So what happened?
Where is Aunty Lee?
Is the sweet lady still cooking or has she passed on the business?
Is the current Aunty Lee restaurant managed by her family members?
Is the food still the same?
So many questions and so many versions of the story had circulated since 2014 when Aunty Lee took ill and the restaurant was closed for a while.
Last week I was invited by Mr Michael for lunch at Aunty Lee.
Curious about Aunty Lee and the rumours behind her retirement, I accepted and of course, was looking forward to another meal here after so many years.
My first ‘Aunty Lee meal‘ was memorable. I even bought a passionate foodie and Dish Magazine co-founder, Catherine Bell to dine here in 2011.
BELOW: In 2011 – Catherine Bell, my buddy Daniel Cerventus were at Aunty Lee’s for dinner. Catherine loved the food!
Today in 2016, I am here again.
The chef is different, the management is different, the humble set up remained as it has for years at the same location and the food, well, it is good, but it is not Aunty Lee’s cooking.
Because Aunty Lee, god bless her soul, has passed on this April 2016.
In fact, she has retired 2 years ago.
The current king of the kitchen, Chef Anthony, an extremely capable chef himself (judging from my lunch) said Michael and himself took over since November 2014.
“Aunty Lee herself visited for meals a few times and had given her seal of approval,” Chef Anthony said.
In fact, Chef Anthony had learnt some recipes from Aunty Lee before she passed on.
However, as any cook will attest, “different hands will result in slight variations, even if the same recipes were followed to the ’T’.
And thus my advice?
Just enjoy the food as it is and keep wonderful Aunty Lee in your memories.
Accept that she has departed.
1. Stop comparing the current food to Aunty Lee’s cooking.
Aunty Lee Restaurant remains at the same location with the same humble interior and the food is overall good (depends on what you order of course).
However, it can’t be an exact duplicate of your “previous experience at Aunty Lee’s” simply because Aunty Lee is longer there.
2. Enjoy the food as it is.
Set your expectations accordingly and enjoy what Chef Anthony has to offer.
As a heads up, let me run you through my lunch.
My Lunch at Aunty Lee’s Nyonya Restaurant
My personal recommendations goes to the pai tee, the ayam purut, the bendi (okra) and the calamari.
The Pai Tee (RM25)
For RM25 you get 10 tart shells with enough fillings for well, 10 of course.
So it is RM2.50 each and frankly, for one that’s so well prepared, I would pay the price.
In case you don’t know, pai tee is easy to eat but laborious to prepare!
No sugar added into the stewed jicama, as it should be and the cups were perfectly fried – non-greasy on the fingers, thin and crunchy.
Ayam Purut (RM19)
This is a must-order.
The aromatic curry is delicious and rich while the chicken was cooked to the perfect doneness.
Here, take a look – smooth, supple flesh that was juicy to the bone. 4 pieces for RM19. Can I tapau please??
Squids in a Nyonya restaurant is likely to be fried with sambal and petai (stinky beans).
Here is a version that is perhaps, more acceptable for diners of all ages?
Not everyone fancies petai and there are some of us who don’t take spicy food.
But I haven’t met anyone who doesn’t like fried calamari rings, especially so for a portion so adeptly fried like this one.
The squids were perfectly cooked; bouncy with a nice chew to them without being rubbery. The flour coating was well seasoned and not overly thick.
Ayam gulung (chicken rolls) – RM20 for 10.
It seems that most fried items here are efficiently fried.
These meatrolls were likewise delightfully crispy yet non-oily. Meaty and tasty, I enjoyed them very much.
Chap Chye (RM13)
I’m a big fan of chap chye but this portion was too small and a tad bland.
If you need your greens I’ll recommend you to go for this instead!
The humble steamed okras were simple stuff, but it is the topping of onions and chillies that gave the magic.
And of course, no visit to a Nyonya food outlet in Melaka is complete without a Chendol (plain RM4.50) and with added durian (RM6.00).
Good quality, thick gula melaka, fine ice, fresh coconut milk and small red beans (I HATE kidney beans) – yup, this is a good!
About the current team:
Michael, the nice guy who invited me is one of the 3 partners in this business.
Chef Anthony has worked for several hotels; namely the Hyatt Kuantan and also the Ramada Renaissance Melaka for about 13 years.
He owned a Portuguese restaurant now run by his brother at The Settlement.
He went on to open his own restaurant at Melaka Raya called ‘Chef Anthony’ serving Portuguese eurasian cuisine.
For Aunty Lee, he carried on the dishes that Aunty Lee had served according to the recipes by Aunty Lee.
385, Jalan Ujong Pasir, Taman Sinn,
75050 Melaka, Malaysia.
WAZE: “Aunty Lee Nyonya” .
Contact: +606-283 1009
Hours: 11:30 am –3 pm, 6 – 10 pm.