Regardless of whether you’ve personally experienced the culture, or if you’ve watched ‘The Little Nyonya’ series, fact remains: You’ve heard of the Baba Nyonya or Peranakan of Melaka, and how its rich food heritage is an echoes elements of Chinese, Malay, and Indonesian altogether. With the majority of the food being prepared by none other than the owner’s mother, who was of a Nyonya decent, we take a dive into a humble restaurant located in Kuchai Lama, Riz Coconut; renowned for its authentic Nyonya cuisine.
There aren’t any pearl marble tables or ornate wood instead we’re graced with a minimalist setting with swatches of light orange and lime green, comfy to the average malaysian gaze.
A bit of History
In 1950 , Madam Koh started her first Nyonya kuih and Nasi Lemak Business in Tampin, Negeri Sembilan. Working hard and distributing across the whole town, her delicacies were widespread and well known in every day lives of the small town. Her Nyonya descent allowed her to stick tradition and grass routes. A persistent to which her grandchildren still insist on today.
In 1977, Madam Koh’s daughter started their own restaurant in Tampin and continued her tradition of providing the delicacies. Karen, Madam Koh’s grand daughter brought the tradition to Kuala Lumpur.
Her stall in Taman Desa was a site to visit, so well known, her customers came from afar and often had to rise early as her dishes sell out as early as 9am. Featured by many others (not related to us).
A full Nyonya Cuisine Experience
To start off our adventure we were presented with a huge variety of Nyonyan desserts. They come in a vivid skins that are so thin you can practically see hints of the filling just by holding it to the light; tearing through the dough so effortlessly with teeth to reach the contents really gives the soul a much needed touch of happiness.
Well we were shock at the variety!
Art! Paperthin Skin filled with surprises!
Marvel as we have at that beautiful surface of these Ang-ku kueh: really makes you want to reach out and poke it (it’ll happen later, we promise). Once you’ve bitten through it, you’re blessed by the perfect ratio of sweet bean filling, balanced out by the glutinous shell that provides just the right amount of chewiness to bring out a smile. Which seems to be what the shop consistently achieves in their customers.
Here’s more if you need convincing:
Kuih Koci Version 2
Next up we tried the Nyonya Chang (Glutinous Rice Dumpling). Now, there are a lot of versions of rice dumplings in the market, plain ones, sweet ones, savory ones. But this is a special version from Rizcoconut. They included the Nyonya Tradition which was to incorporate Butterfly Peas (Bunga Telling) into the glutinous rice to give it the color appeal.
First bite impressions: the rice is soft enough for teeth to tear through, with a tight structure that shows that the glutinous rice is by no means oversteamed. Apart from maintaining the Glutinous Rice Dumpling’s triangular form, there’s no excessive stickiness that could turn anyone off. And the best part? The sheer amount of filling that’s just well-proportioned enough for you to be rewarded with shredded meat and mushroom slices with rice in between. The shredded meat is well-seasoned, and does not overpower the rice—complemented with just the faintest herbal undertone.
Traditional Nyonya Chang!
Sticking to tradition! Bamboo strings
This was attributed by the strict use of bamboo strings that were used to wrap the bamboo leaves before the steaming process. Seeing as they were so meticulous with the preparation, it goes to show that this is the essence of how they prioritise the taste of authentic Nyonya cuisine over the convenience of plastic strings (that are ultimately detrimental to consumer health).
Next up we were presented with Rizcoconut’s signature and famous Nasi Lemak. Rizcococonut serves one of the best Nasi Lemak combos, to start off their Sambal is sweet tangy and spicy and their rendang chicken was tender and juicy yet tasty. The meat was off the bone yet tender at the same time. Compared with (Old China) – , the taste was definitely much more localized
When the simplest of ingredients is made to perfection.
Off the bone Chee-ken
Nasi Lemak served
Apart from Nasi Lemak, they also served Tom Yam Meehoon, many will wonder whats so special about mee hoon? But the real trick is to fry it till its dry, not oily but still fragrant. This takes years of practice and probably a life long experience to master. Combined it with their sambal squid, which is chewy and tender, its a bomb. The experience? Mesmerizing and Satisfying.
Tom Yam Meehoon served!
The attention to detail in preparation for the squid!
Last but not least, we finished off with their snacks/desserts (Yes, Rizcoconuts have way too much delicacies, and one of our editors had to revisit to write this section) . Wait we are not talking about their Kuih’s here, we are referring to their Kerabu, Pie Tee’s and bubur chacha.
The Pie Tee was perfect, a mouthful of flavor and texture and the Kerabu is definitely a stand out dish. The combination of shredded chicken, peanuts, onions, shallots and the lime juice which brings it all together is crazy. To top it off the skin was crispy, fragrant and yet not too oily.
Lastly we cannot fail to mention their Bubur Cha Cha, which is only available after 10am everyday because they are made with the freshest of ingredients on a daily basis. It is not overly sweetened but instead it is cooked down with a lot of coconut milk to make it extra tasty and scrumptious.
Bubur Cha Cha*
Our experience was certainly one which was over-the top, all of the dishes were down to earth everyday meals, yet once we get to know the owners, we came to understand each and every element of every dish was made with specific attention to detail. The editors had a tough time doing justice to their art despite our best efforts, and we felt that no words can describe our adventure.
* Credits to Rizcoconuts for the photographs.