Dining in the home of a nyonya

There are a number of nyonya restaurants in Melaka you’ve got to try and one place that promotes the joy to savor her dishes is in her home, The Melaka Nyonya Village. 马六甲娘惹村

Commonly, nyonya cuisines are served in modern built shops and some hotels. My first try on nyonya food was in a shop, say 29 years ago. The second try was in an opposite shop doors away from the first. On both occasion, a former accountant to an ex-ACCCIM president was hunting for nyonya food when he came to see me in Melaka. We were on the road to build Malaysia’s first public-listed courier company then. Thereafter the two experiences, I have a special liking on nyonya food.

Last weekend, we drove to the home-like nyonya restaurant passing through these roads; Jalan Laksamana, Jalan Merdeka, and Jalan Parameswara. You may prefer to take Jalan Semabok, Jalan Saint John turning right into Jalan Ujong Pasir and before making a left turn into Taman Melaka Raya, you would see the Muzium Penjara. Making a U-Turn at the Hatten City, and turning left into Jalan Merdeka, keep on the right lane before turning into Jalan Pantai.

Along our way, we have the pleasure of watching several interesting sites like the Stadhuy, the Dataran Pahlawan and the Mahkota Parade. Men and women, boys and girls juggling about every spaces available, taking selfie and group photograph, as the on-going sunset casted beautiful shades of colors over those sites. The lights of this heritage city begin to glow brighter in the darker sky when we reached the Melaka Nyonya Village. Seconds ago, a school that charmed us is the Convent Holy Infant of Jesus (CHIJ) with her colonial roofing materials, and the architecture.

It has not been so easy to park our car these days in Melaka like we did at the Melaka Nyonya Village. Next to a huge Mercedes Benz, we are amazed with the sight of this nyonya village, as the home front is bordered by a one-way two-lanes Jalan Parameswara. It may look small on the front view*1, but the length of the whole village could accommodate some ten buses.

After the Azan Maghrib, we entered through the side door into an air-conditioned cozy home-restaurant where everything seemed to ask for our attention. The classic flooring, its tiles and stones; the aging-structured ceiling with its beams; the baba’s wall décor and his antique; the dancers on stage and their musical rhythm, the symbolic lanterns and its art; … … … and more to discover.

We are lucky to be seated around a marble table ushered by a adinda*2 in a full-house restaurant.

Evelyn ordered the dishes and two glasses of fruit juices while her son selected his favorite cendol, a nyonya dessert.

Shortly, dinner is served warm, and as I scooped a spoon of sambal petai, a tourguide reminded his guests that the food is classified ‘Halal’

Super-delicious, I like the chewy green petai submerged within a creamy paste of chilli, garlic and onion, complemented by cincalok omelette . The simmered brinjal mixed with prawns and the hot smooth beancurd garnished with vegetable, paired tastefully among the rice too.

The nyonya is a dedicated lady in her home and of all her inherited family traditions, being capable in kitchen skills is of great importance. I am a Melakan, with the opportunity to observe the nyonya lifestyle since the 1960s and nyonya kuih is a must during festive seasons. My mum would get a wide range of kuih from homes of nyonya in Garden City and Bukit Serendit then and orders was to be made weeks before the festive ceremonial days. Early orders ? … yeap early, because nyonya uses natural ingredients, and handmade from raw till baked or cooked above selected charcoal. And because of nyonya’s perseverance and desires to make sure her authentic cookies, desserts, kuih, dishes and what not is super delicious … late orders were usually rejected to shoulder a quantity she could handle. In addition to quality nyonya cuisines, she know that what she served has to be presentable and as such her culinary skills always promote a festive ambience, thereby creating a cheerful moods of everyone.

I take pleasure to recommend you and your loved ones to make reunion dinner as homely as your home with the Melaka Nyonya Village this coming Chinese New Year.  I must not forget, particularly as Spring approaches, to appreciate you who visited Melaka many times and for those who are visiting this season, by wishing you, A Prosperous & Wealthy Year Of The Rooster 2017.

“Faith makes all thing possible.
Hope make all things work.
Love makes all things beautiful”

Enjoy your reunion dinner !     Gong Xi Fa Cai 恭喜发财

*1 Once upon a time, there was a chat about Melaka's colonial shophouses and someone explained the reason on those narrow but long structures. He told me that the Dutch would calculate the quit rent based on the shop width which therefore influenced the building of such shop-houses.

*2 Adinda is favorite title given to a local Malay waitress. 


178, Jalan Parameswara
75000 Melaka

+606 283 1177

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