Cherki, Tanjong Pagar: A worthy CBD hideout for modern Peranakan bites and cocktails

Up down left right, what makes the perfect Friday night? Just a short walk from Tanjong Pagar MRT, you’ll find Cherki, hidden within Singapore Chinese Cultural Centre. Yes I know— there are already so many restaurants within the CBD, so what makes this special? Well, brace yourselves for stunning craft cocktails unlike any other. Oh, and modern Peranakan cuisine too.

Cherki Shopfront
Credit

The space seats close to 50 and has one of the most beautifully-lit bars I’ve seen. There’s nothing quite like watching the magic happen right in front of you, with the stellar backdrop of spirits and tipples.

Knowing we were in good hands of the hosts Theodore and Joan, my dining companions and I were ecstatic to savour some of their bestsellers and exotic concoctions.

What I tried

Homemade Crab Cakes

To start, we had the Homemade Crab Cakes (S$17). I’ll be honest and admit I’m not the biggest fan of crab (I know, what a crime!) but fry them into crisp and golden gems like these? I simply cannot resist.

Cross-section shot of Cherki's Homemade Crab Cakes

Each golden sphere was filled with juicy crabmeat which was surprisingly not as fishy as I expected it to be. Don’t get me wrong, I loved how the stuffing stayed away from being too surfeiting and had just the right amount of flavour.

I just wish I could have a side serving of the sambal mayonnaise to dip these gems in. The tanginess from the dip would certainly aid in balancing out the seafood flavour with a burst of heat and creaminess.

Overall, a good small plate to start with.

Cherki Truffle Itek Popiah

On to sharing plates, we had the Truffle Itek Popiah (S$14). Now this piqued my interest. Truffle and duck in a popiah roll? Odd but very intriguing.

A piece of Truffle Itek Popiah

Truffle lovers will love this because the team definitely did not hold back on their generosity. Each bite will take you on a truffle-filled journey.

My main gripe was the turnip filling which I felt was a tad too undercooked. Each bite warranted a crunch which was unusual from the authentic rolls I’ve had before, which are usually moist and slow-braised.  It could use a longer simmer to really pack in the rustic, homemade Peranakan essence

Cherki Rendang Beef Cheeks

One of their most popular dishes here that we couldn’t skip on was the Rendang Beef Cheeks (S$24). The tender beef is slow-cooked for hours and served with blue pea rice, achar, keropok, and homemade sambal. You’ll probably find this on every table at Cherki.

Slow-cookedRendang Beef Cheeks

Despite the melt-in-your-mouth tenderness from the beef, the sauce was lacking in depth and spices, which pulled it away from being earthy and rich. Perhaps I’m someone who’s very particular about traditional dishes and their cooking methods, but Cherki’s rendition could adapt a bit more from classic Nyonya recipes to elevate the dish further.

The other supporting elements were delicious as is, especially the sambal. Not too spicy yet tangy, which was right up my alley.

Laksa Lobster Linguine

Last but not least on the night’s food options was the Laksa Lobster Linguine (S$27). Pasta, laksa and lobster? I’d like to submit an appeal to rename the dish to ‘Labsta’!

The dish came with lobster chunks and half a Boston lobster and a few taupok (tofu puffs). For a dish supposedly so rich in spice and flavour, I wished this was saucier—almost like a more refined and condensed version of the original laksa bowl. If you’re a fan of dry laksa, this is the one for you.

Cherki Potpourri

The highlight of my night was the craft cocktail range. Drinks go at just S$16 during Happy Hour (5pm – 8pm) so don’t say I didn’t jio! 

As the basic ladies drink lover I am, the Potpourri (S$23) is by far the best gin-based drink I’ve had ever. The mix of peach blossom gin, grapefruit, St German elderflower, rose apple and rhubarb jam, Pamplemousse rose and citrus, simply sealed the deal for me.

I’m always on the lookout for something fruity, floral, sweet and strong, so if you’re my bespoke drink twin, trust me on the Potpourri.

Sop Story

Reminiscent of the laborious process involved in Peranakan meal preparations, Sop Story (S$25) was served in a bamboo-netted basket, with deconstructed elements.

The experience is meant to be very do-it-yourself, as one makes the drink by themselves by adding dry ice into a base consisting of gin, mace powder, calpis, vanilla citrus, ice wine and basil seeds. It’s pretty show-stopping I must say, as the dry ice brings in the theatrics (and shifting eyes from neighbouring customers).

Behind the scenes of Sop Story

After mixing it up for a good 30 seconds, the last step is to add the soursop puree into the now slushie-consistency dessert. Altogether, this tangy edible dessert was refreshing and revitalising with that hit of gin.

The dessert-style drink is to be consumed immediately upon serving, so don’t take too long (like me) to snap your shot!

Cherki Dancing in the Moonshine

Lastly, we ended the night with Dancing in the Moonshine (S$23). Think Bubur Cha Cha but with dark rum. A boozy dessert that’s perfect for sharing with friends, but not one for those who aren’t in favour of traditional recipes being meddled with.

For me, I love how Cherki never failed to surprise me with their exotic, one-of-a-kind craft cocktails. Each had its own story etched as to why it was put on the menu and I’m all for the story behind the food and drinks I savour.

Chope Reservations

Final thoughts

Flatlay of Cherki's food offerings

Trust the team at Cherki to live up to their mission statement of pushing boundaries, while honouring tradition and simplicity, yet bringing creativity and flavour to the table. A huge shoutout to the wonderful staff at Cherki who were all rich in knowledge when it came to food and drink recommendations and descriptions.

Like most returning customers, I’ll definitely be back for the service and cocktails. Plus, they’ve got brand new lunch sets perfect for the CBD dwellers. Take my word for it—there’s no stopping at just one. Plus, I’ve got to get around try the other items on their extensive menu. I mean, Chilli Beef Rendang Fries (S$12), Date with the Devil ($24) and Kaya and Gula Melaka Tiramisu (S$12)? The endless range of adventurous dishes is truly valiant here at Cherki.

Expected damage: S$35 – S$50 per pax 

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Price: $ $

Our Rating: 4 / 5

Cherki

1 Straits Boulevard #01-02, Singapore Chinese Cultural Centre , Singapore 018906

Price
Our Rating 4/5

Cherki

1 Straits Boulevard #01-02, Singapore Chinese Cultural Centre , Singapore 018906

Telephone: +65 6514 8345
Operating Hours: 11.30am - 2.30pm & 5pm – 10.30PM (Mon - Sat), Closed on Sun
Telephone: +65 6514 8345

Operating Hours: 11.30am - 2.30pm & 5pm – 10.30PM (Mon - Sat), Closed on Sun
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