There is a rather famous food alley tucked deep within HDB shops at Toa Payoh Central. But if you are not familiar with the neighbourhood, finding this little hideout can be quite a challenge.
From the MRT Station, you need to walk along the row of HDB shops that’s directly opposite MacDonalds. Look out for a makeshift signage that shouts ‘Food Alley’ for the exit to this food enclave.
When I first chanced upon ‘My Peranakan Spice Box’, I was rather skeptical of its culinary standards. Everyone knows that peranakan food requires long hours of preparation and cooking. This eatery look like peranakan fast food! Nevertheless, given my love for all things peranakan, I decided to give it a try.
Their menu is pretty comprehensive and ranges from one course meals & ala carte orders to
Vegetables, Soups & Nyonya Noodles. Their price is pretty reasonable too.
I ordered a Soybean Pork Stew with Rice which in Nyonya term should be Babi Ponteh at the counter. It was subsequently served piping hot to my seat around 10 minutes later in exchange for my number standee. At first sight, this dish won me over with its beautiful presentation but I was dismayed by the portion size.
I only realized that I have wronged them on the serving portion after exploring the dish’s contents in detail. This seemingly small hotplate actually contains 4 thick pieces of succulent pork belly! There was only 1 small piece of potato and the stew tasted sweet with trace amount of saltiness from the soybean paste.
The pork belly was laced with just the right amount of fats (ladies may not agree) and they seem to just melt away gently in your mouth. Heavenly….
After my lovely dining experience with the Babi Ponteh, I introduced this amazing Peranakan ‘Fastfood’ to my colleagues to try out the other dishes on the menu.
Contrary to the relaxed weekend afternoon, the weekday lunch crowd was quite horrible. It took us around 15 minutes to get a table for 5 pax and a few tables seem rather frustrated with waiting for their orders to arrive.
I decided to go for the signature dish of Peranakan Cuisine – Chef Dale’s Ayam Buah Keluak this time. This dish will really prove if this place is up to mark. My other colleagues all went for the Nasi Lemak Ayam Rendang…. quite a waste of options. I could have covered more if they all ordered different dishes.
While waiting for your meals to be served, I personally recommend the Iced Red Dates & Mata Kuching (Longan) drink to cool down the afternoon heat. It’s sweet, refreshing and packed with generous helping of red dates and longan.
My colleagues’ Nasi Lemak Ayam Rendang looks pretty decent. I did not try it personally but my female colleagues seem to be really impressed by it. If it warrants another visit back to try its other dishes, must be good lah!
My Chef Dale’s Ayam Buah Keluak arrived shortly after without the accompanying rice (I paid an additional $0.50 for the steamed rice). I reminded one of the service staff but still no rice sighted. I had to walk up to the cashier counter eventually to redeem my bowl of rice served. Now I understand why some of the customers look frustrated…
Similar to my previous Babi Ponteh, my Ayam Buah Keluak was a delicious sight to behold. The serving was substantial but there was one really big problem with this dish – I could not find a single stuffed buah keluak nut. Where on earth is our main star?
The only consolation was that the chicken meat was juicy and tender. It soaked up the accompanying sweet and slightly spicy sauce perfectly. I personally feel that the entire dish can take on an even more spicy twist.
Overall, this is a great place for a casual peranakan meal. The dishes served are delicious but authenticity to the traditional peranakan cuisine that we all love can be further improved – like having at least a single Buah Keluak Nut in my Ayam Buah Keluak.
Here are the details to the restaurant:
My Peranakan Spice Box (Business Closed)
Blk 190 Toa Payoh Lorong 6 #01-528 S(310190)
Opening Hours: 7.00am – 8.30pm (Daily except Tuesday)
You may also like to check out my posts on other delicious food places here