In amongst the large and varied menu were two items we were eager to test - Chwee Kuei and Cheong Fan. I've written about my nostalgic love affair with Chwee Kuei before. There's not a lot that can beat these delightful steamed rice cakes topped with preserved vegetables and smothered (usually) in chilli sauce for the perfect savoury snack. Nyonya House's offering has the right ingredients, but comes across as a little too clean and clinical. I was hoping for a little more grease and that nutty hint of an over preponderance of sesame and chilli oil. But still, unless you're prepared to make your own, not a lot of places serve this market style dish. So you should check it out.
There are 2 main types of hawker style Cheong Fan from Singapore. There is the old Capitol Cinema Cheong Fan which is essentially Dry Wonton Noodles using the rice noodle roll (i.e. Cheong Fan) instead of egg noodles. Then there is the plain Chee Cheong Fan which is simply the noodle roll dressed with Chinese plum sauce and sesame seeds - yet another one of those magical savoury snacks that this region is so good at producing. The Hong Kong style Cheong Fan (a staple Yum Cha offering) is a lot cleaner in flavor, and the Penang style adds Prawn paste for an extra umami hit. The Cheong Fan here at Nyonya House had a bit too much sauce for my liking, which added a richness to the dish that quickly palled after a few bites. But if you haven't had this before, again I encourage you to try it.
We started our meal with a couple of fried chicken wings which combined with the chilli sauce that you shouldn't forget to ask for (hhmm!) was the perfect starter for all the other "starters" to come. I do love me a fried chicken wing - you could simply immerse a wing in a deep fryer without any kind of flavouring and I'd still eat it with relish. So you may say plain, I say yummy!
We ordered the Kuih Kak our of curiosity. I'm not familiar with the name of this dish but its was described by our helpful waiter as Char Kway Teow using cubed rice cake instead of the standard flat rice noodle. It sort of looked like Chai Tow Kuay, but again, it ended up being a tad on the gluggy side. So maybe stick to the normal Char Kway Teow in future. No point messing with a tried and true formula.
When I asked whether they had Teh Tarik (or pulled tea) on the menu, M piped up with his usual "do you serve Teh Alia (ginger tea)" routine,. Again our friendly waiter said that if its not on the menu you can always ask. In other words, Teh Alia is not on the menu, so you will have to ask. I think they use ginger drink powder though, so be mindful of that.
And finally, we also had an entrée size serve of the Roti Jala - yet another childhood favourite. These lacy egg crepes are perfect for soaking up some curry goodness. Nyonya House's offering is miles ahead of the ones at Chilli Padi - whose cooks seem to think that it has to be served crispy! And the chicken curry was delicious.
Although on reflection our quest for the elusive Malaysian restaurant still continues, this little blip on the road to perfection is worth checking out. There are still quite a few possibilities to look further into, like the Tang Hoon Fishball Noodles, Sago Pudding and Bubur Cha Cha. A repeat visit is definitely on the cards.
We drove into Sanctuary Lakes (what the?! by the way) and took stock of directions before deciding to take the road less travelled via Altona into Williamstown and back home.
Some things in life are obviously imbued with an aesthetic beauty like a bunch of Jonquils in a vase, or a clutch of Pomeranian puppies in a pet store window, but sometimes glamour can be found in the vast industrial terrains in suburban backwaters ... question is ... can anyone really live here.