Peranakan Inspired Food from Old Nyonya

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Old Nyonya is run by husband and wife, Tony and Ruby, selling Peranakan influenced Malay dishes in Maxwell Food Centre in Singapore. Tony learned to cook these wonderful dishes from his aunt who has been cooking for many decades and comfortably retired at 90 years old. Old Nyonya serves delightful of chicken curry, chicken rendang, lontong, laksa, mee siam, bubur cha cha, chili cuttlefish among others.

The food tastes even better when I have the chance to talk to the chef(s) cooking our food.  One important factor in Peranakan cuisine that I have learned from Peranakan chefs in Melaka and here in Singapore is cooking Peranakan food takes a lot of time.  Tony is no exception.  He has to come early in the morning to begin cooking and have at least some dishes ready to sell by at most ten in the morning.  Even after closing shop for the day, Tony and Ruby already need to prepare for the following day.

The chili sauces from Old Nyonya are prepared by Tony himself.  Each dish may have some common spice ingredients but the method of cooking is different making it unique.

Time to eat! I got the chicken rendang, laksa and chili cuttlefish.

Chicken Rendang

The chicken rendang sauce is mild in spiciness and offers a satisfying tanginess on the tastebuds.   Once getting a piece of the chicken from the drumstick make sure to mix it well with some of that rendang sauce.  I really like how the spices have blended together that there is no single spice that is overpowering but rather compliments very well with rice, egg, cucumber, achar, and yes the chicken.

Chili Cuttlefish

The chili cuttlefish is a dish that is different with Old Nyonya.  The cuttlefish is a bit similar to squid or octopus but needs a strong flavourful sauce to accompany it.  While the chicken rendang sauce is mild in spiciness, the chili sauce in this dish delivers a bold spicy flavour.


Old Nyonya’s laksa is a delightful bowl of goodness.  The laksa soup has the right balance of curry and coconut milk.  The soup is not overpowering with spiciness that leaves an after taste on the mouth.  Rather, the soup has that delicate contrasting spiciness combined with soothing coconut milk that just hits a comforting slurp.  The bowl of laksa has rice noodles, shrimp, beansprouts among others.

Bubur Cha Cha

A comforting hot Peranakan dessert to have is bubur cha cha consisting typically of sweet potato, yam, tapioca cubes with coconut milk. Bubur cha cha is best eaten when hot that is very comforting especially after eating all that chili.  There is no magic here except for natural goodness of the ingredients that makes this hot dessert a very popular dish to have after a meal.

Old Nyonya

A hawker is more than just selling good food.  Each hawker has a story to share and I have had the opportunity to talk to Tony and Ruby.

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