For the best ayam buah keluak, assam laksa, itek tim, otak-otak and kueh pie tee, head to our fave Peranakan restaurants in the city.
History lesson time: The inter-marriages between Straits Chinese and Malays birthed a delicate culture of the Nyonyas (ladies) and the Babas (gentlemen). This was then translated to Peranakan traditional fashion, handmade crafts and, of course, delicious cuisine. Like the culture and heritage, Peranakan food is rich and full of complex flavours – it is, after all, a mix of Chinese, Malay and Indonesian cuisines, resulting in a heady and wondrous combination of all things spicy, aromatic and homely. Hungry yet? Look no further for the best Peranakan places to try…
House of Peranakan
Boasting three Peranakan dining concepts, restaurant group House of Peranakan is owned by fourth- generation Baba Bob Seah, so you know you’re in for an authentic feast. Tuck into smashing favourites like babi assam (braised pork in tangy tamarind sauce), itek tim (salted vegetable duck soup) and gula melaka sago pudding. Uncomplicated, honest and comforting – just the way we like it. Psst: Some of the guests this place has seen include past presidents and even Thai royalty.
House of Peranakan, multiple locations including East Coast Road and Frankel Avenue.
Helmed by chef-owner Malcolm Lee, the world’s first Michelin-starred Peranakan resto offers superb traditional dishes with a modern, elevated spin. But if you’re looking for a bespoke dining experience, go for the adorably named “ah-ma-kase” (which is basically omakase) to savour dishes like wagyu beef rib rendang and Tiger Beer-battered prawns.
Candlenut, 17A Dempsey Road, Singapore 249676
The Blue Ginger
Family-run restaurant The Blue Ginger is one well-known Tanjong Pagar spot that dishes out exquisite Peranakan cuisine. Established in 1995, the Michelin Bib Gourmand name is an oldie but goodie. And after 25 years in the biz, the brand has finally branched out to open a casual outlet at Great World.
If you’re a stickler for tradition, head to the original locale for flavourful plates of beef rendang, pork ribs assam and terong goreng cili (eggplant topped with chilli paste). But those keen to check out its elegant, contemporary space in the mall can fill up on spicy starters like kerabu kacang botol (winged beans tossed with dried shrimps in a zingy dressing) before moving on to mains such as Nonya noodles, an umami dish of yellow noodles swimming in a prawn and pork stock. All that said, don’t forget to leave space for the creamy durian chendol dessert!
The Blue Ginger, multiple locations including Tanjong Pagar Road and Great World.
True Blue Cuisine
Recipes at True Blue have been kept in the family for generations, which makes dining here a hearty, homely experience. Chefs overseeing the kitchen include Daisy Seah and her son Benjamin Seck (affectionately known as Baba Ben). Not only is the decor authentic – think wooden windows, “tok panjang” tables and partition screens – but the food is marvellous as well. You’ll be feasting on plates of ayam buah keluak (braised chicken in black nut gravy) and sayor lemak (vegetables in coconut gravy).
True Blue Cuisine, 47/49 Armenian Street, Singapore 179937
PeraMakan is a force to be reckoned with. Founded by fourth-generation Nyonya (of Malacca and Penang parentage) Kathryn Ho, this fancy Peranakan joint has been around the block since 2004. Don’t miss out on the beef rendang, babi pongtay (braised pork in fermented soybean sauce) or cincalok (shrimp sauce). And if you want the same flavours but you’re not keen to travel all the way to Keppel Club, the brand’s casual sister concept Tingkat PeraMakan has a few branches across the island.
