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Nyonya Restaurant in Nottinghill

I enjoy discovering new restaurants almost as much as discovering new friends. Just outside of Nottinghill Gate tube station, on the way to Portobello Road, is a new crescent shaped restaurant, smack in the middle of the road.

Having lived in Southeast Asia, I thought for sure Nyonya was spelled Nonya. It refers to the Nonya people who lived in Malaysia (or Malaya as it used to be called). They were descendents of the Chinese mixed marriage with the Malays.

The menu looked authentic, so I decided to see if it passed my test.

The crescent-shaped room was lined by floor-length windows. I've never been been in a room like this before.

I ordered Penang Laksa, a dish rarely served in Malaysian restaurants outside of Southeast Asia. To balance the spicy taste, I chose Hainanese Chicken Rice as the second dish.

The soya bean milk was, to my disappointment, not home-made. I believe restaurants should never offer soya bean milk unless it is freshly made.

The Penang Laksa was authentic, however. I much prefer Penang Laksa to Singapore Laksa. Laksa is a soupy noodle dish that is very spicy. The latter is awash with creamy coconut.

The Hainanese Chicken Rice was not fresh. The chicken was over-cooked and the rice not aromatic or soft enough. The rice was supposed to be cooked in the soup of the chicken, but it didn't taste like it here.

Hainan is a large island south of mainland China, towards the west or southwest of Hong Kong. Hai means sea (the same hai in Shanghai). Nan means south. There was a special place in Singapore where my Malaysian neighbours used to take me for authentic Hainanese Chicken Rice.

Nyonya's prices are higher than the home cooked Malaysian food of the family run Mawar Restaurant in Edgeware Road. But for its prime location, smoke-free environment, professionally decorated interior, and interesting menu, it's well worth a visit.

30 December 2003 Tuesday

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Anne Ku

writes about her travels, conversations, thoughts, events, music, and anything else that is interesting enough to fill a web page.
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