Timelessly traditional, The Peranakan honours Malacca's Nyonya culinary heritage in Bangsar

November 28, 2023

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As the evening rain scatters on the skylight of The Peranakan, tables of families and friends tuck into a feast rarely found in modern eateries - from Nyonya Mutton Rendang to Ikan Pari Kuah Lada and Ayam Goreng Cili Buah Keras, The Peranakan proves its mettle as KL's most satisfying Nyonya restaurant.

The talents behind this lovingly conceived venue are two true-blue Malaccans - family members Mickel Tan and Rose Tan, who pour decades of F&B professionalism into a profoundly personal place.

Every morning, Mickel heads to the markets of Bangsar and Taman Tun Dr Ismail to hand-pick the freshest fish and prawns for The Peranakan. 

In the kitchen, Rose does delicious justice to the produce, harnessing lessons handed down from her grandmother and mother half a century ago.

Each ingredient is thoughtfully selected, from the crunchy sengkuang that's hand-cut for the pai tee to the belacan, cincaluk, pulut and pure gula Melaka with its caramelised depth, never adulterated with added sugar.

Even for the Nyonya laksa, every individual bowl is painstakingly prepared separately, ensuring that each customer's laksa reaches its utmost potential, made from scratch with no premixed spices.

The result is a remarkable celebration of timeless, time-honoured cooking. Recently marking its first full year in business, The Peranakan proudly preserves the taste of Nyonya tradition, presenting recipes that have seemingly become extinct even in Malacca's popular restaurants. 

This a sanctuary for the soul, on the first floor on the streets of Telawi: The Peranakan is a joy to explore, resembling a classic Malaccan home's inner courtyard, populated with family heirlooms like Mickel's grandfather's marble table and wife's embroidered wedding kebaya.

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By day, The Peranakan is a cosy, cheerful space for a casual lunch, with natural sunshine brightening the wood-toned setting. By night, it's a soothing spot for dinner with your favourite people amid greenery galore in the gentle glow of lovely lamps and lanterns.

With stellar service, The Peranakan makes every guest feel at home like an honoured visitor, ready to indulge in irresistibly authentic Malaccan Peranakan cuisine and culture.

It's no surprise that Mickel and Rose take immense pride in this restaurant. 

Mickel began his culinary management career in London and Switzerland, founding Chinese and Asian restaurants in Zurich before conceptualising and co-owning everything from a tapas bar and Japanese bistro in KL to supplying pastries for the Beijing Summer Olympics.

Rose has been cooking since she was six years old. Now in her 50s, she has perfected her craft in Singapore, Malacca, and now KL, where she personally oversees every effort in the kitchen.

It's the essence for a great meal at genuinely fair prices - each patron can eat heartily for below RM80 per person, ordering multiple dishes to fill the table.

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The Peranakan relies on spices, ingredients and methods that represent Malacca's southern Peranakan heritage, borrowing Indonesian inspirations instead of the Chinese Hokkien lineage more common in northern Penang.

From pandan leaves to kaffir lime leaves, bunga telang to bunga kantan, buah keluak to buah keras, each culinary component is meticulously infused for memorable flavours and fragrances through careful chopping, steaming, braising, stir-frying and grilling.

The Nyonya Mutton Rendang is marvellously mouthwatering, a recent entry to The Peranakan's menu. The Australian mutton chunks are marinated in a myriad of spices and grated fried coconut, braised for three hours in coconut milk to supreme succulence. This is full-bodied mutton at its most tender and thrillingly tasty.

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The Ikan Pari Kuah Lada features fleshy fillets of young stingray fish, with the light kick of freshly ground spices, turmeric, lemongrass and black peppercorn. An honest, heartwarming serving, perfect for a family reunion, nicely balanced, never too salty, spicy or oily.

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Also newly introduced here, the Nyonya Ikan Kari deserves a permanent place on The Peranakan's menu. The collars of large red snappers, prized for their meatiness, are lusciously cooked in house-blended Nyonya curry coconut sauce, rich-textured and robust-tasting, creamy but not cloying, complete with ladies' fingers and eggplant for a balanced ensemble.