PeraMakan, 3/F Keppel Club, 10 Bukit Chermin Road, Singapore 109918
Violet Oon Singapore
Helmed by renowned food connoisseur Violet Oon, her eponymous bistro celebrates Singapore’s rich cultural diversity. The chic and iconic restaurant serves Nyonya staples like ayam buah keluak, gado gado, dry laksa, sambal eggplant and ngoh hiang. Oh, and make sure you leave room for dessert – must-tries include kueh beng kah (tapioca cake with coconut milk and gula melaka) and pulot hitam (black glutinous rice) with coconut ice cream. Various outlets are scattered across the island, each with their own unique character, but the essence remains the same, with black marbled surfaces, gold accents and framed Peranakan tiles.
Violet Oon Singapore, multiple locations including National Gallery Singapore and ION Orchard.
Ivins Peranakan Restaurant
The decor at this Bukit Timah restaurant isn’t exactly eye-catching, but you’re not here for the ‘gram anyway. At affordable prices, you can fill your plates with itek sio (braised duck in tamarind and coriander gravy), sambal prawns and curry fish head. Notice a trend? They’re all dishes with gravy that you should definitely mix your rice in… you’ll thank us later.
Ivins Peranakan Restaurant, 21 Binjai Park, Singapore 589827
Guan Hoe Soon Restaurant
Known to be one of Singapore’s oldest Peranakan restaurants (it was established in 1953!), Guan Hoe Soon is the go-to place for a no-frills Nyonya meal. Choose from items like ayam buah keluak, sayur lodeh and udang assam pedas (prawns in spicy tamarind sauce) for a good ‘ol time. Heads up, all dishes come in three sizes – small, medium and large.
Guan Hoe Soon Restaurant, 38/40 Joo Chiat Place, Singapore 427762
Baba Chews Bar & Eatery
Housed within the former Joo Chiat Police Station, Baba Chews retains much of its colonial charm of the 20s. White walls brighten up the cosy establishment and colourful motif tiles contrast against metal mesh sliding panels that are more contemporary than stifling. But don’t be tricked into thinking this is a traditional Peranakan restaurant. The menu brims with stand-out fusion dishes like ayam buah keluak burger and chicken rendang lasagne, but of course you can still stick to classics such as Nyonya laksa and five-spiced ngoh hiang.
Baba Chews Bar & Eatery, #01-01, Katong Square, 86 East Coast Road, Singapore 428788
While it’s not a restaurant per se, this is one Peranakan private dining experience you should scribble on to your must-eat list. An idea cooked up by Cultural Medallion winner and long-time leader of the Singapore Symphony Orchestra, Lynnette Seah, the concept allows diners to either adjourn to her abode or invite her specially into theirs to prepare a feast of dishes like buah keluak fried rice, bakwan kepiting and sayur lodeh. You can only taste her cooking via referrals, so pop by her website to learn more.
Lynnette’s Kitchen, book online.
Executive chef Raymond Khoo and his team serve a menu curated from three generations of delicious ‘mesti-cuba’ (must-try) Peranakan recipes, lovingly handed down by the Nonyas and Babas in his family. Now brought to your table, the spread is offered ‘tok panjang’ style, laid out on long tables from exclusive tasting menus. But if you’re set on getting that ayam buah keluak, check out the a la carte menu.
The Peranakan, Level 2, Claymore Connect, 442 Orchard Road, Singapore 238879
Straits Chinese Restaurant
Touted as Singapore’s favourite Nyonya restaurant since 1953, this well-known chain is the brainchild of the Guan Hoe Soon Group (see above). Make sure you try the fatty braised babi pongteh and tangy udang asam goreng (fried prawns in spicy tamarind gravy). The fish curry is also a popular pick for catering.
Straits Chinese Restaurant, #B1-01, Keck Seng Tower, 133 Cecil Street, Singapore 069535
Located in an elegant, black-and-white building along Scotts Road, Indocafe is both a restaurant and an arts and cultural centre. The latter is just next door, home to souvenirs and activities such as coffee appreciation workshops and musical and dance performances. Here’s where you’ll find timeless classics like Penang otah, pulot hitam and bubur cha cha on the menu.
Indocafe, 35 Scotts Road, Singapore 228227