Guan Hoe Soon is Singapore’s longest reigning Peranakan restaurant. Established since 1953, their original shophouse unit at Joo Chiat Place stills whips up a Peranakan storm every day.
Their menu consists of Peranakan dishes like Ayam Buah Keluak and Chinese dishes like Crab Foo Yong. Being Chinese-Peranakan (yes there are Indian-Peranakan, Eurasian-Peranakan dishes too) we like to think that their Chinese dishes have a touch of Peranakan in them with the tweaking of ingredients to add a Peranakan touch.
Today’s Otak that we ordered is slightly sour yet fragrant due to the generous lemongrass added, which we thought made the Otak tastier than the norm, and also unique to Straits Chinese. I don’t recall the Joo Chiat outlet’s Otak tasting the same, so possibly there was some chef license in the tweaking of the menu for Straits Kitchen - maybe to appeal to the tourist and theatre goer crowd downtown.
The Crab Foo Yong, Chicken Rendang, Bakwan Kepiting Soup (1 serving) and Otak with Bluepea Rice blended together so well that we found ourselves taking one helping of each in a round robin sequence: otak-chicken-soup-egg, otak-egg-soup-chicken, and so on, and each spoonful tantalised the different taste buds on our tongue and was always a new discovery so much so that we ended up simply chomping away until the plates were empty! (We like to show the empty plates and call this a #finishedfoodreview: shows meals that are so good that you just wipe your plate clean!)
To top it off, we had a bowl of Chendol (somehow they spelt it as Chen Dool in their menu which we found hilarious) that was a balance blend of coconut milk (not too thick or too watery), red beans (just nice portion!), slurpy green chendol strands and Gula Melaka gel-like syrup topping. You have to been the gula melaka into the dessert, and once done, the entire dish is neither too sweet nor too bland and we flush ourselves slurping spoon after spoon and had to really control ourselves to not finish the whole bowl and leave none for the other person.
All in all, a good meal, worthy of a Michelin star in our opinion in terms of menu and taste. The food initially look too “wet” but the taste was right and being Peranakans, we actually enjoy soupy or gravy-laden food with our rice, so looks aside, taste trumps!