Everybody is in the search of the best nyonya restaurants in Melaka.
The colorful, bustling historial state is a magnet for the Peranakan culture; be it food, fashion or history related.
While choices of good Nyonya restaurants are innumerable, there are some that I personally endorse, and would spend good money on.
These are (in no particular order):
Samfu Restaurant, Mimosa Hotel (photos/review here)
Bulldog Cafe (photos/review here)
Unicorn Cafe (photos/review here)
If you were to ask me how many Nyonya restaurants I’ve dined in in Melaka itself before shortlisting the above, here’s the list:
I’ve (with local Malaccan in tow) visited and dined at the outlets as below:
2. Nyonya Sayang (Jalan TMR 21, Taman Melaka Raya)
3. Ole Sayang (Taman Melaka Raya)
4. Donald & Lily’s
5. Nancy’s kitchen
6. Song Nyonya Taste Cuisine
7. Aunty Lee (when she was still the cook in 2011)
8. Amy Heritage
9. Unicorn Cafe
10. Bulldog Cafe
11. Kafe Lin
And in March 2016 I added another Nyonya restaurant into my list, this time the only halal-certified Nyonya restaurant in Melaka, Seri Nyonya in Hotel Equatorial Melaka.
As of writing, the restaurant has been in business for over a decade and helmed by Chef Rubayah Md Zin.
A swift research prior to my visit revealed that their chap chye, chicken pongteh and their hiow peow soup are the signatures.
These 3 dishes were much written about already so for my lunch, I opted to order other items so my article would cover other “less signature” items.
Hopefully my article would provide more options so future diners to Seri Nyonya would be able to judge for themselves the dishes they might like.
Since my dining partner is not familiar with keluak and prefers the pongteh, I spared him the uncertainty and chose the Chicken Pongteh (RM19 – small) as our fowl main.
For fish we decided on the Gerang Asam (RM29++). He wanted a vegetable dish, but I wasn’t willing to fork out RM12+ for some greens. We got on middle ground with a popiah (RM10++).
Both of us love our chendol so sharing wasn’t not an option. He got the plain chendol while I zoomed in on the durian version.
Standard Chendol (RM5.00) and Chendol with durian (RM6.00).
The restaurant was quiet for a weekday lunch session and we were seated in one of the private rooms instead of the main restaurant.
Here, there were 3 tables occupied. Considering that most diners were shown into this room the moment they walked in, we are guessing that this is the main dining room for lunch.
One would have expected the service team to be attentive since it is just a small room with 3-4 tables occupied. But in reality, most of the staff remained outside the room and if you are seated in the room (as we were) there is no one around to attend to you at all.
We had to look towards the door repetitively and wave in hopes of catching any of the staff’s attention or wait until someone walks in to serve food to be able to request for any service.
The duration of our lunch was almost 1 hour, and the wait staff probably only walked in once or twice (not including he trips they made to serve the food) to check on the tables.
Now food-wise the dishes were overall palatable.
For pork free Bulldog Cafe triumphs over Seri Nyonya easily. But for a HALAL certified outlet, there are no current contenders to Seri Nyonya.
The fish gravy was tasty and sharp as it should be, but the fish was mildly overcooked hence it wasn’t as flaky as I would have liked.
BELOW: Yes, it looks good here, but it would be so much better if the flesh was softer.
The Chicken Pongteh (RM15.80++) was overly sweet and not as thick as my usual preference either. Components for the chendol was great; from the fresh coconut milk to the chendol jellies and soft red beans.
However avoid the durian version if you could, for the small glob of durian doesn’t taste anything like fresh durian pulp. It was in fact, a blend of smooth paste (we suspected) with added sugar.
The pohpiah was just a bit better than your usual coffeeshop versions but the sambal belacan (RM5 on the menu, yes, it does come complimentary with the pongteh) wasn’t too bad as it packs enough sourness and heat to satisfy.
We have decided to add on to our order if we like what we ordered but since we weren’t impressed, we didn’t.
Still, a halal Nyonya restaurant in Melaka is non-existent so this is your best bet if you are a Muslim or wish to entertain Muslim guests/friends.
I won’t recommend this over Unicorn (pork), Bulldog (pork-free), Kafe Lin (pork) or Wok and Pan (pork).
But if you are dining with Muslim friends or a Muslim yourself, then Seri Nyonya in Melaka is a good option.
Seri Nyonya Restaurant
Hotel Equatorial Melaka
Bandar Hilir, 75000, Melaka. Malaysia
Tel 606 282 8333 Ext 3380
Hours: 12pm to 2.30pm
6pm to 10.30pm.