Her cuisine is deemed not found elsewhere, of which is a deep belief of Ms Kathryn Ho, for her cultural traditional taste of Peranakan food. Ms Ho had wanted to pass this culinary culture to the public by offering at her own restaurant and soon after she retired from being a HR Consultant, she dived into this food business.
There were issues with Ms Ho’s start-up capital funds to locate a good place for her restaurant, and notwithstanding it, she rented a cheaper location in Joo Chiat which ironically is a well received area for Peranakan cuisine with the residents over there where she had wanted to occupy a place at East Coast Road instead from the start, however its rental was too high.
From 2004 to March 2007, Ms Ho was stationed at Joo Chiat dishing out her favourite items to many who enjoyed the cuisine and in April 2007, she moved her premises to Keppel Club which is her flagship restaurant till current, that covers a 180 seaters floor area with customers of events and occasions.
Now, under Ms Ho’s belt, she has 3 outlets in Keppel Club, Owen Road and Marina Square, of which there is also a dessert stall in Food Republic of City Square Mall, selling Nonya Kuehs, local and Peranakan sweet courses.
Outstanding for her “rempah” that serves many of her dishes even chap chye, foodies can buy this spice paste direct at the restaurants for gifts or self-consumption, in order to prepare similar tasting Peranakan food at home or abroad.
What is your name and age, are you local?
I am Kathryn Ho Poh Khim, 64 years old and I am a Singaporean.
What makes your business or dishes different from others?
The food entails my passion to preserve the Peranakan culinary culture as I realized many have diluted the original taste of this food culture with less skills passed through their generations in dishing out authentic items in this area. An example lies in the making of my “rempah” which takes a lot of hard work and great culinary skills to prepare the most preserved way as possible.
Why is your shop named as such?
“Peramakan” is coined where it states the “cultural Peranakan” in “Pera” and “Makan” being Singapore’s favourite pastime in eating.
When was it first established?
In October 2004.
What are your signature dishes?
They would have to be my Ayam Buah Keluak, Beef Rendang, Ikan Garam Assam, Babi Pontay, Udang Goreng Assam and Chap Chye.
What is your favourite local food?
What is your secret to keeping customers coming in?
The consistency in my food quality and the willingness to accept feedback from customers of which I act on them immediately.
Why did you decide to pursue a career in food business?
I have retired from the Human Resources industry and since young, my grandmother imparted the skills of preparing Peranakan cuisine in a cultural way to me, I took it up as a hobby and turned it into a business to preserve the authentic Peranakan food culture as my career.
What has been your greatest professional success and biggest setback?
A true blue Peranakan complimented on my food tasting very authentic styled and my home grown recipe has received good recognition by prominent figures in Singapore such as ex-president Mr Wee Kim Wee and ex-president Mr S R Nathan. Other ministers also repeatedly visit my restaurants for a meal occasionally.
I dealt with manpower issues often as many locals do not fancy this trade as the kitchen processes are difficult to learn from scratch. This is also a labour intensive job with high maintenance costs in order to keep ingredients fresh with no shortage of supplies for daily use. An example would be the supplies of Pig Caul that are hardly found in the local market thus I am not able to produce a typical Peranakan item called Hati Babi Bungkus as it is not feasible.
What is your comfort food?
Dim Sum @ Yum Cha Chinatown due to the traditional way of them using trolleys to offer the items.
Do you cook at home?
I cook daily at home.
What does your fridge consists of?
Spices, condiments of all sorts, herbs such as oregano and rosemary with natural essences for baking needs.
Where is your favourite overseas foodie destination?
Tuscany in Italy for their Italian food.
What are your day-to-day responsibilities as an owner?
I take care of the quality control of the food, getting feedback from patrons, communicating with them and planning of special menus for different genres of foodies and occasions.
What have been some of your most successful promotions, how are they originated?
I cater specially-tailored menus for my patrons with versatility in doing so.
What are the steps to becoming a restaurant owner?
Dedication for your craft or business and passion for customers are paramount.
What do you think of the current market now?
Too many choices are given with competition high in the market.
How do you think it will be in the next 10 years?
Technology will enter the line with innovative methods to cooking.
What would your last meal be?
My mother’s prawn noodle soup.
Address: Level 3 Keppel Club, 10 Bukit Chermin Road Singapore 109918
Opening hours: 11.30am – 3pm and 6pm – 10pm daily
Address: 119 Owen Road Singapore 218924
Opening hours: 11am – 3pm and 6pm – 10pm daily
Opening hours: 10am – 10pm daily
Opening hours: 11am – 10pm daily