Earlier this year, the Michelin inspectors made their way to Singapore and awarded their very first Michelin stars to our local restaurants! Singaporeans being the hypercritical, food-loving people we are, we derived a lot of pleasure critiquing the Michelin inspectors' choices (a soy sauce chicken restaurant to get a Michelin star??) and commenting that obviously they didn't do a proper survey. But nonetheless, it remains a source of pleasure and pride that a Peranakan restaurant made the list!
Now, I have been going to Candlenut Restaurant, off and on, for the past few years. It used to be in the Duxton area, then moved to Dorsett Hotel, right on the border of Chinatown. And now, since 1 Nov 2016, it has shifted all the way to Dempsey Hill. I assume that the loss of accessibility will be made up for by the increase in publicity from that Michelin star.
Anyway, my colleagues and I decided to to try it. So we wended our way to Dempsey Hill to sample the Michelin star cuisine.
As there were a number of us, we were able to sample a variety of dishes. I think that where Candlenut shines is indeed in its rempahs - or spice mixes - which are aromatic and flavourful. Their rendang was delicious, with the tender beef and rich gravy complementing each other well. I also loved their wing bean salad, with the subtle flavours of lemongrass and lime in the tangy dressing. Their charcoal grilled sea bass was perfectly cooked, although I really did find the serving rather small. I found the sayer lodeh ordinary though (even though it came with a large prawn) and the ladies' fingers quite boring. In general, I must admit that the plating is of a much higher standard than the typical Nonya restaurant, where the food is just scooped into the dish with maybe a little coriander or spring onion sprinkled on top.
Pictured below (from top-down): Ayam buah keluak, beef rendang, sambal sotong, charcoal-grilled fish, wing bean (kacang botol) salad.
Not forgetting dessert.... .... I think my favourite dessert remains the "Textures of Coconut", with the coconut sorbet sitting on a base of coconut jelly, topped with coconut cream and desiccated coconut. It's so fresh and light, yet rich and creamy at the same time. Sorry no photo - I was too greedy and forgot to take one (just tucked right in).
Is this a Michelin worthy meal? To be honest, I don't see it as being so superior to other good Peranakan restaurants (and others are "better value" aka cheaper). But it is a very nice restaurant and it was a truly delicious meal. So yes, I would definitely go there again.