[Penang, Malaysia] Nyonya dinner at Heritage Artisans, Victoria Green

Heritage Artisans’ private dining menu degustation which we had last night was a stunning spread of traditional & revisionist takes on classic Nyonya dishes as we know them. As a 6th-generation Peranakan-Baba, I am sometimes pretty doubtful about any “modern” attempts to redefine centuries-old classic Nyonya dishes which we know and grew up eating.

We started off with an amuse bouche of sambal anchovies with Bleu d’Auvergne cheese, radish, capsicum & pickled purple onion on crackers and fresh ulam raja leaves

Chefs Nyonya Su Pei and Baba Jerry Kong’s revisionist dishes which followed were amazing: first, the fall-off-the-bone tender curried pork ribs served with ketupat palas (glutinous rice & black-eyed peas, wrapped in palm leaves & steamed)

This was followed by a familiar classic: Huan choo heok masak lemak (sweet potato leaves cooked in turmeric-spiced coconut gravy, with shrimps and red peppers).:

Nyonya Chap Chye (mixed vegetables) with shrimps, tiger lily-buds, wood-ear fungus, beancurd sticks and carrots

Crispy pork lardons were utterly sinful, but irresistible when stir-fried with tamarind and caramelized with sugar, then paired with crisp ice plant leaves.

Kio char SiMiLaJiao (aubergines with spiced SiMiLaJiao chili condiment)

The Nyonya roast duck curry was a first for me, reminiscent of Thai red curry with roast duck, yet with its own unique flavour profile.

Gulai tumis hang ngah hoo (Gulai tumis with stingray)

Scented basmati rice was served on the side - a must-have, to be paired with the assertively-spiced dishes.

The dessert course was quite a stunner: black glutinous rice, layered with whipped cream like an English trifle, streaked through with fermented yellow rice wine.

It’s one of those meals that stays on in one’s taste memory long after the dinner was over. The two owner-chefs, Jerry Kong and Su Pei, truly deserved the standing ovation the satiated diners gave them.

Nyonya Su Pei Private Dining / Heritage Artisans
53, Jalan Padang Victoria (Victoria Green), 10400 George Town, Penang, Malaysia
Tel: +6016-410 6116
Opening hours: 6pm till late, Tue to Sun. Closed on Mondays. By appointment only.


Oh man, that all looks so good. You would not believe just how envious I am .


If you ever come by this way, John, I’ll make sure to arrange a meal for you there. You’ll be absolutely blown away!


Anchovy/blue cheese combo is one I’ve been pushing for a long time. How are the ulam raja with that? Seems like an inspired combo.

Meal looks great.

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:joy: :joy: :joy:

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That combination was simply amazing! Just waiting for you to be back in Penang. :grinning_face_with_smiling_eyes:

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We were back at Heritage Artisans last Sunday for dinner. It coincided with Remembrance Day. Remembrance Day - a Commonwealth tradition started by King George V in 1919 to honour the war dead of World War I - was observed in Penang last Sunday, much later than usual (we normally hold it on 11 Nov, or dates closest to it) because of the just-completed Malaysian general elections.

The day started with a service at the Penang War Memorial Cenotaph, attended by Commonwealth armed services personnel, ex-servicemen, family members, and representatives from the various communities in Penang - Siamese, Sikhs, Straits-born Chinese, etc. I was part of the Straits-born Chinese association delegation.

Australian diggers flanking the president of the Penang Peranakan Baba-Nyonya Association (representing the Straits-born Chinese of Penang).

Penang Chief Minister paid tribute to the fallen dead. The Battle of Penang in 1914 saw an attack by a German warship which sunk a Russian and a French cruiser. 88 Russian sailors died.

Canadian, British, New Zealand and Indian army representatives paid their respects.

Gurkha bugler and bagpipers from the British Army.

The last Remembrance Day service I’d attended was a few years ago. Then, the now-disgraced Prince Andrew represented the British.

Back to our Remembrance Day dinner later in the day - we started off with Thai-style larb gai (minced chicken salad wraps). Our hostess, Nyonya Su Pei’s rendition is gentler and milder than the Thai version. The minced chicken was tossed with shallots, chopped herbs, toasted & crushed rice, green chilis, fish sauce and lime juice, then served in wild betel leaves, topped with fresh mint leaves and crisp-fried pork rinds.

That was followed by a rare Teochew/Chaozhou dish called kuay nek (5-spiced pork loin, water-chestnuts, jicama, wrapped in pig’s caul and deep-fried). This was served with a red chili sauce dip.

The classic Melakan-Nyonya babi buah keluak - a robust spicy-sour stew which got its unique taste and scent from the dark flesh of the truffle-like Indonesian “buah keluak” nuts.

Penang-Nyonya khong asam with roasted pig’s trotters. Another spicy-sour stew, but this one was more soup-like: Chinese mustard leaves, simmered with chunks of roasted pig’s trotter, dried chilis, shitake mushrooms, galangal, slices of dried tamarind fruit and lemongrass.
This dish is usually cooked a day ahead, then left overnight in the fridge to let its flavors mellow.

A very memorable Remembrance Day feast this evening.


In real life, my second “career” was as a military history researcher and author, relating to the Great War. Although my research has always been mainly about British forces, it’s been touched by knowledge of the very diverse communities of the then Empire who served, in one way of another, during the conflict. But, on the basis that you learn something every day, I hadnt come across the Battle of Penang before.


Now you have to come to Penang … and learn more! :grin:

And you can even stay at the fabled Eastern & Oriental Hotel, as opulent now as when Douglas Fairbanks & Mary Pickford stayed there. Or writers like Noel Coward, Rudyard Kipling, and Somerset Maugham.

In fact, the captain of the Russian warship Zhemtchug, Baron Cherkasov and his wife Baroness Varvara, were actually at the E&O Hotel’s seafront promenade when it was sunk by the Germans before their very eyes!


I’m kind of embarrassed to say that we visited E&O for a drink at the gorgeous bar, and as typical of Americans, we stole some souvenirs!