2/818 Bourke Street
+61 3 9640 0237
Having recently blogged about a good Living Social Deal made me rummage through my “to write up” list. Little Nonya appeared on Living Social sometime late last year and having remembered that it was on Fakebooo’s Little Black Book, I snapped up a voucher for myself and 3 guests to enjoy a three-course meal for $89.
Cookie Monster, Fakebooo, The Angmoh and I met at the front of Little Nonya’s cute shophouse. I loved how the restaurant resembled a makan place out of Katong, a suburb of Singapore with Peranakan history. There was marble, wood and even waitresses dressed in the sarong kebaya.
(Left) Loh bak – marinated pork strips wrapped with tofu skin and fried till crispy $8.80
(Right) Kerabu soft shell crabs – Nyonya style green papaya salad served with crisp fried soft shell crabs $13.80
As we sat down and looked through the menu, we were informed that we could order 4 dishes for each course. That meant 4 entrees, 4 mains, 4 desserts and even 4 drinks! That sounded way too good to be true and we had to clarify several times. To out delight though there were no scam here; it was as it sounded and we were going to need a lot of tummy-stretching and unfastening of pants.
2 plates of soft shell crab salad, 1 each of loh bak and rendang graced our tables. The loh bak contained chunks of pork instead of the usual mince. The rending was more soup-like, extremely aromatic and well-spiced. Cookie Monster gave the salad a thumbs’ up. The salad was tangy and spicy and the crab hot and crisp.
(Left) Roast pork hock – crispy skin pork hock served with green sambal and kerabu pineapple – $21.80
(Right) Banana leaf ikan bakar – baked barramundi wrapped in banana leaf with lemongrass and chilli $25.80
A huge crisp hock was set before us as soon as the entrees were cleared. The pork hock was a sight to behold. It was a knuckled, crackled, gelatinuous serve of porkiness. Assam prawns were placed upon us, even though we had ordered petai prawns. The kitchen had run out of petai and we weren’t informed when the order was placed. Petai is a strong pungent beans commonly used in Peranakan cuisine, which has an acquired taste and smell. The assam prawns were alright. The sambal swayed towards the sweet side. This similar sambal accompanied the grilled ikan bakar. The assam fish curry was my favourite. Firstly, it scored points for just being served in a fish-shaped dish. And secondly, there was a good balance of sour and sweet from the appropriate ratio of tamarind and pineapple. This too, was well-received by Cookie Monster and The Angmoh.
(Left) Assam fish – barramundi in tamarind curry, with ginger flower, lemongrass, tumeric and chilli $25.80
(Right) Nyonya assam prawns – whole tiger prawns marinated in assam juice then grilled $23.80
Stuffed from so much food, dessert was an absolute bonus and we were of course much obliged. The restaurant consented to Fakebooo and I ordering chendol from the drinks section. I thought that there was too much salted coconut milk and Fakebooo suggested that “the gula could be more melaka”, which in Fakebooo’s terminology, meant the dish could use more palm sugar. Cookie Monster and The Angmoh had ice kacang. This is usually a mountain of shaved ice, surrounded by sweet condiments such as sweet corn, red bean, atap seed and jelly, drizzled with coloured syrup and lashings of evaporated milk. Little Nonya’s version was flat and contained lychee, sea coconut, peanuts and herbal jelly.
Dinner at Little Nonya left all of us full with a smile on our faces. Most of the dishes brought back memories of home. The voucher was unexpectedly generous and would suit the greediest glutton eager to get more than a bang for his buck.