The Place Mention Peranakan cuisine in Singapore and Violet Oon is undoubtedly one of the forefront figures of the cuisine. I visited Violet Oon Kitchen at Bukit Timah few years back but only had the chance to finally check out National Kitchen by Violet Oon at the historic National Gallery building, where 2-Michelin Star restaurant Odette is also located. The National Gallery restaurant has an old Peranakan opulent interior, with low ceiling where it can get noisy as the restaurant gets packed.
There is also an outdoor dining area with views of Marina Bay Sands, though we are not sure who will be brave enough to brave the heat during the day. It’s gorgeous, no doubt.
The Food Firstly, prices are not cheap at Violet Oon. The portions of the dishes are generally small, including the mains. That said, the menu has a good variety of Peranakan dishes and local delights and I did run into a dilemma of what to have. Something easy to start is the Rojak (S$7), a local street food or “salad” with a mix of fruits like pineapple, sour mangoes, cucumbers and crispy crullers tossed a sweet and spicy sauce.
From the vegetables section, the Keledek Masak Lemak (S$16) caught my eye and I also learnt from a staff that this is a newly introduced dish. This curry-like dish is a mix of sweet potato leaves, sweet potato and prawns cooked in light spicy coconut prawn broth. My dining companion found it too spicy, which I agree and thought that it would have been better if the spiciness is milder. That said, it goes perfectly well with rice, though I can’t help feeling that the best Masak Lemak I had is Chef Damien’s version at Folklore.
The Sambal Bajak Barramundi (S$30) is another good dish to go with rice as well. The deep fried barramundi fillet is topped with caramelised chilli padi sambal, which is quite gratifying on its own.
One of the dishes which we unanimously enjoyed is the Buah Keluak Noodle (S$24), which is coincidentally one of the new dishes on the menu too. The delicious spaghetti noodle is generously served with bits of buah keluak, one of my favourite dish in every Peranakan meal. Instead of painstakingly digging it from the black nut shell, this dish is an effortless way to enjoy the black diamond.
Conversely, the Dry Mee Siam (S$21) is average for me. Don’t expect the thin vermicelli noodle like the Mee Siam from hawkers centres, where the noodles used here is a much thicker texture of yellow rice noodle, fried with chilli sambal topped with prawns and julienned bean curd. I didn’t quite enjoy this noodle and found the overall flavour to be bland.
Finally for desserts, we picked the Pulot Hitam with Coconut Ice Cream (S$12), which is essentially black glutinous rice stewed with gula melaka and coconut milk. The coconut ie cream complements the rich and heavy flavour of the pulot hitam very well. This dessert is quite substantial, which is good for sharing between 2-3 persons.
Rants The design of the space makes the dining ambience a rather noisy one. The dining capacity is not huge, which makes last minute walk-ins virtually impossible to achieve. Reserve well ahead at least one week in advance.
Will I Return Again? While the food is good, I came with much higher expectations given the price point. The food is good, but it didn’t blow me away. That said, the service National Kitchen by Violet Oon is very polished and attentive, which left a deeper impression on me than the food on the whole. Is the restaurant Michelin worthy? The service is, though I can’t say the same for the food.
Make your reservation instantly at National Kitchen by Violet Oon here.
Taste bud: 3.5/5
Hole in the pocket: 4/5
Overall Experience: 3.5/5
Monday to Sunday: 12pm to 3pm; 6pm to 11pm
Ranted by The Ranter