Candlenut: Peranakan in Singapore
Andrew and I were very excited when my Airbnb hosts suggested that we meet up at a fine dining version of a Peranakan restaurant before we left Singapore. When we entered Candlenut across from the Dorsett Hotel entrance, we were greeted with modern decor and the head chef, Malcolm, who came out with an amuse bouche of jackfruit and pomelo topped with shaved foie gras. It was a delightful contrast of light and heavy, which prepared us for a delectable meal of home recipes.
Our very first dish was like a build-your-own canapé. We stuffed the little freshly made crispy cups with the braised mix of turnips, pork belly and prawns. When I popped it into my mouth, it was a beautiful combination of savory and sweet. After stuffing the cups, there was still some of the filling left over so I couldn't help but scoop it up and finish it up!
Complements of the chef, this hamachi was some of the freshest I've ever had. Neatly cut, it was a perfect seafood starter to go with the lemongrass salad. What I love about this place is that they use the freshest ingredients, and everything is made from scratch. Plus, you don't have to worry about MSG or preservatives!
Loved this satay, although it was a little bit light on the peanut sauce. The meats were super juicy, though!
What beautiful coconut curries - the menu description was correct by calling the rendang aromatic because the flavors were popping in this dish! And Yeye's kari had a delightful spicy kick to it, but if you see anything that looks like green beans, don't eat them - they are EXTREMELY spicy chilis. I learned the hard way...
Officially the best dish I had at Candlenut. There's really nothing better than fried pork belly!
Mmm I adored the sweetness and saltiness added to the contrast in textures. This is definitely a dish I'd order over and over again! I'd like this recipe, please!
With meat falling off the bone, these were definitely braised for that 48 hours! Plus, these were REAL baby back ribs. How can I tell? These ribs were actually unfused at one end, indicating that the hog they used was a true juvenile. But maybe I just never really noticed the lack of fusion in baby back ribs before.
This sauce is a Peranakan signature sauce. Keluak is actually a plant that produces fruits and seeds that contain high levels of hydrogen cyanide, aka they are very poisonous. But after boiling and fermentation, the seeds turn from white to black and can be ground up into a thick, black gravy for flavoring Peranakan dishes. Well, it's certainly prepared properly at Candlenut, although I'm not completely decided on what I think about the sauce.
Well, we realized that we had ordered A LOT of meat and realized we still needed to look at the healthier part of the menu... so we chose this chap chye. With pork belly and prawn stock gravy, I'm not sure how healthy this was, but it was downright appetizing!
Stinky petai beans are really an acquired taste, but the shrimp certainly were not! That chili sambal really spiced up those perfectly cooked prawns!
After all those dishes, we couldn't help but order all the desserts! My favorite was the Chendol cream, which had a very smooth texture. As for the mango ice, make sure you eat the mango with the ice; as a pair, it is phenomenal but on its own, the ice is a bit funny. The banana caramel pudding is also pretty nice, but it's a little heavy for wrapping up our giant dinner. And durian is durian. Only get it if you enjoy that unbearable taste!
- Make a reservation! This place is gaining more popularity by the minute - Chef Malcolm is becoming a star chef in the Singaporean dining scene, and I can certainly see why!
- Order the crispy pork belly - you can't really afford to pass up on this dish!