So, it was my colleagues’ farewell dinner and we brought her here. A very good peranakan restaurant I would say. There were some fusion dishes such as the desserts, duck and pork cheek while others were more traditional and cooked really well. However, it didn’t have the wow factor as I guess I am quite used to peranakan food and also there were also some misses. Things always feel less precious if it isn’t rare, doesn’t it. So for 6 people we spent $194 and portions were actually quite small. There’s free flow rice though but rice wasn’t well cooked yesterday night as it is not fluffy as slightly bitty in the middle. Not enough water used perhaps. Service is good though. So, is this restaurant worth a visit? Yes, it is if you really want some good peranakan food with a fresh perspective and will be a nice place to bring your overseas friends too but get the kitchen to make it less spicy for them!
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Candlenut's Peranakan fare is exceptional. Familiar favourites and modern interpretations, given equal billing, are executed with both polish and flair. And, prices are wallet-friendly.
BUT, I find Candlenut's restaurant policies lacking in sense. For starters, there is just ONE multi-course set for dinner, with no exceptions for ala carte orders whatsoever. To compound matters, tap water is not served at all, only bottled water is available, so even though we had ourselves a glass of wine and lemongrass ginger juice, we still had to purchase a 500ml bottle of mineral water at the exorbitant price of $4. Honestly, it's a major turn-off that a restaurant is as rigid as this.
Dinner was a Set Tasting Menu ($50) of 12-courses, refreshed seasonally. Even if each course was considerably petite, 12 courses added up substantively to a most value-for-money dinner if I ever saw one.
1) Kueh Pie Tee: very nice
2) Warm Minced Pork Relish, weaved with punchy banana chillis, black peppercorns, aromatic laksa leaf strips, and presented atop a lettuce bed.
3) Grain-Fed Australian Beef Flank Satay burnished in a stickily sweet peanut sauce: so meltingly tender and juicy, I wouldn't have known it was beef if I hadn't been informed otherwise.
4) Tumbuk Prawns, the last of the quartet of appetizers, was served chilled, speckled with laksa leaf, chives, and raw shallots: wonderfully clean and clear; its refreshing overtones enhanced by the starfruit slice.
5) Rawon Soup - fork-tender beef cheeks in a buah keluak-spiked soup spiked with chilli: robust and spicy
6) Chap Chye, a melange of cabbage, sh!take, dried beancurd skin, and glass vermicelli softly braised in a delicate prawn stock: Excellent, one of the best renditions of this classic.
7) Blue Swimmer Crab Curry - impossibly sweet chunks of freshly shredded meat flash-cooked in a mild tumeric coconut milk curry, while kaffir lime leaves lent a piquant touch: So freaking good.
8) King Tiger Prawn, wok-fried with pungent petai beans:succulent, fiery and sweet
9) Ayam Bakar - chicken fillet grilled to a smoky perfection with kicap manis, shallots, and green chillis.
10) The contemporary desserts here were exemplary, like the Candlenut Signature Chendol Cream, a panna cotta-like pudding layered with pandan jelly and sweetened with gula melaka.
11) A lighter option was the zesty Mango Cream with Lime Sorbet, dotted with jackfruit, and sago pearls
Candlenut used to be my favorite Paranakan restaurant in Singapore, but this will be our last visit.
Firstly, service. There was no one to answer the call for us to make an reservation. I even texted to the number to book a table but was told that my reservation was overlooked when we went down to the restaurant. The Philippino waitress and the senior gentleman who served us food were nice though.
Secondly, food. Was being told that there's no more a la carte for dinner so we had no choice. Main dishes were so-so, too sweet for me even bearing in mind it's Paranakan, and the rice was too dry. The portion was reasonable - but we couldn't finish them because of the taste.
Thirdly and most importantly, value. I would be happy to pay for this quality if the price is half, but not over 200 for 3 pax. There are plenty other restaurants with better quality food, ambiance and service with such kind of price, and plenty other Paranakan restaurants with 1/3 of the price and equal qualify food.
