New restaurants in Hong Kong: Baba Nyonya Restaurant in Yau Ma Tei celebrates traditional Peranakan fare
- The kaya toast with a slab of butter is a clear winner for just US$4
- The rich shrimp laksa will only set you back US$7, but it could use more spice
Baba Nyonya Restaurant celebrates the cultural heritage of the descendants of Chinese settlers in present-day Malaysia and Singapore who married indigenous Malays.
Pictures of Baba Nyonya-influenced dishes and architecture are arranged on the walls of the restaurant in Hong Kong’s Yau Ma Tei district, with two small Malaysian flags hanging by the counter.
The waiters were quite friendly and joked around with us. To order food, we wrote on their laminated menu with a red crayon. The menu features a range of Southeast Asian rice and noodle dishes, as well as snacks and drinks.
We started with the shrimp laksa with oil noodles and vermicelli (HK$56). We thought mixing the noodles together was an interesting combination, which is common in some dishes in Malaysia. The broth was mild and less spicy than other laksa dishes we’d tried, but it had a strong coconut taste, which we liked. The shrimp was elastic and fresh, with a tinge of spice, and the tofu puffs soaked in the flavours of the soup nicely.
The kaya butter toast (HK$28) was our favourite dish. The slab of butter went really well with the kaya in the middle of the crisp toast.
Hainan chicken with oil rice and soup (HK$78) was served with a trio of sauces: chilli, ginger scallion oil, and soy. The chicken was a little dry, but was good when dipped in the sauces. The oil rice had a nice garlicky taste, and was served with a mixture of peanuts, diced carrots, peas and cucumber.The soup was strong and a bit salty.
Next, we tried the roti canai with potatoes and curry sauce (HK$25). The roti was thin and crisp, while the potato chunks were soft and mildly spicy.
The Baba bak kut teh (HK$78) – pork ribs in a broth – was peppery. In addition to the tender pork ribs, the broth was served with lean pork meat, pork liver and slices of pork belly. The mushrooms were quite sweet and added to the overall taste of the soup. The bread dough slices served in a small dish absorbed the soup, as did the tofu puffs.
Hot Malaysia teh (HK$8) was our favourite drink. It tasted similar to the teh tarik – pulled tea – which I had tried in Malaysia, with a mildly sweet flavour and a rich tea. It is quite different from the Hong Kong-style milk tea.
We also tried the hot home-made barley drink (HK$8), which was mildly sweet. The barley pearls at the bottom of the drink had a nice texture and were mixed in honey. The iced Penang lime juice (HK$10) was refreshing, with sour and sweet flavours.
Baba Nyonya Restaurant, 501 Nathan Road, Yau Ma Tei, tel: 3594 6026. Open: Monday to Sunday 11am-11pm.