Violet Oon Remembers A Drag Party I Hosted

NYT: "Violet Oon, sometimes referred to as the Julia Child of Singapore"
NYT: “Violet Oon, sometimes referred to as the Julia Child of Singapore”

We had a great lunch yesterday at Violet Oon’s Kitchen, and were sorry only for not having enough people with us so we could order and try more dishes.

After lunch service wound down, Violet emerged from the kitchen and spoke with customers who were taking their time with dessert. She came by our table and asked if everything was alright.

Straightaway I said I had had her cooking before.

“That must have been a long time ago – twenty years?”, she said.

It was 1991, and it was at a rowdy party at my house, and my JC mate Colin Goh had organised some of the food which included some of Violet’s well known Peranakan staples and ice-kacang made with Violet’s own hand-cranked ice-shaving machine.

“Oh! That party! It was a drag party and Colin was in a sarong kebaya and he was so worried about being stopped by the police”, she remembered excitedly.

I was stunned. I had completely forgotten about the drag part of the party. I have no photos to prove it happened, but if Violet Oon says it did, it must have.

I was surprised to learn from last week’s New York Times restaurant report that Violet Oon’s Kitchen is the first time she’s “found success as a restaurateur”, being the culinary institution that she is.

We ordered a pulled beef rigatoni, a chicken curry that came with roti jala, a shepherd’s pie (technically a cottage pie, since it was made with beef, but which I had to order because, as I whispered to Naomi – “I’ve eaten Violet’s Shepherd’s Pie before when I was in school! We have to order it now!”), Bingka Ubi and Bubor Chacha Panna Cotta for dessert.

We have to go back, not least because they ran out of sticky date pudding and ayam goreng yesterday.

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