Peramakan @ the Keppel Club: Family Birthday Dinners

Nothing is more motivational than having a fire lite under your ass. 

I kid you not, and this was the circumstance I faced when thrown into the deep end with some vigorous finger-pointing action over a family whatsapp conversation. Yes, so I had to organise the twin's  (my mum and auntie's) 55th birthday celebration. Confounded with a variety of food intolerances ,whims and fancies from a large group of finicky diners; I looked to the cause of Peranakan cooking for a solution.

Nonya cooking as defined by Wikipedia is the 'result of blending Chinese ingredients with various distinct spices and cooking techniques used by Malay/Indonesian community'. For instance, Malay dishes such as assam fish and beef rendang have been reinterpreted to suit the Chinese palates and more often than not are more subtle in spices and possessing more of a tangy edge.

As I had taken the liberty to select the dishes before the event day (please take my advice and follow suite for a more efficient dinner service), dishes starting filling the turn table slowly but surely, like some Chinese wedding banquet sequence gone haywire.Thanks to the ravenous appetites of my surrounding company, we soon got cracking on the intimidating stockpile of food.

The Ayam Buah Keluak appealed to me, regardless of its black ominous stare. For those clueless ones, Buak Keluak is a black nut originating from Indonesia, for this dish, these tough nuts are cracked, prepped with age old traditional methods to get rid of its toxins then then fleshy parts of the nut are removed, mixed into a delicious paste with minced pork and then stuffed back in the the shell. These, together with chicken are then stewed with a copious amounts of spices till tender. I found delight in Peramakan's version, the lavish amount of aromatic filling, highly addictive when mixed in with plain rice. 

The Nonya Chap Chye ($10) is not jaw dropping but scrumptious nonetheless, the cabbage achieving an ethereally soft texture carrying the full fledged flavor of the tau cheow (fermented soybeans). A light addition of dried shrimp introducing more umami to the dish.

Food here ranges from average to very good, but what is amazing is how reasonable the prices are. 

One dish we did not care for was the Otak Otak Makanan Laut ($18), a mackerel based otah with prawns in spicy paste. It had an almost turgid bite to the finished product, the innards not moist nor fragrant as you would with most generic versions.

Turn your attention instead to the Babi Pongtay and Penang Nyonya Pork Ribs,  the former stealing the limelight with its ode to the pork belly, swathed in a sweet and savoury sauce, this was sinfully rich enough with a good refreshing sharpness thanks to a good lashing of vinegar. The latter, a tad more popular amongst the health conscious folks around the table seeing that the dish was big of flavor without featuring such a 'waist-line detrimental' cut of meat.

Perfectly decent is the Beef Rendang, shin beef is used here and it is braised low and slow in a coconut based broth till fork tender. Being more accustomed to the Malay Nasi Padang store versions, I preferred my gravy more thick and textured from the use of desiccated coconut and hence found Peramakan's version a little pedestrian.

If there is still room for dessert (you'll be dammed if you insist you don't!), jump in on the Durian Chendol ($6), the mind blowing experience that comes from devouring the dreamy durian paste with the rich coconut milk and addictive savoury sweetness of the gula melaka syrup, like a random jolt of inexplicable bliss. Not to be missed! Other desserts like the Bubor Cha Cha and the Sago Gula Melaka paled in comparison to the mastery of engagement that the former offered to its tasters. Smitten, we were.

The Peramakan located at Keppel Club has my strong approval for proposed family birthday dinner venues. Armed with helpful staff who are non-intrusive, the joint sees a good healthy business even on a lethargic Monday. The fact of the matter is, you get good food in healthy servings that won't cost you an arm and a leg. What's there not to like?

Level 3 Keppel Club
10 Bukit Chermin Road
Singapore 109918

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