Sunday, March 26, 2017

Violet Oon Satay Bar & Grill, Clark Quay


I googled for 'Violet Oon' and realized that the first few pages of the search results are entirely all about her namesake restaurants. Nothing about the person. One could reasonably come to the conclusion that the legacy of the Peranakan dame is way beyond in importance than the person herself whom could very well have been nobody of note beyond a brand. That her person is of much irrelevance. Or that Google’s defeat by SEO remains emblazoned across the Web even till this day and the most powerful search engine in the world is incapable of deducing objective relevance in human searches. 

I ramble. 

This place (#01-18 Clarke Quay, 3B River Valley Rd, tel : +65 9834 9935) looked spiffy. Must have cost a fortune to renovate and decorate. Even their serving boards and crockery were bespoke.


There's a nice stout called Black Magic Dry Irish Stout to tap. Chocolate-y and smokey and something drinkable apart from the usual Guinness. Not that Guinness is bad. 


We ordered a winged bean salad with hae bi hiam not realizing that the winged beans were raw. On hindsight it wasn't such a good move. The hae bi hiam, which was quite good by the way, helped a great deal in making the "greeny" tasting legume much more palatable. For some reasons, I had the idea that they would be cooked.


Their tripe satay was delicious and very tender. I was informed that they was braised before being placed the charcoal grill for that char grill aroma. The accompanying satay sauce was rich with coconut flavours - it's not the regular kind that one finds in hawker centres but I thought it was quite nice. Prepare to pay kushiyaki kind of prices for these. That being said, I don't mind trying the other satay the next time. The server had actually recommended us the pork skewers. 


I suppose ngoh hiang are a benchmark for Pernakan cooking. While I maintain preferring the home made ones that I can get, these were not bad. The fillings were coarse chopped which meant that there were textures and that's a good thing. The menu mentioned crab which I couldn't identify so that was an overkill in ingredients. The water chestnuts also seemed to be missing but that crunch was provided by chopped onions which surprisingly made very good substitute.

I really liked that the five spice seasoning wasn't overwhelming.


What we came across as unique was their buah keluak otak. There supposed to be prawns in them but all we were getting was a paste texture. We had no idea what to expect at all and after the first mouthful, the flavour that registered was chocolate. It tasted like a chocolate. A nutty sweet and savoury warm chocolate-like paste grilled in a banana leaf. After my mind reconciled with that association, I found it strangely addictive.


These were known as meatless meatballs, made with walnut and cheese. I was imagining something akin to the ones at Afterglow but this turned out to have a mushy texture and we couldn't taste much walnuts. The rempah on the top was not bad though, reminded me of some gravy that can sometimes be found used on fried chicken in Malay stalls.


We tried their nasi lemak rice where the flavours were okay. But in a place like this for the price we pay, I suppose it was fair that I was expecting it to be outstanding rather than just okay.


We were looking forward to their cendol because it had durian pengat in it. This was made with shaven gula melaka flavoured ice rather than actual gula melaka syrup drizzled over shaven ice. The sweetness was flat without the aroma. Bummer. Their red beans were hard, attap chee were harder and the cendol itself was stiff. If they were to offer this to me free, I would only eat the durian puree.

I'd take the one at Tangs basement over this any day. While that one may not have durian pengat, it is also traditional and proven. And about seven times cheaper.

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