It is no wonder the likes of world-renowned shoemaker Jimmy Choo, film director Ang Lee and world’s number one squash player Nicol David favour this little restaurant serving Nyonya fare. First of all, its unassuming, humble interior of around 10 tables does not begin to reflect the tasty dishes they serve. What does is their service that is friendly and efficient, and family-oriented.
Their menu has most of the known (and some unique) Nyonya dishes such as jiu hu char, loh bak, curry Kapitan, Inchi Kabin and otak-otak. The meaty dishes extend to pork belly, fish and prawns, and their vegetable section has a satisfying array to choose from that’ll satisfy even the most finicky of vegetable eaters.
For our lunch, we choose, of course, jiu hu char. Their version has the mix of vegetables finely julienned, the turnip still holds a light crunch and the black mushrooms add texture to each lettuce-rolled bite. Extra lettuce leaves are at RM3++ per plate but it’s truly not necessary since the jiu hu char holds a delicate flavour that’s lovely to eat on its own.
We find their wedges of fried aubergine come devoid of oiliness, firm and topped with finely chopped and fried garlic and green cili padi. While their banana leaf-wrapped otak-otak is velvety smooth except for the generous chunks of fish embedded within the coconut and herbs mix. The surprise find here is the cili stir-fried sayur rumi with eggs and prawns that’s pleasantly spicy, crunchy and omelette-like in texture all at the same time. Yes, rather addictive this one!
As gentle as their wait staff is the flavour of the Chicken Kapitan of five meaty chicken pieces at regular size. There’s just enough spices to give a polite jolt on the palate and it’s the same with their sambal belacan that’s perfect with just about anything they serve, especially the jiu hu char and their crunchy deep fried loh bak that’s chunks of pork meat wrapped in fine films of taufu skin.
Overall, flavours are polite, delicate and fresh here. They’ve discovered a fine balance between the taste buds of locals and that of tourists. What’s really good is the welcome appetiser they serve as soon as you’re seated at your table of fried, crackling, crispy, salty anchovies mixed with sweet pickled sliced onions and green chillis. Just imagine the flavours and textures coming from that. Need we say more?
Prices of main dishes are from RM12+ and from RM16+ for meaty ones for regular size that’s good for two diners or three small eaters. Side dishes or bites such as otak-otak are from RM3.50+ per piece while loh bak is RM7+ for a serving and the anchovies that’ll magically appear on your table even before you order is RM5+.
It’s absolutely plain sailing dining here. In fact, the only thing challenging about this restaurant is finding a parking spot – a legal one, mind! So, we’d recommend car-pooling. Kitty Kaye
As featured in Time Out Penang's 50 things to do in Penang.
|Venue name:||Mama's Nyonya Cuisine|
31-D, Lorong Abu Siti
|Opening hours:||Tue-Sun, 11.30am-2.30pm, 6.30pm-9.30pm|