Nyonya Kitchen @ Hugh Low Street, Ipoh – Just Not There YetJuly 15, 2012 | 7,300 views
Nyonya Curry Fish Head (RM24/USD8) served in a small pot with handle; a creative presentation, I’ll give them that.
Aside from Bee Gaik and Yum Yum, there has been a serious lack of good restaurants serving delicious and authentic Nyonya cuisine in Ipoh. Wait, scrap that authentic part as both the restaurants mentioned had strong influences from Chinese and to some extent, Thai cuisine as well.
And then Nyonya Kitchen comes along. A very daring strategy to name their establishment, as the very self-explanatory name will no doubt generate much interest among Nyonya food lovers in Ipoh; OR incurs their wrath depending on how they perform in delivering their promise of dishing up authentic Nyonya feast.
The decor and dining environment at Nyonya Kitchen can best be summed up as slightly eccentric more than eclectic; combining both a furniture shop and a restaurant into one.
I first read about Nyonya Kitchen from someone’s post on All About Ipoh. Then the few months old restaurant pushed the envelope by driving traffic through Groupon Malaysia. I did not purchase any e-vouchers though, instead opting to walk in for dinner with my family.
The restaurant is not hard to locate, but easily missed if you’re expecting this to be by the side of the main road of Hugh Low Street. Instead, Nyonya Kitchen faces the very popular coffee shop opposite of Little Genting Cafe (in Cantonese named “Siew Wan Deng” not sure of its exact English name). Directly at the junction of Jalan Sultan Iskandar Shah and Jalan Ali Pitchay.
Ayam Pongteh (RM11/USD4) – A revamped version of the Pongteh that I have grown accustomed to, this version was nowhere near to what I had in Malacca or Penang.
Walking in into the two-lot restaurant, one could not help but be puzzled by the layout and choice of internal decorations. Largely dominated by wooden furnitures including gazebos, swings and stools, the contrasting chandeliers looming beyond our heads lent a rather dim light source to the already dark ambience.
Not to mention the spacious premise was only fanned by a unit or two of air-conditioners (and one above us which was not working), and several fans put up in nooks and corners.
That being said, the fact that most of their seats are wooden stools and suffice to say both of my grandmas had trouble staying put and seated for long.
Chili Sotong (RM12/USD4) – Lightly steamed squid served with a piquant sauce made of tomatoes, onions and red chili paste.
Once seated, we waited for a bit before patience ran thin and I stepped up to the counter and grabbed a few menus. The lady at the counter was slightly apologetic, though any one of them could have just passed us the menus once ushering us in.
Then the wait for the food. The place was pretty packed that Sunday evening, hence it was understandable. But the wait between dishes was not. We finished up the plate of Nyonya Sambal Mixed Vegetables (RM10/USD3.30) and Pongteh Chicken (RM11/USD4) while still waiting for the rest. The former was good; combining crunchy cabbage, carrots and a myriad of vegetables stir-fried in a savoury sauce. The Pongteh however, was a disappointment as I expected the usual stew-like Pongteh with softened chunks of potatoes, and a sweetish, bean sauce.
The Nyonya Curry Fish Head came in a most inviting manner; served in a pot with bubbling curry showing promise. Easily the spiciest dish that evening, the dish could do with more flavours and substance rather than throwing aged long beans into the pot.
Chili Sotong thankfully came with a dollop of appetizing sambal on top of the boiled squids, although for RM12 per serving, they could do with a slight bit of generosity in the portion. Or at least, the sauce.
Nyonya Egg Rolls (RM6/USD2) – The popiah saved the day?
The egg rolls were ordered because of the initial fear of suffering through hunger before the other dishes arrived. Ironically, these came last.
No sour notes to this, as the thin layer of crepe made from egg omelette wrapping around a generous stuffing of julienned yambean and carrots, with bits of dried shrimps reminded us of the classic Nyonya’s Joo Hoo Char yet different without the lettuce. This was the ‘dish’ that I enjoyed most aside from the Chili Sotong (more to the sambal than the squid, actually).
All in all, they can go far if they rethink about concerns the dining guests might have; for instance the elderly who cannot be seated on an unbalanced stool without back rest, prompt service and sound recommendations, and tying up loose ends when it comes to the authentic Nyonya fares they promise to serve.
228, Jalan Sultan Iskandar Shah (Hugh Low Street)
30000 Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia.
Business Hour : 10am – 10pm
Tel No : +6016-518 8889
GPS : 4.592116,101.08612
*Junction of Hugh Low Street and Jalan Ali Pitchay. Once you passed by the roundabout and Yuk Choy on your RIGHT, look for a row of shops on your LEFT. Turn left into Jalan Ali Pitchay and Nyonya Kitchen is on your immediate RIGHT.