Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Restoran Aunty Lee, Malacca, Malaysia

Quite a long time ago, Chinese settlers and traders married the locals of Malaysia and gave birth to some pretty kickass fusion food known as "Peranakan" or "Nonya" cuisine. Malacca was the outpost for Chinese admiral Zhang He and as such an intermesh of Chinese settler influx and the local female population resulted in a rather strong Peranakan population. No trip to Malacca is really complete without some tasty Nonya food. We knew this place is good when there are only about six tables in the premise and they were turning away quite a few who didn't have the foresight to make a reservation.

When I was young, I didn't really appreciate the taste of petai (also known as smelly beans) that much but somehow I now tend to order this dish whenever I see it on the menu. These were fried with shrimp and a very tasty and spicy local chili gravy.

A fluffy omelette cooked with preserved shrimp was next. I was worried this would be too salty sinced it used preserved baby shrimp but thankfully it was extremely fragrant and flavored just right.

Nonya otak is vaguely described as a fish and coconut paste cake. The nonya variants always at least abit spicy compared to the Indonesian otaks. This was steamed instead of grilled but the rich coconut taste and chunks of fish were very welcomed indeed.

Chicken buah keluak is a spicy, sourish curry dish which is characterized by the usage of nuts from the Pangium edule or kepayang tree to produce a unique taste. The contents of the nuts are an acquired taste but I do enjoy digging it out with a teaspoon, mixing it with some gravy and stirring everything into freshly steamed rice.

Chicken pong teh is another classic Nonya dish and involves cooking the meat and mushrooms in a sweet brown bean paste. Since this joint is halal they used chicken instead of babi (pork). I'm still more used to babi pong teh though, as chicken tends to be a rather boring meat.

This nonya fried chicken was surprisingly very good. Apparently the chicken is coated in balacan (preserved dried shrimp) powder before being fried hence giving it a unique flavor which isn't as strong as the prawn paste fried chicken we get at all the Hong Kong Street outlets here. Still this was extremely crispy on the outside but still juicy and succulent within.

The assam squid was decent. Definitely not bad but nothing much to shout about either.

The green dish of the meal was stir-fried morning glory with garlic. Nice big chunks of fried garlic really gave this dish quite a flavor boost, not to mention a breath boost as well haha.

As a taste-test we decided to try their cendol and see how it stacked up against Jonker Desserts. I know this answer may seem politically correct but this was very good as well in its own right. It tasted more traditional than the one at Jonker but still very nice. I'm a big fan of cendol and I'll put Aunty Lee's and Jonker's on the same pedestal as the excellent one I had in Jakarta.



Lord Dianabol said...


That's all I can say.


Anonymous said...


kahsean said...

ohh so those smelly beans are called petai? ive always hated dem wen my mom cooks em. stink as hell LOL

i think its called "bah bu tai" in hokkien? i cnt spell it either lol

D said...

lady dianabol: Come back soon and we'll make a trip down aye?

justmita: Thanks!

kahsean: I used to hate them when I was young... but somehow they seemed to have grown on me now =S

Anonymous said...

While the food is fairly delicious;the same could not be said of the service.Horribly poor.

A sulky-faced,and grumpy lady and a young Burmese lad were all they have to serve five tables.She has to double up as cashier,order taker,and waitress.The resulting stress must have taken its toll on them.Decidedly so.

We waited for an hour before our food was served,even though we had made a booking a week in advance from Singapore.

Surely with the impressive turnover,hiring an extra hand can't be that costly.

Give it a miss,there are far better places in Malacca.

connie said...

tried tis place, food is good and authentic.. cant say the same for the service as the frontline lady is really grumpy and rude!.. we made reservation at 630pm, for 3 pax, arrived at 6.20pm and just bcos they have 2 big tables at 7pm and another at 730pm, they totally ignored us to the extend we have to wait for half hour just for chinese tea and tat was after we had to chase them forever just for our tea.. is it so hard to pour 3 pax tea? no, they had to set the tables first... so our food arrived at 8pm, waited 1.5hr.. no matter how good it is, i dun tink wil be back again.. they are cater to big groups mind u, and dun give a darn about few diners

Anonymous said...

Aunty Lee is over-rated. If you look behind the kitchen - you will find that there is only one cook - Uncle Danny I think cooking. The condition in the kitchen is unhygenic - we saw rats running in the back! Food was okay. Service was bad. More focused on taking orders from tour group $$$ then to provide good service and hygienic food. Eat at your own risk.

nonya mania said...

Aunty Lee is still my first stop whenever I visit Melaka. M a big fan n on the safe side never fail to make a reservation for dinner. I didn't expect great service n hence m not overtly disappointed. The food remains yummy - the chicken curry especially. I buy back their curry powder which I hear comes from another homemade source. The heavenly chendol covers a multitude of sins! Believe me I have tried all the nonya food in Penang n though the best r home cooked Aunty Lee is is good as it gets! Even my penang guest had to admit it is a notch up from d counterparts at d vicinity of Lorong Abu Sitti. I know some
of you will praise the Jonker Street nonya eateries n fancier ones along d old Heeren Street but I find the cooking style too over-the-top n heavy! My Singaporean friends know better cos their pm's family dine out at Aunty Lee!