Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Nyonya - Manhattan

Malaysian in Chinatown
When I spent time in Singapore there was a soap opera playing at night called "Little Nyonya." It was all the rage, with half the country watching. I must admit, I got swept up in it and by doing so, learned a little about Peranakan culture. The term Peranakan means "descendant" in Malay and Indonesian and refers mainly to the early Chinese settlers in the Malaysian Straits, also known as Straits Chinese. Nyonya means "female descendent." Wikipedia has a good write-up here. One of the story lines in the show involved the Nyonya cuisine, which is a special mix of Chinese and Malay. Fastforward to Manhattan, months later. I was reading the Lunch Blog and I see a post about a restaurant called Nyonya. Puffin and I went there today for lunch.

First up, an order of Roti Canai (above) which is a Malaysian derivation of Indian Roti bread. It is super-thin and comes with a bowl of curry for dipping. As I learned in Singapore with Roti Prata (a close relative) you dip it in the curry then into a pile of sugar. Super. I could go eat this and nothing but this and be happy. Next, we shared a plate of Chow Kueh Teow which is a stir fry consisting of flat rice noodles, shrimp, chives, squid, bean sprouts, egg, soy sauce and chili paste. I loved it. I would say that Puffin thought everything was "ok" - not up to the high Singaporean standards but she ate it up just like I did. The menu is extensive - this is a place that could take a long time to explore.

194 Grand Street

(also a branch in Brooklyn on 8th Ave.)

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  1. I have to say the roti prata (aka roti canai) was a surprising winner. The prata was super thin and light which not all Singaporean roti prata men can achieve.

  2. Wow, that is some high praise, Puffin. I loved the stuff, really tasty.....