The Peranakan has been renowned for its impeccable service and exclusive fusion dishes, albeit the rather hefty price tag that goes along with it. However, the reigning Peranakan restaurant in Orchard has a new competitor located just 30 minutes away – Godmama, a modern Peranakan restaurant nestled at a quaint corner in Funan.
Will The Peranakan continue to dominate as the go-to restaurant for your Nyonya food fix in the city, or will Godmama’s heirloom recipes win over the hearts and tummies of diners? We filled our bellies with Peranakan goodies from both sides to give our final verdict.
Starting with The Peranakan, the restaurant is helmed by Executive Chef Raymond Khoo, and it is the only one that specialises in serving authentic Peranakan heritage dishes on the Orchard Road shopping district. Located on the second floor of Claymore Connect mall, guests are given the chance to taste both famous and lesser-known Peranakan dishes. The recipes were lovingly handed down by the Nyonyas (‘women’) and Babas (‘men’) in Chef Raymond’s family.
The Peranakan also occasionally serves Peranakan fusion cuisine, including Eurasian Peranakan dishes that are currently served at the restaurant’s Peranakan Food Festival, which will be held till 31 July 2019.
Sup Bakwan Kepiting and Ayam Buah Keluak
A homely and comforting dish, the Sup Bakwan Kepiting serves up a rich broth of prawn meatballs with bamboo shoots. The light taste of the broth complements well with the flavourful, meaty goodness of the meatballs.
Meanwhile the Ayam Buah Keluak – a true blue Peranakan dish – sees chicken stewed with a secret blend of spices, along with buah keluak, a highly poisonous nut that requires tedious work prior to being edible. While the buah keluak had a nutty and bittersweet taste, the stewed chicken did not have any prominent taste – which comes as a surprise, seeing as the Ayam Buah Keluak is one of the classic Nyonya cuisines served at Peranakan eateries.
One of the Eurasian Peranakan dishes served at the Food Festival, the Devil’s Curry is a colourful dish that perfectly combines the spiciness of Peranakan cuisine and a Eurasian tradition of putting leftover Christmas meats together in hot curry. If you are a penchant for spicy food and mala, then the Devil’s Curry should be right up your alley!
The Potato Cutlet sees hand-mashed yellow potatoes seasoned with spices – such as garlic and black peppercorns – and it is coated with bread crumbs that are shallow-fried over a low fire after at least six hours in the freezer. While there is nothing amazing about the potato cutlets, it works as a great side-dish in between meals, especially for the little ones.
Taking up a 60-seater space on the fourth level of the newly revamped Funan mall is Godmama, a modern Peranakan restaurant and bar. The story of Godmama started when co-owner Christina Keilthy left her corporate job to take up arms in the F&B industry, simply because she wanted to preserve the delicious legacy of her godma’s and Mama’s Egg Skin Popiah – a dish she had the fortune of enjoying since childhood.
Godmama eventually grew into its current concept – an extensive menu which came about by marrying heirloom recipes from two families – when she found fellow Peranakans in co-owners Derrick Chew and Fredric Goh, who is also the Head Chef of the establishment. On top of traditional favourites, Godmama also presents cocktails and a mod-Peranakan brunch to cater to the corporate crowd.
All Star Egg Skin Popiah
Available all day, the All Star Egg Skin Popiah is undeniably the crowd favourite among Godmama’s starters. Faithfully recreated using Christina’s Godma’s family recipe, the Egg Skin Popiah is a homemade egg skin crepe, filled with fresh prawns, stewed vegetable filling, lettuce, crushed peanuts, and crispy shallots.
Unlike your traditional popiah, which is crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside, the egg skin popiah has a soft, chewy outer while the filling is crunchy with a tinge of sweetness.
Ayam Buah Keluak and Babi Assam
Unlike the savoury dishes served at The Peranakan, the Ayam Buah Keluak at Godmama was distinctively spicy and tangy, and the bittersweet buah keluak tastes best when mixed with rice and topped with the stewed chicken.
Meanwhile, the delightfully spicy Babi Assam sees pork belly simmered in an aromatic tamarind stew and served with tau kwa (tofu) and chopped chilli. As one of the signature pork dishes in Godmama, the Babi Assam is a great main to go with beer. However, diners who eat, live, and breathe spicy food might wish to opt for the Devil’s Curry at The Peranakan instead, as Godmama does not have any dish in its repertoire that can match up with the Devil’s Curry.
Sticky Red Date Pudding and Pulut Hitam Panna Cotta
Complete your meal at Godmama with two delectable desserts served with a Peranakan twist. The Sticky Red Date Pudding is similar to your classic warm brownie with a scoop of ice cream on top, except that the brownie is replaced with a red date pudding for this treat. The sweetness is further elevated with the longan tea glaze and red dates decorated around the pudding.
A personal favourite of mine, the Pulut Hitam Panna Cotta serves up silken coconut pannacotta with pulut hitam and coconut shavings. For the uninitiated, pulut hitam is a dessert made out of black glutinous rice and coconut milk, which is then sweetened with palm sugar and rock sugar. The coconut panna cotta almost melts in your mouth, leaving you wanting more after every bite, while the sweet and chewy glutinous rice seals the deal.
One of Godmama’s signature cocktails, the Peranakan Blue sees locally-produced Brass Brass Lion Distillery’s Butterfly Pea Gin served with lavender and butterfly pea flower, and topped with East Imperial yuzu tonic. The yuzu tonic is served separately, so diners are able to decide how much tonic they want for themselves.
The dryness of the Gin was compensated with the tangy taste of the tonic, so those who prefer to have their cocktail as dry as possible should keep the amount of tonic used to a minimum. Those who pour the entire bottle of tonic into the glass at one go will be able to witness the Peranakan Blue transform to a much lighter purple hue.
The Final Verdict
Overall, The Peranakan will still be the go-to place for a dining experience with a traditional Peranakan vibe. Special mentions should be given to its fusion dishes, especially the Devil’s Curry, which deserves a permanent spot in the menu.
Meanwhile, Godmama may very well be the next hang out spot for the millenials – the modern restaurant interior provides an enjoyable dining experience, alongside its traditional and homely Peranakan cuisine. I already foresee myself returning to Godmama for the Babi Assam and their delectable Pulut Hitam Panna Cotta.
Venue: 442 Orchard Road, Level 2 Claymore Connect, Singapore 238879
For more information, visit https://www.theperanakan.com
Venue: Funan Mall, #04-07, 107 North Bridge Road, Singapore 179105
For more information, visit https://www.facebook.com/godmamasg/
Photos by Goh Jing Wen and Soloman Soh of the DANAMIC team. Visual for The Peranakan’s Ayam Buah Keluak courtesy of The Peranakan.