Cantonese restaurant

Rempapa is Damian D’Silva’s autobiography written in food


Damian D’Silva is the great master of traditional cuisine and perhaps one of the strongest voices in favor of traditional cuisine. When Kin unceremoniously closed due to the change of hands at the old Straits Clan members-only club, D’Silva retired to his own kitchen and launched a three-month pop-up called Damian’s Cookhouse offering only takeaways. This turned out to be a wise move and was a hit with regulars who were confined to eating in small groups at home.

Now surfacing in a relatively new area of ​​Park Residences at PLQ, it has opened an all-day restaurant in partnership with OUE Restaurants. The light and airy space has a certain old-fashioned sensibility in its decor with ceiling beams in contrasting colors and a bar counter set against a mirrored wall.

Its name, Rempapa, is derived from the spice paste rempa and D’Silva’s reputation as the “daddy” of heritage cuisine. While Kin was a more understated version of his vast knowledge and prowess as a chef, expect the full menu here to be a complete celebration of every cuisine he’s ever known, from Nyonya to Hakka. .

Some dishes have never been prepared for customers in a restaurant setting like the Fried Nyonya Fish Cake (a reddish, firmer reiteration of a regular white fish cake that is served with a sweet sauce), Sri Lankan Chicken Curry and Tomato Chutney with String Hoppers (idiyappam) or the Kai Fan (inspired by a dish he had at the hawkers when he was young).

(Related: Preserving Heritage Recipes Through Home Cooking)

Kai Fan at Rempapa
Kai fan

He also made room for chefs under his tutelage to present their own heritage dishes, building on his intention to showcase the roots of Singapore’s convoluted flavors. The chef in question is Ah Seng, whose hometown Penang-style stir-fried Chee Cheong Fun is a hit with everyone at the table. Unlike the steamed version usually eaten in Cantonese restaurants, it fry it with bean sprouts, yellow chives, shrimp, and eggs in a wok reminiscent of Singaporean carrot cake.

D’Silva takes this opportunity to present what he also calls Singapore’s New Heritage Cuisine. Keeping what he considers the “soul” of favorite classics, he makes minor adjustments to recipes so that the dishes are both familiar and foreign.

His Braised Beef with Raita & Roti, for example, reminds us of beef goulash but not quite. He added round seeds of cumin and coriander for more complexity and replaced the bay leaves with daun salam (Indonesian bay leaves) which gives it a slight citrus note. On the side to reduce the sweetness of the stew is a serving of Indian raita. It’s a unique Singaporean version of goulash and sour cream.

(Related: Defending Local Culinary Heritage At All Costs With Alvin Yapp)

Braised Beef with Raita and Roti_ (Singapore New Heritage) at Rempapa
Braised Beef with Raita & Roti

Then there’s Rempapa’s Pork Chop Curry Rice, a one-bowl meal that’s on the menu for lunch. A generous amount of white rice topped with a thick curry sauce and scrambled eggs topped with a serving of hand-sized pork chops coated in hand-fried and pounded cream crackers, finish it off just one could very well put you in an eating coma. Plated like a katsu-don, this is D’Silva’s version of Hainan’s curry rice, but with garam masala for a curry that’s not what you expect. He hopes the more up-to-date presentation will interest the younger generation in heritage cooking.

The restaurant’s offerings of small bites with bar snacks and of course a Kueh platter also present a more accessible way to sample its cuisine if you don’t have the time or space to engage in a meal. full. Fans of his former South-East Sliders restaurant will be delighted to know the beef brisket with rempa slider (Limpeh Slider) can now be found here.

(Related: 3 Private Dining Chefs Going Forward with Asian Cuisine)

Rempapa - Dessert
The Kueh plateau

Or if you prefer the pure Masterchef experience, grab the chef’s menu aka D’Silva’s omakase. Offered to a maximum of 10 diners who reserve the private dining room at the back of the restaurant, it will be an educational meal with the man himself personally explaining the history of each dish. Be warned, however, you might be too full to go out afterwards.

2 Paya Lebar Road, # 01-01 / 02/03, Park Place Residences at PLQ, Singapore 409053. Tel. : 9459 1603. Book at www.sevenrooms.com/reservations/rempapa