I’m no expert on Eurasian food but I’ve had the opportunity to enjoy some Eurasian fare thanks to my father's friendly home visits to Malacca.
Eurasian traditions and their rich food culture originated from the various cross-cultures and are strongly influenced by local fare in the British Malaya. Typically, a mix of Malay, Indian and Portuguese ingredients can be found in their dishes.
As a lover of mango asam boi (preserved plum) juice, Vindaloo and Curry Debal , I thought I could only find good Eurasian food in Malacca. It wasn't until I tried Mary's Kafe's Curry Debal that I realised one didn't need to cross the border for authentic Eurasian cuisine.
So if you are, like me, in search of heritage food that tastes of homemade goodness, here are three Eurasian restaurants serving hearty traditional food while also adding a personal touch to their dishes.
I have to start with Mary’s or I won’t be paying due homage to my first Eurasian meal in Singapore. I know Curry Debal is probably the most basic Eurasian dish one can order but it was my first time there so I went with what I knew. Spicy, tangy and fragrant, the dish is actually slightly different from the ones I’ve tried across the border (they’re slightly sweeter).
The sauce is thin, the opposite of a rendang’s, and the vinegar in it makes it so appetising. The sourness that comes from the vinegar is very similar to the way lime makes a chili padi sauce pop.
Personally, it’s a 6.5/10 on the spice scale so I think most Singaporeans can handle it (I said most).
While you're there, try out the Sugee cake. Made with semolina, this popular Eurasian dessert is an upgraded butter cake. A subtle nutty fragrance mixed with a milky base, the cake is light but moist at the same time.
If you're looking for a place to start, Mary's Kafe is where you should go to get your first ever Eurasian meal.
Address: 20 Bendemeer Rd, Singapore 339914
Folklore’s Sambal Juliana with Fried Brinjal is one of those saucy dishes that you can’t forget. The kind you can spoon over your rice and indulge in - nothing else needed. It’s a wholesome dish with veggies, prawns and a whole lot of sambal. Chef Damian of Folklore kindly shared the preparation process with us and let me tell you, it takes a lot of elbow grease.
Similar to Peranakan cooking, sambal titek is used to make the base of this dish. Titek (usually referred to as rempah titek) comprises of fragrant spices like red chillies, shallots, belacan and candlenuts. Adding sugar, lime juice and salt thins out the rempah and adds another layer of flavour - and that’s just the base. This is then used to fry up the prawns with a little bit of garlic. A mix of chicken, fish and prawn stock is added to the dish and brought to a boil. That’s when the fried brinjal and dried shrimps are dropped in.
So many steps for a dish to taste this good? All you can do is to eat and fikah bong-bong (“stay well” in Kristang).
Other than that, the Vindaloo (pork chops in a dry curry rub) is a must try. Coated in a smoky and spicy rub, the pork chops are packed with flavour. Chef Damian left no chop unturned so you will not find a spot without seasoning. The pork is tender and you don't have to worry about using up all of your strength to cut through a piece.
Folklore also celebrated a Eurasian Christmas with Bolu Cocu, a fragrant coconut sponge cake. From the outside, the cake looks like a blown up version of Kueh Bahulu. It's equally soft but much more flavourful - the best part about it is the coconut fragrance.
Address: 700 Beach Rd, Level 2 Destination
Quentin’s the Eurasian Restaurant
At Quentin’s, their Galinhia Keluak Curry steals the show. I have to say, this is probably the mother of curries. The curry is a dark, smoky and spicy stew of pork and chicken. Getting its dark colour and smoky fragrance from the buah keluak nut, this curry is definitely a dish for sharing. It’s so rich you must have rice or bread to go with it.
Having never tried this dish before, I was quite surprised by the taste. Don't be mistaken as this isn't just a curry infused with the flavour of the buah keluak nut. Although the earthy aroma reminded me of Babi Buah Keluak, it was a full-bodied curry as you get slight sweetness, an aftertaste of peppers and a good amount of spice.
Honest opinion? It's a heavy dish and if strong earthy flavours aren't your cup of tea, I'd say go with the usual Vindaloo or Oxtail Soup.
The Oxtail Soup is a clear broth of oxtail, sausages, preserved vegetables and carrots. It may not sound as impressive as the curry but it's a hearty dish that you'll want to order again and again. The soup is savoury but light on the palate. It also pairs well with the heavier curries as the flavour from the preserved vegetables is a refreshing change from all the spice.
Quentin's Eurasian Restaurant also provides catering so hit them up if you want something different the next time you host a dinner party.
Address: 139 Ceylon Rd, Level 1 Eurasian Community House