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Cherki Modern Nyonya Cuisine

23 April 2022

Cherki, a modern Nyonya dish , is located on the ground floor of the Singapore Chinese Cultural Center, a quiet place in the financial district. I usually turn to this corner behind the Singapore City Hall when I have nothing to do, and I never thought that there would be a dining place in the Chinese Cultural Center. The first time I visited was on a Monday evening, the restaurant was so noisy that it was almost full, which was a bit unexpected.


The bosses are a few young people, so don’t imagine the “old style” of traditional Nyonya style. The restaurant began operations during the pandemic last year. The name Cherki comes from a card game common in Peranakan families. It aims to reproduce a fun and happy atmosphere, allowing guests to dine here as if they were playing a game. The boss revealed that the restaurant also has a Chinese name “Xi Qi”, which is not seen on the signboard or menu, but the atmosphere is indeed joyful and lively.

bar counter - Cherki

The decoration of the restaurant is bright and young, and the most eye-catching is the bar counter, which is also the most entrancing element. The beverage menu lists 15 handcrafted cocktails with pictures and texts, including Dancing in the Moonshine ($23), inspired by a traditional dessert, Pulut Hitam ($25), butterfly pea-style Bellvine Mojito ($21), Nyonya flower style Potpourri ( $ 23) and more.

The most special Sop Story ($25) really feels like playing a game. Placed in a small basket and served on the table, you have to pour the ingredients into the cocktail one by one and stir, changing the texture of the drink as light smoke rises while stirring. After finishing, take a bite. The taste is so familiar. It turns out that there is soursop in the drink, adding to the texture of the cocktail. After soaking in gin, it is very sweet and intoxicating.
There are also small glasses of Shooters ($6) on the drinks list , offering a variety of special flavors such as Ondeh Ondeh, Butterfly Pea Sourplum, Kaya, etc. In addition, there are also non-alcoholic Mocktails and customized Bespoke Cocktails ($20-$28), where the bartenders can make cocktails for you according to your mood or preferences.
Crab Meatball Soup

After ordering a drink, get ready for a unique dinner. There are only two options for soup. The popular duck soup was sold out when I visited. The other option is Crab Meatball Soup ($18), which is common in Nyonya cuisine. The pork balls are made with crab meat and bamboo shoots, seafood soup.

Sambal Lava Eggs with Petai

Sambal Lava Eggs with Petai ($13), the eggs are crispy on the outside and runny on the inside. After soaking in the slightly spicy sambal sauce, the freshness of the eggs is more prominent. This adds a rich layering to the dish.

Yuzu Seafood Kueh Pie Tee

Yuzu Seafood Kueh Pie Tee ($14). The small golden cup has a traditional outer skin but an unconventional filling. Yuzu is added, elevating the taste of the shrimp and scallops with a sweet and slightly tangy flavour, bringing excitement to the fresh fragrance of seafood.

Cherki Ngor Hiang

The five-spice meat roll (Cherki Ngor Hiang, $14) is handmade by the restaurant. The fillings include minced pork, foie fat, duck pate, shrimp, and bamboo shoots. It tastes more moist and is softer than usual Ngor Hiangs.

Homemade Crab Cakes

Homemade Crab Cakes ($19) have a crispy and fresh fragrance when served.

Laksa Lobster Linguine

Lobster Laksa Pasta ($29), Nyonya Laksa made Italian style, with half a Boston lobster. The thick and rich laksa sauce together with the sweet lobster meat adds more layers and complexity to your taste buds.
Rendang Beef Cheeks
Rendang Beef Cheeks ($26), the Nyonya-style Rendang is stewed slowly and added with spices to reduce the sauce, making the meat soft and tender, while still retaining a delectable aroma. Paired with special sambal chili and butterfly pea flower rice, the resulting flavour is savoury with a hint of sweetness.
Braised Pongteh Lamb Shank
Braised Pongteh Lamb Shank ($28), Nyonya-style Babi Pong Teh is paired with lamb shank. It is slowly stewed until the meat is soft and boneless, and it tastes familiar with Nyonya spices.
Pangium Beef Wellington
Pangium Beef Wellington ($32) uses beef tenderloin, seared till tender, wrapped with puff pastry, and a layer of black nut is spread between the puff pastry and beef, adding a rich and delicious Nyonya flavor. The few mushrooms that go with it add a Chinese flavour. A great mix of Nyonya and Western cuisines, resulting in a wonderful flavour pairing. 
Chendol Creme Brulee
The desserts are just as interesting. Chendol Creme Brulee ($13) is a twist on the classic French dessert. As you begin to dig into the dessert, you can see the green chendol jelly and dense red beans. The taste of chendol is paired well with the Creme Brulee’s caramel aroma and soft texture.
Rice Pancakes with Banana
Rice Pancakes with Banana ($16), the rice cakes are the traditional Nyonya Apom Berkuah, which is a time consuming process to make, and the accompanying dipping sauce is also the  traditional Pengat Pisang. The rice cakes are delicate, smooth and sweet.