There’s just something about the painstaking process that Peranakan chefs go through to recreate home-styled (and very reasonably priced) dishes, with their tombok tomboks (a Malay term for old school food grinding methods) and multitude of herbs and spices that makes us feel all nostalgic. The recently reopened Casa Bom Vento, which closed down four years ago, is arguably one of the best Peranakan restaurants this city has to offer today. Now taken over by the original proprietor Gladys Chee’s son, Lionel, and relocated just next door to its old venue (pure coincidence, according to Lionel, although we believe serendipity had something to do with it), the restaurant offers fewer of the Eurasian-influenced dishes that they were known for, although the trademark devil’s curry is still on the menu, with more traditional Peranakan fare including fish head curry thrown in for good measure. We played it safe and stuck to mainstays like itek tim, ayam buah keluak, nyonya chap chye and the new house specialty, grilled baby stingray with black peppercorns and curry leaves. Apart from the itek tim which was lacking in flavor and salted vegetables, the rest of the dishes hit the spot. The ayam buah keluak was a clear winner, with a beautifully prepared sauce kissed by lime and ginger (and lots to go around). The stingray was also a lovely medley of spiciness (extra green chili on the side) and so tender it slid easily off the bones; while the generous portion of nyonya chap chye was done exactly the way they did it in the old days—hot off the wok with just enough (but not too much) fermented soybean sauce for that extra oomph. The previously run-down shophouse has been refurbished with Peranakan elements, antique-inspired tables, chairs, lamps and tiles to give the place an authentic mood befitting its food. We’ll be back to try the new curry fish head soon enough.
Casa Bom Vento is Halal. Check out our favorite Halal restaurants in Singapore.