Sunday, November 26, 2006


I read about this great Indian restaurant on - but, as I said before, I got lost. So no time for Indian, because I couldn't find it where I was. I was intrigued, however, by Nyonya, a Malaysian restaurant I saw nestled between scores of Chinese and Italian restaurants. As we do not have any Malaysian restaurants in Bawlmer at this time (there are a small handful in DC - a small handful), I decided to check this place out.

Nyonya is a beautiful place - their decorator hopefully has a lot of work! The service was courteous and quick and I was seated very quickly, despite their being somewhat busy when I came, around 2 or so. And the prices are not high - around $4 to $7, except for their selection of casserole dishes (is this authentic Malaysian food?) - more in the $12 to $20 neighborhood. Must be some good casseroles!

I decided to save my money and do what I did at Thai Landing on Charles Street - order some appetizers as my meal. I did go ahead and order an entrée; I mean, all I'd had to eat so far was that damn bagel and lox from Tal Bagels, and that was hours ago. So I sat down and ordered mostly Malaysian dishes, to get into the spirit of the country.

Unfortunately, this led to the one bad part of my experience - the food (see their menu here). It was not bad food, just boring food. For my appetizers, I ordered a roti canai, their "home made" "Indian pancake" (oooh, this is getting so "Zagat"-y), a mostly crispy pancake with a curry dipping sauce. While tasty and with a nice texture, it was still not that exciting. I soon found the roti to be one of the best parts of my meal, as they brought out the next item, their "shrimp puff" - as they put it, "deep fried minced shrimp wrapped with bacon." (Hey, Malaysia's officially a Muslim country. What are they doing with bacon? That also doesn't explain their selection of alcohol - they have Guinness stout! Just asking.) Instantly, what first popped in my head when I saw it on the menu was "Shrimp? And bacon!? This will taste very good." Then I got it - four shrimp puffs with mayo. I eagerly bit into it. The first thought to cross my head this time was "How can you make shrimp wrapped in bacon taste bland? It's wrapped in BACON, for God's sake!" It was pretty bland, nothing terribly exciting at all. The only thing right about these appetizers was their price - $3 for the roti, $5.50 for the shrimp-bacon balls

The most notably dull part of my meal was the traditional Malaysian fried noodle dish that served as my entrée. I received a large plate of Chow Kueh Teow for only $6. This, they note, is a dish of "Malaysian famous stir fried flat rice noodles with shrimp, chive, squid, bean sprouts, eggs, soy sauce and chili paste." It was a bit spicy, but - again - how can something so spicy be so, well, bland? It was pretty boring to eat, I hate to say. My thought at the time was "Geez, I hope Malaysian food isn't all this tasteless!" I could only finish half of the Chow Kueh Teow. It was that average (though I might have finished it had there not been so much).

The one high point of the meal was the Malaysian Iced Tea that I ordered as a drink. Somewhat like a Thai Iced Tea, without the whipped cream (I know, not all of them come with whipped cream), and less sweet - I find Thai Iced Tea to be too sweet so this was welcome. Perhaps, though, maybe it WAS meant to be so sweet, and they just dulled that down, too? That'd be a shame.

Reading over reviews for Nyonya recently, to see if my experience was unique, I found out that, in fact, it was (reviews are here and here). Maybe I just ordered the wrong thing, cuz these people are simply ecstatic over Nyonya. I was not excited by it at all. So maybe I will try it out next time I go back up, though I will definiely not order the same stuff. I still must admit, though, the service was quite good and the price was right - $18 before tax for the appetizers, the Chow Kueh Teow, and the Malaysian Iced Tea.

I did have a mini-high point afterwards. After turning down what I feared might be a bland dessert (Hey, how could I know?), I passed and paid them. I later wandered around Chinatown and found this cart at the corner of Pell and Bowery for Hong Kong Cakes - like little inverted waffles that you can pull apart and pop in your mouth (a picture is here). The mouse-ball-sized Cakes were a little sweet, certainly not as bland like the other food. They are best when they are hot, so eat them as soon as they give them to you; they become forgettable when they cool down. The price was much better than even Nyonya's cheap prices - $1 for 20!