Ask anyone about the best things in Singapore and one answer will always be the same – food. Singapore boasts one of the greatest food cultures in the world with a variety of cuisines finding themselves at home in the island-state.  

To celebrate Singapore’s 55th this month, the team at Esseplore decided to honour this multiculturalism by bringing back a heritage food of the country to reignite the love for its traditions. Peranakan history goes back to the British settlements. Often described as a cultural hybrid of Chinese and Malay, the Nonya cuisine is regarded as one of the country’s beloved cuisines. However, as time went by, it has been overshadowed by Western flavours. This Peranakan night celebration held two days shy of National Day aimed to help Singaporeans embrace the home-grown and homemade culinary culture of the nation.  

A traditional Peranakan feast

Held at popular SG hotspot Vibes café at Wheelock Place, the event began with a classic drink – the Singapore Sling served with popular Nonya starter Kueh Pie Tee, a crispy tart with delicious fresh prawn filling and homemade chilli. “People have this misconception about Peranakan food – that it is just spicy and tangy with lots of coconut milk, but that’s not true. It is an intricate and meticulous cuisine that requires a lot of effort because every single thing is made from scratch,” said Peranakan Chef duo Alan and Christina, the stars of the night. And everyone agreed that the highlight of the evening was the food, an 8-course Nonya feast that consisted of traditional recipes Curry Fish Head, Sambal Prawn, Pulit Hitam and more. 

Curry Fish Head – traditional Peranakan dish

“What I enjoyed the most was the food, of course! It was authentic and delicious,”

 – Anne Chng
In picture: Peranakan Chefs Alan (left) and Christina (right) pose with Head Chef KT (middle)

With a playlist of songs known to every Singaporean playing in the background and fun trivia game that got everyone competitive, the nostalgia hit everyone in the room. Executive Chef and Head of Dining at Esseplore, KT Yeo weighed in on the success of the event, “The home-cooked taste that Chefs Alan and Christina created is something that is not easy to find in Singapore anymore. So being able to taste those homely and traditional flavours brought back many fond memories for me as well as the guests.”  

Guests engrossed in our Peranakan trivia game

Despite social distancing norms and other cautionary measures enforced, the celebratory spirit was always present. It was night looking back and reminiscing memories once forgotten through brand new eyes, and one of the things that led to that success was the partnership between Esseplore and Vibes Cafe. “This is a great idea to bring a new food concept to customers. This process allows food lovers to explore food ideas and taste”, said Wong Ming Kwong, owner of Vibes Cafe, recounting on the celebration. 

Tanya Jacob

Author Tanya Jacob

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