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Saturday, June 16, 2012

Review: Little Nyonya, Docklands, Melbourne

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Little Nonya is a quiet little cafe style restaurant along the waterside at Docklands.  Well secluded from the rest of the dining options in this, precinct, as it is not located in New Quay Promenade.  Little Nonya is accessible from the Bourke Street end of Docklands where there is plenty of parking and still has a great view across the water on the developing Victoria Harbour.  This place probably gets most of its business during lunchtime trade from the dense corporate populous in the surrounding buildings.  Nevertheless, the restaurant presents well for evening trade with waitresses in most welcoming traditional Malaysian costumes making the experience more authentic. 

We started with Gado Gado as an entrée to share and it probably wasn’t the best dish to begin a brisk evening’s meal as, in hindsight, something warm would have been a better choice.  The vegetables were made up of a crisp and fresh mix of carrots, bean shoots, spinach, beans and tofu.  The peanut sauce worked well and turned simple veggies into something delicious, we even held onto the sauce to eat with the rest of the meal.  Next time I will be sure to try the satay skewers, as this sauce would definitely make them a winner.
The list of mains available is quite extensive and is sure to satisfy.  Choose from a variety of beef, chicken, pork, seafood and vegetarian dishes.  The usual suspects such as Beef Rendang and Chicken Curry are definite "go to" dishes for anyone unsure of what to order.  We decided on a Sambal Prawn for the first of our mains in anticipation of an amazingly spicy dish that would warm the insides.
Sambal Prawn arrived served on a bed of steamed brocolli. The colour contrast was very appealing but the sambal was very light on the chilli and tasted more closer to a sweet chilli sauce.

For our second main I took a dip in the discovery pool and ordered Kam Hiong Chicken for the first time.  It is best described as a dry, spicy curried chicken dish flavoured with dried prawn and curry leaves.  It sounded tantalising enough and I was in the mood for something new.
True to its description, the dish was beautifully spiced with that mildly intense background of the dried prawn balachan.  It was an unusual fusion of tastes in a dish that I have rarely seen in Malaysian restuarants.  Well now that I know what it is, I will definitely seek it out  next time and be sure to try a version of my own sometime, at home.  It definitely got the taste buds singing as it is a foodie's ultimate pleasure to taste something new that ticks all the boxes.
We unfortunately skipped dessert since I have given up eating sweet sugary treats, but the menu looked most inviting with the various sago based and ice blended dishes to finish your meal with.  Teh Tarik is a 'kopitiam' favourite that I would have tried in my sweeter days!
Overall, the food we ate at Little Nyonya would pass the test for being vibrant, fresh and tasty.  The prices do reflect a more upmarket menu thanks to it's assumed extravagant location with a view.  The atmosphere is very cold though and this is due to it's lonely weeknight trade.  I would love to see it all abuzz with the chatter of customers and the waitresses running frantically off their feet with a proper dinner service.  The dining room is very elegant with high ceilings, ornate murals and decor organised creatively throughout.  It is a shame to see it not enjoyed by more patrons.    

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