I was just stoked to discover another hidden gem in Singapore on Sembawang Road this time. Was invited to a food tasting at this newly opened restaurant that is located a stone’s throw away from Springleaf where the popular prata place and Ampang yong tau foo are.
I just love that absolutely tranquil surrounding. It might be too ulu (out of the way) for some as the Thomson-East Coast MRT line (nearest MRT will be Springleaf) will only be ready in 2020 but it’s still worth travelling all the way here for a different kind of dining experience. The Springleaf Nature Park is just a little bit further down this road if you like to do a bit of exploring or take a walk after a good meal.
The area is connected by buses 167, 169 and 980 that run through Sembawang, Woodlands, Ang Mo Kio and Upper Thomson Road. Not difficult to get to.
Dapur Melaka serves up Chetti Melaka (Peranakan Indian) and Peranakan fare. One unique feature of this restaurant is that their supply of fish and Sri Lankan crabs comes from their farms in Kranji and Pulau Ubin. Can’t get anymore fresher than this.
Simple, homely outfit with both indoor (air-conditioned) and outdoor seating. Everything just looked & smelled so new, lol.
This menu wasn’t the final version as I was told that there would be additions made such as the dessert section where diners could choose from three selections – Bubur Pulut Hitam, Chendol and Bubur Cha Cha (priced at S$3 each).
Also, there seemed to be items that were off the menu such as beef rendang as we overheard diners from a neighbouring table ordering it so before you place your order, you might just want to chat with the staff to see if there might be extra dishes that you could try.
What is a Peranakan meal without sambal belachan? This was fresh, spicy and piquant – really whetted the appetite. It would be great if there was provision of keropok like belinjau crackers so we could dip them into this delicious belachan and mop everything up.
And these were all the dishes we had. Every dish was packed with so much spices and flavours – definitely had to enjoy them with steamed rice.
The Lemak Nanas Udang (S$7.80) was a robust-tasting pineapple prawn curry that was made more luscious by the more-sweet-than-tangy pineapples that seemed to be those out of a can.
Prawns were fresh and crunchy; the flesh didn’t stick to the shells at all.
The Terong Goreng Chilli (S$5.80) was spicy and savoury. The brinjal was soft but not soggy and the sambal belachan simply lifted the flavour with more punch.
The Buah Keluak Ayam (S$6.80) is the quintessential Peranakan dish that I would never miss out on when dining at a Peranakan restaurant. The gravy was redolent of salty tau cheo (fermented soy beans). The chicken pieces were also flavoursome as they had absorbed all that flavour of the gravy though some were quite dry in texture.
The real hero of the dish was of course the buah keluak of which the flesh inside could be dug out with a small spoon. This would be too salty to be eaten on its own so what I did was to put that buah keluak flesh on my rice, douse over some gravy and mix everything up. Simply delicious! It just reminded me of my Granny’s cooking.
The Kuah Lada Ikan (S$7.80) was simply fish, lady’s fingers and brinjal in a turmeric and peppercorn gravy. The gravy was very similar to that of Assam Laksa with a slightly more tangy flavour.
They used ikan tenggiri (Spanish mackerel) that was directly from their fish farm in Pulau Ubin. The fish was really fresh with no fishy taste at all. Fish meat was also meaty and firm.
The Sambal Petai Sotong (S$7.40) was very moreish albeit too oily. I liked that the sambal was not so sweet and that it was more on the salty side and wasn’t overwhelmingly spicy too so I could still enjoy the fresh, tender squids and crunchy petai beans.
The highlight of our meal had to be this Masak Lada Kepiting (S$30, seasonal pricing hence subject to change). As mentioned earlier, the crabs here were all freshly delivered from their crab farm in Kranji from Monday to Friday so if you’re here on a weekday, you’d be able to pick your own crab from the live tank and/or request for male/female crab.
Each Sri Lankan crab like this would weigh between 800g to 1kg which was perfect for sharing between 2 persons.
We had a male crab so there wasn’t any orange-coloured roe but this crab was very meaty and the flesh didn’t stick to the shells.
The gravy was like the Indian-style masala curry and even had fragrant curry leaves in it.
Nothing can be more satisfying than biting into a huge chunk of fresh, juicy and sweet-tasting crab meat. The size of this crab claw was bigger than my palm. So shiok.
And to round up our meal, we had a Bubur Pulut Hitam (S$3) to share.
The black glutinous rice was perfectly cooked and still had a springy bite to it. It had a sweet and rich taste of their homemade gula melaka that was really fragrant and the coconut milk just gave an added layer of body and creaminess.
This meal was simply spectacular. Peranakan dishes were authentic and tasty. Their Sri Lankan crab was also fresh and of really good quality. Even if you’re not a big fan of Peranakan fare, it’s still worth coming here for their crabs which are very reasonably priced. Comfy and clean dining environment. Friendly service staff. What are you waiting for? 😉
56 Sembawang Road
Tel: +65 6455 0857
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/dapurmelakasg/
10.30am to 2.30pm, 5.30pm to 9.30pm (Tue-Sun)
Closed on Mondays
Disclaimer: This was a hosted food tasting session. All opinions expressed here are solely my own personal views.