It'll always be a challenge to run a restaurant that serves authentic Peranakan-Nyonya cuisine of the Straits Settlements. Pinang Peranakan Restaurant, which occupies a strategic location on Beach Street (Georgetown's financial district), tries to do that, but with some hits-and-misses.
Firstly, its location was wonderful - at the graceful, old restored Logan Heritage Building (circa 1880). The restaurant has lofty ceilings and a large dining room reminiscent of old Victorian banquet halls. The service was friendly and efficient.
- "Hong bak" or stewed pork. The version here was more similar to "Babi Pongteh" of the Southern-Nyonya style of cooking, rather than Penang's Northern-Nyonya cooking. I presume the chef's not from Penang? Very tasty, I liked the young bamboo shoots used in the dish, and the pork belly slices were moist and flavorsome.
- "Otak-otak" were steamed in porcelain bowls instead of being wrapped in banana leaves. These were pretty tasty as well.
- "Kiam Chye Ark" - duck and salted mustard soup was flavorsome, though the chef here again did not use nutmeg to give it a Penang slant.
- "Lor bak" has the correct taste, but was a bit too dry for my taste.
- "Joo Hoo Char" or stir-fried shredded jicama with dried cuttlefish strips, was delicious and is my favorite dish for the evening. It's a bit sweet for my taste though, and I'm wondering why the chef had to add sugar to this dish..
- "Belachan chicken" was pretty bland - no where near the versions I get elsewhere in Penang, or even Singapore.
- Fish "Gulai Tumis" - this was a let-down, too bland, but the fish was fresh and flavorsome.
- "Foo yong hai" omelette was simple and complemented the more spicy dishes perfectly.
- "Curry Kapitan" - this is one of Penang-Nyonya cuisine's trademark dishes, but the version here at the Pinang Peranakan Restaurant was an unmitigated disaster!! No lemongrass nor kaffir lime leaves smell/taste. I wondered again if the chef is a true-blue Penang Nyonya-Baba person, or whether the restaurant ran out of the requisite ingredients that evening. It tasted nothing like Curry Kapitan as I know it!
The complimentary dessert: "Tee nya kuih" was also tasteless and bland - it was tinted green, but no pandan scent was detected.
So, a case of hits-and-misses. Penang's dining crowd can be pretty fussy when it comes to Nyonya flavors - Pinang Peranakan Restaurant *has* to ensure consistency in its cooking if it is to satisfy local clientele.
Pinang Peranakan (怀旧) Restaurant
4 Logan Heritage Building
Tel : +604-2612269
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