Last Updated: September 17, 2019
Peranakan cuisine has always been a favourite of mine—the bold, rich flavours are both complex and comforting. When it comes to Peranakan food, there is no doubt you’ll always be asking for seconds.
This is where Chilli Api Catering comes in.
Chilli Api Catering is one of Singapore’s leading halal Peranakan cuisine caterer that has served over one million guests that run the gamut of government to corporate to household clients. Another thing I always appreciate about Peranakan Cuisine is how it’s steeped in tradition.
Chilli Api still uses the recipes developed by Chilli Api’s founder and head chef, Patricia Lee, over the past 22 years. Till today, Patricia still personally attends to menu curation and kitchen operations.
Not to mention, Chilli Api also caters to all occasions, from corporate seminars to school graduation ceremonies to baby showers and even reunion dinners. Any opportunity to have Peranakan food is a good day really.
I was pretty impressed by the elaborate spread Chilli Api had provided us. There were intricately designed batik table cloths that draped each section of the buffet spread and typical Peranakan memorabilia such as tingkats, and the ever-reliable pestle and mortar.
Practically salivating, I couldn’t wait to taste what Chilli Api had to offer.
I started with one of the more interactive and fun sections of the table, the DIY Kueh Pie Tee. Kueh Pie Tee has to be one of my favourite Peranakan treats, full of texture and provides a satisfying mouthful every time.
You begin by loading up a crispy kueh pie tee shell loaded up with soft and tender mang guang (jicama). Be quick or else the shell becomes soggy.
This is followed with a good spoonful of chopped peanuts and a little coriander, topped off with just a smidge of chilli for a little kick.
I usually finish my kueh pie tee with a little sweet sauce just to balance the flavours out. There you have it, a perfect kueh pie tee.
After a pretty good appetiser, I was ready for some of mains from Chilli Api’s spread.
I started with Minced Otah Fried Rice With Edamame, an item that was pretty popular with my colleagues seeing as the tray was one of the first few to be wiped clean.
The cubed otah provided spicy little nuggets throughout the fried rice. The edamame was an interesting choice, and one that was quite welcome.
I would have liked a little more wok hei in the rice, but either way it was still tasty.
I moved on to the Kampong Fried Mee Siam. This one came adorned with egg ribbons and a generous sprinkling of chives.
I have to say, the mee siam was pretty underwhelming, to say the least. While there was nothing glaringly bad about this item, it was pretty forgettable as well.
Undeterred, I decided to go with the Grilled Wholebass With Housemade Sambal. I was definitely impressed by the stature and the presentation of this fish.
This item featured an entire bass conveniently deboned, blanketed with fiery sambal and finished with chopped ladyfingers. It was certainly a feast for the eyes.
The fish gave way pretty easily as I dug the serving spoon in, a sign that the fish was tender and soft.
The fish did not disappoint; the meat tasted was fresh and sweet and was complemented by the sambal. Chilli Api takes great pride in that all their sambal‘s, gravies and rempah‘s are made in-house and it shows. The sambal struck a good balance of being just spicy enough without overpowering the fish.
We were definitely fans of the ladyfingers that covered the bass as well. It’s undeniable that sambal and ladyfingers are a good match.
The Signature Ayam Buah Keluak was one item that was highly anticipated, a personal favourite of mine and a classic Peranakan dish that I’m sure every Peranakan household has a rendition of.
While the flavour of the buah keluak was prominent, unfortunately, the chicken was not as tender as I would have liked. Some colleagues even commented that they found the buah keluak a little salty.
Unfortunately, the Ayam Buah Keluak missed the mark for me.
One can never go wrong with satay, so I went for the Chicken Satay With Condiments next.
The satay was tasty and tender, with a good amount of char to them—no complaints here.
The gravy was rich and full of peanut-ty goodness, making it an excellent companion to the meaty satay sticks.
This one was a wildcard, but one of the dishes I enjoyed the most had to be the Chicken Crabmeat Soup.
The chicken soup was light, but surprisingly flavourful. I did find the soup a tad oily but was gladly willing to overlook that part on account of the chicken meatballs.
These meatballs were pretty substantial and were springy to the touch. From the looks of it, I could tell that there were homemade as well, so that was another brownie point for sure.
These chicken meatballs were made with a mixture of crabmeat and chicken, which not only gave the meatballs an interesting texture, but also enhanced the flavour of the chicken. These chicken meatballs were bouncy and quite addictive if I may add. A warm and comforting dish that I could eat all the time.
The best part of any Peranakan meal has to be the stellar desserts, with each delicate kueh is sweet and fragrant making it a perfect end to any meal.
At Chilli Api all their nonya kueh‘s are house-made, so you know these kueh‘s are made just like how your grandmother would.
The Kueh Ko Sui is a classic nonya kueh that is a real textual delight, made with hot gula melaka poured over tapioca flour.
Sweet, with those deep caramelly notes and covered in shredded coconut, this little kueh was a great way to end the meal.
Another highlight from the plate of kueh‘s was the kueh salat. A real nonya delicacy, this kueh is made with a fragrant pandan layer followed by a layer sticky glutinous rice streaked with butterfly pea.
A pretty solid kueh salat, each element was well-executed and melded well together.
I’m a real sucker for Bobo Cha Cha so I can’t really say no whenever this dessert makes its appearance on the buffet table. This is a coconut milk dessert with cubes of taro and sweet potato. Sometimes, there are even cubes of jelly which, to me, is truly the icing on the cake.
The bobo cha cha was rich and aromatic, not to mention chock-full of coconut milk. Clearly, Chilli Api’s strength lies in their desserts.
Chilli Api does serve up a decent spread of Peranakan dishes with a good variety of dishes so you can satisfy the pickiest eaters. Unfortunately, as much as I wanted to like Chilli Api’s spread, there were more misses than hits.
Chilli Api Catering operates throughout all public holidays, including Chinese New Year, Christmas, and Hari Raya so there will be Peranakan food all the time.
If you can’t get enough Chilli Api’s parent company, Chilli Padi Group, also has two non-halal dine-in restaurants: Chilli Padi Nonya Restaurant and Chilli Padi Nonya Cafe.
Chilli Padi Nonya Restaurant is a full-service a la carte restaurant situated in the Peranakan enclave of Joo Chiat, while Chilli Padi Nonya Cafe is a buffet restaurant located within NUS campus along Heng Mui Keng Terrace.
Chilli Api’s is celebrating 17 years of serving Singapore and with that comes some special deals.
There will be a complimentary eight-inch Kueh Sarlat for orders above S$500 (exclusive of GST & delivery fees). Chilli Api’s DIY Kueh Pai Ti Add-on platter (50 pieces) will be valued at S$17, doesn’t that just make you go yum? What’s more, Chilli Api’s Sliced Mackeral Otak Add-on platter (30 pieces) will also be priced at S$17.
To really commemorate 17 years, Chilli Api’s Anniversary Menu will be valued at S$17 per pax instead of their usual S$20 per pax. These deals will valid for events from September 2019 to October 2019 and orders have to place by 30 September 2019.
Expected Damage: S$5 – S$40 per pax (with a minimum of 25 pax)
*This post was brought to you in partnership with Chilli Api Catering Pte Ltd.
Price: $ $
Our Rating: 3 / 5
Chilli Api Catering Pte Ltd
Blk 3015 Bedok North Street 5, Shimei East Kitchen, #06-27, Singapore 486350
Blk 3015 Bedok North Street 5, Shimei East Kitchen, #06-27, Singapore 486350