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05 Apr 2021 By

At Violet Oon Singapore, Going Meat-Free Is An Indulgent Affair… With Cocktails, Naturally.

Her food, a celebration of Peranakan and Singaporean flavours, need no further introduction, but Violet Oon Singapore’s cocktails, I’m less acquainted with.  So while the waiter brought over enticing plates of Eggplant Goreng Dip with Emping Crackers, I was busy perusing the drinks menu, full of regional botanicals like tamarind and kesturi (calamansi). Intriguing.



The culinary doyenne’s cuisine is known for its lively flavours, but the cocktails, part of the bar program implemented by Head of Operations Yiming Tay (Oon’s son), were surprisingly delicate. They were designed, it seemed, more as a complement to the dishes than anything, allowing the food to take centre stage.

The Haliatini (below) was much gentler than its name suggests, likely because its homemade halia essence is made from the extraction of the young ginger syrup, rather than the older, more fiery variety. Tanqueray London dry gin, Cointreau, then fragranced with fresh pink ginger flower. 



It made for a refreshingly light palate cleanser between bites of the bitter emping and moreish eggplant dip. And it also paired quite nicely with the delicious Garam Assam Tau Kwa that was topped with a pineapple and ginger flower compote.


For something like the Cauliflower Sambal Tumis, a bold-flavoured, hearty heap of chargrilled cauliflower, the Assam Martini balanced it out beautifully. It soothed the spice, while the tartness from the assam, as well as citrus from the lime juice, cut through the dish like a hot knife through, uh, tofu. Likewise for another standout, the rich, savoury Nasi Goreng Kangkung.



The signature Buah Keluak Fried Rice (above), that’s topped with candlenut, is even richer-tasting, more unctuous. Its densely aromatic flavours finds an ideal foil in a cold, crisp craft lager from Crossroads Brewing Co. but I also enjoyed it with a Prinseps Tea (below), a bright medley of gin, cold pressed green apple, lemon juice and nutmeg. The mint green cocktail was created as a tribute to the nutmeg plantation owned by Charles Prinsep, which was just across the road from Violet Oon Satay Bar & Grill at the Fort Canning Hill.



Not to rehash an old chestnut, but you really don’t miss the meat at all. The plant-based menu of full-flavoured Nonya dishes is interesting and varied enough to stand on its own merits, without being relegated as sides to a meat or a fish main.



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