2016.
[Original Entry] When there are overseas friends coming to Singapore, needing recommendations for a restaurant meal that can also represent our local food culture, what would that place be?
Several of my foodie friends proposed Candlenut, which before this meal was unfamiliar to me.
When some of the world’s top chefs were in town for the Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants 2014 , they were hosted at Candlenut. That meant Chefs Joan Roca, David Thompson, Tetsuya Wakuda and Alvin Leung all had a try of our local Peranakan food at this humble restaurant.
And they seemed in for a treat.
Unlike some of the other Peranakan restaurants which have heavy elements of the nyonya culture in decorations, Candlenut appeared, almost too bare in simple furnishing.
Candlenut led by Chef Malcolm Lee prides itself in serving inspired dishes with authentic flavours” Thus food served has a Peranakan base, but Western form of presentation and interpretation for some.
All their rempahs (spice pastes) though, are still made from scratched, cooked for long hours.
Dinner goes for a fixed price of $65 per head, while ala carte items are available for lunch and takeaways.
The Peranakan signature of all signature dish, the Buah Keluak ($28) 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.
This is then cooked with 120-day grain fed short rib which is sous vide, resulting in tender meat coated with thick, black, unique tasting buah keluak that is lip-smacking good.
Its Babi Pongteh ($20) pork belly dish is also a must-have, which I literally wiped clean the fragrant and delicious preserved soy beans gravy.
I initially didn’t want that much rice for a lower-carb diet, but couldn’t help needing it to savour the sauce till its fullest.
The Yellow Coconut Curry of Crab ($28) cooked using blue swimmer crab meat, inspired by the classic prawn nanas dish, is another in which the gravy contains an exciting and appetizing myriad of flavours. (And you would lament how one-dimensional many curries can taste now.)
Most of the Nyonya classic dishes, such as Kueh Pie Tee ($10), Ngoh Hiang ($12), Bakwan Kepiting Crab meatball soup ($10) and Chap Chye ($16) were decent stuff.
May be considered on the pricey side and small portioned to some, but not forgetting a lot of effort goes into preparation of each dish.
Perhaps it is because my Ah-ma is a half-nyonya, I have a certain affinity to Peranakan food which brings back wonderful childhood memories, of me making kueh pie-tie shells with her from scratch.
The taste of Candlenut does help to relive those moments.
331 New Bridge Road #01-03 Dorsett Residences Singapore 088764 (Outram Park MRT)
Tel: +65 8121 4107
Opening Hours: 12:00pm – 2:30pm, 6:00pm – 10:00pm (Mon – Fri), 6pm – 10pm (Sat)
* Daniel’s Food Diary pays for food reviewed unless otherwise stated.