No compromise on authenticity
Photos by SAM THAM
At Pandan Leaf that serves Penang Nyonya and local cuisine, this has been done well and over the years, regular customers have come to recognise its signature dishes for tasting as good as they remembered it, if not better.
Owner Lydia Goh said the restaurant in 1 Utama Shopping Centre had not only managed to keep the food authentic, but through trial and error, had also improved food quality over the years.
Citing its popular Loh Bak as an example, the sixth-generation Penang Nyonya said the recipe was handed down to her by her mother Queenie Cheah.
Originally, the Loh Bak used pork but to make it halal, they have replaced the pork with chicken meat – without altering the taste.
When Tham, who also originates from Penang, was told it was actually chicken, she was surprised at the authenticity of the taste.
“Through trial and error, we improved on the recipe and this is the result. It was a matter of how many kilograms of chicken we purchased to perfect the recipe without losing the authenticity.
“Today, we get orders for the Loh Bak during festive seasons because of its moist and juicy texture.
“A good, sharp knife is crucial to ensuring that the Loh Bak is cut without breaking the golden, crispy skin,” she said, adding that along with Joo Hoo Char, the Loh Bak was a must-feature during the Chinese New Year reunion dinner among the Peranakan.
Another bestseller at the outlet is the Penang Prawn Mee. The dish uses chicken stock instead of the original pork.
Other authentic dishes are the Joo Hoo Char, Pai Tee and Chicken Kapitan.
A symbol of prosperity, Joo Hoo Char is an old Nyonya recipe, which is served with lettuce.
The Chicken Kapitan is another of the handed-down recipes.
“Both my dad and mum's families are of Baba-Nyonya origin so there were many versions of the recipes. When we started, I had to be tactful in picking the best recipe so as not to offend any family member,” confessed Goh.
Due to its growing popularity, the outlet's latest branch at Subang Parade has opened under the brand Nyonya and there are plans to open another branch, in Klang, soon.
PANDAN LEAF, Lot S28, 2nd flr, 1 Utama Shop-ping Centre, Petaling Jaya (tel: 03-7728 6078). Business Hours: Daily, 10am to 10pm.