A WIFE-and-husband team specialising in Peranakan cuisine are making mouths water as they cook up a storm at Concorde Hotel Kuala Lumpur’s Melting Pot Cafe.
In its quest to offer authentic Peranakan food, the hotel invited the couple from Malacca to bring flavours of their kitchen to the masses.
Excited to be offered the opportunity, Adriana Tan, 59, a true Nyonya, and her Cantonese husband Ng Joon Tai, 60, described the stint as a dream come true.
“I love cooking and am happy to watch people enjoying my food.
“Although I do take orders and cook from home, I have always dreamt of running my own restaurant, so, this job gives me that feel,” said Tan in an interview.
Tan has her mother to thank for her skills as she started helping out in the kitchen from the tender age of five.
“I helped my mother prepare the ingredients and cook from a very young age.
“I picked things up fast and am just as fussy as my mother about using the right ingredients and methods of cooking – no shortcuts.
Golden shelled Pai Tee to start your meal.
“But I cannot get some ingredients from the markets here. The tofu pok for Nyonya laksa, for example, should be small but what I get here is very big.
“Peranakan cuisine is also famous for its kuih. To get the real taste, gula melaka and only natural food colouring must be used. I know it is difficult to get butterfly-pea flower for the colour blue and Ramie leaves for black here, so I brought them from my garden back home,” she said.
Ng, her retired bank officer husband, said he loved cooking and had learned a lot from his wife.
“I know how to cook most dishes. Now that I have more time, I help my wife with her orders,” he said.
A must-have item is the couple’s Nyonya laksa.
The creamy and thick broth cooked with kerisik, coconut water and squid, among other ingredients, gives off an intense flavour that is not overwhelming when taken with noodles, slices of boiled egg, and prawn. The shredded kesum leaves sprinkled over the broth makes the dish even more fragrant.
For added zest, they serve sambal and lime on the side.
The salty and sweet Ayam Pong Teh is a staple in Peranakan cuisine.
Moving on to the main dishes, there are signature Nyonya dishes such as Chicken Pong Teh, Asam Pedas Tenggiri With Peria, Sambal Udang Petai, Ayam Tempra and Kari Ayam Kapitan. All these dishes go well with white rice.
Those not big on rice can have mee siam, which is best eaten with a spicy, sweet and sourish sambal.
Make sure to leave room for desserts. The colourful display at the end of the buffet line is tempting. Indulge in the abok-abok sago, bite-sized apam balik durian, pulut tekan with homemade kaya, ang koo and bongkong, just to name a few. The pineapple tarts are good too.
The Nyonya Flavours promotion, priced at RM80 nett per person for lunch and RM110 nett per person for dinner, is until March 26. There is an ongoing 25% discount.
These colourful Nyonya kuih are as good as they look.
MELTING POT CAFE, Concorde Hotel Kuala Lumpur, 2, Jalan Sultan Ismail, Kuala Lumpur.Tel: 03-21444 2200. Business hours: 11.30am-2.30pm and 6.30-10.30pm.
This is the writer’s personal observation and is not an endorsement of StarMetro