The Peranakan's menu is extensive. Other temptations to explore include:

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The Peranakan Premium Pai Tee
Chef Rose’s pai tee with hand-shredded crabmeat, turnips and a unique fish roe topping in crispy thin pastry shells, laced with crunchy shallots and homemade vinegar chilli sauce.

Chef Rose's Ikan & Udang Otak Otak
Fresh homemade minced mackerel, sea prawns, Nyonya spices, kaffir lime leaves and santan, steamed in banana leaves for a fine aromatic dish.

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Chef Rose’s Ayam Pongteh
Chicken thigh cutlets braised in a special yellow bean sauce with potatoes and a pinch of gula Melaka, going perfect with homemade sambal belacan.

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Ayam Buah Keluak

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Ayam Kari Kapitan
Shredded chicken thigh cutlets, braised with Nyonya spices and tangy fresh lime.

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Ayam Goreng Cili Buah Keras
Chicken thigh, stir-fried with fresh pounded turmeric, candlenut and spices.

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Ikan Asam Pedas
Two chunky slices of fish cooked in a delicate paste of sun-dried chilli, shallots, garlic, turmeric, lemongrass, candlenut, shrimp paste, galangal flowers, tamarind sauce and fresh pineapple slices. 

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Chef Rose’s Ikan Masak Lemak
Fish braised with slices of crispy salted kurau fish, fresh spices, eggplant and coconut milk.

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Udang Masak Lemak Nenas
Prawns tossed with spices and fresh ground turmeric, simmered with coconut milk and fresh pineapple cubes.

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Udang Sambal Petai
Prawns stir-fried with petai, tossed with Nyonya sambal, served with cucumber and calamansi.

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Udang Asam Goreng
Prawns stir-fried with tamarind paste and a pinch of cane sugar.

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Nyonya Sambal Sotong
Squid stir-fried with Chef Rose’s sambal paste, with a pinch of cane sugar and a squeeze of fresh calamansi juice. 

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Nyonya Chap Chye
A traditional vegetarian dish served during ceremonies with glass noodles, black fungus, Chinese mushrooms, cabbage, carrots, dried lily buds and yellow bean paste. Goes best with sambal belacan. 

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Bendi Kukus
Steamed ladies' fingers topped with pounded dried shrimp, sambal and fresh lime juice.

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Jiu Hu Char
Dry shredded cuttlefish with braised turnips, stir-fried with dried baby squid.

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Goreng Terung, Kacang Panjang Hei Bee
Eggplant and long bean slices, stir-fried with mild chilli paste and pounded dried baby shrimp. 

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Telur Cincaluk
Pickled baby shrimp from the Straits of Malacca in a fried egg omelette.

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Cili Sumbat Acar
Hand-shredded papaya strips, cucumber, and garlic, sun-dried and filled into fresh green chillies, pickled with white vinegar, rock sugar and grounded turmeric.

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Chef Rose’s Nyonya Laksa
Chef’s recipe of pounded fresh spices, slow-cooked with coconut milk into a spicy broth, served with prawns, fish balls, tofu pok, bean sprouts, half-boiled egg and choice of yellow noodles, thin rice noodles, or mix of both.
Laksa comes with side condiments of daun kesum, homemade sambal and fresh calamansi.

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The Peranakan Cendol & The Peranakan Durian Cendol
Cendol with red bean paste and finely shaved ice, topped with fresh thick coconut milk and laced with pure gula Melaka.

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Sago Gula Melaka

Chilled sago palm pearls, served with coconut milk and pure gula Melaka. The sago in blanched in boiling water till the pearls are translucent, so they're not stodgy or too sticky. 

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Pulut Hitam Santan
Slow-cooked black glutinous rice, served with coconut milk.

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Also check out The Peranakan's independently Malaccan-made pineapple tarts, gorgeous for gifting at all festive milestones - or simply for sharing and snacking at home.

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The Peranakan
First Floor, 17, Jalan Telawi 3, Bangsar, 59100 Kuala Lumpur.
Open Daily, 12pm-3pm, 6pm-10pm. Tel: 011-2513-9396