[Kuala Lumpur] Nyonya Supper Club by Sharon Ann De Souza

Sharon Ann De Souza runs perhaps KL’s most popular Nyonya supper club, a 2-year-old private kitchen dining set-up very much sought after by KL-lites who’re tired of large, commercial dining establishments that lacked authenticity.

Sharon Ann’s home-cooking style fills that gap perfectly. As Sharon Ann is half-Malaccan-Portuguese-Eurasian and half-Malaccan-Nyonya, her menu usually spanned the best of both hybrid cuisines. Our dinner that evening was more Portuguese-Cristang than Nyonya as Sharon varied her cooking according to the availability of the best & freshest produce she could find. Sharon worked alone, and the only help she got was from her husband, Scotsman Richard Thompson, who served the dishes and also played the perfect host to the dinner guests. To reserve a table at Sharon’s for the evening, you need a party of at least 8. I was lucky that a couple of my good KL foodie friends managed to rustle up a party of 9 of us (at “quite” a short notice of one week) for dinner last Friday evening.

Our dinner consisted of:

  1. Seh Bak with pig’s intestines, pig’s ears and tofu. She served it with chili-cuka (blended chili-vinegar) and crushed “kong th’ng” (peanut brittle), a spicy-sour-sweet dip that was perfect for the soy-braised stew.

  1. Seafood Otak-otak.
    Sharon Ann’s Scottish husband, Richard, served out the large platters of hot, freshly-cooked dishes. This was a strictly mom-and-pop set-up, smoothly run by the genial couple.

Sharon Ann’s otak-otak was a cross between Penang’s Northern-style otak-otak with its moist, souffle-like custardy, savoury pudding, much alike Thai hor mok or Cambodian amok, and the Malaccan/Singaporean Southern-style otak-otak which is firmer and drier, like its Javanese cousin, the botok Jawa. But Sharon Ann’s otak-otak was an amazing concoction in its own right, and the tastiest thing I’d ever tasted in a long time.

  1. Nasi Kabuli. This is a rare, hard-to-prepare aromatic rice dish which used to be served in traditional Baba-Nyonya wedding dinners, but which we hardly see these days. Her version was perfect.

  2. Spam Ambilla. My favourite dish for the evening - only the Portuguese-Eurasians could think of using Spam for curries, but it turned out so very well.

The Spam Ambilla went perfectly with the Nasi Kabuli.

  1. Chicken Kari Seccu.
    One lady in our party did not take mutton, so Sharon prepared the chicken version instead. This was the weakest dish I had that evening - I can’t help feeling the mutton version would have been perfect.

  2. Ham Hock Kari Captain.
    This is different from the Penang Kapitan Curry. The inclusion of potatoes was great, as the root vegetable complemented the salty ham hocks and the very spicy gravy.

One of our party (who’d been to Sharon Ann’s supper club before) brought along sourdough bread to soak up the spicy gravy.

  1. Portuguese-style baked fish, using Red Snapper. My fellow diners loved this dish, but I was really too full by then to appreciate the dish.

  2. Banana blossom salad (kerabu jantung pisang) - this was served last, but was my favourite dish of the evening. We were really too satiated then, and I could not take more than a couple of spoonfuls.

  3. Sago Gula Melaka. Very prettily-presented. Delish, as only home-cooking can be.

Nyonyaware used for serving.

This was my favourite dining experience for this one-week-long trip to Kuala Lumpur. Penang has a similar one - Nyonya Su Pei which offers Northern-Nyonya dishes, but I really liked Sharon Ann’s mix of Southern-Nyonya and Malaccan-Portuguese dishes more. It’s a treat for KL-lites, too - I was here with 8 other KL foodies/gourmands - as Kuala Lumpur, despite its proximity to Malacca (only 1.5 hours’ drive away) strangely has very few Southern-Nyonya restaurants (the sort we find in Malacca and Singapore), and almost every Nyonya restaurant in town serves only Penang-style Northern-Nyonya cuisine.

I’m looking forward to a return visit to Sharon Ann’s supper club again. Not a mean feat - she only cooks for a minimum of a party of 8. The going rate currently is RM150 (US$37) per head - worth every cent, though, IMO.