We’ve driven past Rasa Nyonya Penang on Albany Highway many times but only tried it for the first time this Monday night after work. It’s hard to tell how busy it is from outside in the street and I was surprised as we stepped through the door to see that it was about two-thirds full, quite impressive for a Perth restaurant on Monday night.
We each ordered a dish from the "Local Favourites" section of the menu. Jac’s favourite Malaysian dish is nasi lemak and if it’s on a menu, that’s what she’ll order. Nasi lemak is a dish of Malay origin – its name translates to “fatty rice”. The rice is cooked with coconut cream or coconut milk and pandan leaf which give it a wonderful fragrance and flavour. It’s a dish Malaysians eat any time of day, and many consider it Malaysia’s national dish. I love it for breakfast, even better if it comes “bungkus”, wrapped in brown paper, hawker style.
The nasi lemak (AU$10) included a generous serving of rice, half a hard-boiled egg, curry chicken, sambal, sliced fresh cucumber, crispy fried ikan bilis (anchovies) and peanuts. We could definitely taste the coconut flavour in the rice – not as lemak as Mum’s but better than I’ve eaten at most restaurants. The homemade sambal had a decent bite, with ikan bilis and sweet onions. The curry chicken was very tender and there was lots of gravy to soak up the rice.
I was in the mood for noodles and chose the Penang hokkien char (AU$9.50), or fried hokkien noodles. Hokkien noodles (I prefer to call it hokkien “mee” – “mee” means noodles) is a Malaysian-Chinese dish, usually thick yellow noodles fried in dark soy sauce with chicken or pork and seafood such as prawns, squid and fish cake. Hokkien mee has been one of my favourite noodle dishes since I was a child, the saucier the better.
Rasa Nyonya is a halal restaurant, so this hokkien mee did not include pork – but it was loaded with seafood: plump prawns, sliced fish cake and tender squid tentacles. My late grandma often cooked us squid tentacles. Are any of you tentacle fans?
We swapped tastes and dug into each other’s dishes. Unfortunately for me, not only is Jac a messy eater, she tends to “share” her mess – she flicked noodle gravy on me as she slurped up the noodles. She doesn’t do it on purpose, but whenever we dine out, I inevitably get flicked with gravy, splashed with sauce and squirted with juice! The things we put up with for love and good food, eh? :D The mee gravy was so tasty. There was much lip-licking and chin-wiping from both of us.
We’d actually ordered a serving of roti canai with curry chicken (AU$5.50) to share as a starter but the nasi lemak and hokkien noodles arrived first. We both agreed if the roti turned out to be fresh and housemade rather than frozen, we’d be happy.
I was pleased to see the roti was not the thick frisbee-shaped frozen kind – it was light, thin and crisp, served folded like a blanket. It was served on a metal plate with curry gravy (same curry as the nasi lemak) complete with potato and a succulent piece of chicken, and a shiny blob of the jammy spicy sambal.
I mopped up all that delicious gravy, couldn’t bear to waste a single drop.
Table manners aside, I’ve totally learned the hard way that it is impossible to drink from wide, flat plates without dribbles or spillage. So I had to be content with mopping up all the curry with roti and scraping up every last drop of hokkien mee gravy with my spoon.
We washed this all down with iced lemon tea (Jac) and lychee ice (me). The iced lemon tea was sugary but not sickly sweet, thanks to the addition of fresh lemon slices. My lychee ice was refreshing, with juicy sweet tinned lychees and cubes of pink rose jelly and black grass jelly. It was served with a chunky straw so I got a soft burst of jelly in every mouthful. There’s a good range of Malaysian drinks on the menu, including teh tarik (frothy “pulled” tea with condensed milk), air bandung (rose syrup drink with evaporated milk and jelly) and the gorgeously named Dinosaur Milo.
We decided to share sweets and chose the only hot dessert on the menu – pisang goreng (fried banana) with condensed milk and cheese (AU6.50). Fried bananas have been one of my favourites since childhood but I had never eaten them with condensed milk or cheese before.
Two bananas had been sliced length-ways, battered and fried then topped with grated cheese and condensed milk. The batter was light, with a rough, crisp texture. I was thrilled that the cook had chosen to serve the crunchy extra batter bits too. When I was a kid in Malaysia it was always a race against my siblings to get those crunchy extra batter bits.
The bananas had more cheese on them than condensed milk, making this quite a savoury dish. The bananas would’ve been so much sweeter and softer if they’d been riper. It was interesting but I think I prefer my fried bananas without cheese.
Rasa Nyonya Penang is around 10 minutes drive from Curtin University, so it’s not surprising that the clientele appeared to be mostly Asian students, as well as families. We smiled to see two little Malay girls skipping into the restaurant with their mum and dad, then settling down happily, each with fork and spoon in hand, enjoying their dinner.
The tables reminded us of old office furniture and the staff were slow to clear our plates between main course and dessert, but our food was very tasty. We’ll be back.
Rasa Nyonya Penang
Shop 6 & 7, 1019 Albany Highway
East Victoria Park WA 6102
Telephone: (08) 9470 3847
Halal certified restaurant, special menu available for Ramadan
Closed on Wednesdays
They also have restaurants in Malaysia, Phnom Penh, Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi.
TFP dined at Rasa Nyonya Penang with compliments of Malaysia Kitchen. All opinions are my own.
Malaysia Kitchen Blogger Summit
EDIT, 1 September – RESULTS: Thank you so much to everyone who voted and helped spread the word! The results are out and it’s official! I’m going to Malaysia!
This was my first post for the Malaysia Kitchen Blogger Summit. I had a wonderful time eating and photographing dishes at four of Perth’s Malaysian restaurants. I hope my posts captured at least some of the diversity, complexity and deliciousness of Malaysian cuisine.
Thirteen bloggers across Australia reviewed local Malaysian restaurants throughout August for a chance to win an all-expenses paid trip to Malaysia for the ultimate food lovers’ adventure. At the end of August, the three bloggers with the most reader votes across all their posts were announced as the the winners.
Below are the posts I published as part of the Malaysia Kitchen Blogger Summit Competition. They were published on the Malaysia Kitchen (MK) site as well as here at The Food Pornographer.
- Rasa Nyonya Penang, East Victoria Park (this post) | Rasa Nyonya (MK)
- Old Cathay, Victoria Park (this post) | Old Cathay (MK)
- Bull Creek Hawker, Bull Creek | Bull Creek Hawker (MK)
- Suria Cafe, Girrawheen | Suria Cafe (MK)
Thank you once again to everyone who voted for me and helped spread the word! A Malaysian eating adventure awaits… stay tuned!