Stepping back in Peranakan Time at True Blue Cuisine
Sometimes the flurry of new restaurants opening here can seem endless. One after the next, after the next....it can feel like a bit of a culinary merry go around! That's why there's somethings quite pleasing about dining at an old boy. And at almost 10 years old True Blue Cuisine is somewhat of a veteran on the Singapore dining scene.
It's been in my mind to write about a Peranakan restaurant for some time now. Initially I had wanted to try Candlenut...but it turns out it closed recently, and Blue Ginger just seemed too...well...obvious.
I wanted to not only feast on Peranakan cuisine, but also immerse myself in another world of Peranakan culture, and so True Blue seemed like an appropriate choice. For when you step inside, you certainly feel like you've been transported into another world - one that time forgot. Hidden away in a beautifully restored shophouse, the quaint interior brims with a collection of antique Peranakan objets which gives this place a lovely, unusual and warm atmosphere, and is a refreshing change from slicked up restaurant interiors which are in favour on the scene.
Pair this with warm, inviting service thanks to Floor Manager Nazran who seems more like a host in his own home than a restaurant, and this for me got things off to a very good start.
I've heard some people gripe that the food here is over priced..I have to say that while it may be a little bit on the high side for the serving portions, that what people need to take into account is that for the price you are getting delicious food, in a very beautiful setting, with great service - the holy trinity of F&B which quite frankly is very hard to come by in Singapore. Of course, I'm no expert on Peranakan cuisine so whether it is the most authentic....well I'll leave that to those who REALLY know.
If you'd like to start off your meal with the fresh Prawn Crackers ($4) and sweet and refreshing Longan & Red Date Tea ($6 per person), which is offered to you at the beginning, it's certainly a nice start but do be aware these are not offered on a complimentary basis as you might be hoping!
The best thing to do is order a number of different dishes, and the staff there will gladly advise. We opted for a couple of meat dishes and salads, plus an extra veggie dish starting with the Jantong pisang ($16), a salad made with heart of the banana and cucumber which was fresh and spicy, and drizzled with a little yogurt.
The Kerabu Pomelo ($16), was a seriously more-ish, sweet, tangy and tart salad made with pink grapefruit. Fragrant flavours of lemongrass dancing in my mouth with the peanuts striking a nice balance against the softness of the pomelo by popping a timely crunch every now and then. Please excuse the messy photo for this one - I got a bit ahead of myself on sampling this dish rendering the photography secondary - tsk tsk!
The Ayam Pongteh ($16), a chicken stewed on the bone in fermented bean paste was a delicately flavoured, warming and comforting dish...and pretty much soul food in a Peranakan pot. What I loved about this dish is that the chicken really had a flavour of how chicken used to once upon a time - i.e. proper chicken.
My absolute favourite had to be the Itek Sio ($16), tender duck morsels on the bone braised in sweet coriander powder. Make sure you fully utilize the sweet, thick, sticky sauce which is what makes this dish a winner.
Because I had a yearning for something in some creamy candlenut sauce, I wanted to go for the spinach in candlenut but seeing as they were out we ordered off menu and had sweet potato leaves in candlenut sauce ($20) instead. Though it was just what I expected - creamy and flavoursome - I will never get my head around why so many Asian fine dining restaurants charge so much for their veggies!
Though it's true to say that at least for the meat dishes, we could have done with an extra couple of pieces added to each dish actually for once I welcomed leaving a restaurant not feeling stuffed to the brim!
And actually I'm secretley quite gratfeul that because True Blue's opening hours are relatively early (5.30pm - 9.30pm, last orders 9pm) to cater for the crowd spilling over from the Museum, it meant that by the time we got to dessert, four of the items I wanted were sold out. Although I had a sad face on at the time because there's nothing more I would have loved than to have rounded off with some onde onde and kueh (ho hum!) it was probably just as well seeing as this was my second eating expedition for the day (hmmmm....bad planning there!).
If I wanted to take somewhere to eat delicious Peranakan food in a beautiful setting, I know that True Blue will be on that list. Sure I would say that each dish is probably a few dollars over what I would probably have pegged it at, but because to dine there is overall a very nice experience, I say it's worth it.
True Blue Cuisine is at 47/49 Armenian Street 179937 , Tel: 6440 0449. For more information see their website here.
Call 6440 0449 for reservations
47/49 Armenian Street, Singapore 179937.
Opening hours Daily: 11:30 - 14:30 & 18:00 - 21:30
For more information see their website at http://www.truebluecuisine.com/.