Candlenut. High end Nonya/Peranakan

Our flight to Singapore with Swiss Airlines had a retro touch – I can’t remember the last time I ate such bad food on a plane, but I’m inclined to measure it in decades. It was all the more of a culture shock to end up at Candlenut for our first meal in Singapore. As soon as the food hit the table I realised what a fine thing Manny had done talking me into this trip.

Here’s some of what we ordered:

Nonya at Candlenut
Nonya at Candlenut

I can only assure you that the quality of the photo is inversely proportional to the quality of the food. You can see proper pictures on their site. In the fore ground is Mum’s curry, Candlenut’s rendition of Nonya chicken and potato curry. In all we ordered:

Candlenut Satay 10
Grilled spiced marinated meat skewers served with rich homemade
pineapple peanut sauce, cucumbers & red onions

Sambal Kacang Petai 14
Stir fried stinky petai beans w tamarind and chilli sambal, crispy shallots

Crispy Pork Belly 16
w mustard greens, sambal chincalok

Mum’s Curry 14
This curry is so demanded by friends and family that it has become a must have at every
special occasion. Fresh local chicken red curry with potatoes & kaffir lime leaf

Wok-Fried Gula Melaka King Prawns 24
Coconut butter sauce infused w gula melaka, lemongrass & roasted coconut,
fresh herbs & chilli

The only thing that disappointed in the least were the prawns. Two huge prawns presented with head and tail, but otherwise ready to eat, I thought were over-cooked. To me the test was in the cutlery available on the table. Everything was supposed to be in size and tenderness accessible with forks and spoons. This dish required a knife. I ended up eating it with my fingers. I have to say that Manny did not agree with my thoughts on this, although he agreed that it needed a knife. But surely any prawn which requires such effort to cut through is overcooked?

Satay is one of the things you go to Singapore for and we are heading to a specialist satay hawker centre while we are here, so much as these were lovely and I’d be happy to eat them for the rest of my life, it won’t surprise me if I get better! The pork belly was done to perfection, crunchy outside, soft inside. At Asian Gourmet, home of Nonya Chicken in Adelaide, the meat is served on the bone. This was a slightly posh, because boneless, version, but posh is fine as long as it keeps to the spirit and taste of a dish and this does. Of course the meat is from the thigh not the breast. I’d go back just for this, but alas I also want to order everything else on the menu.

Ah, to be back in a part of the world where they cook vegetables well. The beans were wonderful, but again, all the vegetable dishes called to be eaten. I can’t help thinking we may go back to Candlenut tonight instead of a hawkers’ market.

Sambal Kacang Petai
Sambal Kacang Petai

Room for dessert? Absolutely not. Okay, after some discussion with the staff. Perhaps we could fit in a small dessert between us.

Buah Keluak 14
Rich and earthy buah keluak ice cream, made with
80% Valhrona chocolate –
on a bed of salted caramel, chocolate crumble & chilli specks,
topped with warm milk chocolate espuma

Another dish that deserves a better picture…but being a chocolate pleb, this may have been wasted on me. Next visit I’ll have my eye on the Banana Caramel Pudding. I will report.

Buah Keluak
Buah Keluak

The bill: $127 SD. 94CHF. $100US. $111AUD. Like a lot of restaurants in Singapore – look for the ++ sign – this includes service and taxes added to the prices you see on the menu. Note that we ate too much for two, and also had one of the most expensive dishes on the menu. We had one beer and one pot of tea.


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