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Peranakan culture is unique in its own right and their delicately prepared food is a staple among Malaccans (illustration pic only). — Bigstock pic
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MALACCA is coated with rich traditions at every corner. A noticeable unique culture is the Peranakan or popularly known as ‘Baba Nyonya’, a significant symbolism of interracial mix between Chinese and Malay. While the culture itself may not be so prominent, their traditional and delicately prepared food is a staple in Malacca. Ask any Malacca and they would assure you that Nyonya food is a known favourite. Here are our choices of Nyonya eateries that you may want to try the next time you are in the vicinity.
Nancy’s little hub is rather low profile but ask any Malacca about it and they’d be glad to guide you to it. It’s more of a small and packed restaurant so you might have to be prepared to wait in line and share table with strangers. Their sweet and sour fish is especially popular as it isn’t clogging with sweetness but is lathered with spiciness instead. If you’re feeling adventurous, the buah keluak ayam is a challenge you should take up on.
Tips: The restaurant is rate rather inconspicuous so you’ll most likely miss it. Here’s a tip, look closely for a name banner instead of a signboard.
Things to Expect: All their dishes come in small portions, allowing customers to order a variety. It is pretty affordable so you can eat all you want.
Best With: After finishing your meal, you can opt for desserts like cendol or kueh (sold in store separately).
Price: RM6 – RM35
Restoran Nyonya Makko
Nyonya Makko is one of those special restaurants that have been around for a long period and loved by both locals and tourists. It is also a true traditional Nyonya crib, where even the exterior is decorated to imitate a traditional Peranakan house, complete with paper lanterns hanging at the entrance. Most of their dishes (like the sambal petai and asam fish) looks incredibly red-hot spicy but don’t be fooled. It leans more towards the sweet and spicy flavour instead of the full-blown spicy kick you’re expecting.
Tips: It’s a stone’s throw away from Mahkota Parade & Dataran Pahlawan, so it’s easy to spot the place even if you aren’t a local.
Things to Expect: Authentic and traditional Nyonya eatery. Hotspot for tourists, too.
Best With: Try their ikan asam and pongteh then end the meal with some cooling cendol!
Price: RM12 – RM50
Cottage Spices Nyonya Restaurant
Their menu is pretty straight-forward and simple although not exactly filled with variety. Portions are also smaller than usual but they are packed with big flavours. Their sambal sotong with petai aka spicy chili squids with stink beans tasted fresh and extremely spicy. On the other hand, their otak-otak has a strong Northern influence. It’s an acquired taste as the heavy scent of lemongrass is slightly overwhelming. In short, Cottage Spices is your go-to restaurant if you’re looking for comforting Nyonya dishes.
Tips: Limited space here as the restaurant can only accommodate about 10 tables.
Things to Expect: Comfortable Nyonya dining experience.
Best With: Asam Pedas Fish.
Price: RM10 – RM25
Right across the street from Nancy’s Kitchen is Kocik Kitchen which bears a similar resemblance in both name and menu style. You can somewhat tell that Kocik is Nancy’s strongest competitor. Their food is actually more affordable and less tourist-friendly but it’s a preferred choice for those who prefer halal eateries. The place also feels home-like. Their otak-otak is distinctively different from the usual as it is shaped more like a fish ball. You have a choice of the “soft” version, using fish fillets, or the “hard” version which uses fishcakes instead.
Tips: There’s no queuing here!
Things to Expect: No-fuss, halal nyonya food.
Best With: Their dessert options (selections of kuehs) are highly recommended!
Price: RM8 – RM30
Seri Nyonya Peranakan Restaurant
Located at the Equatorial Hotel, Seri Nyonya serves classy Nyonya cuisine with much higher standards (and of course with a matching price tag). But if you’re looking to treat yourself, you’d be compensated with the amazing flavours and beautiful decor here. Their dishes are strictly authentic and not fusionised so those who are looking for an authentic Peranakan meal experience would enjoy dining here. The popular highlights from their menu includes ayam pongteh (braised chicken in sweet bean paste) and ikan goreng cili garam (deep-fried fish with spicy chilli paste).
Tips: Besides ala carte dishes, Nyonya style steamboat is also available here.
Things to Expect: 5-star hotel serving authentic and fresh Nyonya cuisine.
Best With: Refreshing asam boi is the signature drink here.
Price: RM15 – RM50
Amy Heritage Nyonya Cuisine
The bubbly owner, Amy takes large pride in her Nyonya cooking. The wait for your food can be a bit lengthy, but that’s so that Amy and her kitchen team can prepare the best for their customers. A memorable dish is the ikan cili garam — deep fried fish fillet complimented with a generous topping of flavoured fresh chilli paste. The fish is lightly-seasoned but goes hand-in-hand with the chili paste which already packs a punch.
Tips: Reservation is a must. On certain days, they don’t even entertain walk-ins.
Things to Expect: Memorable (but slow) Nyonya feast.
Best With: Kangkung Kobis Keledek Masak Titik Lemak. Super long name but a highly proclaimed original dish that can be found only at Amy’s.
Price: RM12 – RM30