Baba Can Cook
It still sits at the top of my list for my ultimate bowl of Nyonya Laksa… Uncle John’s Nyonya Laksa that is… undefeated ever since I had my first taste, I doubt I will ever find another bowl to compete with this. So when Baba Tan Kim Chye or more lovingly known as Uncle John opened Limapulo together with his godson, Alan Yun late last year at Jalan Doraisamy in Kuala Lumpur, I made sure to round up the foodie gang for a visit to my favorite Peranakan restaurant.
Helming LimaBlas previously, Uncle John and Alan now only operates Limapulo solely. It is always a joy to meet and see passionate people who takes their passion beyond anything. Uncle John, 73 years old this year, is still as gung-ho in serving up his legacy of scrumptious Nyonya cuisine as he was in his early years. To Uncle John, it is his duty to continue to dish up his family’s recipes and share the dishes with foodies from all over the world.
Limapulo takes on the same décor themed as their previous restaurants. It is a space for nostalgic charms of yesteryears cleverly matched together. Walking into the restaurant, diners are taken down memory lane of Baba Nyonya era with all its reconditioned furniture, old school memorabilia, and signboards. A touch of new life is injected through several pieces of modern art posters.
Peranakan Ale (RM4.50) is Uncle John’s homemade version of ginger ale. It’s lovely and refreshing so it’s a good choice to go with the strong flavours of the dishes unless you are not a fan of ginger.
Uncle John’s Nyonya Laksa (RM9.90) recently bagged the award for the Best Curry Laksa in the Klang Valley in The Star People’s Food Awards. That’s how good many deemed this bowl of Nyonya Laksa is, including myself.
I have had this Nyonya Laksa several times and each time, flavours are consistently good. His Nyonya Laksa is made from scratch and no additives are added. Instead Uncle John’s family recipes requires a list of fresh herbs and spices, all carefully balanced, pounded, cooked till fragrant together with more ingredients such as dried shrimp, coconut milk, tamarind and more. Once the laksa gravy is ready, it is then ladle piping hot onto noodles accompanied by shredded chicken, bean curd puff, fish cake slices, boiled egg, cucumber, bean sprout, calamansi lime and sambal.
Flavours are distinctively complex and yet the overall note of spicy, sour, sweet and savory really shines. The laksa broth is aromatic, robust and so creamy. There is a beautiful note of the dried shrimp together with the ginger torch that made the broth unique and piquant. Happy diners like me are glad to know that Uncle John’s Nyonya Laksa is available 70 bowls a day (prior to this it was only 17 bowls) on Monday, Wednesday and Friday for lunch and occasionally dinner. Rest assured, I did full justice to this bowl as there is no drop of laksa broth left in the bowl…
At Limapulo, their version of Cucur Udang (RM9.90) is different from many sellers. Here, the prawn fritters is cut up and served with boiled egg, fried tempeh, cucumber and drizzled in a sweet and spicy sauce. The finely shredded kaffir leave, ginger torch and calamansi limes added more fresh notes. Unusual but since I love tempeh and prawn fritter, I am certainly not complaining. Portion here is larger as it caters to our big group that evening.
Pie Tee (RM10 for a set of 4 pieces) is a Nyonya classic. These are decent with crispy top hat shaped shells filled with yam bean filling and topped with prawn and chili sauce.
Limapulo offers a nice list of Nyonya set lunches or single meals. Nasi Lemak (RM9.90) is surely a choice that we Malaysians love at any time of the day. Here, the beautifully fluffy and lemak coconut rice is served with curry chicken and its usual sidekicks of peanuts, anchovies, boiled egg, cucumber and sambal. Value-for-money lunch!
Our main dishes arrived and Gerang Asam (RM25) is definitely our favorite that evening of all the curries. The tamarind based curry is very appetizing and highly addictive. Piquant, tangy and spicy flavours are definitely crowd pleasing flavours. Depending on the catch of the day, different fish are used in this curry. That evening, mackerel fish cutlet is used and the firm flesh fish is delicious. The heavy flavoured fish is able to match the tangy curry well. Lady’s fingers are also often added in this curry to soak up the flavours. Yum… I made sure I piled scoops of the Gerang Asam curry on my rice.
Udang Masak Lemak Dengan Nenas (seasonal price) is a new dish at Limapulo. It is not on the menu yet but will be offer as a special on certain days when Uncle John can get all the ingredients to make this dish. It is cooked Masak Lemak style, so the curry is very different from the earlier one. This one is very rich, thick and creamy, redolent of lots of coconut milk and heavy dosage of spices. Prawns and pineapples are a common match in curries. The pineapple is supposed to add a natural fresh fruity note to the curry. The prawns were large, fresh and juicy, cooked beautifully in the thick savory and lightly tangy curry.
Ayam Berempah (RM17) is another curry that is heavily robust with spices. This is similar to chicken curry but is a thicker and dryer version of it. Uncle John is very good at balancing his spices, giving each curry a certain pedigree of flavours.
Uncle John keeps his menu small with his signatures. It’s always best to stick to what one knows best. Sambal Terung (RM15) is also a delicious signature which he had served up in previous restaurants too. Moreish notes sang all the way in the tangy and sweet eggplant sambal.
Sambal Bendi (RM15) is another dish that showed us how the Baba Nyonya loves their chili and spices. Even their vegetables is served with sambal. Lady’s fingers are blanched and served with a thick punchy sambal.
While we were dining, we spied our nearby table having the Nyonya Fried Chili (seasonal price depending on type of fish). Scad or cencaru is stuffed with chili paste and fried. It sure looks good and smells wonderful. Maybe for our next visit…
Uncle John makes a mean Mango Patchree (RM2 a piece). It’s a mango pickle and chutney that is a bomb of flavours. This condiment is time-consuming to make but is truly worthy once you had a taste of it!
Dinner ended with Nyonya desserts of Cendol (RM3.40), Ais Kacang (RM4.50) and Sago Gula Melaka (RM3.50). Traditional desserts that are icy, refreshing and a great way to clear the palate from all the curries and spices.
Limapulo showed that us that Baba can certainly cook too! Baba Uncle John that is… if only Limapulo is nearer to me because I would to be able to savor the Nyonya Laksa as often as I like. Oh well, not that distance matters to me because I know I would make my way there if Nyonya Laksa is what I am craving for. Don’t miss signatures of Nyonya Laksa, Gerang Asam, Ayam Berempah, Sambal Terung and Mango Patchree!
*Darn it, I am missing the Nyonya Laksa now as I am writing this post…
50, Jalan Doraisamy
53000 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: 03 2698 3268
GPS Coordinates: 3.158284, 101.699541
Mon – Sat Lunch from 12pm to 3pm
Mon – Sat Dinner from 6pm to 10pm
Closed on Sunday