Penang - The Little Nyonya Cuisine, Queensbay Mall
New-ish restaurant in Penang's sprawling Queensbay Mall - it's named after the popular Mediacorp Singapore's serial drama, "The Little Nyonya", which was credited with raising public interest in the traditional Baba-Nyonya (Straits-born Chinese) culture which is distinct to Malacca, Singapore and Penang. Nyonya cuisine is perhaps Singapore-Malaysia's original fusion cuisine: bringing together Malay, Indonesian, Southern Chinese and Thai influences through the Baba-Nyonya's 5-centuries-old Chinese-Malay lifestyle which is unique to this part of the region.
"The Little Nyonya" - the drama series, wove detailed cooking steps into its daily episodes, and showcased distinctive and iconic Nyonya dishes and dessert items, as the heroine was a gifted cook - reminiscent of the Korean period drama-series, "Daejanggum" or "Jewel in the Palace" which featured Korean dishes in its episodic storyline, and a heroine who's also a talented cook. Both drama series drew large audiences in this region.
"The Little Nyonya" - the restaurant in question here, however, did *not* fare quite so well. What we had here:
- Nyonya Curry Chicken: tasty pieces of chicken and potato wedges, but overly-salty. The potato wedges also tasted like they'd been pre-fried before being added to the curry.
- Otak-otak: nice texture but, again, over-salted here. The "daun kadok" was missing here, and the "otak-otak" was steamed in a bowl, unlike the traditional version where the mousse-like mixture was wrapped in banana leaves before being steamed.
- Kueh Pie-tee: The "kueh pie-tee" pastry cups were smallish and the grated turnip filling did not contain much else. The salty chilli paste topping was also not typical of this dish. Don't like.
- Claypot Nyonya Curry Garoupa Fish Fillet: Nice flavours but portion of the fish fillets served here were too miserly for the prices charged. Still, the torch-ginger lent a nice scent to the spicy-sour-sweet curry. Again, the salt content was much higher than necessary.
Overall, a decent attempt to offer Nyonya food in a mall, but much tweaking to the dishes need to be done. The business was very brisk - it's the most popular restaurant on this stretch of eateries in the mall's basement level - but I attribute its popularity more to the current popularity of cuisine offered, rather than the fact that its food was good.
The Little Nyonya Cuisine
LG-116 & 117 Queensbay Mall
Persiaran Bayan Indah
11900 Bayan Lepas