62A-G, Jalan PJU 5/22,
The Strand Encorp,
Red Carpet Avenue,
Kota Damasara, Petaling Jaya.
Tel: 03-6142 4106
Business hours: 11am to 11pm
(closed on Wednesdays), www.thetranquerah.com.
Restaurant offers a nostalgic dining experience in a stunning ambience.
UPON entering Tranquerah, which serves Malacca Nyonya cuisine, diners will see kuih moulds and old fashioned flasks on a table in a corner.
At the drinks counter are old bottles of F&N drinks and cigarette tins, and glass jars of snacks that include little biscuits topped with brightly coloured icing, which are served to customers.
Owner Stephanie Chan said, “We did not want cliché designs of a typical Nyonya restaurant, so we used elements of Peranakan culture and added a contemporary spin.”
Together with her friends, they designed the restaurant.
She scoured for antiques and found batik stamps from Yogyakarta, as well as metal chairs with retro designs.
The kerosene lamps on the tables are not merely decorative as Chan said they are actually functional and used at night.
Look up and find window frames with louvres from Bali, adorning the ceiling.
The restaurant has since been featured in interior design magazines for its unique decor; quite an honour for the owners, as none of them have background in interior design.
“Young customers are often seen busily taking photos while waiting for their food,” she added.
The restaurant’s name was derived from Tranquerah Street in Malacca, now known as Jalan Tengkera. It originates from the Portuguese word meaning palisades or outworks made from stakes driven into the ground – a fortress to protect the town.
Renowned local chef Florence Tan is the restaurant’s brand ambassador.
“I had the idea of having a Nyonya restaurant and spoke to my husband about it.
“So, we roped in Florence. Although she did not want to be a partner, she agreed to train the chefs and provide the recipes,” she said.
You will not find pre-mixed powders in the kitchen as fresh herbs and spices are used and blended there.
Coincidentally, as they were searching for a venue, Encorp Strand Mall allocated four lots for celebrity chefs. The partners back then visited the site and liked what they saw, and the rest is history.
Aside from the furniture and decorative items, another import from Indonesia is the buah keluak (Pangium edule), used in some of the restaurant’s dishes.
“It is a must-have for celebrations. The preparation of the buah keluak makes this a tedious dish to make.”
Buah keluak is also used for a new item in the menu — Sweet Potato Leaves with Sambal Keluak.
The Gerang Asam Fish (seasonal price) is prepared with many spices that lend the dish its sour and spicy flavour without overpowering the taste.
The Ayam Pongteh (RM28-RM38), a traditional Nyonya stew with chicken, potatoes and soy bean paste gravy, is simmered for five hours until tender.
The Cincaluk Platter (RM40) is a serving of deep-fried chicken, prawns and squid which are marinated incincaluk (fermented small shrimp) before frying. The platter is great for sharing.
The restaurant has four signature drinks (RM12.90), namely Pink Kebaya (watermelon, lychee, strawberry), Green Kebaya (lime, apple), Yellow Kebaya (lemongrass, lemonade) and Green Mango with Sour Plum.
The desserts are made to order. Bubur cha cha (RM6.90) is not my favourite, but I enjoyed the restaurant’s version.
I was told that the secret lies in the gula melaka, which also accentuates the tastes of the sago gula melaka (RM4.90) and cendol (RM6.90).
“We tried so many types of gula melaka before deciding on this particular one.
“We also use fresh coconut milk in our desserts,” Chan said.
The new lunch menu offers nasi kerabu with a choice of fried chicken, fried fish, rendang daging or curry chicken, priced at RM13.90+ with a drink.
The restaurant also caters for corporate events. Although the restaurant sits 80 comfortably, the space outside (between the restaurant and the mall) can be used.
This is the writer’s personal observation and is not an endorsement by The Star.