Does the term ‘Tok Panjang’ sound familiar to you, or is it something foreign still? What about an entirely vegetarian Tok Panjang? Does it give you a hint of what you are about to read next? Now, whether or not your answer to the above is in the positive or negative, you are in for a new gourmet adventure, especially for those of you who have a vegetarian diet!
What is ‘Tok Panjang’?
Before I forget to mention, ‘Tok Panjang’ traditionally means ‘Long Table’. It is part of a unique Peranakan culture where a lavish feast is laid out for guests on special occasions.
And I had my very first experience of eating Tok Panjang at this particular Peranakan restaurant.
The Peranakan restaurant
A regal-looking restaurant is not hard to miss upon entering the building, with a large signboard reading ‘The Peranakan’. For those of you who are into the culture of the Peranakans, do check out the adjacent museum after your meal. The extensive display of historic artefacts and visual media showcase are definitely an educational treat!
The Peranakan is a restaurant boasting an authentic flavour of the Baba and Nyonya. It is located in the lesser-known mall,‘Claymore Connect’, which is a fifteen walk from Orchard MRT.
How ‘Peranakan’ is The Peranakan restaurant?
You have probably come across Peranakan cuisine on this little island of ours. B
When the on-point ambience is married with an authentic flavour on the taste buds, the dining experience is made all the more unforgettable. Don’t you reckon?
Vegetarian Tok Panjang Bibik and Tok Panjang Baba
The spread we were treated to was the ‘Tok Panjang Baba’, which comes with an extended portion of delicacies not found in the ‘Tok Panjang Bibik’ menu, priced at $48++ and $68++ respectively.
Tok Panjang Baba
First up, the warm steamy soup ‘Omni Bakwan Kepeting Soup’ was served. What is impressive and worth a mention has to be the Omni ‘pork’. It is not a far cry from the texture of real meat and tastes divine!
Omni ‘pork’ is made purely from plant-based protein, namely soy, rice, mushroom and pea. This is definitely worth a try, served in a soup base of cabbage and papaya.
Having the stomach already warmed up by the heartiness of the soup, what came next was a feast for the eyes, as much as the palate.
The Tok Panjang features a large variety of twelve dishes contained in quaint bowls aesthetically arranged. In addition, these dishes are held by a humongous serving plate, brought out by the well-uniformed staff of the restaurant.
For the uninitiated, I will recommend the Tok Panjang Baba as you are not only treated to the more representative
If I have to pick my three favourites, I have to give it up to ‘Buah Keluak’, ‘Mutton Rendang’ and ‘Ikanless Assam Pedas’.
Bearing in mind that all the dishes are vegetarian, meaning that alternative ingredients have to be sourced and used to recreate the original meat-based dishes.
More importantly, I have to say that The Peranakan does a really impressive job! I was amazed at how the dishes mentioned tasted much like its ‘predecessors’, in terms of flavour, texture and presentation. You are definitely not missing out if you are a vegetarian convert.
Ending on a sweeter note
Last but definitely not least, the dessert platter puts a nice cherry on top for the entire gourmet experience. To be eaten in this order as recommended – ‘Apom Bokwa Pisang Pengat’, ‘Pulut Enti Kelapa’, ‘‘Kueh Bingka’, ‘Kueh Kosui’. Finally, this can be followed by the ‘Durian Pengat’.
For those of you without a sweet tooth, fret not
It is interesting to learn that the ‘Apom Bokwa Pisang Pengat’ is cooked in a very traditional way on a brass plate, where only four pieces are made on one and the banana cream is cooked until lightly burnt to go along. Yummy indeed.
All in all, The Peranakan is definitely a place to check out whether or not you are a vegetarian! Give it a try and be your own judge.
Pictures and words by Wynne Yang