Sunday, 29 May 2016

A Culinary MisAdventure At Nancys Kitchen

I loved long weekends away.  Every few months, my wanderlust would inspire me to pack my bags and head for somewhere not too far away, yet far enough to get my mind out of the office and my spirit recharged.

Last weekend, a few colleagues and I hopped across the causeway to Malacca for a culinary adventure.  We planned the trip quite rigorously to the point of making reservations well in advance at the famous peranakan restaurant, Nancy’s Kitchen.  Nancy’s Kitchen was touted to be the best restaurant serving Nonya food.  It was an institution.  When we got there, the queues were already forming at the entrance with people waiting for vacant tables.    

We started our meal with Nancy’s rice dumplings.  We had an education in the different type of rice dumplings at Malacca's best Peranakan restaurant. We ordered the Hokkien version and the Nonya version. My preference was for the latter which was sweeter and more fragrant.  I would also have preferred that they served the dumplings piping hot and straight from the steamer.  Her version of the Hokkien dumplings were firm and well-filled with pork and salted egg, but it tasted ordinary.  Her Nonya version was way too sweet and barely passable.

We did not stop at the rice dumplings. We ordered the Udang Lemak Nanas which was Prawns in coconut gravy.  I thought the prawns were over-cooked and the gravy lacked the piquancy of the spice and pineapples that was expected in the dish.
The Babi Pongteh or Pork belly braised with bean paste came with pork that was too hard although the gravy was quite tasty. 
The Popiah  or fresh spring rolls were huge, maybe because the wrap was way too thick.  The turnip filling within the spring rolls was also too sweet. 
The Bitter Beans with Squid cooked in Sambal  was a disappointment.  The dish was dotted by a few bitter beans that were barely visible and it might as well be just an ordinary squid sambal dish.  One would not know the difference. 
A Peranakan family’s favourite of Duck with Salted Vegetable Soup should have been the piece de resistance but it tasted like hot salted water with pieces of duck meat floating haplessly within the bowl.  My Peranakan great grandmother and grandmother would be turning in their graves for that one.   
The Otak or Spicy Fish Paste finally saved the day.  It was so good that we had to order another helping of it just to be sure we were truly on a culinary adventure.

I could not understand how Nancy’s Kitchen could be touted as the best Peranakan restaurant in Malacca. I thought it was overrated.  The quality of food was a slight to my Peranakan heritage. 

However as a dining venue for a group of giggly girls who just wanted to share some laughter and great memories over a so-so lunch, it was still a restaurant worth visiting.  One of the girls reminded me, “It’s a culinary adventure, remember?” Yes, I remembered that I needed to be a little more adventurous and be prepared for both the bad and good experiences along our journey.

Our Verdict?  -  BELLY ORDINARY


About The Writer:

This blog post was co-written by my brother Jerome and I. Although we are siblings who grew up 11 years apart, shaped by differing experiences to see the world from different perspectives, we do share a common obsession – FOOD.  We celebrate our passion for life with food.  However, our attitudes to food are quite different and the way we celebrate our love for food are also quite different.  Jerome lives to eat and hoovers everything edible that crosses his path.  As he shovels food into his mouth with that fork in his right hand, he takes photographs of what he eats, and posts pictures and notes up on Facebook with his left.  Often, his beautifully written prose about what he had eaten would be 7 paragraphs in length and would not have any punctuations in between because he had been too busy multi-tasking. 

I, on the other hand, eat to live. It is not just about my attempts to eat healthily. As I am a “cam-whore” and “social media hussy”, I spend about half an hour styling my food, taking photographs, writing notes and posting them across my social media platforms before eating them, right after the hubby has paid for the bill and is about to head out of the restaurant.  I enjoy reading all my posts about what I had eaten because I know that I had lived fully in spite of watching what I eat.  Welcome to the foodie world of the quirky Ong siblings.


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