Nyonya food, is a near to extinction food. It was once nearly disappeared until in recent years, some of the cooks and chefs started to revive the cusine in Penang.
The one great place serving authentic Nyonya food is Perut Rumah.
If you are driving from Komtar to Gurney Drive, you will need to drive via Burma Road. At the junction of Jalan Pangkor, turn right where you will see Gleneagles Hospital on your right. Keep driving and the left turn to Kelawai Road, where you will see UOB bank on your left. Keep driving for another 100 meters and you will see a stone pounder signboard on your left. That is the right place you are looking for.
Perut Rumah has a well-maintained Nyonya style interior. It has an antique chest of drawers and a display cupboard with a proud collection of Nyonya antiques. These collections are purely antique and not replicas.
The floor tiles are those you could find from the olden days in most pre-war houses. Even the handle of the staircase is also very classical.
The ambiance is very cozy and classical. Just imagine that it is like a twilight zone that teleports a person back to the olden days in the middle of a city.
One of the owners of Perut Rumah, Giannick (or Nick) has allowed me to have an exclusive interview with him. Nick was once a hairdresser. He started operating Perut Rumah for the past 3 years. The reason of giving up his hairdressing profession is due to his passion on Nyonya food.
Nick mentioned that the chef which is his mum has the experience of Nyonya cooking for more than 30 years. This has made their food to be more authentic.
The dishes served are listed as below:
Jiu Hoo Char, this is a traditional and popular dish that we are used to its taste. It was cooked using strips of bangkwang (yambean), carrots, mushrooms and dried jiu hoo (squid). This dish was slightly dry compared to others, but the taste was also good when wrapped with lettuce together with some sambal sauce.
Pork Slices Fried Cincaluk, the pork slices were cooked together with cincaluk (Malay sauce with fermented shrimp as the base). Personally, I find this dish was a bit on the salty side yet it is still acceptable and delicious too.
Inchi Cabin Chicken is known as Encik Cabin Chicken. The reason why it is called Encik Cabin is because this dish was popularly cooked on the ship for sailors. Usually when the meal is ready, the chef will inform the sailors “Encik dalam cabin, Chicken siap” (Mister in the cabin, you meal is ready.) That is how this meal got its name. The preparation of this meal was excellent and it had a really crunchy skin and juicy meat.
Roti Babi (Real Pork), Previously this dish was tried in other places and it was substituted with chicken due to Halal request. However, over here the strips of bangkwang (yambean), carrots, mushrooms were cooked together with slices of pork and wrapped with bread which had been coated with batter and deep fried until crunchy. The best part was even though it was deep fried, the bread didn’t fully absorb the oil and hence it didn’t taste oily.
Kuih Pai Ti (Singapore Pok Pia), a mixture of bangkwang (yambean), carrots and mushrooms which was fried together with slices of pork was placed into crunchy snack cups. Each cup was topped with fried onions. The taste of the bangkwang char was similar to the roti babi except that is crunchy.
Loh Bak (Assorted Deep Fried Rolls). This is the most common traditional food around which everyone knows in Malaysia. This meat roll was made from minced meat and was wrapped in yuba (soya bean skin). The loh bak tasted hot and juicy. It was a combination of crunchy on the outside and juicy on the inside. Very standard type of dish.
Nasi Ulam. The most difficult dish to prepare. All the “ulam” (a type of creeper) were cut into thin slices, mixed together with the pounded “Hea Bee” (dried prawns), slices of onion, slices of carrot and then fried together with rice. The proportion of the ingredients to rice is 7 to 3, which made this dish very hard to prepare. There are not many places in town that serve this dish as well. The smell of the dried prawns was very strong which I like it a lot.
Assam Prawns, the prawns were marinated with tamarind and assam and cooked with dark soy sauce. The sauce was sweet and sour and it was a very appetising dish.
Curry Tumis Stingray Fish. This tumis curry was served in claypot with a fresh sting ray which was very juicy. The aroma of the curry was very strong and they didn’t use much salt or sugar on this dish. The taste from the curry was merely generated by the spices and the garnish of the dish. Caution to the non-spicy lovers, you might need to skip this one as it is spicy and will make your tongue numb.
Otak-otak, the fish was cut into fillet and placed onto a “Kado” leaf. On top of the fish was a custard made from egg, turmeric, coconut milk and spices. It was then wrapped into a banana leaf and steamed to perfection.
Once the banana leaf is opened you can see the golden color of custard on top of the fillet. When eating together the aroma of the spices blended in very well with the fish. The texture of the fish was so soft and it is an excellent combination.
Perut Ikan, the ingredients of this dish include “ulam”, long beans, tomato, pineapple and fish belly. The taste of the dish was slightly sour and very spicy. Again, those who do not fancy spicy food, please skip this.
All the dishes shown above, except for the perut ikan were laid on the dining table as picturerd below. The price for all the dishes below are RM150 and can cater for 6 pax.
Overall the ambiance for this place is very cozy and traditional. The service here is good and the food is mostly acceptable. There are some car parks available in front of the porch. There are also a lot of car parks at the side of Kelawei Road. As for the pricing, with such environment and service, it is in the range of acceptable. This place has free WIFI too.
Editor’s Review (5 Stars Rank):
Operation hours: 11.00am to 3:00pm; 6:00pm – 10:00pm (7 days a week)
Contact: 04-227 9917; 012 506 0645 (Giannick Lee)
Address:17 Jalan Kelawei, 10250 Georgetown, Penang
GPS: 5° 42′ 98.56″ N, 100° 31′ 76.64″ E