A hip nyonya place
Shelly Yu’s the place to unwind and dine, writes Ewe Paik Leong
ACincalok chicken wings exudes a sourishshrimpy flavour. S I step into Shelly Yu’s, a colourful mural on the wall behind a heavily-stocked bar immediately catches my attention. A bird and a massive flower are abstractly depicted in bright colours in the mural.
After taking a seat, my gaze flits to other walls at the back of the bistro. They are decorated with paintings in bold colours, making me think of painters such as Salvador Dali and Paul Gauguin.
As I browse the food menu, I recall reading the restaurant’s Facebook account that describes itself as serving “Nyonya food and nyonya-inspired gin cocktails in a high energy, vibrant atmosphere.”
Without photos, the simple menu has short listings grouped under starters, meat, seafood, noodles and rice, vegetables, sambal and manisan (dessert). The dishes are Nyonya standards, there’s nothing new or creative.
Next, I flip open the drinks menu. There are gimlets, red wine, white wine, gin, rum, juices, soft drinks and the usual varieties of coffee. Several creative drinks are found here. For example, Kopi Limau Ais is made of tequila, coffee, lime, galangal soda and kaffir lime leaf.
Then there’s the Baba Yaga concocted from rum ginger, gula Melaka, mint, coriander and lime. Among other standouts in the non-alcoholic beverages are jackfruit shrub with soda and lime, mango nutmeg shrub with soda and assam boi cooler.
A plate of pie tee arrives first. When I pop one into my mouth, the pastry shell crumbles like wafer before the fillings work their savoury magic by bursting with moist sweetness and titillating spiciness from the chilli sauce. I recall a Nyonya granny once told me that this tidbit is time-consuming to prepare, so I presume the shells are prepared beforehand and stored in airtight containers.
Next, I try the Peranakan curry noodles. A pile of long cucumber strips sit atop the curry-drenched mee, which has fish balls, tofu puffs, a slice of hard-boiled egg, fish cake slices and some bean sprouts.
The first bite produces a rough mouth-
49, Jalan Telawi 3, Bangsar Baru
Noon to midnight daily Nyonya fare
Cincalok marinated chicken wings and pie tee
RM6 to RM80
Cool and funky
Hurried service due to short of staff
Go give it a try
feel akin to chewing grass! The cucumber strips are too coarse for my liking. The curry broth is thick but the flavours of the spices are muddled. A second mouthful of the mee jerks me upright in my seat as I am taken aback.
Strands of mee are sticking together in clumps because they have not been sufficiently blanched in hot water. I steer away from the noodles to eat the fish balls but
Brinjal sambal is terrific eaten with rice.
they are nothing to fuss about. Overall, this bowl of noodles is a meh (thumbs down).
Cincalok marinated chicken wings makes up for the earlier flop. Every bite of the chicken meat unleashes a sourishsaltish-shrimpy aroma that is an absolute counter-point to the sweetish grilled chicken wings popularly sold by hawker stalls. This dish serves as an excellent appetiser.
My meal continues with brinjal sambal and deep-fried ikan rawa.
The spongey texture of the brinjal complements the fluffiness of the white rice.
The ikan rawa has been fried in butter and doused in umami sauce. The meat is slightly coarse but as the outer skin is crispy, this texture is not obvious to my taste buds. However, the fish meat is terrific when eaten with rice.
Mango nutmeg shrub with soda rounds up my meal. A sip releases a cinnamon-like flavour that invigorates my senses but the mango flavour is a tad weak. As I wait for Ikan rawa has a crispy outer skin and is drenched in umami sauce.
my bill, I remind myself that I must come again in the evening to listen to dee jays Axel Groove, Slutski and XA and ROZZ work their magic on the console. And, of course, the Nyonya-inspired gin cocktails demand to be sampled.