Chilli Padi- The Best Nonya Restaurant in Town


Ayam Bua Kuluak

Set in  No 11 Joo Chiat Road Chilli Padi is by far   the best Nonya Restaurant in town! Nonya is reference for female in Peranakan. Peranakans have a rich and unique heritage. Members of this community in Malaysia address themselves as "Baba Nyonya". Nyonya is the term for the women and Baba for the men. It applies especially to the Han populations of the British Straits Settlements of Malaya and the Dutch-controlled island of Java and other locations, who have adopted Nusantara customs — partially or in full — to be somewhat assimilated into the local communities. Many were the elites of Singapore, more loyal to the British than to China. Most have lived for generations along the straits of Malacca. They were usually traders, the middleman of the British and the Chinese, or the Chinese and Malays, or vice versa because they were mostly English educated. Because of this, they almost always had the ability to speak two or more languages.

The term Peranakan is most commonly used to refer to those of Chinese descent also known as Straits Chinese

History of Peranakan Heritage

The first Chinese immigrants to settle in the Malay Archipelago arrived from Guandong and Fujian provinces in the 10th century C.E. They were joined by much larger numbers of the Chinese in the 15th through 17th centuries, following on the heels of the Ming emperor's reopening of Chinese-Malay trade relations in the 15th century.

In the 15th century, some small city-states of the Malay Peninsula often paid tribute to various kingdoms such as those of China and Siam. Close relations with China were established in the early 15th century during the reign of Parameswara when Admiral Zheng He (Cheng Ho), a Muslim Chinese, visited Malacca and Java during his expedition (1405-1433). According to a legend in 1459 CE, the Emperor of China sent a princess, Hang Li Po, to the Sultan of Malacca as a token of appreciation for his tribute. The nobles (500 sons of ministers) and servants who accompanied the princess initially settled in Bukit Cina and eventually grew into a class of Straits-born Chinese known as the Peranakans.

Peranakan Cuisine

Nyomya Curry Asam Fish Head

Nonya cooking is the result of blending Chinese ingredients with various distinct spices and cooking techniques used by the Malay/Indonesian community. This gives rise to Peranakan interpretations of Malay/Indonesian food that is similarly tangy, aromatic, spicy and herbal. In other instances, the Peranakans have adopted Malay cuisine as part of their taste such as assam fish and beef rendang. Key ingredients include coconut milk, galangal (a subtle, mustard-scented rhizome similar to ginger), candlenuts as both a flavoring and thickening agent, laksa leaf, pandan leaves (Pandanus amaryllifolius), belachan, tamarind juice, lemongrass, torch ginger bud, jicama, fragrant kaffir lime leaf, rice or egg noodles and cincaluk – a powerfully flavored, sour and salty shrimp-based condiment that is typically mixed with lime juice, chillies and shallots and eaten with rice, fried fish and other side dishes.

There are regional variations in Nonya cooking. Dishes from the island of Penang in the northern part of Peninsular Malaysia possess Thai influences, such as more liberal use of tamarind and other sour ingredients. Dishes from Singapore and Malacca show a greater Indonesian influence, such as the use of coconut milk. A classic example is laksa (a spicy noodle soup), which comes in two variants: the sour asam laksa from Penang and the coconut milk-based laksa lemak from Singapore and the southern regions of Peninsular Malaysia.

The Ambience of Chilli Padi Restaurant

The walls are rich wine coloured with black panels .Old style coffee shop  Nonya chairs with red batik designed table cloths drape the tables. Black fans rotate bringing the wind to your face and the walls are heavily plastered with a multitude of exceptional accolades describing Chilli Padi as the Best Nonya Restaurant in town. It is indeed very impressive as many  top newspaper reviews have been done and all concur about the excellence  of the food served here and  the excellent service .We too highly recommend this restaurant as the very best in authentic Peranakan cuisine.The restaurant was started in 1999 by non other than the famous, prominent  Chef Jolly Wee who is now a competent consultant in Peranakan food.Today they have  2 other cafeterias and 10 outlets under Chilli Api


The Glorious Food

Nonya Kueh Pie Tee for starters

Pie Tee is a thin and crispy pastry tart shell kuih filled with a spicy, sweet mixture of thinly sliced vegetables and prawns. It is a popular Peranakan dish. The shells are made of flour and though some stores will make them from scratch, they can usually be found ready made in most supermarkets. Similar to popiah, the main filling is shredded Chinese turnips and carrots. A piece of boiled prawn sit at the top of the pie tee adding colour and flavour to the dish. It is similar in concept to the French volauvent which is made with puff pastry instead At Chilli Padi the Pie Tee here was indeed scrumptious and a great appetizer

