I stumbled upon a netizen’s post about Pangi Nut, showcasing dishes like buah keluak chicken chop and rendang fries. I’ve dined in several Peranakan establishments before, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen Nyonya influences being intertwined into Western dishes.
Since then, I’ve been fixated on it and curiosity beckoned me to go check them out.
I headed to the block cluster beginning with ‘2’ in search of Thye Guan Eating House on Ang Mo Kio Avenue 1, a mere 4 bus stops away from my home. Despite its proximity, this is an area in my neighbourhood that I rarely explore.
The menu at Pangi Nut is massive, featuring over 50 items which showcase a mixture of classic and Peranakan-inspired Western dishes.
The stall which opened in Apr 2023 is the brainchild of 53-year-old owner, Jarrod Poh (pictured in front with his stall assistant behind). Born Peranakan, Jarrod started showing interest in cooking at the age of 10 and wanted to learn from his late grandmother.
As he shared his story, I found myself resonating with him due to the numerous similarities we share. Firstly, both of us are Nyonya (well, half at least for me), and our grandmothers prohibited us from entering the kitchen.
Secondly, ‘agak agak‘ (approximate) was the response that came from our ah ma‘s lips whenever we inquired about ingredient quantities in a recipe.
Thirdly, we both graduated from SHATEC and progressed to become professional full-time chefs. Jarrod worked in several restaurants including 1-Altitude, overseeing the operations of its rooftop bar and fine dining restaurant.
What I tried at Pangi Nut
I started my Peranakan Western discovery with the Sambal Tumis Fish (S$8). The large piece of fish was accompanied by garlic aglio olio spaghetti, boiled broccoli and cut marble potatoes.
The dory fish was generously coated with ample sambal, layered with red onion rings. Jarrod brandished a flame torch, enveloping the fish in a fiery bath that crisped its top.
After my knife engaged the delicate, paper-thin crust, it effortlessly glided through the flesh, akin to cutting a block of butter— smooth and pillowy.
The flavours were on point and the raw onions added a punch of spiciness and crunchy texture.
As I scooped the mini halved marble potatoes, assuming they were simply dressed in regular mayo, a sense of familiarity halted me in my steps. I closed my eyes to identify the additional flavour that had been introduced.
“Kaffir lime leaves?” I asked Jarrod. Pleased to say, my hunch was spot-on. He had combined them with other herbs in the mayonnaise to align with his Peranakan concept. It tasted refreshingly citrusy and special.
The next dish, ready to tantalise our taste buds, was the Rendang Beef Pasta (S$9). Presented before us was an enticing mound of spaghetti, accompanied by clusters of minced beef bathed in a rich rendang gravy, along with delicate strips of carrot.
The highlight of indulging in spaghetti? Twirling it with my fork and savouring each bite. The intense and fragrant rendang flavours struck my taste buds with impact, complemented by subtle hints of sweetness from the coconut milk.
The seasoning was addictive, and once I began, it was a challenge to halt; as irresistible as a packet of potato chips. This was my favourite so far!
Next in line was the Black Nut Chicken Chop (S$8), a dish I approached with a mix of eagerness and apprehension. Why, you might wonder? Well, in my view, buah keluak is a delicacy that’s challenging to master; it’s either a triumph or a letdown.
Trust me, I’ve encountered oddly-flavoured versions at well-known Peranakan eateries.
The piece of chicken chop was served with aglio olio pasta, potato wedges drizzled with more of that phenomenal kaffir lime mayo, steamed broccoli, and a small side of achar.
My dining partners and I were raised on my grandmother’s version, which set a high standard; we held this dish in esteem. Jarrod certainly didn’t hold back on the sauce; it didn’t sport a jet-black appearance, but rather showcased a deep, rich dark-brown hue.
“Mmmmmm!” came out of our mouths as 3 of our heads nodded in approval. “Has my Peranakan grandmother magically broken free from the daycare centre, regained her memory and mobility, and prepared this?” My imagination ran wild as nostalgia flooded my mind.
Ladies and gentlemen, that was how good it tasted!
The pasta on the side had a decent punch of garlic flavour and was tasty.
Once more, the achar carried me down memory lane, capturing the exact essence of my grandmother’s homemade pickled vegetables, with the perfect touch of acidity. It served as a refreshing interlude between each mouthful of meat and the fried potato wedges.
Wrapping up our meal, we tried the Assam Nanas Fish Burger (S$7). 2 grilled buns embraced a crispy fish fillet, generously coated with a thick assam chilli gravy, accompanied by a pineapple ring, fresh tomatoes, and crisp lettuce.
The buns managed to remain firm but soft even though they were sitting there for a significant amount of time. The fish fillet was really crispy and it was surprisingly moist and soft on the inside. The assam chilli offered a gentle heat that complemented the fish superbly and the underlying nanas (pineapple) added a juicy sweetness.
Everything that I tried at Pangi Nut was above average and special enough to make me have a lasting impression. If I only had one critic, it would be the location. Its rather deep inside the neighbourhood and you’ll need a little walk to get to this place.
For parents with primary and secondary school kids, you’ll be happy to know that there is a 10% discount specially for them between 11am and 6pm daily.
Expected damage: S$4.50 – S$15 per pax
Our Rating: 4.5 / 5
215 Ang Mo Kio Avenue 1, Singapore 560215
215 Ang Mo Kio Avenue 1, Singapore 560215