Ollella doesn’t just make yummy kueh kueh

When it comes to kueh kueh, Ollella ranks high on my list because of their fantastic kueh dadar. It is best enjoyed when the pandan-flavoured skin is freshly cooked on the griddle and the gula melaka-soaked grated coconut filling is wrapped on the spot.

Which happens to be how I tried it for the first time, in a crowded food fair at the Takashimaya Orchard basement event hall, back in the days when being in a crowded and enclosed space was actually an enjoyable thing (ah, the good old days…). They have a small but permanent stall within the Takashimaya basement food floor, which I head to whenever I have the occasional craving for some good kueh dadar.

We recently discovered that in addition to kueh kueh, they also cook home-style comfort food like nasi lemak and, like many restaurants during this age of the pandemic, provide island-wide home delivery. And that’s how we found ourselves ordering their 4 Pax Family Combo ($57).

Island-wide delivery was free for orders above $45 and placed 24 hours in advance for a pre-selected three-hour delivery window. The next day, I received an SMS from uParcel with an individual tracking link and was able to monitor the progress of our package as it left Ollella’s kitchen at Little India and arrived at our doorstep.

The food warmer bag that contained our food was all white and looked quite classy, leaving us with a good first impression. As you can tell, we’re suckers for pretty packaging.

The bag was sealed with sticker that also doubled-up as instructions for how to handle, store and consume the food. The kueh kueh was packed separately from the hot food and came with different food handling instructions but the same social media marketing message.

After unpacking everything and laying out all the food, it was clear why the bag was so heavy. The combo definitely catered for a family of four, and comprised:

  • 12 sticks of sate ayam
  • 2 chicken rendang nasi lemak
  • 1 lontong
  • 1 mee soto ayam
  • 1 chicken cutlet
  • 4 kueh kueh

As well as sate sauce, sliced cucumbers, onions and a mysterious box of white rice, which I assume was to replace the ketupat for the sate, which they must have run out that day.

There was no way that the two of us could finish everything at one go, so we had the lontong and mee soto for lunch, together with half the satay and chicken cutlet. We left the box of kueh kueh on our kitchen counter for tea time later the same day, and everything else went into the fridge for tomorrow.

The sayur lodeh in the lontong was generous and the soup was sufficiently lemak and not watered down. The sambal was nice, although I would have preferred more given that I like my lontong on the spicier side.

What was interesting though was the nasi impit, which for some strange reason, had a slight hint of rose, and tasted delightful. I’m not sure if it was intentional, but if so, then it was a great decision by the chef. Overall, a very good bowl of lontong, and one that I’d gladly order again.

The mee soto though, didn’t do so well. It had the requisite rempah taste in the soup, but it just wasn’t as flavourful as we’d expected. The chicken was also stringy, dry and tasted like it was overcooked, by a lot. But it could also be that we benchmark any mee soto against the one made by Rahim Muslim Food, and so far, none have measured up.

The chicken cutlet was also kind of meh, although the rempah coating was quite nice. But what truly stood out was the sate ayam. Similar to mee soto, we benchmark any chicken satay against the one grilled by the pakcik at Rahim and this one by Ollella was almost as good.

It’s not quite an apples-to-apples comparison (or maybe it’s a green apple to red apple one), as pakcik makes a more Singaporean style of satay ayam, whereas Ollella’s version is probably more Indonesian. Two differences that stood out is that the marinade for Ollella’s sate tastes more complex and their dipping sauce is much thicker and not as spicy.

Whenever I eat satay, I tend to have each bite with a generous amount of sauce. But in this case, it definitely tasted better on its own, where the flavour of the spice mix was allowed to shine through. If I had the choice of only one satay, I’d still go with the one from Rahim. But this is a very close second, and definitely one that I’d order again without any hesitation.

Three hours after we finished lunch, I made some Japanese iced coffee using freshly roasted single-origin coffee beans from Nylon Coffee Roasters, specifically the bright tasting Rwanda Musasa Dukunde Kawa. Because kueh kueh goes well with a good cup of iced black coffee.

We started with the lemper ayam, which is a savory kueh made with braised and shredded chicken sandwiched between glutinous rice. After the kueh dadar, this is our second most favourite kueh from Ollella. The chicken may look white and boring, but the taste is anything but.

The first taste that hit you is the santan (coconut milk) that its braised in, followed by the aromatics from the other ingredients used to infuse the braising liquid, including lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves and pandan.

If you haven’t tried this kueh before, I highly recommend that you do. They also make a spicier version using dried shrimp and rempah which is just as good, so you might as well get both flavours.

After we were done with the lemper ayam, we moved on to the three sweet kueh kueh.

Kueh salat is widely available and Ollella’s version is good but not fantastic. The kueh bingka ubi, made from grated tapioca, is also nice but probably a touch too refined. The Wife likes it when the tapioca is coarsely grated and she can feel the texture with each bite. The one by Ollella is too smooth and probably made with blended tapioca.

But all was forgiven once I bit into the kueh dadar, with its soft yet slightly chewy skin and rich gula melaka infused grated coconut filling. The taste profile is almost like an ondeh ondeh, but without the liquid gula melaka explosion. As mentioned earlier, it tastes the best when it’s freshly made, but even when it’s not, it’s still very oishii.

We were toying with the idea of having the nasi lemak for dinner, but the lunch and tea time kuehs were too heavy and we decided to postpone it for lunch the following day. Since we didn’t own a microwave oven, they were heated up in our steamer.

The rice was partly blue and partly white, with the blue portion dyed using butterfly pea flower. It’s not commonly used for nasi lemak, and Ollella proudly proclaims on their website that they “did it because it’s pretty!”. I agree, because while it doesn’t add much to the flavour, it definitely adds to the aesthetic.

We weren’t impressed with the chicken rendang, which tasted dry and overcooked. Although it could have been a function of it spending the night in the fridge and then being re-heated.

But the nasi lemak itself was good, especially the green chilli or sambal ijo. I’ve never seen it added to nasi lemak before, but it definitely elevated the dish. Next time, we’ll probably just get the basic nasi lemak without the rendang.

Overall, we were quite impressed with the food by Ollella. Yes, there were some misses (i.e. mee soto, chicken cutlet, chicken rendang, kueh bingka ubi) but they were more than compensated by the hits (i.e. lontong, sate ayam, nasi lemak, lemper ayam, kueh dadar), with the added plus point of reasonable prices and free delivery.

Next time, we’ll order ala carte instead of choosing the combo meal, so that we can choose the specific items that we really liked. Or even better, we might just make a trip down to their restaurant “Makan House by Ollella” at 454 Race Course Road and enjoy their food (especially the sate) fresh from the kitchen.

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