The Peranakan Bangsar is one of the newer restaurant additions to Bangsar Baru, offering Malacca-style Peranakan classics, assorted kuih muih and desserts. Being married into a Peranakan family exposed me to a wide range of (homecooked) Peranakan dishes. Even more so since both Jien and my father in-law are really fussy when it comes to Malacca-Nyonya cuisine.
Thus, I had high expectations for The Peranakan Bangsar since it’s raved about on Google reviews and social media platforms. My first visit was for lunch with a friend, and I returned with Jien and two friends for dinner not long after.
The Pai Tee (RM20 for 6 pieces) comes recommended by the staff – crispy savoury shells filled with a mixture of braised turnip, carrots and diced prawns. This comes with The Peranakan’s homemade light chili chuka, which was lovely. A decent sharing plate, though I’ll state what I feel (and what my FIL would definitely say); the julienned vegetables aren’t fine enough.
Chef Rose’s Ayam Ponteh (RM38) tastes similar to what we usually eat at home. The chicken pieces are cooked with taucu (bean sauce) and Gula Melaka for that savoury, caramelised flavour ponteh is known for. Many places make it too diluted for our liking but The Peranakan does it just right. It could use a bit more sugar though, but that’s just our preference.
Ayam Buah Keluak (RM40) is a dish you either like or dislike in my opinion; similar to durian. Buah keluak isn’t easy to find and it’s even more difficult to prepare – the nut needs to be soaked for at least 14 days according to my mother in-law, to remove the cyanide components before seasoning is added. While the rempah paste is delicious and the chicken, tender, I thought the buah keluak wasn’t seasoned enough so it doesn’t have that creamy, lemak flavour.
We tried both the Ikan Asam Pedas (RM88) and Ikan Masak Tempra (RM88) – fish type depends on availability of ingredients. That night, it was Siakap. The Asam Pedas was delicious; adequately thick and tangy gravy with a good balance of spicy, sweet, tangy and savoury. Definitely a highlight at The Peranakan.
Jien and I like the “masak tempra” cooking method, which his mother would often make whenever we have supply of fresh fish or fresh prawns. We tried the version at The Peranakan and it is commendable. The only downside to this dish was that the fish we got was still frozen at the centre. Quite a turn-off for us, but they took it back to the kitchen to recook the fish, presumably via microwave.
Udang Masak Lemak Nenas (RM69) comprises eight sea prawns cooked in a creamy yet tangy gravy of pineapple, turmeric, coconut milk and spices. Good stuff, and the prawns are fresh and justly cooked too. I found the Jiu Hu Char (RM25) decent though not the best I’ve eaten so far. In terms of flavour, it’s lighter than what I’m used to eating so if you prefer your jiu hu char less pungent, you’ll like this.
I had the Nyonya Chap Chye (RM25) during my first visit with my friend – not bad, though I prefer my MIL’s version since she uses more taucu (bean paste) so hers has more depth in flavour. The Peranakan serves theirs with sambal belacan, which packs a wallop.
Bendi Kukus (RM25) is a common staple in Peranakan households where ladies fingers are steamed and topped with a spicy paste made using fresh and dried chillies and dried shrimp. A bit of lime juice is added at The Peranakan to liven up the flavours. Refreshing, but personally, I can do without this dish.
Chef Rose’s Nyonya Laksa (RM28) is worth checking out, albeit rather pricey. The laksa comes with a choice of yellow noodles, vermicelli or a mix of both, a whole chicken thigh, three prawns, tofu puffs and fishball. Quite a large bowl I must say – portion feeds two small eaters or a really hungry adult.
I like the thickness of the kuah laksa, evident from the quality of coconut milk used. The daun kesum topping is a bit scarce so it’s best to request for more if you prefer more. I was told this was a tea-time special available between 2pm till 5.30pm so if you’re planning to have this for lunch, best to call ahead to check for availability.
The Peranakan Chendol (RM12) is one of the better Melaka-style cendol I’ve tried in KL so far. I like the texture of the ice shaving and the fact that their add a bit of salt into their thick coconut milk so flavours really come together well. The Gula Melaka here is prepared well so it’s deeply caramelised without a bitter aftertaste. If Gula Melaka syrup is bitter or sour, that means it’s overdone.
Apparently, a lot of senior folks eat at The Peranakan so the kitchen tones down the sweetness significantly (read: tasteless). As such, you’re given an additional cup of Gula Melaka to add into the cendol. I suggest you do so as the original version at The Peranakan is no fun to eat at all. With added Gula Melaka, the cendol transforms into a delicious sweet cap.
Same goes for the Sago Gula Melaka (RM10) and Pulut Hitam (RM12), where sweetness is toned down significantly and you’ll have to adjust the sweetness based on your preference. We tried their homemade Kuih Bongkong (RM6 per piece) which I didn’t like at all because the texture was too soft (read: mushy) and they toned down the sweetness way too much.
Overall, I enjoyed my experiences at The Peranakan Bangsar. Prices are a tad higher but that’s pretty common when you’re eating Nyonya food. Expect to pay about RM100 per person if you’re going for a “complete” Nyonya dining experience. Otherwise, you can probably get away with spending between RM50-70 per head at The Peranakan.
Food: 7/10 (pork-free)
Verdict: Pretty good Malacca-style Peranakan fare but like most Nyonya dining experiences, prices are a bit on the higher side.
The Peranakan Bangsar
17, Jalan Telawi 3,
59100 Kuala Lumpur.
Tel: 011-2513 9396
Business hours: 12noon till 10pm