Monday, December 13, 2021

Rempapa - Chef Damian D'Silva's Signature Peranakan Classics & Unique New Heritage Cuisine Now at Park Place Residences PLQ


Fans of Chef Damian would have followed his journey from his days of cooking up a storm at Folklore, to his fantastic run at Restaurant Kin, and they surely would have heard through the grapevine about the opening of Rempapa, before any information was even officially released. It's no wonder the renowned rebel chef has garnered such a wide and loyal following — his Peranakan dishes are truly second to none. I admire and have always been impressed by Chef Damian's passion in keeping traditions and his family recipes alive. He tries to stop the loss of more heritage dishes by making sure that Peranakan cuisine is accessible, and has now come up with New Heritage cuisine to introduce a taste of almost-lost Peranakan flavours to the younger generations.

The brightly-lit all-day dining restaurant at Park Place Residences at PLQ has just officially opened its doors two days ago, and is all set to become the most popular restaurant in the area. Peranakan cuisine and New Heritage cuisine are exceptionally difficult to prepare — the amount of spices required for every dish is astounding, and the number of hours and amount of effort needed to cook each individual component of a dish is unbelievable. The work certainly isn't easy, and that's why Chef's Damian's craft deserves even more recognition and respect that it already commands.

You can pop by Rempapa anytime of the day. Whether you're there for breakfast, brunch, lunch, tea, or dinner, you're bound to have a good meal.


Here's the Traditional Sri Lankan Chicken Curry with String Hoppers ($16, available for breakfast and brunch). Expect a slightly watery chicken curry with kampong chicken thigh served with string hoppers(aka putu mayam) and tomato & date chutney. In Singapore, string hoppers are often eaten with coconut and sugar, but they are eaten with curries and chutney traditionally. The curry is made a little more watery so that the putu mayam can soak up all its goodness! It carries just a light hint of spice and is a great option for all ages.


The Chickpea Curry with Roti / String Hoppers ($18, available for breakfast and brunch) is a vegetarian-friendly dish with familiar Indian and Eurasian curry flavours, and hints of Middle Eastern cuisine. I really liked the crisp roti that's not greasy at all, and it not only went well with the chickpea curry but I'm confident that it will pair impeccably with all curry dishes! I think they should offer it with the Sri Lankan Chicken Curry as well!


The Stir-fried Chee Cheong Fun ($13, available for breakfast & brunch) is made according to a secret recipe held by Ah Seng, one of the chefs on Chef Damian's team. This ensemble of fried chee cheong fun, prawn, egg, and yellow chives would have captured your attention before it is even placed on your table. The captivating aroma wafting from the dish is unmissable and will have your full attention. If you're hungry, this dish will definitely send your stomach rumbling! Pretty sure you'll enjoy this as much as I did! In addition to Chef Damian's family recipes, the restaurant also showcases heritage recipes shared by the younger chefs to motivate their immersion into heritage cuisine. Commendable!


Chef Damian's interpretation of Nasi Lemak with Fish / Chicken($17, available for brunch and lunch), which is inspired by his childhood memories, is absolutely delicious. The fragrant and fluffy coconut rice alone takes 3 hours to prepare! I have to say the tedious process is worth it because the rice is to die for. I can literally eat it just on its own! While many naturally see the deep-fried chicken thigh and other accompanying ingredients as the stars, I feel that the star of every nasi lemak dish is the rice, and Chef Damian has undeniably nailed it. I also love that he chose to use silver fish instead of ikan bilis! The silver fish was crunchy, yet soft enough to not cut your mouth like ikan bilis does. At Rempapa, the nasi lemak is paired with a crisp double-fried kampong chicken thigh or large fried selar fish. Both are equally tasty. Instead of the usual sunny side up, or omelette that we commonly see in our nasi lemak, Rempapa's version comprises a 7-minute egg with a runny centre. Now, who doesn't love a runny egg yolk? I know I do!


The Fried Chicken Curry Rice ($16, available for brunch and lunch), a Singapore New Heritage dish, is presented like a Japanese curry with karaage, and combines the essences of Eurasian, Peranakan, Indian, Malay, and Chinese cuisines. The familiar visual of this Singapore New Heritage dish entices the younger generation, with the bigger goal of introducing heritage flavours. Chef Damian believes that heritage food can only be promoted when people like them in the first place. When they do, the food then becomes a story that the next generation wants to listen to. The bite-sized kampong chicken portions have been coated in 12-spice masala blend for at least 48 hour, before taking a trip to the fryer twice at different temperatures to ensure that their texture is nothing but flawless. Needless to say, as a big fan of fried chicken, I really enjoyed this dish! I like that the curry wasn't spicy and carried inviting flavours that enticed me to quickly return for a second bite. 


