Saturday, March 14, 2009

Singapore Peranakan Restaurant: The Arch

What comes to mind when one thinks of Peranakan (Baba Nyonya) cuisine? Usually, the first thing that comes to mind is an old shophouse serving nothing but spicy & tasty food of mix Chinese-Malay.

Well, The Arch Restaurant Singapore is close to that in someways, but yet different.

singapore peranakan restaurant, the archElegant and somewhat un-Peranakan came to mind when I first saw the restaurant. Well, it's located an old house alright, but it's glass windows makes one to believe it's serving Western food rather than the Nyonya dishes.

the arch peranakan restaurantEven when entering, the restaurant's all white & clean gives a more Western restaurant feel.

the arch peranakan restauarnt menuMaybe the only indication that this is a Peranakan restaurant is its menu outside.

Anyway, I tried the food for dinner and find this restaurant rather unique - and yes, it is Peranakan food, with a twist of fusion. Quite impressed, I set up an appointment with the owner, Mikel, to know more bout his ideas that went behind.

peranakan restaurant singapore ownerAnd speaking to the owner, one can only get more impressed.... for firstly, Mikel doesn't come from a Peranakan family. Instead he is more Hokkien but has been interested in food all the while, cooking at home when young.

He even went to Hawaii to be trained. But he never used that skill, though he did help his former company to set up a food business overseas.

But on his own, when Mikel came back, he used his engineering background... going into the industrial business, helping his family all along. And when the business 'stabilised' (which to him, usually takes 3 years or so), he starts doing another business - but all these while none are related to F&B.

Then someday, his brother who owns a restaurant in UK mentions that he would like to expand to Singapore - and invited Mikel to be part of it. Already settled in his many businesses, it was the ripe time to engage him.

So, this food businessman came up with the idea of something local, with a twist - hence the Peranakan food which to him is very Singaporean (even South East Asian).... and the setting is meant to serve businessmen from the world over, who wants to try local dishes in a good setting.

With that in mind, he work out the menu with his main chef - coming up with fusion Peranakan food... appealing to a new generation of non Peranakans too.

One of the unique dishes is his buah keluak (the black beetlenut) - which by the way is the prized Peranakan dish. Rather than stuffing the nuts contents back into the nutshell, he actually cooks them with the gravy, making it a thick and rich buah keluak dish.

laksa gorengAnother unique dish - the laksa goreng (fried laksa!). It was my first time hearing it... and this dish is the best seller! Oh btw, his prices are reasonable despite the 'atas' (upmarket) setting :)

I next ask him about his future plans, and he mentions - rather than going expanding its 'width', he is expanding in 'depth' - ie rather than more outlets, he wants to expand in more in this outlet itself, eg. catering and at the same time to introduce more 'lost recipes' which even the true blue Peranakans misses!

It's a good chat with him, an inspiring food-preneur.I left the meeting somewhat inspired by his entrepreneurial skills and passion of keeping the heritage alive.

Now, here's the good part - Complimentary Dinner!
Mikel is giving away a meal for 2 - serving his best selling laksa goreng + a special dish + 1 authentic Peranakan dessert, worth S$50.

All you need to do, simply tell Mikel what you would like to see more in Peranakan restaurants - namely this Arch Restaurant.

So, foodies, grab your chance! :)

*Contest ends 28 March 2009.

*This is open to everyone - whether you are from Singapore, or visiting from Malaysia (or anywhere else)... Peranakan or not :)

*The Arch
32 Seah Street,Singapore
Tel: +65 68373132
Open: 11am to 3pm, 6 to 10pm daily

*Mikel is the brother to Singapore's 'Ah Beng' - Sebastian Tan.

*This feature is part of the Talented Malaysians & Singaporeans segment.


  1. awww..too bad i m too far away to visit singapore..otherwise will surely go there for a makan..

  2. I have heard of this restaurant from my friends and read a review of it on the papers.

    I have visited several Peranakan restaurants in Singapore and Malacca. The Nyonya dishes served in Malacca were much more delicious.

    My son is training to be a chef and he's also trying fusion dishes at home. Although I prefer the original recipes, I'm game to try new tastes.

    Can they make Nyonya snacks? I love nyonya kuehs.

  3. it's so difficult to find good Peranakan restaurants in Singapore! i go food hunting and then get scammed by some fake =.=" oh wells.

    the internal of your restaurant seems really calming; good ambiance. haha. any music to accompany? OH. and i think you should hang some pictures of your specialties on the wall. people will take note of it and may order it xD

  4. Laksa goreng makes me mouthwater... though I generally prefer Penang Laksa.

    Singapore is a bit far off, so I have to found somewhere in Taipei to taste it...

  5. I like to join in the contest, but do I comment here?

    I think that based on what I saw, like what quachee says the Arch Restaurant somehow comes across as very modern and not Peranakan. I do believe the dishes are very nice, so I think maybe Mikel should redecorate a part of the restaurant to reflect the richness of Peranakan culture. Like maybe hang more pictures of Baba-Nyonya people, or Peranakan tapestries, or maybe insert an impression of Peranakan architecture if circumstances allow. I think that would be a very powerful combination of both tradition and modernity as reflected also in the fusion concept of its recipes.

  6. Yupe! The deco inside didn't reflect its dishes! But I'm sure it's delicious huh! Laksa goreng? No doubt about it, this is the 1st time I have ever heard such dish! Can you tapao 1 for me?=P

  7. I would like to see more Penang nyonya food. Namely Purut Ikan & nasi ulam.... and many more! Nice chendol with huge kidney beans will be a bonus too!!

  8. hi all

    thanks for joining this contest and giving mikel, the owner, the best advise.

    btw, he has picked one lucky winner - and its JL! :)


Oh hey, thank you for commenting! :)