I never had the chance to savour a proper authentic Peranakan meal because many decent Nyonya restaurants in Singapore cost a bomb to dine at. So my knowledge of the culture is fairly limited to dishes I commonly see at the market like Nyonya kuehs and asam fish head. So it was eye opening for me attend the dinner invite at Straits Express.
The restaurant located at Kallang Wave mall serves cuisines that were once commonly found in the Straits Settlement region like Singapore & Penang. The interior decor is designed like a luxury express train at a railway station giving diners the nostalgic impression of steam trains as common mode of transports in the colonial days.I managed to try the Mulligatawny Soup, a mild spicy curry stew with chopped vegetables as well as the Toad in a Hole, a traditional English dish consisting of sausages and pudding batter. The stew was boring as all I could taste was thin curry while the dish named toad for its resemblance to a toad sticking its head out of a hole was a simple crowd pleaser. Good enough to share over a small table while waiting for your main dishes to be serve.
The first main course was Ox Tail Stew served with accompanying peas, carrots and mashed potato. I felt it was passable but if I were you, I will jump straight into the Penang Fried Seafood Kway Teow. It has somewhat similar taste to the Singapore’s rendition just much more spicier. Be sure to order a big plate because it really is another good dish to share.
I come from a Chinese family that loves communal eating. We would order/cook a lot of food and shared it over a table. It’s a pity I did not have a snapshot of their Babi Tohay and Prawn Belimbing. They are not for the faint hearted or health concious individuals. The former is a Peranakan pork belly dish thinly sliced aromatic ingredients, such as seray (lemongrass), garlic and shallots, and not forgetting the daon lemo perot (kaffir lime leaves). Then stir fry in fermented shrimp paste that includes brandy for a little extra kick.
On the other hand, belimbing is the Malay word for starfruit. A combination of fresh prawns and fruits stir fry in awesome sambal chilli paste. Plus point to know that renowned Peranakan Chef Philip Chia uses really BIG and fresh Tiger Prawns. You can’t go wrong with that right?
Other dish we tried would include Mee Siam, Penang Asam Laska as well as the Nyonya Chap Chye. I think they are decent but it’s not the kind of dish I would travel all the way down to Kallang for. Unless we are still discussing about their Seafood Char Kueh Teow. I was a little upset when I didn’t see any Chendol being served to us. Shaved ice with chendol and gula melaka would hit the spot after having so much spicy food. Instead apple pie was served which didn’t entice me. It was flat and the caramelised apple inside was unappealing. I would skip that but overall, my Anglo-Peranakan dinner at Straits Express was fair.
I didn’t get to see their menu pricing but I read from here and most of their dish prices ranged at $8.00 and above. I might just return here especially since the other half functions as bar. Sports bar to be exact although I have no idea what’s the difference. Straits Express Restaurant and Bar
Kallang Wave Mall #01-24/28
1 Stadium, Singapore 397628
Tel: +65 6702 2964
Note: This is an invited media tasting.