Penang / Restaurants Reviews

Little Kitchen @Nyonya, set in the original Peranakan home of four generations | Penang

Nyonya cuisine is one of the earliest example of fusion food evolved since the 1950’s when the Chinese traders decided to call Malaysia their home. In a foreign country where they could get limited supplies of what they were used to in China, they made use of ingredients available locally. Since then, they have introduced what we now call the Nyonya Cuisine, similarly known as Peranakan Cuisine, which is an amalgamation of Chinese cooking with local Malay ingredients and style.

These Chinese settlers were often found in Penang, Malacca and Singapore as these were the main ports back then. So as a Penangite, Nyonya food is pretty common to us but it is not ordinary for us non-Peranakans to be able to savour Nyonya food in the comforts of the ornate Nyonya home that has been in the family for generations.

As soon as I found out about Little Kitchen @ Nyonya, I jumped on the next opportunity to visit this restaurant that is set in the original Nyonya home of four generations. I had my sister make reservation for when I get home. 

Little Kitchen Sign | The TrishawThe sign to look out for, amongst the shophouses

Here I am, at the entrance of the Nyonya home restaurant. If you noticed, there are two businesses written on the sign. The original business of the family is selling Bird’s Nest therefore, Birds Nest Heaven. Latter, Mr Loh opened this restaurant for his mum because her children has grown up, left home and was getting bored at home not being able to cook for a big family like she used to. So Mr Loh installed air-conditioning in the house, put up a sign and a homey Nyonya restaurant was set up.

Straits Exlectic Shophouses | The TrishawStraits Eclectic Shophouses (built between the 1890’s – 1940’s)

This style of shop houses are referred to as Straits Eclectic Shophouses, built between the 1890’s to 1940’s. They are colourful and elaborately decorated and usually have three pairs of wooden shutter windows with decorative arches. The pillars and panels have ornate plaster decoration. These earlier shophouses were built by the more affluent Chinese settlers so they usually have very ornate decorations to show their status.

Little Kitchen Exterior | The TrishawThe unchanged exterior for four generations

Little Kitchen Interior | The TrishawAuthentic Nyonya food in an authentic setting, like it was centuries ago

The wooden panel is to divide the space into two areas, the main room and the second room. The main room is where guests are held and during those times, the single girls are not allowed to be seen by guests and were usually in the second room or upstairs. The little holes on the wooden panel were where the girls will peek through to see the guests.

Nyonya kuih | The TrishawA variety of Nyonya kuih (big plate) and homemade pickles (small plate). Nyonya kuih is a type of sweet or savoury snacks usually eaten in between meals, like how the English have scones for afternoon tea.

We were served a variety of Nyonya kuih soon after we arrived to prevent hungry growls while we were busy listening to Mr Loh’s stories. Mr Loh (the host) treats all his customers like his guests. He was so kind to show us around his home and explain all there is to know about this place he call home.

Cabinet of spices | The Trishaw

Flasks of drinks | The TrishawFlasks of free flow drinks you can help yourself with

Head chef and I | The Trishaw

Me and the head chef, Mr Loh’s mum who made us those delicious home-cooked Nyonya food

Little Kitchen Iterior 2 | The Trishaw

The beautiful pillar in the house

Nyonyaware 1 | The TrishawOriginal nyonyaware

Nyonyaware 2 | The TrishawOriginal nyonyaware

Peranakan Day Bed | The TrishawOriginal Peranakan day bed

This day bed, as of majority of furnitures and items in this house are antiques that has lasted four generations. As Penang can get very hot and humid, the day bed was made out of wood and marbles to keep it nice and cool when sat or laid on. The flower decorations are made from carved mother of pearl.

Peranakan wooden door carving | The TrishawOriginal Peranakan wooden carved door

Pickles | The TrishawBottles of varied pickles

Fresh Herbs | The Trishaw

Some of the fresh herbs

Ulam Sambal Belacan | The TrishawUlam sambal belacan

Ulam is a type of salad produced from the ‘ulam’ leaves. In the plate of salad above, it has a variety of fresh leaves served with raw baby aubergines, thickly sliced cucumber and mangoes which are to be eaten with the sambal (chilli paste) that came with it. The sambal belacan were divided into three levels of spiciness at; 10% chilli,40% chilli and 70% chilli. The 70% chilli sambal was too spicy and is one that blows your brains wide open so be careful. I suggest you start with the 10% chilli sambal.

Hong Bak | The Trishaw

Hong bak (pork cooked in fermented bean paste)

Ju Hu Char | The Trishaw

Ju Hu Char (Fried juliennes of yam bean with shredded cuttlefish)

Kari Kapitan | The Trishaw

Kari Kapitan Kay (Chicken Curry Kapitan)

Paku Heh Bee | The Trishaw

Paku Heh Bee (Fern cooked with dried shrimp sambal)

Sambal Prawn | The TrishawSambal Prawns

Lum Chut Hu | The TrishawLum Chut Hu (Deep fried fish)

Tu Kar Chor (Vinegared Pork Trotters) | The TrishawTu Kar Chor (Pork Trotters cooked in sweet vinegar and ginger)

Tu Tor Ting | The TrishawTu Tor Ting (Pig Intestine Soup)

Empty plates | The TrishawClean plates with no food left

Birds Nest Egg Tart 2 | The TrishawBird’s Nest Egg Tart

“All the food are served in the original Nyonyaware passed down from generations. These chinaware are considered antique.”

Smile..

Love the essence of this place, a home open up to guests. It is like hosting a dinner party everyday, in the comfort of their home that has been passed down for four generation.

Frown..

No frowns, only smiles. Well, maybe slightly expensive but I think it is worth the experience.

Will I return?

I will definitely return for a homey nyonya meal and to visit the old lady chef and family and thank them for being a wonderful host. It is a great place to bring foreign guests to give them a feel of the Nyonya culture.

LITTLE KITCHEN @ NYONYA

No. 179, Lebuh Noordin,
10300 Penang, Malaysia.
Tel: +604-261 6731 / +6012-508 9338
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