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"I am not a chef. I am not even a trained or professional cook. My qualification is as an eater. I cook what I want to eat – within limits" from Nigella Lawson's "How to Eat"

Saturday, February 12, 2011

A Nyonya Tea Party@ Flavours Restaurant/Bulldog Cafe, Malacca

Recently, from 7-9 February 2011,  all the State MOTOUR directors had a meeting in Malacca. We stayed at the Mahkota Hotel which is strategically located in the centre of Malacca City. To be honest, it was like a dream come true to me as I missed the chance to "jalan-jalan cari makan" in Malacca with my staff last year.

After our "shorten meeting" and in between waiting for the River Cruise, the MOTOUR Malacca State office treated us to a very warm, cosy and scrumptious Nyonya-style tea party at Flavours Restaurant/Bulldog Cafe at Jalan Bendahara. The restaurant is a simple pre-war Colonial Chinese shophouse with a courtyard in the middle where the owner place a small koi pond (water features). But of course, being from the "other" UNESCO heritage site, I couldn't help comparing the interior of this restaurant with the more colourful and elaborately decorated Peranakan shophouses along Nagore Street, Muntri Street and some along the inner Penang road area hehehe. 

The directors from Sabah, Sarawak, Labuan, Negeri Sembilan, Penang and Perlis with the friendly owner of Flavour Restaurant.

This plaque on the wall caught my attention. A sign that the food here must be very good.
Anyway, when i was little I always wonder why my father's family doesn't seem to be like a normal Chinese family. They eat with their hands. They like spicy and hot food as compared to most Malaysian Chinese who would prefer mild and stir fry food. Initially, I thought it was because Grandpa's parents was from Medan. Later I found out that his parents was actually from Penang but migrated to Medan to open up a business there and they left my Grandpa behind with his grandmother.
Nyonya popiah. The skin of the popiah is very special, a bit like a fluffy thin pancake.
It was only when I grew older and more exposed the culinary world that I knew that the food cooked by my Grandma which later handed down to my aunties are known as Nyonya (or sometimes known as Peranakan) food. Then after moving to Penang, I learned more about the culture and find the difference between the Penang Peranakan and Malacca/Singapore Peranakan. Well, Northern Peranakan (Penang, Medan, Phuket) food is a bit spicier and with a little Thai influence of hot, sweet and sour. The Southern Peranakan on the other hand prefer prefer spicy, sweet and creamy (the use a lot of coconut milk in their recipes).

This either pulut inti or pulut panggang.
Nyonya kuih - a bit like seri muka.
Pai Tee. To be honest, I still prefer eating Auntie Ming's Pai Tee with special sambal belacan. But you must seal your Nyonya food testing with Pai Tee, else you cannot claim that you have eaten Nyonya food.
This sort of explain why the Nyonya laksa of the North is better known as Assam Laksa whereas the Nyonya laksa of the South (especially the Singapore Laksa) is called Laksa Lemak. Okay, back to the restaurant, I really love the friendly waiter/waitresses plus their chatty lady boss. The way she speaks reminded me of Kak Evelyn, a Malaccan Nyonya, who speaks perfect Malay. Well, i think most Malaccan Peranakan speak excellent Bahasa Melayu. Unlike the Penang Peranakan, who speaks and mix English with Hokkien and Malay.

The bar area, where they prepare the delicious coffee and cendol.
Nely, Sabah Director demonstrating the yummylicious way eating the Kueh.
Of all the great food served in the tea party, my favourites would be the Nasi Lemak, the Cendol and the black hot Hainanese coffee. For many years (i think nearly 20 years), I have been craving for this one nasi lemak sold by an army wife at the Kem Semenggo. We had few nasi lemak stalls selling near my primary school but this lady nasi lemak is my favourite. I couldn't quite explain technical detail of the deliciousness but it has something to do with the creamy, fluffiness of the steam rice. True enough, even Mr Lim, Malacca State director told me that the nasi lemak is a hit in the restaurant and only sold in the evening. Plus the sambal ikan bilis really suits my taste, no overpowering taste of dried chillies (very common in most Nasi Lemak sambal's).

Another must try. The nasi lemak is really, really nice. Right combination of coconut milk creaminess and perfectly steam rice. I had 2 packets.
The sambal ikan bilis (anchovies) is so delicious. I had to ask for extra bowl.
All the delicious spread, flush down with a nice cup of Hainanese black coffee. Heaven!

Please do try the freshly brewed hot Hainanese black coffee. In Malacca, I think it's worth trying everything Hainanese. Historically, Hainanese are great cooks and chefs. And they were employed by rich Chinese or Peranakan families as well as the Western colonial families. After the war or after independence, these Hainanese opened many of successful kopitiams but I guess one of the most notable would be the Colloseum Hotel Restaurant in Jalan Tunku Abdul Rahman, Kuala Lumpur.

The Nyonya cendol is heaven. The sweetness of gula melaka blend nicely with coconut milk. A must try!
The cendol, is another must try, though the cendol itself (the green thingy) is nothing to compare with the Penang Road Famous Cendol but I really love the combination of the thick gula melaka syrup with coconut milk. Making it "famous" by its own standard.

Location: 145, Jalan Bendahara Malacca, Malacca
GPS: 2°12'3"N   102°15'9"E


aters said...

Job well done!

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