An upscale Peranakan restaurant in Singapore has apologized and renamed a newly launched dish after it was called out for hijacking Indonesian cuisine.
Violet Oon Singapore was accused of appropriating the Nasi Ambeng Indonesian dish by adding a Peranakan twist to its name with the word “Nyonya.” The restaurant has since apologized and renamed its “Nyonya Nasi Ambeng Trays” to “Family Trays.”
“We insensitively used the name of a symbolic dish for a Nyonya interpretation that failed to articulate or acknowledge the rich significance and origins of Nasi Ambeng which originated from Java, Indonesia. As a brand dedicated to exploring the rich and diverse food cultures of Southeast Asia, we have fallen short by culturally appropriating this dish,” the restaurant wrote today.
“We deeply apologise for causing any hurt, anger or offence through this. We will be renaming the dish ‘Family Trays’ moving forward,” the restaurant added.
The popular Indonesian rice platter is comprised of an assortment of vegetable and meat dishes placed around steaming white rice. In Singapore, Nasi Ambeng is usually sold with begedil (fried potato balls), fried cow lung, rendang, and more.
Launched Tuesday, Violet Oon’s version included customer favorites like Chicken Lemak, Eggplant Sambal, Blue Pea Nasi Lemak and Kentang Sambal Hijau (potatoes fried with a green chilli sambal) with Ikan Bilis. It ranges from S$115 to S$130 per set and serves up to four.
“Please do not hijack a Javanese dish and claim it as a ‘Nonya’ dish,” one commenter said today.
Others suggested the dish be renamed as “Nyonya Peranakan Food Platter” or “Nyonya Mixed Vegetables Rice.”
Peranakan or Nyonya cuisine comes from descendants of early Chinese migrants who settled in Penang, Malacca, Singapore and Indonesia. Their signature dishes include Asam Laksa, Ayam Buah Keluak (chicken rib stew) and Babi Pongteh (stewed pork).
Other stories you should check out:
‘Bored’ expat reconnects patrons to Singapore’s shuttered bars
Ang Mo Kio grocer super sorry for overcharging snacky man S$1,000
‘Take a good hard look at our own racism’: Man spotlights comments on migrant workers
The Singapore personalities show support for #BlackLivesMatter
Paywall: You’re outta here, Coconuts stories are free for all
We have removed our paywall on all Coconuts stories. This does not mean the end of COCO+ Membership at all, but the value proposition is changing.
Rather than being a transactional subscription – whereby you pay for access to content – it is now a true membership program – whereby Coconuts stories are free for everyone but super-fans can monetarily support our independent journalism, and get added member benefits.
If you'd like to support Coconuts, you can become a COCO+ Member for as little as US$5 per year. Thank you!