Restaurant PeraMakan, a well-established brand which opened at Keppel Club in 2013, hopes to keep the Peranakan culinary tradition alive for a new generation of diners with this hip café at Owen Road. It offers a more casual and wallet-friendly makan experience.
WHAT: Sequestered away on the fringes of Little India alongside lighting shops, the 40-seater café, which opened in February, isn’t exactly some place you’re likely to stumble upon accidentally (there will be a more accessible Tingkat branch at Marina Square come August). But if you do make the effort to find it, you’ll be rewarded with a smorgasbord of signature PeraMakan dishes that cost about 40 per cent less than those at the flagship eatery. In fact, a set meal here with a main dish, two sides, a drink and dessert will set you back just $10. Why the lower prices? Mainly because portion sizes have shrunk here.
As opposed to PeraMakan with its family-sized portions and more traditional dining room decor, each a la carte serving here is just enough for two while each set meal feeds one pax. But that’s probably a good thing since it means you get to enjoy more variety. The food here is pretty no-frills — proteins are added to pre-mixed spice pastes prepared at the eatery’s central kitchen in Batam, and overseen by co-owner and head chef, Kathryn Ho, a fourth-generation Perakanan who came up with the brand’s recipes.
THE LOOK: Bright, spacious and decked out in an electric mix of turquoise and pink hues and raw concrete flooring. It feels much hipper here than at the Keppel branch, even with the traditional kopitiam tables and chairs.
Babi Pongtay, $10 for set meal (feeds one)
The pork belly is braised in a salty fermented bean sauce with shiitake mushrooms and bamboo shoots till soft, gelatinous and fragrant. You can order this a la carte ($7; feeds two), but the fab value set meal for one comes with a side of Sayur Masak Lemak, water spinach and sweet chunks of papaya drenched in a salty dried shrimp and coconut gravy, and Nyonya Tauhu with two small blocks of fried custardy tofu soaked in tau cheo gravy. There’s even an excellent Sago Gula Melaka for dessert, gooey pearls of sago bathed in caramelly palm sugar syrup.
Beef Rendang, $10 a la carte (feeds two pax); $14 set (feeds one)
A good measure of any Peranakan joint can be made by the quality of its rendang. And this one rocks. After all, it uses the same rempah (spice blend), prepared in the central kitchen as the main outlet’s. The thick coconut sauce scented with turmeric leaves is mouth-wateringly rich and not too spicy. And the chunks of beef shin dusted with spiced grated coconut are deliciously fork-tender.
Nyonya Assam Laksa, $7.80
Unfortunately, we weren’t impressed with this rice noodle dish, which is only available here and not at the flagship eatery. We found the spicy and tangy fish broth, garnished with sliced onions, pineapples, lettuce, cucumbers, red chillies and prawn paste, too light and lacking punch.
Kaya Cake, $3.80 a slice
Rich and creamy kaya custard infused with the delicate aroma of coconut and pandan is wedged between soft, fluffy layers of sponge. Let this sit for a while at your table so that it’s nice and thawed by the time you dig into it. So good.
BOTTOM LINE: Tingkat is a more affordable way to taste sister eatery PeraMakan at Keppel’s shiok dishes in a relaxed, casual setting. Do note that portions here are smaller to match the lower prices, and that its location is slightly inaccessible if you don't drive. $
119 Owen Rd, S218924. Tel: 8504-9057. Open daily, except Mon 11am–3pm; 6pm–10pm. Last orders 9pm. www.facebook.com/tingkatpm