One of the landmark events of 2015 to celebrate Singapore’s 50th birthday was the November opening of the National Gallery of Singapore, an architectural restoration that joined two national monuments, the former Supreme Court and City Hall, to display the largest public collection of modern art in Singapore and Southeast Asia.
In the same building, several restaurants have opened. There’s the high-end modern French Odette, classic Italian Aura spread out on three floors, sophisticated Cantonese Yan, rooftop bar with a view Smoke and Mirrors, innovative Indian Saha, casual cafe and retail shop Gallery & Co and heritage cuisine by celebrated local chef Violet Oon at the National Kitchen by Violet Oon. National Kitchen was designed none other than the chef’s daughter, and she has created a cozy yet elegant space with dramatic chandeliers, black leather booths, mirrors throughout and assorted antique tiles to showcase Singapore’s Peranakan heritage.
The lunch and dinner menu is extensive and lists a few Singaporean specialties which may not necessarily be Peranakan like the iconic Singapore Chili Crab and Hainanese Chicken Rice. There is also a light bites menu served at the Veranda which is open in the evenings.
I enjoyed two lunches there recently and had some decent Peranakan dishes: ngoh hiang – deep fried beancurd skin filled with prawn, crab and chicken, grilled chicken satay with grated pineapple topped chunky peanut sauce and served with cucumbers and rice cakes, Kuay Pie Tee -bamboo shoot and turnip filled crispy cups and the sambal kimchiam dang -a spicy salad of lily buds with starfruit and prawns, the mixed vegetables and tempeh Sayur Lodeh and the deep-fried sambal eggplant. The beef rendang and butter floss prawns were exceptionally good but it was the modern versions of traditional Peranakan fare that really impressed me -the refined cod in creamy laksa sauce and the spicy dry laksa noodles are both dishes that you should not miss at the National Kitchen.
Dessert selections were limited to five classics, of which we’ve had four: the crepe-like roti jala with gala melaka was lacking in filling, the delicious rice cake kueh being ka, the warm black glutinous rice pulot hitam with coconut ice cream was too soupy, and the yummy pineapple upside-down cake. Last on the list to try is the kueh dah dah a pandan-infused crepe filled with grated coconut which looked much more interesting than the roti jala we ordered. I’m looking forward to see what dinner is like and maybe even drinks and snacks at the Veranda. When you do decide to go, make sure to reserve as the place is usually packed both at lunch and dinner.
National Kitchen by Violet Oon
1 St. Andrew’s Road
#02–01, National Gallery Singapore
(City Hall Wing)
Call: +65 9834 9935
Private room dining is available by reservation only.
Enter via Coleman Street entrance
Open daily for Lunch from noon to 3 pm, Dinner from 6-11 pm, last order at 9:30 pm
Veranda is open from 5:30 to 11 p.m – last order at 10 pm