To be perfectly honest, I am a loyal supporter of Peranakan Food and it is certainly one of the most under-hyped cuisines within our local culinary scene. The complexity of flavours, the sophisticated use of differing ingredients and the variety of techniques to prepare and cook the food, these are a few aspects of the cuisine that I deeply admire and have always been able to strike a chord with. I have been really busy with my usual commitments but when I first received an invite from O’nya Sayang, I knew I had to make time and pay a visit to the eatery.
Unlike its parent Dulukala however, O’nya Sayang hopes to tone down the complexities and strong flavours a little, so as to better accommodate the younger crowd and that, is the owner, Zan’s goal. He hopes to blend his family’s recipes and his own innovative inspirations together so as to win over the young, in which he finds not so easy to achieve and has devoted much effort and time into O’nya Sayang. This can be first seen from the restaurant layout that is a little more unexpected of a traditional Peranakan family restaurant. When I was first asked about my comments of the setting, I replied “Clean, trendy with the right elements of Peranakan furnishings to provide insight into the culture without giving off too much of an old- school vibe.”
Lor Bak Noodles ($12.90)
The Lor Bak Noodles was a clear winner for me. The first mouthful instantaneously reminded me of the rendition my Grandma used to prepare for me, the one I was so utterly fond of and this one here brought back all those memories. The considerably large Pork chunks each had a nice layer of fats and brought bursts of flavours infused from both the meaty juices and rich black gravy. Contrary to common belief that one might eventually get a little sick of it, this dish grew on me and I would really love to have another plate of this.
Assam Seafood Nonya Set ($15.90)
Packed with an adequately spicy, sourish and savoury punch, the Assam Seafood was overflowing with ingredients such as Squid, Prawns, Eggplant and more; well- cooked together with the main feature of the dish- a whole entire fish which provided for a nice bite to its flesh. This makes for a rather exciting decadent dish that is worthy of one’s order.
Chap Chye ($10.90 for ala- carte)
Having had a not-s0-great Chap Chye elsewhere, I was initially a little wary of the version served here and was more than thankful that they got my favourite Peranakan dish right. The vegetables retained a slight crunch to them while most important of all, the gravy was deliciously flavourful in which the cabbage and black fungus were very well- immersed in.
Bakwan Kepeting Soup ($12.90)
A humble bowl of clear and light soup that is ideal for sharing, the taste is mainly lent by the giant meatballs made of crab meat and pork. For me, the dish spelled comfort as like some of the other offerings, it had a nice home- made feel to it.
Babi Pongteh Nonya Set ($13.90)
Stewed in their signature bean paste sauce imported from Melaka, the Babi Pongteh surprised me with its distinctive flavour profile- a wonderful combination of sweet and salty notes. In addition, it fared just as well in the textural department; the hulks of Pork boasted a fine proportion of fats and fork- tender lean meat demonstrating the right execution of the delicacy.
Ayam Keluak Fried Rice Nonya Set ($14.90)
Prepared from their family’s secret recipe, the Ayam Keluak features a sizeable Chicken thigh instead of the usual suspect(s) commonly served in the other Peranakan restaurants. Catering to the younger palates, the gravy is a little more balanced flavour- wise and texturally; not too overpoweringly rich. For those who want an extra kick, you can add more of the Keluak served alongside. Not forgetting to mention about the Fried Rice, it was aromatic with a seemingly slight hint of pepperish taste to it and was no doubt a perfect pairing with the bowl of Ayam Keluak.
Chendol Ice Cream ($5.90)
A must- order should you pay a visit to O’nya Sayang, it is noteworthy to mention that the heavenly Gula Melaka used in this concoction is sourced all the way from Indonesia. It might well be one of my favourite desserts for now, given how soul satisfying it was for me and I am pretty sure it is largely due to the brilliant pairing between the Coconut Ice Cream and Gula Melaka. This makes for a perfect ending to a fulfilling meal at the restaurant.
A tad too hidden within the shopping mall, O’nya Sayang is situated right at the corner of the basement and might be a little hard to find. This extra effort is worth the experience, nonetheless and I would definitely make a return visit for some of the dishes offered. For me, I feel that Zan has certainly done a very good job in trying to make sure that the epicurean experience appeals to the young yet not straying too far from the traditional flavours of the cuisine and that is not all, prices are extremely wallet- friendly and I have no idea how he does it. O’nya Sayang is really recommended, I must say.
Many thanks to Mr. Zan Ho and Ms. Alicia from Dulukala for the kind hospitality and invitation.
60 Paya Lebar Road
#B1-30/31, Paya Lebar Square
Contact Number: 9101 5147
Mondays to Sundays, 10.00am – 10.00pm