Went for lunch today at Charlie's Peranakan Food stall at Golden Mile Food Centre at Beach Road in Singapore. It's the best Peranakan meal that I've had for a long time.
We've good news for Charlie's Peranakan Food's legion of fans. Your favourite Peranakan restaurant (formerly at East Coast Road) has resurfaced as a food stall at the basement of Golden Mile Food Centre 🎉
Christmas came early 🎅
Charlie's Peranakan Food has re-invented itself to focus on their creations of Peranakan-Korean fusion of Peranakan classics served with Tteokbokki 떡볶이 (Korean rice cakes).
But, Charlie's die hard fans are here for his famous true blue Peranakan dishes - the ones relegated to hand written scrawls with erasable marker pen on a small piece of white board 😂
Seven of us, we ordered a smorgasbord of dishes from the white board menu.
My first spoonful dipped semi consciously into this Belimbing Prawns as the dish was right in front of me.
One spoonful of the sweet-tangy-spicy curry and hey... hey... hey... no more mucking around. Charlie's Peranakan food grabbed my attention straightaway.
You see, my experience with Perakanan food in recent years even at some rather pretentious establishments in Singapore and Malaysia was there was something missing which I couldn't pin down.
Charlie's Peranakan Food is like a Peranakan food epiphany for me - the food goondu.
I was happily lapping up tablespoonfuls of this aromatic sweet mildly spicy Opor Ayam with coconut milk and candlenut etc sauce which tasted so right. (Besides Peranakan, Charlie a true cooking enthusiast, dabbles in Indonesian dishes like this Javanese classic.)
Beef Rawan stew with chili, spices and buah keluak. I was scooping up spoonfuls of this ugly looking spicy-savoury-bitter-beefy gravy as I chatted with my eating buddies, scratching the plate till it was clean.
Nangka Lemak - tender young jackfruit core stewed in a sweet-spicy curry of coconut milk, spices and chili.
Achar Fish with sweet-sour-spicy sauce full of layers of flavour from the garlic, ginger, chili, turmeric etc.
Ayam buah keluak.
We didn't order this Peranakan classic 😂😂😂 whyyy......? I stole this picture from our neighbour's table - another group of Charlie's loyal fans. They wanted to charge me $2 for snapping this picture 😂 Jokingly
Gulai Fish in zesty sourish spicy sauce that wakes up our taste buds' to savour the fresh fish's natural sweetness.
Then, there was this claypot of Loh Kai Yik 南乳卤鸡翼 or stewed chicken wings - an originally Cantonese dish that found it's way into some Peranakan homes in Singapore. Charlie's Peranakan Food is the only place that serves this Cantonese heritage dish commercially now (I believe).
In the claypot, besides chicken wings, there were pork belly, skin, intestines, squid, tau pok etc tenderised by stewing for hours in a full bodied broth flavoured with nam yu (fermented bean curd). Charlie's version is milder than how my grandmother made it, but it has that unique blend of flavours which I have not tasted for a very, very long time.
Charlie is passionate about Peranakan food - it's in his DNA - his mum, a Peranakan lady, is an accomplished Peranakan chef at home and in restaurants. Every day, Charlie will go to the wet market and personally hand pick the ingredients for his stall, just like mum or dad at home. Often, when he comes across something nice, a rare fruit in season or a special fish, he will have it for the stall. So, there will often be surprise dishes depending on what Charlie spotted at the market, just like at home 😃
I stayed back after everyone has left and Charlie had a breather after lunch. He rewarded my persistence with a quick primer on Peranakan food. He showed me his cache of precious spices which he meticulously labelled and kept in plastic bottles.
After chatting with Charlie, I realised why I had often felt something was missing in the Peranakan food I tasted lately. I found out that Peranakan food which uses a lot of different types of spices is rather unforgiving in terms of using the right spices. The taste profile can go off the curve if certain spices are omitted or blended together in the wrong way. So, my feeling of "something missing" could literally be due to some missing spices.
4-Star (out of 5). I have not had such a good Peranakan meal for a long time - the last time was lovingly home cooked by a family friend from Malacca. The flavours at Charlie's Peranakan Food were just perfectly balanced and what our taste memories inform us. I am sure to be back often to this little gem of a Singapore heritage food stall.
I still have to try their Peranakan-Korean fusion of Peranakan classics served with Tteokbokki 떡볶이 (Korean rice cakes) 😃
Restaurant name: Charlie's Peranakan Food
Address: #B1-30, Golden Mile Food Centre, Beach Road, Singapore
GPS: 1°18'10.8"N 103°51'51.0"E | 1.303001, 103.864179
Tel: 9789 6304
Hours: 11:30am to 6:30pm
Date visited: 16 Dec 2016
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