Chili Api Catering (hosted at Chilli Padi Nonya Restaurant, 11 Joo Chiat Place #01-13)
Do not be mistaken that the venue offers catering, for it was jointly organized to host the food review session only. However, the venue on its own is a restaurant has a menu that ticks to the localized palette of the neighborhood. This group is Halal certified, in order to appeal to the multi racial/religious community.
All in all, the group has several arms, and different joints offer slight variance in the menu, as well as style of delivery. Nonetheless, all hold dear to the Nonya delicacies.
Chilli Api is the catering arm, and boasts of a mighty impressive central kitchen in the east. Within, they have a pretty big crew of Chefs, Cooks & Kitchen hands to generate the exponential orders.
I’d say the concept to serve Nonya for catering is ingenious, simply because the cuisines & dishes were traditionally intended to be served piping hot. And because of the labor intensive preparation & cooking styles, the food would taste consistently good regardless if you’re the 1st or the last in the buffet line.
We were presented a long list of dishes, and I’d make special mention of the following:
Ngoh Hiang – 5 spice meat roll (chicken)
Ngoh Hiang is fritter fried styled minced meats, minced prawns, fined chopped shallots & water chestnut, all bundled in bean curd skin wrap (traditionally, the choice meat would be pork, but chicken is substituted for obvious reasons). This starter is pretty good on its own, and I hardly needed to use the sweet soy sauce dip. The crunch & sweetness of the shallots & water chestnuts were prominent hence was a good appetizer.
Otak Otak – spicy fish paste
This is dish is considered something native to the archipelago, except each denomination has its unique expression & taste. The banana wrapped Otak is one that packs a stronger presence of the coconut essence, while the texture of the paste is buttery & melts in the mouth. The chili content isn’t overbearing, so I’d say it junior friendly.
Itek Shio –braised duck in tamarind & coriander
Flavor packed juicy tender meat is testament that slow fire cooking (though old school), but is indefinitely a proven method that brings out the best of flavors, as well as the tenderness of the meat. How do I tell it’s well done? The meat comes off the bones effortlessly.
Fish Fillet with spicy lychee sauce
A novelty but not a stranger to the local community, the value add with the lychee instead of the typical ketchup based versions elsewhere, made me ruminate a little. The sweet combo backed by sweet pineapple chunks & lychee, while the tomatoes complemented the fish really well.
Ayam Buah Keluak
Nonya dining is never quite complete without this dish. Considering that this is catering cooking, so, I’d have to commend the kitchen crew for doing well to uphold the integrity to the texture, aroma & flavors.
Rule of thumb, never ever compare Nonya beef rendang to the malay or Indian style. The oil content and chilli content is nowhere near to that of the malay or Indian style, for spice factor & fragrance is signature to the Nonya.
Kampong Fried Mee Siam
Not the typical gravy doused mee siam, but rather a flavor infused dried version. At 1st glance, it would have been mistaken for fried bee hoon, but once the 1st bite is taken, one couldn’t resist having a 2nd or 3rd helping thereafter
Chili Api professes in catering of almost all sorts of capacity, and have been employed by many corporate establishments. Given the expanding demands for events, functions and/or parties, they are able to accommodate specific needs whenever/wherever possible.