This August, The Peranakan has introduced a new Vegetarian/Vegan menu. They have put a twist on some of the well loved traditional Peranakan dishes and converted them into vegetarian options. I have to applaud the team at The Peranakan who came up with the menu as it is no easy feat to retain the authentic flavours of the dishes without the use of any meat! Being half Peranakan myself, I know that meat plays a crucial role in this cuisine, especially dried prawns aka Hae Bi, which is used in many dishes (both sweet and savoury) and even the sauces such as the staple Sambal Belacan. Get ready to have a whole new gastronomical experience!
I had the pleasure of trying out their Vegetarian Tok Panjang, which includes a soup, starters, mains and dessert. For anyone out there who doesn’t know what Tok Panjang is, it is traditionally a lavish feast, consisting of at least 15 dishes, laid out on a long table during special occasions at Peranakan households. “Tok” is the Hokkien word for table, while “Panjang” is the Malay term for long. Thus it literally means a long table feast. Without further ado, here are some of the dishes that I enjoyed!
For starters, we had the Omni Bakwan Kepiting Soup. The bakwans (meatballs) are made using Omnipork which is a vegan minced pork substitute made of plant proteins, shitake mushrooms and rice. The broth was made of papaya and cabbage. When the soup was served, I was impressed of the visuals of the dish! At first glance, you’ll never know that the meatballs are fake. They just look like normal meatballs! But I have to say, the texture gave it away. The texture of the meatball was more like mushrooms balls but it was still tasty nonetheless. What I was impress with was the soup! Traditionally, the soup is made by boiling pork bones and prawn shells which is the essence of the dish itself. But for the vegan version by The Peranakan, they use papaya and cabbage to try and get a similar taste. Although, it doesn’t taste like the original broth, it was still a good bowl of tasty nourishing soup.
Moving on to the starters, these are the dishes which stood out which needs no further introduction to everyone!
The Ngoh Hiong was fried to perfection, crispy golden brown beancurd skin on the outside coupled with the soft but firm filling in the inside, similar to a fishcake texture. I’m not sure what the filling was made of, but the Ngoh Hiong still tasted quite legit.
Another starter worth mentioning is the Kueh Pai Tee. The Kueh Pai Tee shell was filled to the brim with stir-fried grated turnip and topped with a mock prawn.
Moving on to the mains, there were too many dishes to choose from! Each dish was unique but to be honest, as a meat-eater myself, the mock meat got the best of me after a few dishes. Visually, the mock meat actually does look like meat, I was amazed at how the use soy products can mimic the texture of meat such as duck, chicken and even fish! However, when it comes to the texture of the mock meat once you put it in your mouth, you can definitely tell that it is not real. I guess that is the draw back of enjoying this feast as a meat-eater. However, aside from the produce itself, the other elements of the dishes, especially the sauces and rempah were on point! They were so well executed that the sauce itself felt like the actual meat dish itself. The Peranakan sure knows how to uses their spices and ingredients well!
First up, we have the iconic Buah Keluak, which is a dish featured in most if not all Peranakan restaurants. This dish is an acquired taste for many people, you either love it or hate it. And I am those who love it! This dish has a very earthy taste since the main ingredient is the pulp of Buah Keluak seed itself. The pulp of the Buah Keluak is first being dug out and seasoned and later on stuffed back into the shell and cooked in a spicy rempah.
The Chap Chye was a very comforting dish to me and it is one of my favourite dish personally. I can totally eat a huge bowl of Chap Chye with a warm bowl of rice!
Another “meat” dish which I enjoyed was the Nyonya Chilli Crabless Cakes. The Crabless Cake was made using the same same Omnipork as the Bakwan Soup but the best part was the sauce. It wasn’t too spicy, and it had a hint of lemongrass taste to it which was rather refreshing.
Another surprising dish that was still acceptable for a meat eater like me was the Ikanless Asam Pedas. The ingredients used to make the “Ikan” (fish) really tasted like fish texture wise which was quite impressive!
The next few dishes are the stir-fried vegetable dishes which was well executed as well! They are the Stir-fried Ladies Fingers and Stir-fried Brinjal with kicap manis topped crispy mushrooms which was suppose to mimic fried ikan bilis! The stir-fired vegetables dishes had a slight wok hei taste to it which i think will appeal for many of us.
Lastly, to end the vegan feast on a sweet note, we were served a platter of traditional nonya dessert and kuehs which was my favourite part of this Tok Panjang feast! The platter consist of five different kuehs: Apom Bokwa Pisang Pengat, Pulot Enti Kelapa, Kueh Bingka, Kueh Kosui & Durian Pengat.
Although I enjoyed all five of the dessert, the Apom Bokwa Pisang Pengat was one of my personal favourite. It is a traditional nonya rice flour cake topped with a fragrant banana gula melaka sauce. Mmmm… The rice flour cake was slightly chewier as compared to a normal pancake and it complimented so well with the sauce which was not too sweet!
Here are a close up of the other yummy kuehs! All of the desserts and kuehs are served in bite size pieces in this Tok Panjang set. Thus you can enjoy all of them without feeling too jelat!
The last dessert was the Durian Pengat! The Peranakan only uses D24 from Malaysia to make this dessert! This is straight up pure durian puree mixed with coconut milk and gula melaka. It is so creamy and this will definitely be a great hit among durian lovers!
Below are the prices of the Vegetarian/Vegan Tok Panjang set and other dishes offered! The good thing about the Tok Panjang set is that, all dishes are served in a small portion (1 serving portion per dish), thus you’ll get to try a variety of dishes which is actually quite worth it! And if you like any particular dishes, you can order ala carte as well!
All in all, this vegan Tok Panjang feast was an eye opening experience for me. You may wonder, will I have this vegan Tok Panjang feast again?Personally I might not specially order it again but I will definitely order their original non-vegan dishes. But if you have any friends who are vegetarian or vegan and who are curious about Nonya cuisine, The Peranakan’s new vegetarian/ vegan menu is a great option since not many Peranakan restaurant over such an extensive menu! As mentioned, The Peranakan also offers the original meat version of the dishes and other great nonya dishes, thus there’s definitely something for everyone!
422 Orchard Road, Claymore Connect level 2, Singapore 238879
Tel: +65 6262 4428
Opening Hours: 11am – 10pm