Ok ... I have a dilemma folks. I wanted to be blown away and wax lyrical about this new eatery run by one of the 3 Hungry Tummies. I have mentioned this amazing recipe blog a number of times here on Temasek, so I was genuinely excited at the prospect of sampling the culinary delights at newly opened eatery Little Nonya down at the Docklands, a venture ably manned by one of the aforementioned Tummies.
My dilemma is that while the food was delicious and the setting simply wonderful, the meal seemed somewhat tentative and restrained.
Firstly, whilst I am guilty of truly unaustralian behaviour in breaking the tennet of giving a fair go in writing about Docklands (and god knows how many unspeakable grammatical rules in this sentence), I must say that Little Nonya's location with its views across the water is pretty sweet.
We were there on a a fairly mild Spring night and decided to sit outside and take in the view. We began with Crispy Skin Fish Paste ($10.80), a generous serve of homemade fish paste wrapped in crispy beancurd skins, served with sweet chilli sauce (oh well).
The fish paste was delicious and charmingly home made. A great bar snack if ever there was, and perfect with beer or cider I would imagine.
We also had a serve of Kuay Pai Ti, quaintly descibed on the menu as Nonya Hat ($8.80). Kuay Pai Ti is quintessential Nonya party food. Its not really something you can find easily commercially. Little Nonya's version was slightly under par. The shells were a little too dark and the flavours slightly muddied. No real shrimp hit or that earthy fried radish piquancy that we associate with this example of Asian finger food.
For mains we decide to try the Sayur Lodeh ($15.80), which is a coconuty (what Malays call lemak) vegetable curry. There are some must have ingredients in a Lodeh, namely beancurd, cabbage, green beans and turnip. Strict vegos be warned, one of the key ingredients in the sauce is shrimp paste or belacan. But I believe that its the extras that really make this dish - ketupat (rice cakes) and serondeng (fried grated coconut). Sadly, the Lodeh here does not come with ketupat or serondeng, but the flavour is pretty spot on, and again I must say, comfortingly home made.
We also had the Nam-yu Pork Belly ($21.80). Deep fried pork belly served with lettuce for wrapping and a spicy plum sauce for dipping. I liked this dish and would have it again, but not just yet as there are a few other items on the menu that I would like to try first.
So I recommend this eatery with reservation. I can already hear the snap and bite of the self-appointed protectors of authenticity champing at the bit. But I can vouch for the chef's credentials, and lets face it, most so-called Nonya restaurants pay only scant compliment to the cuisine they so proudly espouse. If you ever want to know what the average Nonya household eats when they sit down to a meal, then Little Nonya is the joint for you. So give this place a go and remember to stick your head in the kitchen and say Hi to Suresh.
PS. if only Buah Keluak, Otak Otak, Sambal Timun, Asam Petai Prawns (for M) and Jiu Hu Char (perhaps also more for M) make it onto the menu ... here's hoping.