Also known as Peranakan cuisine, Nyonya food is deliciously diverse, having come from the early Chinese migrants who settled in Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore. A combination of Chinese, Malay and other South East Asian flavors, these are some of the best restaurants to head to in Kuala Lumpur if you want to have a taste of authentic Nyonya cuisine.
One of the oldest Nyonya restaurants in the country, Sambal Chili is known for making everything they serve right from scratch, including their blend of Nyonya spices that make up the base of the majority of their dishes. There are many items on the menu that are worth trying here, from the lemongrass, ginger and coriander encrusted chicken bites, otherwise known as Inchi Kabin, to the spicy Sambal Petai Prawns. If you are visiting the restaurant in a group, give the Asam Pedas an order, as this deep fried seabass is served up in a claypot with an Asam Pedas broth, along with tofu, tomatoes and okra.
Old China Café
The Old China Café, as well as its sister restaurant Precious Old China, is located in the heart of Kuala Lumpur, and is decked out with traditional Chinese furnishings, from the marble tables to the Chinese paintings to the wooden details. This restaurant has truly traditional roots, merging together flavors from both Northern and Southern Peranakan cuisine. While the Beef Rendang and Fish Head Curry are both well worth trying, the highlight of the menu is the Lemak Nenas Prawn dish, which features the freshest of seafood simmered down in a creamy concoction of coconut milk, pineapple and other tangy flavors.
Having only been operating for a few years, The Tranquerah is quite the newcomer to the Nyonya restaurant scene in Kuala Lumpur, but it has already managed to make quite the name for itself thanks to its hard-to-find Straits Chinese dish of Ayam Buah Keluak. Buah Keluak are large brown nuts, that are native to the region, but actually contain large amounts of hydrogen cyanide, which can be lethal. The preparation method for this ingredient is incredibly time-consuming, which is why the majority of restaurants choose to emit it completely from their menu, making The Tranquerah a must-visit if you are hoping to try this unique dish.
Situated in a renovated 1940s shophouse, the recipes served up at Limapulo have been handed down from the chef’s mother, meaning that you will find many family favorites on the menu. The star dish of this restaurant is, without a doubt, the Nyonya Laksa, which is only served on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays due to the fact that it has such a lengthy preparation time. With simmered chillis, lemongrass, candlenuts, galangal and other secret ingredients, this stand-out dish perfectly embodies all that Nyonya cuisine is.
The majority of Nyonya recipes have been passed down through many generations, and take a huge amount of precision to ensure that the flavors are balanced in the right way. While there may be many authentic Nyonya restaurants scattered throughout the city, these are some of the finest, and will give you a true taste of the flavors of Nyonya cuisine.