Lunch today at the latest addition to George Town’s bevy of Nyonya restaurants - the stylish Blue Bellvine on Noordin Street. It actually opened on 8 Jan 2021, just 5 days before the start of this latest MCO Lockdown, so we didn’t manage to check it out till today. It’s got a modernistic decor, a departure from the more traditional set-up favoured by most Nyonya restaurants around George Town.
Fronted by the friendly, personable Elaine Ch’ng, the cooking is done by her Nyonya mother, according to their family heirloom recipes - her maternal grandmother used to own a Nyonya kueh business on Kinta Lane.
Our lunch today consisted of:
Jiu hu char with kueh pie tie - this one was, frankly, a disaster: jiu hu char contained dried cuttlefish which doesn’t really go with the crisp pastry shells at all. Traditionally, the filling consisted of shredded jicama, flavored with chicken, shrimps, onions and perhaps shredded carrot. Mild, savory flavors - nothing strongly fishy to throw the combined flavors off-balance.
Sambal udang - very nice, fresh shrimps, but the sambal sauce was a bit too watery.
Grouper fish otak-otak - this was very good: well-spiced fish mousse with a slightly firm texture, as expected of this dish. It was served, strangely, with cream crackers.
Chicken curry with mantou - not a good rendition, as the curry lacked the spice aroma, and the deep, rich flavors I expect from a Nyonya curry. The chicken tasted overcooked whilst the accompanying potatoes were undercooked - which was weird. The accompanying mantou tasted dry and tasteless - a bit over-fried.
Ladyfingers cooked with sambal belacan - one of the more “passable” dishes today. It’s mushier than I’d have liked, and the flavors were also a bit too mild.
Nyonya bakchang - this dish was a cracker: perfect balance of flavors: coriander-scented minced pork, and just the right amounts of candied winter-melon mixed into the filling. The texture of the sticky rice was perfect. If I should ever return here - this is the one dish I’d order.
Chilled Blue Bellvine orange - beautiful to look at but, frankly, a bit tasteless for me.
Popsicle, a mixture of hibiscus, raspberry and lemon myrtle - this one fared better: a sourish, fruity drink. Not too sure about the “popsicle” name, as it was served at room temperature, rather than cold or frozen as we thought it would be.
Pulot tai-tai - they really know how to cook their sticky rice here, which is, again, perfectly textured. Can’t say much about the “kaya” topping, though - it was way too soft and bland, more liquid than the eggy, curd-like texture that it should be. Also, we did not detect any pandan aroma, nor the caramelized, eggy flavors I expect from a good “kaya”. Too bad.
Quite an ambitious little place, but still more than a few kinks to iron out here.
Blue Bellvine Restaurant
27, Lebuh Noordin, 10300 George Town, Penang
Tel: +6012-416 8901
Opening hours: 11am-9pm Tue-Thu, 10am-10pm Fri-Sun. Closed on Mondays.