Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Taste of Nonya Influence with Debbie Teoh @ Chatz Brasserie, Parkroyal Kuala Lumpur







O'Giou Jelly




Craving for some Nonya food? Here's your chance to scratch that itch for Straits Chinese cuisine at the "Taste of Nonya Influence" promotion by Debbie Teoh from Friday (May 13) to July 3 at Chatz Brasserie, Parkroyal Kuala Lumpur. 
       Avid foodies will know it is rare to get good Nonya food in restaurants since most Nonya recipes are jealously guarded family secrets only passed down from each generation. These dishes are often cooked using estimations or by taste that can sometimes make it difficult to recapture the same flavours. Moreover, a lot of work and of course, love goes into the food giving it the homecooked taste that surpasses a commercial kitchen's efforts.
       Debbie is a true blue Nonya who is well known among the food circles for her cookbooks, recipes and home catering business. 
For the promotion, she'll be cooking up various Nonya specialties for the buffet lunch, dinner and high-tea. There will also be a la carte selections that you can order, if your appetite is not hefty enough to tackle the buffet spread. For the high-tea, Debbie will be putting up teatime specialties such as laksa, roti ayam (the halal version of roti babi), kuih paiti and etc.
       We previewed a few of the showcase dishes from promotion. Kicking of the meal, we started with appetizers, the quintessential Nonya kuih paiti, more popularly known as tophats from their shape. Remember how I said Nonya food needs a lot of work, well this is one of the many examples. First, the cases need to be made. Using a brass mould to form these "tophats", it takes lots of skill to get them perfect (too much batter, they're too thick and too little there'll be holes). Even the shaking of the cases from the moulds, the right oil temperature and the batter mix all count towards these perfect fragile cases. That's only step one as the filling is also important. In the olden days, Nonya brides had to please their demanding mother in laws by learning to cook. One of the prerequisites was of course, cutting the vegetables finely just like this yam bean filling. Following tradition, Debbie's paiti filling includes crabmeat and small prawns for flavour that is usually omitted commercially to cut down costs.
       Another dish that is literally a labour of love is the buah keluak kay (chicken). It is a dish rarely seen in Nonya restaurants since it takes days to prep. Those hard brown nuts need to be soaked overnight before you can even open them. Careful precision is needed to chip them open so the flesh can be dug out. The nut flesh is pounded with seasoning until smooth and sometimes even binded with a little beaten eggwhite. The pounded flesh is then stuffed back into the hard brown shell and cooked with the chicken. We relished digging the treasure of brown flesh within those hard nuts as its "chocolately" taste is simply addictive. This dish is available on alternate days, so call Chatz Brasserie to make sure you're not dissapointed.
       Some dishes may look pretty simple and ordinary like the steamed ladyfingers or okra but Debbie's side dips of soy sauce with fried garlic and garlic oil, followed by the tau cheo (soy bean paste) with chopped chillies give the humble vegetable a salty spicy taste that made each "finger"-licking good. The sambal goreng sounded simple but turned out to be creamy lemongrass flavoured sambal prawns dish. I loved how the dish was paired with the lesser known belimbing buluh (blimbi) for a slight sourish flavour to cut through its richness. The coconut rich sauce has hints of belacan and tamarind, while chopped cashew nuts give it a crunchy texture. We also drank hu pioh t'ng, a fish maw soup usually reserved for Nonya celebrations like birthdays and Chinese New Year. The chicken broth is tummy comforting with homemade shrimp paste balls, crunchy fish maw and vegetables like yambean and carrots.
       Another treat was the nasi kunyit (turmeric flavoured rice) with chicken curry and the addictive salted fish sambal (sambal kiam hu) that we all secretly coveted to take home its leftovers. This nasi kunyit set is available on a daily basis from the a la carte menu. We ended the meal with a refreshing O'Giou jelly made from Taiwanese ai-yu jelly powder. This old fashioned dessert used to be served by the hawkers in Penang during the olden days. I love its refreshing calamansi lime taste and the soft wobbly texture. We also had yummy Seri Muka to sink our teeth into that looked so pretty with its bunga telang (butterfly pea flower) coloured rice.
         Last but not least, was a special treat from Debbie's - her Nonya rice dumplings or puah kiam ti chang. Sadly this is not in the promotion. These bamboo leaf parcels are prepared yearly for the Chinese dumpling festival and available by pre-order. Tinged a distinct blue from the bunga telang, the soft glutinous rice parcel hides a yummy center of chicken and candied melon cubes flavoured with coriander powder, garlic and cekur ginger root. Even though we were full from dinner, each one of us managed a few bites but fatboybakes trumped all of us by going for the whole rice dumpling, relishing each bite of it and making us wish we had to stomach to follow him. His expression as he chomped down the dumpling was simply priceless. For more pictures, see my Flickr set.

For weekdays, the buffet lunch is priced at RM58++ per person and the buffet dinner is at RM78++ per person. During the weekend, the Nonya selection is available for high tea at RM52++ per person. UOB, American Express and Standard Chartered credit card holders get a 20% discount promotion. A special Father's Day brunch is available at RM65++ per adult and RM32.50++ per child with a interactived children's cooking workshop. Nonya dishes will also be available in the a la carte menu during the promotional period. For more details, call 03-2782 8301. 

* Thanks to cumidanciki and fatboybakes for being my "models". 

**  Note that this was an invited review by Parkroyal Kuala Lumpur. 


J said...

Look at that unabashedly GLEEful look on FBB's face!! ROFl. Definitely priceless. :)

(Boo hoo. I am so sad I missed out on this... Thanks though for thinking of me...)

Michelle Chin said...

So o-giou jelly is like ai yu bing no?

Ciki said...

my fingers!! i am famous on Masak-Masak.. YAY! hehe

fatboybakes said...

wow, what an honor to be featured here, mug and all!!!! thanks so much for the invite...debbie's fantastic. i so so love the keluak and of course, that gorgeous nyonya chang...

debbie said...

thanks for coming over and letting my food occupy your stomach space

foodbin said...

Authentic Nyonya dishes-love the chang.

qwazymonkey said...

Ah Pa just devoured that Bak Chang in all but 3 mouthful...all i can say is "Ah Pa, what big mouth you have?" LOL

Kenny Mah said...


Oh, I do wish I was eating that... perhaps not with the same expression on my face though... :P

MySelF said...

I believe the sambal goreng should be little bit dry instead of "kuah". You should visit a Javanese family and have them prepared the real sambal goreng.. Sooooooo tasty!

Mr Mantra said...

All look yummy!
terasa lapar la bila tengok ni

Lampe Berger Paris 1897 said...

There's a ti chang shop at Kuchai lama. mainly serving ti chang. they even have abalon Tichang. price is about RM35.00. You should try that shop.

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