Remember the days when Singapore’ Satay Club was at Clarke Quay? I used to dine there as a teenager, when the group of us had the occasional class outings at The Satay Club. Nostalgia. That was 2005.
It seems apt that local Peranakan cuisine restaurateur Violet Oon has decided to open a satay grill restaurant right at Clarke Quay, paying homage of sorts to the popular food place during its heydays.
After Violet Oon Restaurant Singapore at Bukit Timah, and National Kitchen by Violet Oon at National Gallery, Violet and her children Su-lyn and Yiming seem to have put their experience and expertise well together, with this newest outlet appearing more polished in terms of décor and selection.
No expenses are spared in doing up the interior, and I enjoyed sitting near the glassed-in open kitchen where you can see the meats in full grill, I mean view.
It got rather warm though, so you could just imagine the heat the chefs have to endure within the enclosed kitchen while grilling.
Satay options include Chicken ($14), Pork done Hainan style ($16), Angus Beef ($18), Prawn ($20), and Tripe ($15).
Prices are definitely higher than the average satay you can get at the food centres, but I believe this can be a place you can introduce foreign guests to our local food, IF hawker centres are not their thing.
The grilled Angus Beef Satay is a must-order, surprisingly juicy and deliciously marinated in spices. Have a bite without additional sauce first, and savour that sweet spiced outer layer with smokiness.
The sticks are served in a sweet peanut sauce topped with grated pineapple – like how I remembered I had my satays.
One sauce, tons of flavour. I think it is about time that our local style of satay gets more international recognisation.
While I haven’t tried many items on the menu yet, those recommended and ordered were worthy of mention.
The Nasi Goreng Nyonya ($22) of fried jasmine rice with prawns, dried shrimps, sambal belacan, with fresh cucumber served with sambal ikan bilis hijau, was a pleasantly sumptuous dish full on in wok hei.
I find many restaurants are capable of decent rendition of fried rice, but few can rise beyond that with fragrance, flavour, distinct grains.
In Chinese, we call it ”li li xiang” which literally means every grain is fragrant. A dish where grains are separate enough to appreciate the texture, yet not being overly oily.
The dish of Garam Assam Barramundi with Pineapple and Ginger Flower ($32), reminded me of what my grandma would have cooked.
Every bite of the grilled local farmed barramundi had a multi-layered yet balanced taste of tangy pineapple, spices and sweet freshness of the fish.
If there is something to nitpick, other than the prices, it would be there making reservation was challenging hard. Messages went unanswered after their first reply; calls were mostly not picked up. Once it went through, but the person on the line was in another conversation.
There will be diners with higher spending power who would be willing to fork out more at restaurants such as these, because some of these nostalgic tastes are indeed hard to find in modern day Singapore.
When you think you lost something, but have it again, it can be something you will treasure.
Violet Oon Satay Bar & Grill
Clarke Quay 01-18-B, 3 River Valley Rd, Singapore 179024
Tel: +65 9834 9935
Opening Hours: 6:00pm – 12:00am Daily