National Kitchen by Violet Oon

by - September 05, 2017

After a series of short posts, here's a long one finally! I am a huge fan of Nyonya food since I grew up eating the thick delicious curries which my  grandma cooked and she was born a Singapore Peranakan. I am also a huge fan of museums. So when I saw that Violet Oon opened a restaurant at my favourite National Gallery with opulent decor, I knew I had to bring the family to try it.  

Violet Oon is Singapore's own little celebrity chef. She has published her own cookbooks and even had her own cooking program back in 1980s. To learn more, visit her official website at:

Food: 4/5
Price: $$/$$$ 
Service: 3/5
Ambiance: 4/5 
(the place is so posh, it is perfect for special occasions)


There are 3 things I always, always order whenever I'm at a peranakan restaurant- ngoh hiang, kuey pie ti and beef rendang. I can eat these 3 for days, but my fear of growing fat always wins. Sigh.

Kuay Pie Tee -$17

Now how do we explain what kuay pie tee is to a non-Singaporean? Essentially, this is a starter consisting of bamboo shoot and turnip poached in prawn bisque and served in a deep fried "top hat"cup (now that's what it's called!) topped with prawn, chilli sauce and sweet fruit sauce. 

Yes, this is one hell of a pricey kuay pie tee. I'm used to the 4 for $2/$3 kuay pie tee sold at coffee shops which probably lacked the juicy fresh prawn and mega shiok, fresh and spicy chilli found here. 

Ngoh Hiang - $15

Again to the non-Singaporean, ngoh hiang is essentially deep fried prawn, crab and chicken with water chestnut seasoned with five spice powder wrapped in bean curd skin. 

Okay, but I think the normal ngoh hiang which you get at zi char stalls probably only has prawn and chicken in it. The one here has been 'fancied' up with crab meat. I love how the bean curd skin is super crispy, yet the meat inside is moist and crunchy with the water chestnut bits.

Now call me bias, but nothing beats the ngoh hiang my grandma makes. My grandma's version is less crispy and the bean curd skin is thinner, but the inside is packed full with tons of meat and water chestnut. 

Tau Hu Goreng - $9

Tau hu goreng is my dad's favourite dish to order at Peranaken restaurants. It's essentially fried bean curd with sweet peanut sauce. This is probably my least favourite of the lot we tried. I find the tau hu too thinly sliced and the sweet and tangy peanut sauce too thick and overpowering. Perhaps the tau hu goreng should be much thicker so it doesn't drown in the sauce.

Very meh. There are a lot of other better ones at half the price. For example, my new found favourite Peranakan restaurant, Ivins. I did a review of the food there on my instagram @angelinenie. Do follow me there for more food updates which aren't found on the blog!

Buah Keluak Ayam - $23

Now this is a classic Peranakan dish - it is a spicy and tangy chicken curry with buah keluak nut (that black nut which you dig out and eat and it's really sour). This dish has a really nice balance between sour and spicy flavours. 

Beef Rendang - $23

Of course, no Peranakan meal is complete (for me) without my absolute favourite beef rendang. Tender beef shin braised in a variety of spices and flavoured with Kaffir and Bay leaves in a creamy coconut sauce. Creamy and spicy indeed. The beef rendang here is absolutely delicious and a great complement to the nasi lemak rice. Not to mention, the beef shin is extremely tender and moist.

Butter Prawn - $32

I don't usually order seafood at a Peranakan restaurant but was told by a friend to give this dish a try. The sauce is really buttery, creamy and sweet. I think the star of this dish is the butter floss which was salty but addictive. Almost like how cereal prawns are delicious because of the cereal. 

I don't recommend ordering this really. I mean $32 is pricey for an otherwise average dish. It's not bad for sure, but it's not fantastic either. Reminded me a bit of zi char butter prawns but 'fancied' up with butter floss. 

Now desserts are another great joy of the Peranakan cuisine. I think a large part of my love for Peranakan desserts is partly due to my mom's immense love for them. She always buys them and fed some to me when I was a child. Much like the mains, Peranakan desserts are packed full of flavour and extremely filling. Plus, how do you say no to Gula Melaka?!?!? 

Pulot Hitam with Coconut Ice Cream - $12

This sinful but extremely delicious pulot hitam (i.e. black glutinous rice stewed with gula melaka) is thick, chewy and sweet, while the coconut ice cream adds an additional touch of coconut-y creaminess. Warning: this gets very cloying so please share.

Roti Jala with Gula Melaka and Banana Sauce- $10

This was actually my favourite of the lot. The roti jala (i.e. nyonya laced pancake) was light (relatively) and slightly sweet and paired beautifully with the gula melaka and banana sauce (no, that is not curry). The texture of the roti jala reminded me of thinly sliced kueh. I was also blown away by the lace details in the pancake. It's so pretty!!

Kueh Beng Kah - $9

This is one extremely dense tapioca cake which thankfully wasn't sweet. You can make it sweeter by adding the coconut milk and gula melaka. I really like how the coconut milk adds another dimension to the otherwise starchy cake.

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I think all in all, the food is not the cheapest but I feel that you pay for the experience. I mean their starters are the price of what the mains should cost.... And hate me if you must, but I really do not find the peranakan food here amazing. It's good and simple comfort food, and you can find the same standard at other cheaper peranakan restaurants.  But the place is undoubtedly posh and most nyonya restaurants are simply decorated, thus this a nice addition if you are celebrating a special occasion. 

National Kitchen by Violet Oon
Address: 1 St. Andrew’s Road #02–01, National Gallery, Singapore 178957

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