Located just beside Clarke Quay‘s taxi stand lies the newly opened Violet Oon Satay Bar and Grill, the third restaurant helmed by the respectable Nyonya food ambassador herself alongside her two children, Su-Lyn and Yiming.
I was in awe of the store front that’s reminiscent of 1920s grandeur, and reminded me of the film ‘The Great Gatsby’.
It is very hard to imagine that this restaurant serves traditional Singaporean Peranakan food instead of only being stocked with fancy champagne bottles.
The restaurant features a classy bar counter but doesn’t forget its roots – the flooring is intricately laid with beautiful Peranakan tiles and decorated with a few overhead rattan-blade fans.
This place screams fancy-meets-heritage like no other.
The Tripe Satay ($15) is a complete star on its own. It’s marinated and paired with a signature dipping sauce that Violet learned from her aunty nanny over 50 years ago. The sauce is a Lemak Coconut Rempah, which is a rich coconut cream that is lightly spiced with galangal and ground candlenuts, with a hint of chilli oil and garlic.
It tasted like rendang curry, but was a creamier and smoother version.
The beef tripe looks like honeycomb and texture wise, it’s crisply charred on the outside. It was a little chewy at the beginning but slowly dissolved in my mouth like butter.
With the combination of the smokey chargrill aroma and acidity from the condiments, the tripe tasted like a fusion of fried calamari and chutoro (or tuna belly) on a stick.
It was delicious, but the inner health-freak in me would’ve preferred the satay to have less charred bits.
The Buah Keluak Otak ($16) looked quite intimidating with a bird’s eye chilli on top. For those who don’t know what buah keluak is, it is the paste used for this dish that is extracted from Pangium edule seeds, which are known to be poisonous prior to fermentation.
Infused with a unique blend of oriental spices, minced prawns and wrapped otak style, it tasted earthy and had a mushy consistency. An acquired taste that’s best enjoyed with plain rice, I am glad that I appreciated the complex flavours.
Daging Panggang Sambal Hijau ($50) is a 200-day grain-fed Black Angus Ribeye topped with an amazing combination of roasted garlic and Violet Oon’s unique green chilli padi sambal that contains grounded ikan bilis and deep fried onions, with a dash of calamansi juice for acidity.
For those who are familiar with chimichurri sauce, sambal hijau tastes similar but is less tart. The crunch of the deep fried onions and ikan bilis paired well with the fragrant roasted garlic and spice from the green chilli, which enhanced the smokey flavours of the well-marbled steak.
I really enjoyed the sophisticated ambience, fashionable crowd, prime location, reasonable prices, and of course, the decadent and authentic Peranakan food that stayed true to its roots.
Although I understand that Violet Oon Satay and Grill Bar focuses a lot on the chargrilled part, a little bit more control on the overly burnt bits and pieces on the dishes would have elevated the entire experience.
Expected damage: $35 – $45 per person