My Nyonya (Malay for ‘My Grandmother’), has a very personal, piecedtogether feel. There is a wacky array of decorations, from minority art to industrial steel bathroom doors; high-backed, velvet chairs sit next to a bar that glows like angry neon. Add a kooky Elvis-sings-Christmas soundtrack into the mix and you’ve got a very individual expression of a restaurant. It has an odd appeal.
Our meal began with a tasty fruit shake, as lemongrass and sambal wafted out of the kitchen. The heady scents of Southeast Asia were everywhere - and they made us very hungry. Maybe they could sense this, as our beef rendang and Malay braised chicken were served about a minute after we ordered. And while we understand these braised dishes take several hours from start to finish (so they’re pre-prepared), they weren’t exactly hot. Longer in the microwave (or, better yet, a trip back in the pan) would have helped. The rendang was over-salted but spicy and delicious, but the braised chicken had a gluey, cornstarched quality (it was also remarkably tender - so much so that cartilage, fat and meat became one mushy composite).
Okra fried with shrimp paste and chili was a highlight, and mackerel in a spicy sauce with eggplants tasted like something your Malaysian grandma might whip up. My Nyonya isn’t polished, but like dinner at grandma’s, many dishes were honestly cooked and pretty tasty.