Now serving: 60+ Malay, Indonesian dishes near former Singapore palace

Executive chef Firdauz Nasir scooping out gravy while a diner looks from behind a plastic barrier. Photo: Coconuts
Executive chef Firdauz Nasir scooping out gravy while a diner looks from behind a plastic barrier. Photo: Coconuts

You can now feast like Malay royalty at a new buffet restaurant housed near a former palace.

Located at the Gedung Kuning (Yellow Mansion) in the Kampong Glam cultural district, Permata’s executive chef Firdauz Nasir whips up more than 60 dishes comprising some of the region’s most complex recipes that have been elevated with rare, unexpected ingredients native to the Nusantara, an old term referring to the Indonesian archipelago or “Malay world” encompassing Singapore, Brunei, Malaysia, Indonesia, and even Southern Thailand. 

The Wagyu Beef Rendang, for example, is a rich, toasty curry cooked for long hours using over 20 different ingredients. It’s also one of the most difficult dishes to make, Firdaus told Coconuts at a recent media preview. He also finds inspiration for his dishes from his mother and grandmother, he said. 

Permata, which means jewels in Malay, is owned by the same company running the Amazing Chambers escape gaming attraction located upstairs. Plans to open the buffet restaurant on the ground floor were shelved due to the coronavirus pandemic until the authorities gave the green light to operate buffets some weeks ago with safety measures in place. 

Wagyu Beef Rendang. Photo: Permata
Wagyu Beef Rendang. Photo: Permata

Unlike regular buffets, diners are not allowed to help themselves at the buffet table and instead have to wait to be served. They’re welcome to look at the dishes on offer from behind transparent plastic barriers set up at the various buffet stations. 

Other than the rendang, the Lamb Belimbing marries tender lamb with starfruit, Ayam Binjai cooks chicken with a red sweet-and-sour gravy and mango-like binjai fruit, and the Tempoyak Ikan Patin combines durian with catfish. Those are just some of the dishes that go well with their Blue Pea Rice. 

While many of the dishes are cooked with an abundance of different spices, none was spicy. But there’s a selection of chilli pastes to choose from and add some oomph to your meal, including sambal tempoyak, or chilli paste with durian. There’s also a salad station filled with a variety of native herbs and vegetables, including petai bitter beans. 

There are also the usual options of seafood, grilled meats, and desserts found at many buffet restaurants. You might want to give its Buah Keluak Brownie a go – combining chocolate with pangium edule fruit turns out surprisingly well. 

Sambal station. Photo: Coconuts
Sambal station. Photo: Coconuts
Salad station. Photo: Coconuts
Salad station. Photo: Coconuts

73 Sultan Gate
Opens daily from 12-3pm; 6-10pm

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Correction: Gedung Kuning is located next to the former palace that is now known as the Malay Heritage Centre. 

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