Our Singapore meals ran the gamut from hawker stalls to hotel brunches, with intervals of conveyor-belt sushi and Shanghai-style soup dumplings.
We reserved our last supper for the peranakan Blue Ginger (97 Tanjong Pagar; +65 6222 3928), where we’d eaten once before, perhaps ten years ago. The dish we remembered was ayam buah keluak, or chicken with Indonesian black nuts, and it remains memorable.
Both flavor and texture are unusual, reminiscent of the traditional Mexican mole, but distinctively oily and addictively fragrant, the South Pacific offspring of a truffle and a brazil nut. Absolutely worth the extra S$1.50 each to add a nut for every person at the table.
This site offers some rudimentary botanical information about buah keluak.
Another source reports that “The dusty grayish seeds . . . have already been treated to remove the poisonous effects by being thoroughly washed and boiled, then buried in the ground with layers of ash, banana leaves, and earth for 40 days.”
Which might explain the hint of truffle.
Though becoming a guidebook staple, Blue Ginger doesn’t seem to have backed away from its nonya roots. Each member of our family proclaimed a different favorite. My mother’s choice was the fish-head curry, which featured the meaty noggin of an enormous red snapper. Our daughter’s pick was the unreservedly flavorful deep-fried chicken with ginger and soy sauce.