This nyonya restaurant has been around for a long long time. Simply named Restoran Nyonya, it is located on Jalan SS2/24, in the heart of Petaling Jaya. They claim to be have started business in 1974. That makes them well over 30 years old - approaching 40.
I remembered eating there many times and was there again recently. What I did not remember was its new decor. It did not look the same. I later found out from their website that they are a makeover in 2007. So it must had been at least 4 years since I last ate there. The place now looks bright and cheerful. It used to be rather drab.
Our meal started with the ikan assam pedas. I could not tell what kind of fish we were served. I think it was either pieces of a snapper or a grouper. Whatever it was, the fish was fresh. The assam gravy was very savory, with pieces of okra (ladies' fingers) topped with mint, basil and chopped lemon grass (serai).
Next was the sambal prawns with petai. Petai (parkia speciosa), the strong stinky seeds that are gathered from the forest, is one of my favorite idiosyncratic delicacies. It makes the mouth stink, the breath foul and the toilet unbearable. Yet unexplainably, like a lot of other Malaysians, I love it. The sambal prawn petai in Nyonya was not the best. There wasn't enough petai. It was also a little too oily. But I enjoyed it nevertheless.
I believe sayur paku is a nyonya vegetable. So appropriately, we ordered it. This vegetable which is a fern, used to be very cheap. I believed they used to be gathered from the wild. It is best fried with sambal, which was exactly how we had it. It was good. I think Nyonya did a good job with this humble green. The sambal and some pieces of prawns made the paku very delicious.
The inchi kabin is a nyonya deep fried chicken. It was very well done - crispy and well marinated. I liked the aroma. My only complaint was the serving was too small. There was hardly enough to go round the table. Chicken like this - there should be at least 2 pieces per person.
This gado-gado, a kind of rojak that originated from Indonesia, should had been our starter. But it arrived at our table in the middle of the meal. It was various veges, tofu, boiled egg, etc, blanketed with a peanut sauce. The flavor of this dish is totally in the sauce. And it was not great. I felt it was too sweet. And I would prefer more crushed peanuts in it.
I do not know why nyonya folks are so crazy about their perut ikan (fish stomach or air bladder). This was our final dish. It was a meshed-up, soggy potpourri of various veges. And in it was supposedly some fresh fish maw (or air bladder). It tasted spicy and sour with a weird kind of fishy taste. I could not find any fish maw in it - they had been so thoroughly cooked that they had dissolved into the mess. I did not find it good at all - not then and not at all previous occasions that I had perut ikan.
And then we enjoyed our desserts. My wife had this bowl of ABC (ais batu campur). It looked very nice. The taste certainly did not disappoint. It had a good mixture of what ABC should be. I tasted it and I agreed with her choice.
I did not try this cendol though. It did not look as good as the ABC.
My hot bowl of bubur cha cha was the jewel of the dessert crown. It was one of the best bubur cha cha I had. There were 2 different types of sweet potatoes, yam, cendol, jelly and beans. The santan broth was rich and so very creamy. The taste was fantastic.
The tag line of this restaurant is "Yesterday's taste. Today". After more than 4 years since my last visit, it is impossible to tell if they had maintained their "yesterday's" consistency. But going by our latest experience, their "today's" taste is definitely good enough to go there again when we next have our craving for nyonya food.