Ny­onya delights

This restau­rant in Johor Baru serves well-bal­anced and au­then­tic-tast­ing cui­sine, writes Peggy Loh

New Straits Times - - Bots -

NOW I don’t have to travel to Malacca for an au­then­tic taste of Ny­onya cui­sine after dis­cov­er­ing Clas­sic Ny­onya restau­rant in Johor Baru. The restau­rant, in Ta­man Sutera Utama, is easy to spot, dis­tin­guished by the pretty pink sign­board show­ing the pro­file of a Ny­onya with flow­ers in her siput sang­gul (hair bun).

NOT NY­ONYA

While chat­ting with pro­pri­etress Pang Siew Yen, I sense her pas­sion for the cui­sine and guess she must be Per­anakan or Straits­born Chi­nese. But when I ask her if she is a ny­onya, she swiftly replies, “No.”

Pang is Chi­nese of Hakka ori­gin. Her grand­fa­ther sold bean­curd from a push­cart and when she says they used to live at Jalan Ngee Heng, it struck a chord be­cause my grand­fa­ther’s for­mer house was also on that road!

Pang, a self-con­fessed foodie, used to com­pare the cook­ing meth­ods be­tween the Chi­nese and Per­anakan com­mu­nity, and was fas­ci­nated by the in­tri­ca­cies of blend­ing in­gre­di­ents like buah keras (can­dlenut), buah keluak (seeds of the Ke­payang tree), bela­can (prawn paste), lemon­grass and kaf­fir lime leaves to cre­ate flavours that are unique to their cui­sine.

When Pang hooked up with her Baba friend Allan Wan, she turned her dream into re­al­ity last July with the open­ing of Clas­sic Ny­onya. A serv­ing of pai tee hats or crispy tophats filled with fresh in­gre­di­ents. (Ha­lal-sourced in­gre­di­ents)

90, Ground Floor, Jalan Sutera Tan­jung 8/4,

Ta­man Sutera Utama, 81300 Sku­dai, Johor

07 - 5506767

11am to 10pm, week­day break 3pm to 5pm. Closed Wed­nes­day.

Ny­onya or Per­anakan cui­sine

Beef Ren­dang, Lemak Nanas Prawns and re­fresh­ing Cen­dol

From RM5 to RM79 per dish

Con­tem­po­rary fam­ily restau­rant

Ef­fi­cient and un­ob­tru­sive

Go give it a try

It serves au­then­tic Ny­onya food based on tra­di­tional fam­ily recipes.

“Thirty years ago, I didn’t even know what buah keras was!” de­clares Pang with a laugh. She has since dis­cov­ered even more in­ter­est­ing in­gre­di­ents that go into the prepa­ra­tion of well-loved recipes at the restau­rant. The right balance of fresh co­conut milk, palm sugar and shaved ice for a re­fresh­ing and sat­is­fy­ing taste of Ny­onya Cen­dol.

TASTY NY­ONYA

Their pic­to­rial menu gives me an idea of what to ex­pect, from ap­pe­tis­ers to desserts. Serv­ings are gen­er­ous, even the ones marked Small.

Pang is aware that din­ers who are seeking Ny­onya food have high ex­pec­ta­tions and this chal­lenges her to stick to au­then­tic recipes and serve food that truly pleases the palate. She is se­ri­ous about the food they serve and for a more sat­is­fy­ing bite, she has cre­ated her own recipes for the crepe

Ten­der Beef Ren­dang in a rich spicy sauce.

wrap for Ny­onya Popia (RM6.80 for two) or fresh spring rolls, and the crispy top hats Pai Tee (RM10.40 for six).

While a lot of Ny­onya dishes are spicy, din­ers who like it hot­ter are wel­come to in­di­cate their pre­ferred spici­ness when plac­ing or­ders.

But Pang as­sures me that not all Ny­onya dishes are spicy so every­one can en­joy mild items such as Lobak (RM14.70 for three rolls), Ayam Buah Keluak (RM24.10) and Itik Tim (RM24.20), a de­li­cious Ny­onya recipe duck soup.

CLAS­SIC FAVOURITES

I must ad­mit I’m feeling rather greedy as I dig into clas­sic favourites like Beef Ren­dang (RM24.10), As­sam Pedas Fish (RM23.10), Lemak Nanas Prawns (RM31.50), Sam­bal Pe­tai (RM25.20) and Steamed Ladies Fin­gers topped with sam­bal bela­can (RM12.60).

The in­ter­est­ing range of flavours in th­ese dishes are best savoured with steamed white rice. When the Lemak Nanas Prawns is served, the pineap­ple’s pi­quant fra­grance wafts around in a de­li­cious cloud that fur­ther stirs up my ap­petite. The Beef Ren­dang is so ten­der and full of flavour that it al­most melts in my mouth!

A meal of Ny­onya food is not com­plete with­out desserts such as Cen­dol (RM5.80) and Sago Gula Me­laka (RM4.80). Desserts here are made with the right balance of fresh co­conut milk, palm sugar and shaved ice that not only sat­is­fies but also make me fall in love with Ny­onya cui­sine all over again.

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