Address: 1 St Andrew’s Rd, #02–01 National Gallery, Singapore 178957
Opening Hours: Daily 12:00 – 3:00pm, 6:00 – 10:30pm
Official Website: violetoon.com
National Kitchen by Violet Oon, National Gallery, Singapore
Violet Oon has been one of those restaurants sitting in my bucket list for quite some time. I like Peranakan cuisine only if I’m enjoying it with a large group, and quite fitting because the dishes are usually served family style. I think that’s the heart of Peranakan cuisine — sharing.
And that’s the main drawback of eating at Violet Oon. Thou shall not overorder (and you have a tendency to). The starters, well, are hardly your usual small bites, which is Violet Oon’s biggest weakness. Kueh Pie Tee — whose julienned bamboo shoots and turnips in top hat cups are arguably one of the best I’ve tried — is filling enough for the entire group. Adding one more order of Chicken Satay with spicy peanut sauce is going to be intense for a start. Every stick deserves its own sticky rice, which even becomes the main meal for someone with a small appetite. The table regular, Ngoh Hiang, unfortunately, takes a back seat.
By the time you are finished with half of your Singapore Sling (which tastes like cough syrup, btw), a kueh pie tee, and a stick of Chicken Satay, not much room is left for the big guns.
Beef Rendang, Sambal Bajak Barramundi and Udang Chili Pada Lemak (prawns) were too heavy for my liking, an overly done mix of spices, none of which are memorable. By the time you get served with Dry Laksa, you have used up all your adventurous palate and have called the dinner quits.
Sad to say, all of Violet Oon’s dishes tasted (and looked) the same. Red. Sauces. Lots of peanut satay. Peranakan cuisine is lost in the familiarity of the dishes, even in such a spectacular venue as National Gallery.
For anyone who is looking to get introduced to Peranakan cuisine, Violet Oon isn’t the best option. One may opt to dine at Candlenut, which may be a stretch in budget, but what can you say — it’s the only Michelin Peranakan cuisine.
Violet Oon lacks one important characteristic often overlooked: Balance. Heavy on spices, little acidity — it’s a recipe for one to get a gastrointestinal illness. I would approach Violet Oon not with an empty stomach, but with one half-filled, and again, don’t overorder.
P.S. I’ve been eating Peranakan food for the longest time, and this is the first time I’m writing about Peranakan cuisine!