Top Nyonya restaurants in Penang
Nyonya cooking is peculiar only to the Chinese of Penang, Malacca and Singapore. In a nutshell, the Peranakan culture is itself a melding of two distinct groups, namely the Chinese who settled in Southeast Asia in the 19th century and the local Malays. Out of this intermixture came forth interesting customs and traditions hitherto non-existent.
Much of Nyonya cooking is inspired by the rich spices of Malay cooking featuring local herbs and ingredients. However in Penang, Nyonya cooking also has a very strong Thai influence, borrowing soury and fiery flare from their neighbouring country.
Best Loh bak in Penang
Loh bak is a pork roll wrapped with bean curd skin and deep-fried until crispy. The filling include strips of pork marinated in five-spice powder and various ingredients such as water chestnuts, jicama, carrot and onions.
Alongside loh bak, you would be happy to find other companions on offer too such as prawn fritters, spring rolls, fish fritters, fried bean curd, baby octopus as well as century eggs with pickled ginger. Select what you fancy and a plate of these scrumptious delight would be served with sides of freshly cut cucumber and starchy soy-flavored and chilli dipping sauces.
Best Laksa in Penang
Penang laksa is extremely popular, especially among locals for its wonderful balance of spicy, sweet and sour flavours. This is strictly a hawker treat, as one is unlikely to find great laksa in a fancy restaurant.
It is basically made out of coarse rice noodles in a sour fish in assam-base gravy, plus a robust combo of onions, sliced chilli, cucumber, pineapple and bunga kantan (ginger buds); topped with a swirl of thick, black shrimp paste sauce.
There is also an alternative variant called Siam laksa, which has a coconut milk based soup instead of assam (tamarind).
Otak-otak, a savory parcel of fish custard
Unwrap a parcel of otak-otak and you will catch a waft of the spicy, delicious egg-like fish custard that is usually served with other dishes common in a Nyonya household. Otak-okak can also be eaten on its own or as an appetiser or even with bread. This popular dish is available at Nyonya restaurants, some food courts and wet markets, as well as a common spread in “Economy Rice” stalls.
The art of making the perfect Kuih Kapit (love letters)
Some people claim that oysters are an aphrodisiac. Then there are others who say that the tomato is the food of love (from its name Pomme d'Amour – French for "love apple").
In Malaysia, there exists a delicacy that, despite its name, is neither an aphrodisiac nor a love potion. Yet those who have tasted it have been known to wax lyrical over the exquisite flavour. The love-letter, or more commonly known as Kuih Kapit (a paper-thin crispy biscuit) is an essential feature of Chinese and Malay festivals.