Tranquerah Authentic Malacca
Tel: 03-6141 4106
11.00am to 11.00pm.[mappress mapid=”381″]
IT was a pleasantly quiet day when we decided to dine at The Tranquerah as people were still away for the long extended festive holidays, recently.
However, as we made our way to the restaurant, the tranquil setting was suddenly disturbed by the sound of what seemed like a 100 fire crackers, as dusk made its gentle progress into the night.
It was the end of Chinese New Year, and in keeping true to the festive season, the nice people at the restaurant were having fun welcoming the Year of the Dragon and perhaps, welcoming us as we inched closer to the venue.
Comfortably seated outside the restaurant were its owners John Tan, Herbie Tan, Stephanie Chan, Burt Ong and Alan Yun who seemed very relaxed as if they had been transported back to Tranquerah Street in Malacca, which is incidentally, where the restaurant derives its name. Today, the street is called Jalan Tengkera.
Brothers John and Herbie exuded the warmth of Malacca people with Yun, the quieter of the lot and Chan offering a brilliant smile as they introduced themselves, the restaurant’s concept and of course, its food.
In this contemporary restaurant, Peranakan cuisine is all the talk here, with John’s wife, the very bubbly and chatty chef Florence Tan sharing her recipes for the menu.
With Florence keeping to a busy schedule, John assumes the role of head chef, only too happy to whip up a Nyonya favourite or two when the kitchen requires an extra hand.
Yun described the restaurant as a place where contemporary meets heritage with attention given to detail especially in the collection of antiques, collectibles and artefacts.
“We went around Penang, Malacca and Ipoh sourcing for items for our restaurant and found things like old wooden window and door frames, expired bottles of F&N drinks, old steel wash basins, kerosene lamps and even batik stamps from Indonesia,” he said.
The kerosene lamps act as a centrepiece for each table while the copper batik stamps carry intricate details, adding character to the wall facing the main door.
“As descendants of the Baba and Nyonya, we wanted to offer authentic Nyonya food to our customers,” said Herbie.
However, the restaurant omits pork as an ingredient in its dishes, choosing instead to feature more fish and chicken dishes.
Since everyone was still very much in a festive mood, John disappeared into the kitchen to prepare the Nasi Kembuli.
This speciality rice dish is cooked for special occasions only, especially when a senior member of the family is celebrating a birthday or a festive occasion.
With shallots, garlic and ginger for fragrance, John also adds coriander, fennel, cumin, cinnamon and star anise to further aromatise the rice.
Dark black soya sauce and light soya sauce, salt and sugar are not forgotten in giving the rice its appealing flavour and dark brown shade.
“The rice is usually eaten with Ayam Pongteh, Pajeri Terung or even Nyonya Fried Chicken,” said John, adding that Nasi Kembuli was served at the restaurant during the Chinese New Year period.
Instead of Ayam Pongteh, we relished the rice with the Peranakan favourite of Ayam Buah Keluak, Ikan Goreng Gili, Sambal Udang Petai and Kerabu Bendi.
The former is an acquired taste as the buah keluak (Pangium edule) imparts a robust, slightly buttery and bitter flavour to the curry, but the nut from Indonesia is the star in this dish, making it a national heritage of the Peranakan people.
The Sambal Udang with Petai was simply lipsmacking with the balanced flavours of chili, tamarind juice and onions while the Kerabu Bendi with its textured sweetness was lovely eaten with its sambal belacan sauce.
For an appetiser, we savoured the light and crispy Pai Tee, filled with simmered turnips and a spicy chilli sauce for added flavour.
Unfortunately, the fish in the Ikan Goreng Cili spent a little extra time in the deep-fryer, that it was difficult to find much flesh off the fish.
Other dishes to look out for on the menu are Itik Tim, Ayam Sioh, Sotong Masak Lemak, Udang Masak Lemak Nenas, Tamarind Prawns, Gerang Asam Fish, Ikan Masak Kuah Lada and Telur Cincaluk.
With our meal, we had the opportunity to enjoy house special drinks — Pink Kebaya (watermelon, lychee, strawberry), Green Kebaya (lime, apple) and Yellow Kebaya (lemongrass and lemonade) and Asam Jawa.
As a sweet ending to our meal, John shared with us his delightful chocolate cake, which is not on the menu, Bubur Cha-Cha and Sago Gula Malacca.
The dinner was one to remember as we enjoyed traditional Peranakan flavours in the company of our warm and down-to-earth hosts, who only seemed happy to share their heritage with us.
This is the writer’s personal observation and is not an endorsement by StarMetro.