Nyonya Soul Food
Nynoya cuisine has always been a part of my favorite list of cuisine that I can never get enough of. As my family hails from the northern Baba and Nyonya heritage, it makes sense why I adore the cuisine so much simply because I grew up eating it and loving it. Living in Kepong, there is hardly any Nyonya restaurants available here so I was pretty thrilled to see Just Nyonya Restaurant in Bandar Menjalara one day when we drove past the area.
Just when I thought I would go to Just Nyonya to try, a good foodie friend of mine invited me to go with her to Just Nyonya one weekend. Just Nyonya has been churning out dishes of Northern and Southern Nyonya cuisine for a year already in that location. Just Nyonya is owned and run by chef K.S. Tan whose 30 years of culinary career in the Peranakan restaurants has him learning the tricks and trades of the labor intensive cuisine.
The restaurant is relatively simple in décor. Light pale walls are decorated with few Nyonya memorabilia throughout the restaurant. Well ventilated and cool, dining at the restaurant was really comfortable and at ease.
The menu at Just Nyonya is filled with lots of classic Nyonya dishes that hails from Northern and Southern Nyonya cuisine so there’s plenty of dishes to please many. I was pleased to see some of my favorite dishes there, especially a very hard to find classic of Perut Ikan.
While waiting for our food to arrive, we sip on our hot and cold house brewed Serai Tea (RM 4.00)
When the Perut Ikan (RM 16.90) came, I knew it was going to be a good one at sight. Looking rustic, the hodgepodge of pickled fish stomach may not sound appetizing but the flavours of the dish is divine. Cooked for hours and has lots of vegetables, spices, herbs and the salted brined fish stomach, the version here is piquant and moreish. It has just the right hit of tangy notes and the various textures of the vegetables with pineapple and soft fish stomach. I kept savoring spoonfuls of the Perut Ikan happily because this version was so delicious. A must order if you enjoy Perut Ikan!
A bowl of bright orange curry of Sweet Potato Leaf Masak Lemak Keledek (RM 13.90 small) was next. This dish was also a crowd pleaser simply because we enjoy how creamy the curry was and it also had just the right balance of spices in this light curry filled with soft braised sweet potato leaf. The distinctive pungent dried shrimp gave the light gravy a wonderful boost of umami flavour. We literally ended up enjoying the last drop of curry in this bowl.
Since my mom makes a solid Kapitan curry, I had high hopes for the Chicken Kapitan (RM 16.90 small) here. And Just Nyonya’s version didn’t disappoint. Thick, robust and a nice hint of creaminess with a soft tang, the curry makes you want to pile on more steamed rice. We loved how generous Chef Tan is with the gravy as the pieces of chicken is literally smothered in much happiness. It is not too spicy so it is a great rich curry that many will enjoy even if you are not a spicy fan.
Chicken Pongteh (RM 16.90 small), a dish that hails from the Peranakan in the South, is another dish that literally beckons for rice. Unctuous savory and sweet notes are the flagship of the thick bean paste gravy. Tender chicken pieces and melt-in-the-mouth potatoes cooked in the thick bean paste sauce is literally comfort food for many while they were growing up in the Nyonya clan. Just Nyonya’s version has a very good balance of savory and sweetness that the adults enjoy just as much as the young ones.
Tempra Egg (RM 11.90 small) is Chef Tan’s tweak on the classic Tempra Chicken. Instead of chicken, we had fried egg drenched in the Tempra sauce that has loads of onions and minced chicken. It has a light savory flavour with hints of tang. Not spicy at all, the dish was a hit with the kids.
Chuan Chuan Fish (RM 34.90 small) is a Nyonya staple and most households, though shares similar recipe, have their own version that is slightly different. Here, it is crispy fried fish drenched in a savory bean paste gravy topped with onions, tomatoes and spring onions. Simple comforting flavours that is a sure daily favorite…
Just Nyonya’s Nyonya Asam Prawns (RM 38.90 small) is what every asam prawns should be. The unctuous tang of the asam sticky glaze on the prawns will have one sucking the shells to every last bit of its sauce. Yes, it’s that awesome. Prawns were firm and sweet too but the asam glaze is what makes this dish utterly addictive and so delicious! Another must order …
More dishes to savor and another Nyonya favorite of mine is Otak Otak (RM 13.90 per piece). While most recipes varies, the one here is pretty yummy. Laden with spices, the fish custard has a good hint of creamy and robust note. While most Otak Otak are steamed, this one is also grilled lightly for a smoky note.
Last of the savory lot, we also had their Inchi Kabin (RM 16.90 small). Piping hot, these pieces of chicken are well marinated with lots of aromatics and fried to crispy and deep amber hue deliciousness. Juicy and tender, we polished off this plate happily between the adults and kids.
Our Nyonya meal ended with some refreshing sweetness of Cendol (RM 5.00), ABC (RM 6.50) and Sago with Gula Melaka (RM 4.00). The desserts are very generously filled with ingredients and makes a good ending to a lovely meal at Just Nyonya. Enjoy slivers of cendol with creamy and nutty red bean topped with thick coconut and rich gula Melaka in Cendol or tiny pearls of Sago drenched in creamy coconut milk and gula Melaka are desserts that I can never get enough off. I also enjoy the hodgepodge of ingredients in the ABC with fine saved iced and doused with gula Melaka and syrup.
With decent pricing and good portions, Just Nyonya proves to be a solid place for Nyonya food. Flavours are solid for most dishes with top favorites of mine that includes Perut Ikan, Chicken Kapitan, Sweet Potato Leaf Masak Lemak Keledek, Asam Prawns and more. There are also set lunch with very decent pricing and I spied Nyonya Laksa on the menu too. I will definitely be back to try other dishes on their menu!
JUST NYONYA RESTAURANT
25, Lorong 5/62a,
52200 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: +60 3-6279 9996 /+6019-260 3996
Lunch 12.00pm – 3.00pm
Dinner 6.00pm – 10.00
(Close on Tuesday)