After being around for 25 years, homegrown Peranakan restaurant The Blue Ginger is ready for change. The Bib Gourmand-listed eatery expands from its original Tanjong Pagar location to open a second outlet led by second-generation owner Teo Shi Kai. He brings with him a modern touch: a refreshed logo, new additions to the menu, and a well-designed space with Peranakan motifs that are only noticeable to a keen eye.
Like most Peranakan family meals, the dishes are meant for sharing. Instead of the usual Kueh Pie Tee ($8 for four), start with some rarely seen appetisers like the Kerabu Kacang Botol ($11.50), a spicy winged bean salad tossed with dried shrimps and toasted coconut shreds, or the Kerabu Timun ($8.50) where bits of chicken gizzards lend an interesting texture to a salad of cucumbers and tomatoes.
Time-honoured rempah combinations are the stars of the show. The rich Beef Rendang ($20), stewed with beef shin to provide varying bites of meat and cartilage has a rich coconut base, while the Pork Ribs Assam ($20) is bright and fiery, and is meatier than the usual fatty pork found in the traditional dish. It’s tempting to drench your plate of rice with the various gravies and lick it clean, but you’ll want to save some space for the turmeric-scented Ayam Panggang ($16). You'll also need some rice to temper the heat from Terong Chilli Goreng ($13), where deep-fried eggplant is covered in a homemade chilli paste. Between mouthfuls, snack on the crunchy achar to cut through the assertive flavours.
Beyond Peranakan classics like Ayam Buak Keluak ($24) and Babi Pong Tay ($16), you can also find updated creations that include Sotong Keluak ($22) where squid comes stewed in black nut paste. The light-handed use of buah keluak makes it an easy dish to get acquainted with its acquired smoky, earthy notes. Other fresh additions include convenient one-dish meals ($15): Buah Keluak Fried Rice, Kerabu Laksa, and our favourite, the Nonya Noodles, previously only available from the catering arm of the restaurant.