We scour the island’s restaurant scene to bring you the new and the noteworthy – it’s a tough job, but somebody’s got to do it. Here, Amy Greenburg visits the newly opened Violet Oon Satay Bar and Grill at Clarke Quay for Peranakan fare and grilled skewers.
Already a fan of National Kitchen by Violet Oon, I was thrilled to finally visit the recently opened Violet Oon Satay Bar and Grill in Clarke Quay, which features an extensive selection of Peranakan dishes from Violet’s other restaurants, plus new offerings of satay and other grilled items. The chic décor is much like that of National Kitchen’s, with beautiful dark wood panelling, Peranakan tiles and large rattan blade fans – only, this location features more counter seating and a kitchen that’s visible behind glass windows, allowing diners to see the action going on behind the grill.
Grub on this:
We started with tau hu goreng ($9) – fried tofu atop julienned cucumbers and bean sprouts, and topped with peanut sauce – and kueh pie tee ($17) – deep-fried “top-hat” cups filled with bamboo shoots and turnip poached in a prawn bisque, and topped with a prawn, chilli sauce and a sweet fruit sauce – both of which were absolutely delicious.
With satay being the star of the show here, I couldn’t wait to try the meaty skewers – and they sure didn’t disappoint. There are five different kinds to choose from ($15 to $20): chicken, prawn, pork, tripe and beef. Our favourite was the chicken satay ($14) – three skewers of juicy chicken chunks marinated in spices and served with a side of delicious, thick peanut-pineapple puree sauce, as well as rice cake, cucumber and onions, all of which can be dipped into the sauce, too (and when I had nothing left to dip, I just ate the sauce like soup!).
Other standout dishes include sayur lodeh ($13), mixed vegetables and tempeh in a to-die-for coconut gravy (which I also slurped up like soup), and kunyit lemak sotong ($26), grilled squid in turmeric-infused sauce. The garam assam barramundi, with a diced pineapple and ginger flower relish, was also very tasty, though the other dishes won out in comparison. And, of course, we couldn’t go wrong with a fried rice; Violet’s nasi goreng Nyonya ($22) was superb (it’s available in a fiery hot version, too). Everything here has fabulous, accompanying homemade sauces, sambals and marinades, by the way, so be a little adventurous and try them all when you visit!
Even in a food coma, we managed to fit in dessert. I loved every bite of Violet’s cashew crunch ice cream – scoops of coconut and gula melaka ice cream with toasted cashew nuts and gula melaka syrup – while my husband went nuts for the chendol with durian pengat sauce dessert – something I didn’t expect him to love quite so much; a glass filled with chendol, red bean and attap chee (sweet, gelatinous balls used in Malay desserts) with gula melaka shaved ice, and topped with durian fruit.
Wash it down:
Lastly, don’t forget the cocktails – there are so many great ones. For us, the winners were: Baba Negroni ($22) with dry vermouth, Campari, Diplomatico Reserva Rum, Assam essence and ginger puree; the Pegu Club ($17) made with Tanqueray gin, orange Curacao, lime juice and bitters; and, my personal favourite, the refreshing Prinseps Tea ($18) – Tanqueray gin, cold-pressed green apple juice, lemon juice and nutmeg.
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