Violet Oon Satay Bar & Grill

The buzz: Hot on the heels of her super pretty opening at the National Gallery is Peranakan darling Violet Oon’s upscale satay joint in Clarke Quay, a few steps away from beloved 1990s institution Satay Club in Clarke Quay and conveniently by the taxi stand.

The vibe: The decor is a lot like her other two restaurants: retro Oriental-chic green-and-brown decor, tufted couches, et cetera. They even have a transparent window where you get to observe some live grilling action, some of it by Oon’s son Yik Ming, who is the chef there. Everything is customized to Violet Oon’s brand, from their plates and wooden serving trays right down to their satay sticks. 

The food: The menu sees a wide variety of grilled meats, seafood and other local and Peranakan dishes. Pace yourself and start with snacks like the silver fish fritters, which are a bit undersalted and so go great with the signature chili sauce ($12). As for the satay, the secret is in the house marinade, a mix of lemongrass, lengkuas, coriander, cumin and other goodness, which goes on almost all the meats. Though there are some fancy options like the well-marinated Angus beef satay (three sticks for $17), you’d be remiss if you didn’t go for the humble but authentic chicken satay. Also on the menu is the super-hard-to-find coconutty tripe satay ($15), marinated with Oon’s Aunty Nanny recipe. It’s satisfying and flavorful, though pretty chewy, so don’t be expecting that melt-on-the-tongue action. Heat fiends should get the sambal bajak udang, grilled tiger prawn with chili padi sambal ($35) and hae bee hiam sea bass with cinchalok relish ($42), both offering quite a kick. Don’t worry: Oon’s evergreen signatures also make an appearance: dry laksa; rice noodles with prawns, tau pok and sliced fish cakes ($22). We are especially in love with the super-sweet durian chendol, made up of durian pengat sauce and its meat, gula melaka shaved ice, red beans and attap chi ($15). For a more restrained end to your meal, there’s black glutinous rice with gula melaka and coconut ice cream ($12).

The drink: The signature cocktail list does the local thing to dramatic effect. There’s the Jade Bangle made with Ketel One vodka, coconut milk, pandan essence and toasted coconut ($18), which is surprisingly balanced giving all the strong components. There’s also the equally vodka-forward Kopi VO, with kopi and orange Curacao ($18) for an interesting switch in taste. 

Why you’ll be back: You’re a Violet Oon fangirl/fanboy and don’t mind a bit of a splurge for top-quality skewers.