When Uncle Wee cooks, the sounds & smells that surface from his kitchen feel like home. "Sekejap, ya," followed swiftly by "Panas! Panas!" as a steaming-hot bowl of aromatic pongteh chicken is carried out to the customer's table at this new Nyonya restaurant that tries to transport the flavour of Malacca to KL's Taman Desa neighbourhood.
Eating at this atmospheric venue does evoke a sense of my southern hometown, in a touristic fashion, thanks to decorative flourishes meant to convey the rich cultural charm of Peranakan heritage. There's nostalgia in the air, with Nat King Cole singing through the speakers. But there's also a ring of authenticity behind the aesthetics - Uncle Wee, now in his mid-60s, was born & bred in Tengkera in Malacca, raised by a mother who was a cook & taught her recipes to him & his 11 siblings.
This is the food of Uncle Wee's family - he cooks here every weekday, lunch & dinner, helping out his sister's son who owns Big Baba. Everything is made fresh - in Uncle Wee's words, for the chicken pongteh (RM26+), "itu jam masak, itu jam kena makan. Kalau tak de, dia semua kembang, ubi kentang kembang."
The menu isn't exceptionally extensive, but it hits many essentials. "Kita baru, jadi tak berani bikin banyak-banyak barang," says Uncle Wee. You'll find otak-otak (RM12+), telur cincalok (RM15+), terung goreng (RM12+) & udang masak lemak nanas (RM35+), capably prepared & enjoyably tasty, alongside other highlights like itik tim, kari dabael, rendang daging lembu, sambal petai sotong & ikan asam pedas. Portions seem suitable for two to three people; a meal here may exceed RM30 per person, particularly if you order prawns, but there are lunch sets that cost a more budget-friendly RM12.90-RM18.90 each.
34, Jalan 2/109E, Desa Business Park, Taman Bukit Desa, Off Old Klang Road, Kuala Lumpur.
Open Mon-Fri, 11am-3pm, 6pm-9pm. Currently closed on weekends. Tel: 03-7987-7755
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