Violet Oon’s National Kitchen, National Gallery is not a restaurant that you can decide to go for lunch on impulse. It was packed when we were there recently. Walk in patrons were turned away, partly because it is very popular and partly because the restaurant was modest in size. We had the impression National Kitchen by Violet Oon is a Peranakan restaurant (possibly because of her reputation as a Peranakan specialist), but we were mistaken. As a “national kitchen”, many our Singapore favourite foods e.g. satay, chilly crab, curry fish head and Hainanese chicken rice are represented here. There are Peranakan items on the menu, but this is more like a “top hits of Singapore” compilation album.
The National Kitchen, National Gallery is an opulent place that is for sure. But comfortable it is not, at least not on the day that we were there. The small restaurant is densely populated with furniture. We could easily hear our neighbours’ conversations and smell their food. The sound level generated by the full house was amplified by the hard surfaces. Thank goodness the service standards were high and orders were taken and served attentively and briskly so that we could be done quite quickly.
There are some outdoor seating at the verandah which we can imagine is a good spot to be in the evenings or when there is something to watch on the Padang.
Here are random pages from the drinks and food menu of the National Kitchen, National Gallery.
For starters we tried the Ngoh Hiang ($15). The taste of this dish was good and the portion was quite generous. It is enough to be shared by three people. We would be happy to order this again.
We also tried a couple of Peranakan dishes – Buah Keluak Ayam ($23) and Chap Chye ($15). There were three pieces of the precious buah keluak, each of which was quite “meaty” and tasted very deep and earthy (which we liked). Other than the taste of the buah keluak itself, the gravy and chicken was too lemak and oily for our liking. The chap chye was good.
The main dish of the day was the fish head curry ($42). We ordered it because we could smell it from the next table and the aroma was indeed very attractive. We were however somewhat disappointed with the taste as the curry was very mild with a tinge of sweetness. The fish content in the curry was also low. Some trawling had to be done to look for the fish.
Overall it was a lunch with some hits and misses. We were a bit disappointed as we were expecting (our fault entirely for not doing prior research) a full Peranakan restaurant, but we can imagine that this would be a good place to bring foreign visitors to try the top hits of Singapore food, especially after a visit to view the local art in the National Gallery.
Overall Rating: 3 TOPs
National Kitchen by Violet Oon at National Gallery Singapore
1 St. Andrew’s Road
#02–01, National Gallery Singapore
(City Hall Wing)
Tel: +65 9834 9935
Lunch : 12PM – 3PM
Dinner : 6PM – 11PM
Veranda : 5.30PM – 11PM