As someone who is obsessed about Nyonya food (try following my 14 nyonya restaurants eating adventures in MELAKA HERE and you will know what I mean), I daresay that I have a good idea of how a great Nyonya meal should be like.
That said, I understand that there are variations in recipes in every Nyonya family, as with every proclaimed Nyonya restaurant in town.
While I can confidently recommend a good Baba Nyonya restaurant in Melaka, my Klang Valley list is fewer.
Baba Nyonya by Sambal Chilli was a recent discovery for me.
Atria @ DJ was their first outlet while the recently launched Avenue K outlet is a fresh, beautiful, artsy place that I just love to hang out at – if it wasn’t so far from home!
Baba Nyonya aims to be a venue for every Malaysian to dine delicious local cuisine in a cosy environment. Besides ensuring quality and taste in their food, the team strove to keep prices affordable for everyone; be it locals or tourists.
Their claim: Inspired by the rich and diverse heritage of Malaysia, Baba Nyonya by Sambal Chilli serves a large selection of local cuisine in a cosy and welcoming environment.
Dishes are products from the mix of spices and herbs from the Malay cuisine combined with Chinese wok fire/claypot cooking technique.
All dishes are prepared upon order and assuredly not pre-cooked. The reason was to ensure the freshness of the taste and make for a memorable dining experience.
Based on my first meal here on the opening day of Baba Nyonya in Avenue K, I can attest to the ‘memorable dining experience and the freshness of the food‘.
I was told that the chef’s (Chef Rimong) signature dishes are the Assam Pedas Fish and the Sambal Petai Prawn so that were our first choices on the order chit.
Then I requested for vegetables, specifically the chap chye (any Nyonya restaurant should be able to pull this off) and the okra with sambal.
In addition to that, we spoiled ourselves with chicken lorbak, cincalok omelette and a variety of desserts.
Asam Pedas Fish Claypot (RM 58.90)
Prepared upon order, this hearty claypot of thick, tangy soup came bubbling cheerily with a whole fried fish resting within.
The gravy was appetizing and thus addictive with hot rice. As I photographed it, my stomach growled in response to the heady waft of the sweet sour gravy!
The fish was fresh and a good size for the price. But a good fish is wasted if it wasn’t prepared properly.
Here, the fish remained moist and sweet though it was fried before it was sank into the assam pedas pool.
I dug in greedily for soft ladyfingers and beancurd puffs which has soaked up all the gravy.
Heck, I love beancurd puffs in curries for this very reason; to be able to bite into one and enjoy the spurt of delicious curry/gravy in my mouth!
Sambal Petai Prawn (RM 29.00)
About half a dozen plump prawns plus a smattering of crunchy petai was stir-fried in Baba Nyonya’s aromatic and thick house sambal.
I find the price fair for the size of the prawns and if you’re a shrimp fan, this is definitely a must-order.
Cincalok omelette (RM12.90)
Cincalok omelette to me is a dense, thin omelette. This was a puffy, crispy-at-the-edges version which caught me off-guard.
A first for me, not unpleasant, though unexpected.
However, rest assured that it was tasty and pungent in cincalok without being overwhelming.
Chicken Lobak (RM10.90)
Adeptly fried, these meat rolls were meaty without being greasy.
It was a good protein choice in midst of all the seafood we had on the table.
Steamed Ladies Fingers with Sambal (RM12.70)
The very reason I ordered this was for the sambal belacan. However the sambal wasn’t the version that I’ve expected.
By now I realized that some of the dishes here varied slightly from the versions I’m used to, though not necessarily in a bad way, but one just have to be aware so that you can set your expectations accordingly.
Nyonya Chap Chye (RM16.90)
This is one of my favorite Nyonya dishes of all time!
It was comforting to be able to enjoy this in a restaurant among other lavish dishes. Though humble, it is a flavourful dish and the flavours generally develop better overnight.
Baba Nyonya’s version was a tad watery.
DESSERTS: Chendol – RM3.90, Banana Fritters – RM11.90
I order chendol by default in any Nyonya restaurant and I was glad to see small, soft red beans used instead of the offensive kidney beans.
The ice was fine enough, the coconut milk creamy and rich and the gula melaka aromatic and thick.
Yes, the chendol here is definitely one of the better ones served in a restaurant!
Meanwhile, another of Baba Nyonya’s signature dessert is their banana fritters.
Though a bit greasy, it was enjoyable as it has an airy, light exterior. Chow it down hot soaked it into the kicap manis (sweet soy sauce) with cut chillies or with the ice cream for the hot-cold sensation.
I had a pleasant meal at Baba Nyonya. The dishes posssessed satisfying, homecooked flavours which I love. Granted there were variations in some of the dishes I had, but tastewise they were still delicious.
If you are not a stickler for tradition, just keep an open mind and enjoy the dishes as it is.
This venue in Avenue K is a beautiful space with wonderful touches of the Peranakan legacy. The lighting is bright, the vibe welcoming and the service staff cheery.
The extensive menu offers meals for singles, small groups as well as large gatherings of friends and family.
If you are in Avenue K, do swing by; be it for a quick snack (go for the RM2.50 mee siam and nasi lemak packs), a scrumptious meal (set meal for one like nasi lemak, etc) or a languid sit-down feast with your bunch of colleagues/friends/family.
Pandan Kasturi RM12.90, kuih-muih for RM1.00 each.
I’ll be back soon to try the kuih as they looked delicious, delicately made and rich.
The pandan kasturi is a wonderfully refreshing drink that would be great at any time of the day.
So instead of Starbucks, why not hang out here instead?
Personally I’ll take a chendol over a Frappucino anytime! 🙂
Baba Nyonya 3rd Floor
Atria Shopping Gallery
Jalan SS 22/23,
Damansara Jaya, 47400.
ContacT: +603 7731 9869
HOURS: 10am – 10pm
Lot UC-1, Upper Concourse @ Avenue K
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Contact: +603 2011 2912.
HOURS: 8am – 10 pm