House of Pandan: Chennai gets its own haven for authentic Peranakan

The décor remains true to the essence of Peranakan. The lantern lights with woodwork really complement the indo-chine design, which replicates natural light through fluted glass frames.
Dishes of the restaurant
Dishes of the restaurant

CHENNAI: Season 10 Master Chef winner Sashi Cheliah has opened his Peranakan restaurant in the city that offers a taste of authentic flavours of Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia.

The décor remains true to the essence of Peranakan. The lantern lights with woodwork really complement the indo-chine design, which replicates natural light through fluted glass frames.

Some of their signature dishes are- kuch pie tee, ikan bilis pedas, sambal udang, nyonya laksa sayur, roti prata, jasmine rice among others. While chef Sashi’s specials are watermelon and potato salad, roti jala, and Singapore ice cream sandwich.

We first tried their fresh mocktails- shophouse ale, Singapore sling, and rich baba. The shophouse ale made with kaffir lime, lemon grass and ginger fizz was very refreshing. The Singapore sling made with cherry, pineapple, and lemon grass had an interesting fruity zing. While rich baba made with coconut and pandan margarita tasted like ice apple. For starters, we tried their watermelon and potato salad. In any sane world, these two together would seem like an unlikely combination. Breaking this notion, this dish absolutely wins at being unique and wondrously delicious. Tiny shallots are seasoned with chilli vinaigrette and kaffir lime. The salad is topped with mint leaves and caramelised onions. This is a must-try.

Their sambal udang is a Peranakan-styled chilli prawn. The prawn served is not your regular-sized prawn. The dish has a very smoky flavour with subtle traces of spices and so is pretty average. The restaurant also serves Ikan bilis pedas, spicy fried anchovy, which is said to be one of the popular dishes in Peranakan cuisine. We tried their nyonya laksa sayur, which is a curry with vegetables and tofu. This tangy and savoury gravy goes very well with their delectable jasmine rice and roti prata. The roti prata in every sense is their best accompaniment on the menu. The texture, the slight crispiness and the consistency was just bang-on.

Their kambing buah keluak is a lamb curry made with blacknut. This curry despite being bland left an unsettling after-taste and is a big no-no. Chef’s special roti jala, is a soft netted crepe with coconut milk, turmeric, and egg. The texture of this dish resembles that of idiyappam with some flavour to it.

The nasi goreng kampong is a bowl of village-styled fried rice made with jasmine rice, chilli, spring onions, egg and, fried shallots. The dish is topped with ikan bilis pedas whose spell is absolutely unappetising. The smell of the fish is very strong and very off-putting. However, even if you look past the smell, the dish barely passes the test. Their desserts score a ten out of ten in terms of taste and presentation. Their Singapore ice cream sandwich, which is also one of their best-sellers, is toasted, coloured bread, with vanilla ice cream sandwiched in between. The dish is served with soy caramel and leaves you wanting more.

Their sinfully chocolate has sesame ice cream with a huge chunk of dark chocolate mousse layering the ice cream, with a slight tinge of sea salt at the base. The pulut tai tai is a blue pea flower rice cake dessert served in coconut milk and gula Melaka caramel. The dish is innovative and very unique and is a must-try.

On the whole, the place wins for its décor and drinks and is a wonderful attempt at trying to serve Peranakan cuisine to palates that know only spice and tanginess.

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