Cheng Heng Restaurant, East Coast Rd.- Peranakan Food

The World of the Babas and Nonyas

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picture gallery: from left: a villa by what was once the sea, but is now reclaimed land; a young peranakan girl in all her finery: a cute doll-house-like peranakan house in a conservation area        

The Peranakans, or 'Straits Chinese' are descended from Chinese immigrants who came to Malacca from China, in the 18th Century. Because they came without their families, there were no Chinese women among the first few generations of immigrants. Some of them married the local Malay women, and so, was born, the fusion of two cultures. Male peranakans were known as Babas and females were called Nonyas. Their descendants spoke Malay, or Chinese in a sing-song way, with many Malay words thrown in, and their dressing and cuisine was also a mix of the two cultures. Even the architectural style of the houses they built, were a blend of Chinese and Malay styles. As for their cuisine, as they became successful in business, their cuisine developed into a refined, complicated kind of cuisine, requring many hours of preparation and exotic mixtures of spices.

At Cheng Heng, you can not only enjoy a reasonably priced delicious  peranakan meal, but also view a gallery of pictures from the National Heritage Board, showing old Singapore. This meal for my wife and me, cost $19.00

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Food pictures from top left, clockwise:

1. A tangy, spicy salad made from cucumber, onions, chicken liver, gizzard; mixed with sugar, lime, and chilli and garnished with coriander leaves.

2. Fried Selar fish, stuffed with sambal belachan- which is a paste made from chilli, dired shrimp, ginger, candlenuts, and shallots, that has been fried slowly over a low fire, until fragrant

3. Udang Nanas- unshelled prawns with pineapple in a gravy made of turmetic, tamarind, blue ginger, shallots, and lemon grass, and garlic, and cut red chillis. Garnished with coriander leaves.

4. Ngoh Hiang, or liver and pork, with five spice powder, wrapped into rolls with bean slin, and fried, eaten with sweet plum sauce.


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