There aren't many good Nyonya places around town these days. I find that a shame, because I always feel Nyonya food is also something that's very uniquely traditional Malaysian, and generally undiluted by the influence of the East and West. But now we have Little Heritage House in Section 17 to spice up the market again! =D
Step into Little Heritage House, and you'll be immediately struck by the array of traditional Baba Nyonya household items on display! There's all sorts of things ranging from an old ice kacang shaver machine to a fireplace. I do get the feeling that it's a bit cluttered for a restaurant, but most would find all of it charming and interesting. =)
Food-wise, a glance through the menu reveals many familiar Nyonya dishes, such as the Jiew Hu Char (RM 25). A dish consisting mainly of turnip, it's usually wrapped in lettuce into bite size pieces, or eaten on it's own for those who like it that way. This was a nice, comforting dish though I expected the flavours to be stronger. In fact that was how the rest of the night roughly progressed; in the right direction, but not in a major way.
More familiarity accompanies the Acar Rampai (RM 18), a plate of pickled vegetables. The vegetables had a good crunch to them and was adequately sour enough for most of our liking. My mum proclaimed it a little too sweet for her palate, however. Wendy liked the smattering of sesame seeds that gave it a bit more fragrance.
There's also special soups available, like this Kiam Chye Arc (salted vegetables with duck), a small serving for RM 28 - larger servings for bigger families also available. It had a nice salty-sour tang to it but sadly, we were left unimpressed by the lukewarm temperature of the soup when served. We believe soup should always be served steaming hot, and any soup that is not, is a definite indication of slack on the chef's part.
A favourite of the night was the Grilled Sambal Brinjal (RM 22) which was done exceptionally well, with a distinct and exciting tangy flavour, just slightly spicy. Though there was mention of sambal, rest assured we didn't break a sweat over this (or any other spicy dish for that matter!). This went very well with rice.
Another dish that we quite liked was the Inchi Kabin (RM 28). Though it might just look like fried chicken, true Inchi Kabin, which is nyonya styled fried chicken, is supposed to pack a lot more flavour that sets it apart. Preparation includes marinating it with lots of spices and coconut milk before deep frying the chicken twice. The chicken was juicy, crispy and most enjoyable - good fried chicken, but perhaps not the best Inchi Kabin.
The Curry Capitan Chicken (RM 28) which was a special that day, was more disappointing. The gravy was very runny and had hardly much flavour, the herbs on top notwithstanding - not something we are used to in a curry capitan. Again, this dish wasn't served very hot, perhaps indicating it had been warmed up. And nothing makes us grimace more than food that has obviously been heated up. =/
The Steamed Ladies Fingers (RM 22) were large (in fact far larger than the usual ones we get!) and fresh but Wendy found the them a tad overcooked, losing some of that nice crunch.
As is our practice when we're at a new restaurant, we try to order all the specialties so we know whether to come back again! We gave the Curry Tumis Bawal Hitam (RM 35) a try, which again like everything else, was also served in a tiffin carrier. That was a bit strange, since obviously a whole fish cannot fit into a round tiffin carrier, so the fish is broken in a few parts. This had slight assam flavour, with a slight fragrance from the bunga kantan (ginger flower). Nothing too spicy.
The Asam Prawns (RM 33) fared better than the fish in our opinion. Though the prawns were rather small, the asam jawa (tamarind) gravy was good; tangy & appetizing.
We did enjoy the sambal provided though - quite potent and tongue tingling enough for us.
|The cendol and the sago in the background|
After all that food, we couldn't leave without trying dessert! We gave all their three recommendations a try, the Sago Gula Melaka, Traditional Cendol, and the Pengat.
Our verdict? Go for the Sago Gula Melaka, the sago pearls were boiled to perfection (not soggy or anything) and their gula melaka (palm sugar) really is top notch.
The Pengat was interesting, but not so much to our liking. This is one only for the very sweet-toothed. The yam and sweet potatoes were still rather firm, we would much prefer it to be boiled till soft. Not sure if this is the Nyonya style? Nevertheless, worth a try, but do share this due to the high sugar content.
If the gula melaka used is is good, then by extension that means the Traditional Cendol was nice too. It was, but we were a little surprised to see tube ice used as a replacement to shaved ice. I suppose they may not want to invest in an ice shaver, or at least, not just yet. On the plus side, there was no red bean (which I don't like), so I was happy about that. =D
If we had a grouse, it would be the prices. The sago and cendol were served in very small bowls, but each were RM 5. The pengat was in a slightly larger bowl and was RM 10, which is still pricey in our opinion.
|Air Sirap Bandung (RM 5), and their recommended drink, the Nutmeg Cooler (RM 8)|
Drinks are also quite steeply priced. Again, glasses are small. Their recommended Nutmeg Cooler came with a price tag of RM 8. Though quite refreshing and fizzy, we find the price a tad hefty.
While we had high hopes for Little Heritage House, we came away a tad disappointed. Despite the usage of tiffin carriers, most of the food was served lukewarm with the exception of just a few. Teething issues in the kitchen, perhaps? With the prices charged, we thought it proper to expect something of higher quality or at least of larger portions. However, we're told they have set lunches which may be of more value.
(same row as Decanter)
Ground & 1st Floor,
No. 23, Jalan 17/56,
No. 23, Jalan 17/56,
Section 17, Petaling Jaya
SelangorTel: +6 03 7932 1810
Opening Hours: Daily, 12pm-3pm & 6pm-10pm
*Note: All photos taken with iPhone5