Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Nyonya Roots

Pie Tee- Top hats

Type of food: Nyonya ( Peranakan Chinese)
Signature dish: Various dishes
Location: 3K Sports Complex Subang Jaya, Jalan SS13/1, Persiaran Kewajipan 47500 Subang Jaya, Selangor, Malaysia.
Opening hours: All days except Monday, 11:30am-3.00pm & 6.00pm-10.00pm 
Contact: 012-2857668
Other: No pork. Medium spicy.

Being an Ampang boy, travelling to Subang Jaya for me was quite the journey. A 40 Minute long drive, got a bit lost on the way, into this road and that highway- very hungry by the time I got there. And like an oasis appearing before the desert, the big sign shouting Nyonya Roots appeared before me in that godforsaken place Ampang people call Subang Jaya. It was well worth the journey.

Before I delve into the food though ( today it'll be more brief in descriptions, lots of dishes to cover), allow me to talk about Nyonya food in general. For those who don't know, Nyonya cuisine originates from a Malaysian culture called the Baba Nyonya. These Baba Nyonya are also called Peranakan Chinese, as they are the descendants of the first Chinese settlers that came to Malaysia ( then called Malaya) a long long time ago. These Chinese settlers had intermarriages with local Malays, and adopted many of their customs, and as you will soon see this resulted in one truly delectable mixing pot of a cuisine.

And Nyonya Roots is a fine example of this great heritage. With a nice comfy environment, reasonably priced and tasty dishes ( more on that in a while), and great company- you can pretty much set up home base in here and lay down your roots. ( pardon the simply awful pun!)
Nonya Roots

Anyway lest we stray too far from the roots of the issue ( and again!)... The first dish we had was pie tee- Nyonya Top Hats.( see title image) Top Hats are named as such as they look like those hats the "cultured" meme guys and "high class" people used to wear. It's certainly a dish worthy of that. The pie tee at Nyonya Roots is a bit more on the heavy flavoured side, with a nice crispy cup, and a smattering of juicy vegetables inside. The shallots and chilli sauce add up to make this an instant classic.

Next came the Lorbak, which is essentially minced wrapped in a taufu skin, deep fried and served with a light garlic chilli sauce. Lorbak is traditonally pork, but here at Nyonya Roots they serve chicken lor bak.

Assam Laksa
Then came a plethora of dishes. Assam Laksa, a fish soup noodle, a specialty of Penang was fantastic. The Assam Laksa here at Nyonya Roots is an excellent example of Penang Cuisine. The laksa here strikes a delicate balance between soupiness. There are some assam laksas that feel too fishy, and some too diluted- but this one is a perfect equilibrium- like a tightrope walker on the line of Penang Perfection. A mighty fine specimen!

Australian Lettuce
Australian Lettuce was done well in the usual stir fried style, but otherwise quite normal.

Inchi Kabin
Inchi Kabin- Nyonya style marinated fried chicken with a herb sauce
Crispy, crunchy, juicy, sauce blend of Lea and Perrins and some herbs and spices. Could have been more robust and tender in my opinion though.

Gulai Tumis

Gulai Tumis- A Nyonya favourite, it is their own version of "assam fish" or "curry".
Nice chunky bits of tenggiri. The fish is fresh, and a beautiful blend of herbs and spices give it a fantastic fragrance and wonderful depth of flavour.

Ju Hu Char
 Ju Hu Char
Yet another Penang specialty. Its basically some vegetables cooked in a broth like substance;giving a really juicy, nutrient filled bite. We had this with lettuce- using the lettuce as a wrap and stuffing in the Ju Hu Char with some chilli sauce... YUM. There is no better way to eat it!

Otak-Otak- steamed fish paste.
Very good. A good balance between fishiness, and spice. A nice soft pasty texture, wet with the spice-infused juice of the otak, slides into one's mouth.

Cincalok omelette
Cincalok Omelette- omelette fried with preserved small prawns
Appropriately salty, eat with rice, good filler, otherwise nothing to shout about, lacks the wok hei* of a true Master level omelette.

Beef rendang

Beef Rendang
This one was a great find. Fiery, robust and packed with a punch of spices- the burst of flavour in this dish is quite a memorable experience.

Paku- this is a local fern, quite unusual to find it here.
Very intriguing taste. First a crunchy standard veggie feel, then as the "gel" inside this fern gets to you, you get a sort of flaky aftertaste in the mouth.

So far so good... but quite standard fare for the veteran Nyonya foodie. But there is more... after that brief breakdown of dishes... Ladies and gentlemen.. I present to you the piece de resistance of the meal... in the form of...


Gandum a.k.a. wheat
Yes, you heard me right. Oh don't give me that face. This wheat is no ordinary wheat. Boiled over a grueling number of days, allowed to somewhat ferment to give it a potency, infused with the flavours of natural wheat and other ingredients- the result is a bowl of simple, sinful, dessert heaven. A big surprise for myself, but an immensely gratifying ( and fattening!) one.

Pulut hitam
And as if that wasn't enough, Nyonya Roots delivers a double whammy. The pulut hitam ( black glutinous rice) is so... GOOD. The sweetness and gooeyness of the pulut, blended with a spoon of fresh santan- the black and white dancing in swirls of heavenly dessertness ( is that even a word?)... forget about Soya Cincau, this is the real Black and White of food!

Speaking of cincau.... The cendol is definitely one of the better ones I've had. Simply a burst of santan and light refreshing flavours that make you want to have another.. and another... and another... and OK you get my point. My Egyptian friend was absolutely enamored with it, calling it the Nectar Of the Gods. What a drama king.

All in all, Nyonya Roots is true to its ... Nyonya roots? Haha... terrible puns aside... the food here is authentic, has good flavour profiles, and is reasonably priced. Sorry I can't quote direct prices, lost the receipt, but the meal mentioned above for 9 people cost about RM 180. A really reasonable deal if you ask me, compared to all the pricey posh Nyonya wannabes you get nowadays.

Nyonya Roots is also open for lunch, and from what I can see from their menu, they have set lunches. Also, they serve perut ikan, which is a rarity nowadays and my friend swears by it, if you're feeling adventurous. In any case... Nyonya Roots- definitely one to go for!

Nyonya Roots
Taste: 8.5/10- While the dishes range from decent enough to delicious, the dessert and other standouts really make this restaurant shine.
Value: 7/10- For this kind of food, this kind of environment, it's very reasonable.
Health: 8/10- Well, depends on the dishes, but overall, I would say its a healthy meal. 
Ambience: 7/10- Comfy seats, air conditioned area with nice large pictures of more yummy food.
Overall: 3.75 durians!

and a lil piece more!

* Wok hei- It is the "essence" of the fire being imparted to the food.


  1. Never ever go to Nyonya Roots! The customer service sucks! Customers were never a priority. The boss advertise in Groupon but when Groupon customer go there, he says theres no space despite emailing for reservation a week before dining and calling for confirmation on the day of dining! Very unscrupulous restaurant with roaches running around in the kitchen! Would never go there ever again and would never recommend this restaurant to anyone!

    1. Hi Matt, thank you for your comment. It's interesting how you know roaches are running around the kitchen seeing as the kitchen can't be seen and even I wasn't given access despite doing a review. Nevertheless, when I went the service was quite warm ( this Auntie who I think was the owner) and the desserts were great. I'm very sorry for your experience, maybe it's a one off incident? I will check back to see how it is now. Again, thank you =)

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