Thursday, 11 October 2012

Peranakan lunch @ IVINS

It has been a long time since I last visited IVINS at their branch in Binjai Park along Bukit Timah Road. I used to go there a couple of times with my family as well as my ex boss, who liked the food there.  Whenever I visit the Binjai Park branch,  it would remind me of my ex lady boss many years ago who used to bring me to many places for lunch a few times a week. She was especially nice to me and in those days when I just started out to work, we used to visit clients together and she would buy me lunch almost everyday. And it helped that she had cravings for different cuisines or dishes every single day :P. So I got to try and enjoy different restaurants in those days. This time round, I went with my colleagues and it was a trip down memory lane. 

IVINS is all about Peranakan food.... spicy, rich with flavours and an appetising change for the palate once in a while.  Besides other Peranakan restaurants like Chilli Padi, Blue Ginger, Kim Choo, IVINS is another choice when one has cravings for Nonya food. 

Sambal Prawn Petai (S$4.20).  The portion was incredibly small and pathetic, but we did not complain because we had ordered a few more other dishes to try. Petai, which are stink beans, are cooked with shrimp and sambal chilli.  The sambal gravy was fresh and addictive. Petai is my favourite and it is a regular dish in my family. If based on this portion in IVINS I think I could have walloped 3 portions myself! 

Otak Otak Panggang (S$1.60 each).  These fishcakes wrapped with banana leaves, enriched with galangal, chilli, candlenuts and shrimp paste. They were grilled and served with extra sambal sauce with cucumber. They were not that spicy and looked lighter in colour compared to the rich orange colour wholesome famous Muar Otak Otak which has chunky bits of fish. 

Babi Ponteh (S$4.50). One cannot enter a Peranakan restaurant without ordering Babi Ponteh, which was stewed pork shoulder with preserved bean paste flavored with cinnamon bark. It came in a piping hot claypot and topped with raw green chilli. The gravy was delicious and went very well with plain rice.  The meat was lean and could have been more tender.

Chilli Selar (S$ 5.50). These are kampong favourites and deep fried fish stuffed with sambal belachan chilli. Although this was a simple dish, it was quite well received among us and the taste of the crispy fish with the chilli paste was really addictive. 

Chap Chye Masak Titek (S$ 4.50). This was a typical Peranakan mixed vegetable dish (Chap Chye means "mixed veggies) prepared in a tasty prawn stock.  I felt the Chap Chye could have been cooked slightly longer when the gravy could have absorbed the combined taste of the cabbage and hae bee. 

Ayam Buah Keluak (S$ 5.50). This dish was Braised Chicken flavoured with turmeric, galangal and lemongrass cooked with Indonesian black nuts called Buah Keluak. This was again a specialty Peranakan dish.   
Here is a black nut, Buah Keluak ($1.50 each), from the above dish Ayam Buah Keluak, which we had to dig out its flesh from its hard shell with the tip of the teaspoon.  The flesh had a bitter taste but mixed with the spicy gravy it was just right. We ordered additional Buah Keluaks so that each of us had one to try. Very interesting.
Bubur Cha Cha (S$1.10).  We completed our wonderful lunch with dessert. I ordered warm Bubur Cha Cha because I was still nursing a cough (almost ordered the icy cold Chendol). It was simply delicious, sweet and aromatic mix of sweet potato, yam, corn, simmered in coconut milk.  Mmmmm. 

For its variety in the menu and price, I think IVINS is value for money and a choice restaurant for a lazy relaxed lunch with family and friends. 

IVINS Nonya Specialties  
21 Binjai Park Singapore 589827.
Tel: 6468 3060

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