Best ayam buah keluak in Singapore

It’s one of the most labour intensive Peranakan dishes, which is why we give credit to these restaurants for knowing how to do it best.
By epicure
Published on Friday, 27 Jul 2012

INDOCAFE
Indocafe's ayam buah keluak will appeal to the uninitiated with its milder version of this robust Peranakan staple. A small opening is first made on each keluak nut with a small pick and hammer. The paste of 'black gold' is then mixed with shreds of chicken and meticulously stuffed back inside each shell. The nuts are finally braised with cuts of kampong chicken, a heady mix of Nyonya spices and seedless chillies for slight warmth. A sprinkling of finely sliced kaffir lime leaves at the end adds a bracing freshness. 35/35A Scotts Road Tel: 6733 2656. Book a table at Indocafe with Chope.

STRAITS CHINESE NONYA RESTAURANT
This restaurant holds a secret ayam buah keluak recipe that has been handed down through generations and it shows. The sauce is thick in flavour from the buah keluak and spices, and is a great accompaniment to rice. We also like that the gravy is not completely grinded down and we can taste bits of the spices, giving the gravy a pleasant texture. The chicken meat is also pleasantly tangy with a spiciness that is right on the heat index. 15 Queen Street #01-03, Tan Chong Tower. Tel: 6339 3683

DULUKALA PERANAKAN RESTAURANT
Tucked in a rather inconspicuous spot in Beauty World Centre, Dulukala is a no-frills, family-style eatery. The ayam buah keluak has a wonderfully fragrant gravy that burst with flavour in our mouths and we love that the chicken pieces were served in generous chunks with flesh that is fall-of-the-bone tender. The keluak nuts have also been painstakingly prepared in a traditional Peranakan manner, with the kernels first removed, mixed with prawns and other ingredients before being stuffed back into the shells again. Definitely home style cooking brought to its best. 144 Upper Bukit Timah Road, #04-04, Beauty World Centre. Tel: 6465 2036

SPICE PERANAKAN [CLOSED]
The dish is served in a clay pot, which kept the ayam buah keluak piping hot from the start to the end. The gravy is very smooth in texture and a lot more grinded down compared to the others that we have tried. However that did not compromise on the flavour of the homemade rempah, whose flavour has been further enhanced by the ‘black gold’ inside the keluak nuts, giving the sauce a rich nutty flavour and blackish appearance. Biopolis Way may be a tad secluded and inaccessible, but we say it’s definitely worth making a trip down. 20 Biopolis Way, Centros Building #01-01. Tel: 6738 8887

PERAMAKAN
At Peramakan, Owner-chef Kathryn Poh Neo pledges to create good food cooked with love and she has definitely lived up to this promise. Peramakan’s ayam buah keluak is incredibly fragrant and features a piquant combination of spices in the form of a satisfying thick sauce. The serving of chicken is also generous and the flesh, moist and tender. Even though Peramakan is located in Keppel Club and boosts an ornate interior, the food served feels like grandma’s cooking. 10 Bukit Chermin Road, Keppel Club, Level 3. Tel: 6377 2829

GUAN HOE SOON
With blemished marble-top tables and creaky wooden chairs, Guan Hoe Soon is the old-school Peranakan eatery your parents would know of. The Ayam Buah Keluak is a dish that the waiters promote to guests, and it’s easy to see why they are so proud of this quintessential Nonya delicacy: each aromatic buah keluak nut, which is boiled thrice, is stuffed with a generous amount of tantalisingly fragrant minced pork and fish—we scooped out every single bit of it with our spoons. 38/40 Joo Chiat Place. Tel: 6344 2761

CASA BOM VENTO [CLOSED]
There are no buah keluak nuts in the Ayam Buak Keluak’s thick, perfumed gravy, chef-cum-owner Lionel Chee dish originates from his Perankan mum’s recipe. The buah keluak nuts are finely ground, before being added into the rempah gravy, which is simmered on low heat for over two hours. The addition of blue and old ginger gives the gravy the perfect balance of sweet, bitter and spicy flavours. 477 Joo Chiat Road. Tel: 6440 0196

NYONYA & BABA
We brought along a Peranakan friend for dinner, and she gave the Ayam Buah Keluak here her approval (although she says her dad’s version is still unsurpassable). What we really enjoy is the uber soft chicken morsels, which serve as the perfect foil to soak up the delectably sweet and salty rempah-flavoured gravy. #01-54-56 VivoCity. Tel: 6376 9138

TRUE BLUE CUISINE
Dining at True Blue Cuisine is about as authentic a Peranakan experience as you can get as the place not only boasts a culturally rich décor, it also serves the most mouthwatering ayam buah keluak. Tender morsels of chicken sat in thick and aromatic gravy with swirls of chilli oil. The dish was also served with a tiny spoon to help customers dig out every last bit of the rich and nutty contents inside the buah keluak. When we finished the last of the chicken, we smeared the soft-tar like paste onto the rice. 47/49 Armenian Street Tel: 6440 0449

SIMPLY PERANAKAN CUISINE
Touted as one of their signature dishes, Simply Perankan delivered on their claims with juicy pieces of chicken stewed in tasty black nut gravy.  The sauce was a tad bit more watery than usual, but the good balance of spicy and sweet, sour flavours allowed the unique aroma of the nut to shine through. 8 Raffles Avenue, #02-12 Esplanade Mall. Tel: 6333 9382