NYONYA: STRAIGHTS COOKING IN NOTTING HILL
Given that I am about to head off on the next leg of the journey which will see me in many countries in South East Asia, I jumped at the chance to have supper with my new friend, Elaine, a food enthusiast whose parents hail from Singapore and Malaysia.
When she suggested Nyonya in Notting Hill, I have to admit, I did have cause to pause. Once a year in West London is usually plenty for me and I felt like I had already done my community service with a visit to La Plaza a few weeks earlier.
However, Elaine insisted and promised me a good time, which at the very least in my reckoning involves a Danny Kaye movie and a glass of warm milk, so I braved the rain and the tube and headed out West again.
By the time I arrived, bedraggled and miserable, Elaine was already sitting at one of the communal tables sipping on a glass of house made soy milk. She ordered one for me and my first sip cheered me up. Nutty and savoury, I am not sure I could drink more than a glass but it hit the spot after my travel traumas.
I am going to be in Kuala Lumpur and Penang so Elaine wanted to introduce me to some of the dishes that I might see on my travels. She certainly seemed to know her stuff, so I left the ordering in her hands.
All the food arrived, as requested, at the same time and Elaine gave me some strict instructions on how to eat Malaysian style with spoon and fork.
A Beef Randang came in a rich, dark gravy which Elaine said, comes from the long frying of grated coconut. The beef retained a bite but was still soft enough to cut with the spoon.
A Malaysian staple of Char Kway Teo was a more standard dish, but got the thumbs up from my chum for lacking greasiness and for the plump, meaty prawns.
Two new dishes on me are now noted down as a benchmark for my visit to Penang. Lombak, a dish of braised pork wrapped in thin tofu skin and then deep fried was crisp and popped in the mouth when taken with some sweet chilli sauce.
Best of all, however, was a dish of Bhutai Prawns. A creamy sauce had a hidden punch and the prawns, again cooked just to point were complimented by the crunch of the bhutai beans which apparently have a similar after affect to Asparagus. I shall let you know later, I am sure you are dying to find out.
With steamed rice and the two glasses of the excellent soy milk the bill came to £36 which is a bit of a steal for food which is well prepared and served with a smile. I am never that keen on communal seating, but according to the blurb on their menu, it is typically Pranakan way of dining, so I guess I shall have to put up with it.
As for my companion, Elaine took one bite of her first piece of Lombak and said “it reminds me of home”
You probably can’t ask for too much more than that.