Full review HERE
We had heard much about Candlenut and went soon after coming back from Penang to get our fix of Peranakan food. Overall, the food was not bad, but doesn't match up to what we had in Penang :) Our favourite was the coconut curry prawn, and the buah keluak ice cream was an interesting concept that worked.
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I'm not sure what kind of crack some previous reviewers were smoking, but Candlenut is definitely one of the culinary gems in my book.
In our country where foreign chefs are highly celebrated, international 'best lists' nominating foreign cuisines and chefs to represent Singapore, one can't help but ask, where is the Singaporean chefs and restaurants?
Alas, in came Candlenut, helmed by local Singaporeans, Chef Malcolm lee and restaurant manager Chan Jia min.
I have travelled far and wide for food, multiple cities, dozens of michelin stars collected, yet there will always be a time i miss rice and curry. Whenever i am back home in Singapore, i crave for the food at Candlenut.
Why? Because it is sincere, it is genuine, it is detailed. There is much thought put in to it, it is robust yet balanced. It shows finesse, it shows depth. it tells a story of heritage and progression. It feels like i'm dining with my friends and family.
I dined at Candlenut on 6 separate occasions and each time, i hunger to return. I've tried both their previous ala-carte menu and their latest transition to a tasting menu, dubbed the 'Ahma-kase menu' (Ahma being grandmother).
My absolute favorites are the chicken satay, mum's curry, gula melaka king prawns, Buah keluak ice cream and textures of coconut. The Ahma-kase was very very good too, $50++ per pax for approx 10 carefully cooked and plated dishes, is a GREAT steal. I've heard some people commenting on it being too expensive, to them i say, please eat out more often and stop embarrassing yourself, a plate of random aglio olio pasta can fetch $22, what's $50 for 10 detailed, carefully planned dishes?
I shall not elaborate further on these dishes as the Ahma-kase menu changes regularly, depending on what Chef Malcolm can find daily at the wet-markets. It might not even be on the menu when you visit, but ain't that fun? I can go on and on to explain every single flavor profile of each dish, but that would be unethical for me to spoil the surprise for you.
Yes, service can be sketchy at times, but the young bright eyed service staffs reminds me of my younger days when i was working between school days, trying my best to provide the best service possible in my capacity. In fact, it's rather endearing for me.
Who can fault them when they are so sincere and genuine? I'd much rather have Candlenut's team friendliness than polished robotic michelin servers.
Chef Malcolm Lee aims to showcase Singaporean Peranakan food on the world stage, to push the boundary of the cuisine further, and in my humble opinion, he and his team are very much well on the way.
Tourists, do pay them a visit when you're in town, take it from a Singaporean foodie.
Forget what other 'best lists' tells you are must visit (i've ate all of them too), seriously, who flies thousand of miles to Singapore to have french/italian/any other random cuisine rather than Singaporean cuisine?
Went there after a long hiatus.. was looking forward to it but what a let-down..
The restaurant is now selling cheap homecook cuisine at high-end prices.. the lunch set was removed, so it's only ala carte - fixed price, and to top it off - no more free water. Service was mediocre at best.. didn't even bother to recommend any dishes (they used to tell me what was good that day and explain how they cook it).
As for food quality, taste-wise it's still above average peranakan but I feel it has dropped since my previous visit. The potions are pathetic.. $14 for 3 spoonfuls of sambal petai.. 20 bucks for 4 small puny pieces of beef rendang - cheap cuts from the shin if I'm not mistaken (used to be nice proper chunks of beef) and chincalok omelette with barely any chincalok for $8. Oh yes, $4 for a glass of watered-down barley water..
Staff gave me the impression that they wanted me out fast as they cleared my plates immediately after I finished my last morsel of food, even though I was still considering dessert.. decided to skip it totally after that..
all in all, felt very disappointed that one of what I considered to be a gem in our local food culture has degraded to this extent.. got to find another peranakan place again.. should have just walked over to OSO..
PS - btw, KF Seetoh came while I was finishing my meal.. immediately, 2-3 staff surrounded him to plp.. I suppose people will still follow his recommendation if he say candlenut is 3 chopsticks hahah..