‘Nyonya’ is used to describe an ethnic Chinese woman who married a local Malay man since the late 15th and 16th century in Malaysia/Singapore. Through this bond, a cultural legacy is left behind in its unique culinary fare, fashion and language. Nyonya cooking blends Chinese ingredients with spices and cooking techniques used by the Malay community. The flavours are similarly tangy, aromatic, spicy, fragrantful and herbal.
I remembered when I was young, I would wait for Auntie ‘M’ who would go from door to door, selling her delicious home-made Nyonya ‘kueh’ and cookies. With a fifty cent coin in my hand, I was ever so ready to pounce on her delicious kueh. Those tiny and pretty looking kueh tasted so sweet and delightful. Ultimately as I grew older, I began to appreciate much of what Nyonya cuisine has to offer because of the rich and bold play with flavours.
Little Nyonya was three-quarter empty when we arrived. Despite that, the waitresses seem to be in topsy turvy and do not know what they need to do after we were seated. We had to ask for the menu and cutleries. The decor fits right at home with pictures of their ancestors and Kebaya worn by the Nyonya as well as marble tables, wooden chairs used by a typical Nyonya restaurant in Malaysia.
For entree, the portions were generous – we had Loh bak which was delicious – made of marinated pork strips, then wrapped with light tofu skin and finally fried until crisp. The Kerabu crispy chicken on the other hand was quite bland with the chicken lacking in seasoning and the kerabu that didn’t quite tantalize and excite my senses.
As for mains, the Assam fish fillet was chewy but the assam curry was mild and didn’t hit the spicy/sour tone I was looking for *sigh*. If only there was more assam and chilli 🙂
The Crispy pork belly was a huge plate for us and even came with 2 crispy buns! The meat was tender soft and enjoyable. But not quite so the same for the bun – while the bun was crispy outside, I didn’t like the density and thickness of the bun.
Verdict : Little Nyonya needs to be daring enough to exhibit much bolder flavours and play up the fragrant spices used in Nyonya cuisine. When we left, the restaurant was packed like sardine in a can. I wouldn’t specially come all the way to dine here, but if you are around the neighbourhood and is craving for some close-to-home delicacies, Little Nyonya will be a good stop.
To die for : Loh bak
Price : $$
Yummy Factor : +3
Tip : Too busy to eat? Fear not, Little Nyonya does food delivery service too.