PROFILED BY DE GROOTS MEDIA
A tourist’s first glimpse of Singapore is often an ultra-modern landscape of sky rise buildings, mammoth shopping centres, and incredibly swanky restaurants. But a closer look reveals that many of Singapore’s culinary treasures are away from the luxury precincts, in hawker centres and bare bones kopitiam (coffee shops). Sam and Agnes Wong have taken this no-frills approach to their little West Ryde eatery. Singapore Kitchen is entirely unglamorous – it’s simply as friendly as they come, and the food is honest-to-goodness home-style fare worth returning for again and again.
Singaporean cuisine is a melange of Chinese, Malay and Indian influences, and the menu reflects this wide sphere with the inclusion of dishes like chicken biryani and Hainanese chicken. The otak-otak (fish mince in banana leaf) is the drier style common in Singapore, spiced with rousing chilli and tangy lemongrass. Sambal prawns are more sweet than pungent, but suitably fiery, and the Nonya dish of babi pongteh is marvellous comfort food; a fragrant, deeply spiced stew of sweet, melting chunks of pork, mushroom and chestnut. There are a variety of noodles, curries and laksas, and it’s one of the few places we’ve seen that serves orluak, a hawker-style oyster omelette. What Singapore Kitchen lacks in decor it makes up for in personality; Sam is a genial host, and after a few visits you’ll feel like family.