The 10 Best Nyonya and Peranakan Restaurants in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Nasi Ulam, Malay traditional herb rice
Nasi Ulam, Malay traditional herb rice | © Dolly MJ / Shutterstock
Photo of Karuna Ang
29 June 2018

Known for its deep flavourful dishes, Nyonya cuisine is loved by Malaysians. Here are 10 restaurants in Kuala Lumpur where you can experience this delicious cuisine.

Limapulo: Baba can Cook

Restaurant, Fusion, Halal, Asian, Malaysian, $$$
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Curry Laksa
Curry Laksa | © Mohd Syis Zulkipli / Shutterstock

Located at The Heritage Row on Jalan Doraisamy, Limapulo is a Malacca Nyonya restaurant. Their library of recipes have been handed down to the family across generations. The star dish of the restaurant is the Nyonya Lemak Laksa, which is only available on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. With limited servings, the laksa uses eight core ingredients and takes hours to peel, blend and cook, creating a rich burst of flavours in this dish.

Baba Low's

Restaurant, Malaysian, $$$
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Known for its traditional Nyonya laksa, this Peranakan restaurant serves Malaccan Straits Chinese food with simple offerings like pie tee, tauhu sumbat, mee siam, chicken pongteh, assam fish and cendol. The atmosphere is laidback, giving diners a homey feeling as they enjoy their meals here. Another highlight at this eatery is the cendol. With a mountain of shaved ice drizzled with gula Melaka and fresh coconut milk, this creamy dessert is the best way to beat the heat in Malaysia.

Baba Nyonya Restaurant

Restaurant, Malaysian, $$$
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Kari Kapitan, Malaysian spicy chicken curry with coconut milk served with roti
Kari Kapitan, Malaysian spicy chicken curry with coconut milk served with roti | © Paul_Brighton / Shutterstock

The restaurant might look lavish and modern to some, but rest assured the Peranakan food is as old as the tradition. The food here is made from scratch, including blending and preparing the spices. Favourites include the inchi kabin, a classic Nyonya fried chicken dish where the chicken has been marinated overnight for a full flavour; kapitan curry, ayam goreng rempah, chicken pongteh, soto ayam, kangkung belacan, and sambal long beans.

Precious Old China

Market, Restaurant, Malaysian, $$$
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Tamarind Udang Goreng Assam Grilled Prawns
Tamarind Udang Goreng Assam Grilled Prawns | © Alphonsine Sabine / Shutterstock
Dine amidst antiques and vintage Colonial furniture at this quaint restaurant located in Kuala Lumpur’s Central Market. Look around and you will find decorations true to the Nyonya culture like decorative panels inlaid with stained-glass and 19th century Chinese lattice panels painted with more auspicious motifs. They use a variety of spices like chillies, shallots, garlic, cinnamon, cumin, star anise and ginger roots combined with aromatic leaves like kaffir lime, turmeric and polygonum to create the distinctive Nyonya taste. Must-tries here include the lemak nenas prawn and assam prawn, plus desserts such as sago gula melaka and bubur cha-cha.

Old China Café

Bar, Restaurant, Chinese, Malaysian, $$$
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Old China Cafe Chinatown
The old-fashioned swing doors on Old China Cafe | © Sam Bedford

One of the oldest restaurants in Kuala Lumpur, Old China Café still maintains its charm with antique trinkets and old photos on the wall. This quaint restaurant serves both Malacca and Penang style Nyonya, with many of the recipes passed down for generations. As you settle down in the restaurant, the aromatic waft flowing from the kitchen is enough to whet your appetite. Start with some appetizers like spring roll and lobak before moving on to their main dishes like kapitan curry chicken, babi masak asam, beef rendang, fish head curry and sambal petai sotong.

Shelley Yu's

Cocktail Bar, Restaurant, Malaysian, Asian, $$$
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Sambal Petai is a local dish using bitter beans, chilli and prawns, popular in South East Asian countries such as Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore
Sambal Petai is a local dish using bitter beans, chilli and prawns | © Nora Yusuf / Shutterstock

Peranakan cuisine holds a special place in many Malaysians’ hearts and not many would be bold enough to challenge traditions. At Shelley Yu’s, they have taken on the task and brought it to another level by creating one-of-a-kind Nyonya-inspired cocktails. Dine in this eclectic restaurant with an extensive menu offering popular Nyonya dishes like pie tee, pong teh, udang sambal petai, Nyonya laksa, sotong masak hitam and more. End your meal with one of their Nyonya-inspired cocktails like the Nyonya Manisan (tuac, Benedictine, honey, lemon, rose and egg white) and Laksa Colada (laksa milk, white rum and lime).

Just Nyonya

Restaurant, Malaysian, $$$
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Ikan pepes, Indonesian steamed and grill fish wrapped in banana leaves
Ikan pepes, Indonesian steamed and grill fish wrapped in banana leaves | © Dolly MJ / Shutterstock

Having decades of experience in Peranakan restaurants, chef and owner K.S. Tan continues to prepare dishes the traditional way – by preparing the spices and meat for hours on end. The restaurant’s decorations are simple but the flavours of the food are as complex as the number of spices used. One of the main highlights here includes the perut ikan (fish stomach), which is cooked for hours and spiced just right. Other favourites include sweet potato leaf masak lemak keledek, chicken kapitan, chicken pongteh, inchi kabin and assam prawns.

Mama Sayang Nyonya Vegetarian Restaurant

Restaurant, Malaysian, $$$
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Take a different path back to the olden days with traditional vegetarian Nyonya dishes at Mama Sayang. As the only vegetarian Nyonya restaurant in town, they serve dishes that pack a vibrant punch visually and tastefully. Recommended dishes include the lamb curry, yam basket and sambal udang petai.

1919 Restaurant

Restaurant, Malaysian, $$$
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Coming all the way from Ipoh, 1919 Restaurant offers a splendid spread of Nyonya and Chinese cuisine with a Western twist. The ambience here is classy yet cosy, and the food as delicious as they come. Some of their highlights include the salted egg chicken, cincaluk sotong and the 1919 special tofu. If you are not sure what to order, don’t be shy to ask for recommendations and you’ll be in for a good time.

Sarang Cookery

Restaurant, Malaysian, $$$
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Nasi Ulam, Malay traditional herb rice
Nasi Ulam, Malay traditional herb rice | © Dolly MJ / Shutterstock

Malaysian cuisine is uniquely multicultural. At Sarang Cookery, they serve joyfully tasty Peranakan and traditional Malay dishes. Take a seat and delve into the tasty food here, like deep fried turmeric squid, spring rolls, nasi ulam, nasi goreng kerabu, roti jala, daging masak kicap, assam pedas fish and brinjal belanda. If you are up for learning how to make Nyonya dishes from scratch, they also offer Nyonya cooking classes on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. Each session features four recipes and the class is priced at RM250 per pax.