Another New Heritage dish, the Seafood Curry Mee ($18, available for lunch and brunch) is a fresh take on a Hokkien hawker dish served during the 1920s and 1930s. Many Singaporeans are familiar with chicken curry mee, less so the seafood version where its rich flavours stem from seafood, rather than coconut milk. Rempapa's rendition sees a solid bowl of seafood curry laden with yellow noodles and bee hoon, pig skin, boiled fresh sua lor prawns, fish cake, fresh cockles, long tau pok (tau bian), and beansprouts. Chef Damian uses his own blend of curry powder that features spices with less potent flavours, avoiding cloves or nutmeg. The curry mee was quite off-the-charts spicy for me, but I really can't even take normal fast food chilli sauce, so don't trust me on this. My dining partner didn't even find it spicy and slurped up every last drop of the soup. He was spellbound and proudly proclaimed this to be his favourite dish of the night. If you're one for spicy curry, or noodle soup, you'll most likely relish this.

 If you're coming by for dinner, I'll recommend that you get the 4 dishes listed below!


An appetite-whetting mix of wing beans, fresh ambarella (kedondong), julienned kaffir lime leaf, and ginger flower, tossed with peanut brittle, shrimp floss, and a special house-made dressing, the Kedondong Salad($15, available for dinner) is a dish that every table should have at least a portion of. The tanginess was not overpowering and the salad was beyond addictive. It was so good that one of my dining partners finished an entire bowl of rice with just the salad! This is one of the only salads I will eat!


Baca Assam ($38, available for dinner) is a "lost" Eurasian heritage dish that is almost like a mix of Peranakan and Indian flavours. The tangy beef brisket was very appetizing, extremely tender, and chock full of flavour. It's really satisying just with just a bowl of turmeric rice. Don't forget to get a glass of red wine to go along with it! 


Lamb Leg Rendang($38, available for dinner) is a classic Minangkabau dish. It should have a strong aroma of both wet and dry spices, especially from the masala blend, and should be spicy and flavourful at the same time. Lamb has always been Chef Damian's favourite choice of protein because of its flavour and subtle sweetness that arises after it's cooked. The lamb leg rendang at Rempapa sure checks all the boxes! It's way too spicy for me but I'm sure fans of a classic lamb leg rendang will approve of it wholeheartedly.


It's Ah Seng's turn to shine again! The Slow-Cooked Belly Pork with Ah Seng Sauce($23, available for dinner) is Ah Seng’s heritage Hokkien dish that hails from Penang. In the past it was peddled by the street, and today it often sits proud as a home-cooked recipe for a guest. So to be able to have a taste of it is our fortune, really. The sliced pork belly is arranged in a way that much resembles bossam, and you can see some similarities between the two. Ah Seng's version is paired with a mildly spicy sauce made with black bean sauce, rice vinegar, Sze Chuan peppercorn oil, cumin, 5 spiced powder and more. The tender pork, which had been cooked with ginger, did not have any of the "porky flavour" that some might be averse to, and was delicious with the special house-made sauce.



We all know that Chef Damian makes one of the, if not the best kuehs in Singapore. So, his Kueh Platters ($6/4pieces, $10/8 pieces, $15/12 pieces) are absolutely not to be missed. To be honest, I'm not a fan of kueh but I finished almost all the kueh even though I was already stuffed to the brim. They were all so good! The selection changes daily, and includes favourites such as Kueh Kosui, Kueh Ku, Kueh Bengkah, Pulut Bengkah, Talam Keladi, Sago Ubi, Lapis Pulot, Rempah Udang and more. I especially enjoyed the Kueh Bengkah, Talam Keladi, and Kueh Kosui! I hardly tabao food home but I took home all the kuehs that my dining partners couldn't finish!


Even the Caramel Flan was splendid, I finished an entire portion on my own. So smooth and custardy, with just the right amount of sweetness from the layer of gula melaka on top.


The restaurant has quite the wine list and unique cocktails and mocktails as well, and more than 50 odd dishes on the menu, so there's definitely something for everyone! Let me know which are your favourite dishes so I know what to try the next time I head there!

2 Paya Lebar Rd, 01-01/02 03 
Park Place Residences at PLQ
Singapore 409053
Daily : 1030am - 1030pm

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