A little hidden gem located on the ground level of Singapore Chinese Culture Center, Cherki offers modern Peranakan cuisine with a lovely bar concept. Cherki’s menu offer many mains with linguine rather than traditional blue pea rice. It is designed to cater for those, perhaps with a slant to western culture, who prefer pasta with drinks.
A one-of-a-kind Peranakan bar in town, Cherki drinks menu offers fifteen cocktails, four mocktails plus beer, wine, shooters and spirits. This is a serious bar not just a side business like most restaurants.
Interesting bar snacks with a Peranakan twist like Chilli Beef Rendang Fries, Buah Keluak Chicken Wings, Satay Chicken Taco, Truffle Duck Popiah and more are well priced between $14-$16. Tantalising to the taste buds, a clever way to discover new tastes while sipping on cocktails.
I chose Violet Sky to kick start my meal. It was surprisingly delightful compared with many other mocktails I had tried in the past. From memory most mocktails were filled with heavy syrup but Violet Sky was ultra-refreshingly infused with Lemongrass and Yuzu. Naturally sweetened with grape juice too, not syrup.
Such a great start for the hot day and a perfect match to Peranakan food which I was about to indulge. Sylvia (my other Expat Choice partner in crime) and I had Cherki Ngor Hiang ($16) as a starter. Ngor Hiang is the famous five spice roll with crispy fried soya sheet on the outside and spiced flavoured mince on the inside.
Cherki used minced pork with a twist of duck pate and foie fat. You can imagine. It was delicious! A perfect bar snack to go with drinks, if not as an entree.
Diving straight into mains, we chose Rendang Beef Cheeks ($26), Braised Pongteh Lamb Shank ($28), Laksa Lobster Linguine ($29) and Sambal Crab Fried Rice. Yes, there were just two of us but we had food for four!
Too hard to resist when presented with a massive array of choices. So we decided to tuck in as if there was no tomorrow.
Beef Cheeks Rendang, my all time favourite, was served on a beautiful blue-tone round plate, alongside blue pea rice, homemade acar (pickles) and sambal. It was a visual delight! The rendang was mild on spice, easy for anyone to enjoy.
Texture of the beef cheeks was so tender that it melted in my mouth. Do not ask for a rice downsize or you may regret it as I did. It’s a great dish to savour at the end, when you can polish the remaining sauce on the plate.
Braised Pongteh (Nonya style) Lamb Shank was cooked fork tender, falling off the bone as I dug into it. Flavour wise it was on the sweet side, slowly braised in fermented soya beans and dark soya sauce with palm sugar. I feel this would be ideal to pair with a higher acidity or bitter cocktail like Bellvine Mojito or West Side Journey.
The Cherki Laksa Lobster Linguine was another popular choice. A generous half lobster in shell was served with a big dollop of linguine swirled and soaked in thickened Lalsa sauce, with more lobster chunks and tofu puffs atop. It satisfied my craving for Laksa but didn’t leave me bursting with enthusiasm as it was a dry Laksa, with no soup to slurp.
We both felt the last main to be served, Sambal Crab Fried Rice was impressive despite the signature mains that preceded this. Surprise surprise! A delightful fragrance emanated from the homemade Sambal, mildly spicy and tangy. It complemented perfectly well with sweet crab meat mixed in the rice.
Both Sylvia and I were so full after a spoonful that we decided to take it away, a chance to devour it another time on its own. Leaving space for dessert, we were glad to have done so.
From three dessert choices, we had Kaya & Gula Melaka Tiramisu ($14) and rice pancakes with banana sauce ($18). Tiramisu was out of a dream. Really well put together with brown sugar caramelised flavour.
Kaya played a subtle role in it while Gula Melaka shone no matter where it was immersed. This star creation was excellent and I could trade this over the traditional tiramisu without a doubt.
Rice pancakes, a popular Nonya dessert made with rice flour and coconut milk, a beautiful blue hue in the center that used natural extracts of blue pea flowers. The pancake itself was fluffy and springy, full of aroma and a touch of natural sweetness from the rice itself. Soaking up the rich and thickened banana sauce it almost danced a melody on my palate.
The sauce itself was heaven. Made of palm sugar and coconut milk, I would call this the Nonya version of sea salt caramel. Despite the word “banana”, I didn’t taste the banana. Accompanied by three generous pancakes, a perfect plate for sharing if you so wish.
Cherki Nonya cuisine was light on spice which made sense. A better bet to go with drinks and to cater for a broader customer range rather than simply Peranakan die-hard foodies.
The perfect spot for those who are looking for set lunch meals during the week, small bites with drinks after work or simply a proper feast with friends. It’s a one-stop-for-all restaurant serving multiple occasions.
Monday to Thursday:
Lunch 11:30am - 2:30pm
Dinner 5pm - 10:30pm
Friday to Saturday:
Lunch 11:30am - 2:30pm
Dinner 5pm - 10:30pm
So if you are looking for a place to hang out in town on Friday night and like to try something new, check out Cherki for great fare and great prices.
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