Hearty comfort food with soul at Folklore

Masak lemak.
Masak lemak.PHOTO: THE NEW PAPER
Singgang.
Singgang.PHOTO: THE NEW PAPER
Oxtail stew.
Oxtail stew. PHOTO: THE NEW PAPER
 Sambal juliana with fried brinjal.
Sambal juliana with fried brinjal. PHOTO: THE NEW PAPER
Kueh kosui.
Kueh kosui. PHOTO: THE NEW PAPER

SINGAPORE (THE NEW PAPER) - The recently opened heritage restaurant Folklore has become so popular that on weekends, even if you manage to get a table, "the waiting time for food will be very long", warned a server.

On weekdays, getting a table is easier, but you will need to ask if your favourite dishes are available because they run out as the food is cooked in small batches.

I'm glad Singaporeans appreciate local heritage cuisine because hopefully it means it will not go extinct in a few decades.

Folklore is also successful because of Chef Damian D'Silva, famed for his Eurasian and Peranakan soul food.

It serves fare he grew up with in a food-loving household with a Eurasian father and Peranakan mum.

For me, the most successful ones have the rempah.

This paste is the foundation of South-east Asian cooking and is made up of a usually closely guarded mix of spices.

One great dish was masak lemak ($14). This is a vegetable dish with spinach, sweet potato leaves and kangkung. You have to slurp up the slightly spicy, savoury and soupy gravy, featuring the rempah.


Singgang. PHOTO: THE NEW PAPER

TASTY PASTE

The Eurasian dish, singgang ($20), tastes way better than it looks. It is a paste-like dish that looks like an afterthought.

But the taste - oh, rejoice!

It is mellow, intoxicating and addictive. It is also labour-intensive. Making it involves frying, simmering and deboning a fish, then frying it again.

Just deboning the wolf herring takes three hours, so take your time to savour it.


Oxtail stew. PHOTO: THE NEW PAPER

Oxtail stew ($26) is easily found, but the hearty version here is how Chef D'Silva's grandfather used to make it, with potatoes and carrots in a thick and rich gravy.

It is recommended you eat this with rice and the scorching hot sambal belacan.


 Sambal juliana with fried brinjal. PHOTO: THE NEW PAPER

Sambal juliana with fried brinjal ($14) is a simple Eurasian dish, made up of mainly shrimp and brinjal.

But the sambal (with shallots, shrimp paste, chillies, lime juice and gula melaka) makes it unforgettable.


Kueh kosui. PHOTO: THE NEW PAPER

Kueh kosui ($6) is a tapioca snack with gula melaka covered in grated coconut.

These may be among the best of the many variations out there.

The kueh is soft, chewy and not overly sweet. There is no stopping once you have started.

Folklore is at Destination Singapore Beach Road, 700 Beach Road, open: noon to 2.30pm, 6 to 9.30pm daily, tel: 6679-2900/9021-9700