Ayam Buah Kluak

Ayam buah keluak, a chicken dish cooked using the nuts from Pangium edule or the "Kepayang" tree, a mangrove tree that grows in Malaysia and Indonesia.The nut has to be soaked in water for at least 3 days before it is cooked with succulent chicken pieces

Ayam buah keluak is a signature dish of the Peranakans in Singapore and Malaysia. The core ingredient of the dish is the keluak nut and the spicy tamarind gravy. It is one of the most labour-intensive Peranakan dishes to prepare.

The gravy is made from a blend of spices consisting of candlenuts, turmeric, chilli, galangal (a type of ginger root), and belacan (prawn paste). The spice mix is then stir-fried till fragrant, after which lemongrass along with the flesh of the keluak nuts are added. Part of the cooked mixture is mixed with minced pork and prawns before it is stuffed back into the nut, while the rest is made into a thick gravy using chicken stock and tamarind juice. During the process, pieces of chicken are added to the gravy and allowed to simmer.. The paste is precooked at Chilli Padi for  4 hour before blending with all the rest of the ingredients

Ayam buah keluak is usually served with rice. Typically, diners consume the chicken, gravy as well as the mixture in the keluak nuts. They either use small forks to scoop out the mixture in the nuts or simply knock it out onto their plates The keluak in the nut is  a delicacy and taste a little like mashed black olives ,It is simply delicious indeed,

Assam Pedas

The chilles spice up the gravy, the tamarind juice lends its sourness and natural sweetness. The daun kesum, lemon grass and shallots gives the dish a potent zesty fragrance. The fish at Chilli Padi   was incredibly fresh light  and tangy the consistency of the gravy was a little watery but wonderful when eaten with plain white rice. The taste of the spices was indeed so flavourful  uplifting  and sensational to the palate.


Cabbage Roll in Laksa Gravy

Neat parcels of cabbage roll stuffed with Otah which is fish paste with spices is tantalizing on the palate, It is soaked in rich lemah laksa gravy made up of coconut milk and laced with laksa leaves or daun laksa  to give it full body and flavor Simply delicious when eaten with plain white rice and the dish looks so pretty too with the parcels of handmade cabbage rolls.The otah oozing out of the cabbage rolls was indeed delightful


Bak Wan Kepiting

     These meatballs pack a punch with the perfect combination of pork, crab meat and             crunchy  bamboo shoots.Bakwan Kepiting (translated to pork and crab meatballs,            usually             served in          soup) is a must-have dish in many Peranakan households during             Chinese New Year.

It's a dish usually served on special occasions as crab meat is costly and the recipe is laborious if you follow the traditional method of using live crabs, which have to be steamed before the flesh is extracted by hand to ensure there are no odd bits of shell.

Peranakan Desserts

Chuchi mulot” is the way “cuci mulut” is written in Baba Malay,with the latter term to literally mean “mouthwash” in standard Bahasa Melayu. This is probably the equivalent of the western concept of a “palate cleanser” in haute cuisine, though chuchi mulots are customarily served at the end of a meal, or as a tea-time snack on their own.

What constitutes a good chuchi mulot then?It has to have several things. Firstly, it must bear contrast to the dishes served earlier in the meal, both in texture and flavour, Often the now-sweetness against the then-savory, or the cooling to soothe and tame the earlier spice and heat. Secondly, the components in a chuchi mulot, ideally should also show distinctive variance amongst one another, being multi-dimensional, flavours layered, each building upon the other. Yet despite the seeming differentiation, the chuchi mulot should remain concerted as a harmonious conglomeration, bringing the meal to a resounding finale All the Peranakan Dessert like Bo Bo Cha Cha Chendol and Sago Pudding are examples of Peranakan Chuchi mulot or dessert.There is a liberal use of Santan i.e coconut milk or gula melaka which is brown sugar

For a great treat of this amazing and sensational gastronomical journey of  authentic Peranakan  cuisine you will definitely not go wrong at Chilli Padi and believe me the taste lingers on so it will be etched in your mind to come back for more, The Peranakan cuisine here will wake up taste buds you never thought you had. Prices are also very affordable for high end dining here.