The Place I first visited Candlenut when it was still at Dorsett, and I love its homely Peranakan flavours back then. Since the introduction of the Michelin Guide in Singapore, it has also become the first Peranakan restaurant in the world to receive a Michelin star, and relocated to a new space in Como Dempsey. The Dempsey space is much more elegant, with high ceiling and Peranakan tableware. Como Dempsey is quite a big lifestyle space, which houses The Dempsey Cookhouse & Bar as well on the other end.
The Food Helmed by Chef Malcolm, there is a ‘Ah-makase‘ menu at S$88++ per person which offers a varied spread, or you can go for the ala carte menu. I went for the ala carte option, and started with something classic, the Homemade Kueh Pie Tee Shell, Braised Local Turnip, Pork Belly, Prawns (S$20). Served in a wooden tray, the fine presentation raised my expectations of this Peranakan snack. Unfortunately, looks aside, the kueh pie tee shell is too soft and the braised turnip lacks flavor. This is unimpressive for its price.
The Bakwan Kepiting Soup, Crab Chicken Ball, Bamboo Shoot, Chicken Broth (S$14) is a classic Peranakan soup and the portion here is fit for one person. The chicken broth is light, which makes it quite comforting.
The other small bite I had is the Charcoal Grilled Snake River Farm Kurobuta Pork Neck Satay, Kicap Manis Glaze (S$16). Unlike the usual satay, this version comes in thick chunks of sticks where the pork meat is well glazed by the sweet soy sauce. For the price, I find that the portion is small and there isn’t much element of surprise in terms of flavour for me.
One of the better dishes I enjoy, the Buah Keluak of Braised Local Chicken, Peranakan Signature Black Nut Sambal (S$22) is a good rendition of the black nut. I like the rich sauce, which goes well with white rice. The buah keluak flavor is intense enough as well. My only gripe is that the buah keluak portion is too little.
Another buah keluak dish for the black nut lover, the Candlenut Buah Keluak Fried Rice, Sunny Side Up (S$28) reminds me of the version from Folklore. It is hard to decide which is better. I find that Folklore’s flavor is more robust, though the fried rice at Candlenut has a better texture and is less greasy. For better value, I would pick Folklore’s version.
For dessert, the one sweet treat I highly recommend is the Buah Keluak Ice Cream with Valrhona Chocolate, Chilli, Warm Chocolate Espuma (S$15). It sounds like a buah keluak overload but this dessert version beats the savoury dishes I had. The rich chocolate and buah keluak blend well, and there is a little party on the mouth as well which I shall not spoil the surprise.
Rants I wish that the portions of the dishes are more substantial.
Will I Return Again? Is this the best Peranakan restaurant in Singapore? The setting of Candlenut is beautiful, and is definitely an ideal venue to impress your overseas friends or in-laws. However, I do not find that the quality matches to the price and setting and I would say, go elsewhere to get your Peranakan fix. There are no lack of private dining options which serves Peranakan food in home style fashion, like Tinoq Private Dining, Lynnette’s Kitchen or even Folklore which is not purely a Peranakan restaurant but serves a good selection of Peranakan dishes. Candlenut lacks the home cooked flavours in its Dempsey location, something which I miss from its old Dorsett days.
Make your reservation instantly at Candlenut here.
Taste bud: 3/5
Hole in the pocket: 4/5
Overall Experience: 3/5
Daily: 12pm to 3pm; 6pm to 10pm
Ranted by The Ranter