The quick Singaporean fix

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Saturday, May 18, 2013

CRAVING. It can be difficult to address sometimes. Luckily, almost anything is available in the city today. If you’re acting up like a pregnant woman wanting to scratch a distinct itch in your palate, all you have to do is Google it, or better yet, ask your ever-reliable BFF foodie.

In case you are missing Singapore and imagining your quick trips to the next-door hawker’s place you frequent to get your fill of Peranakan dishes without straying off your cost-per-meal budget (we all know fancy food joints are pretty expensive in the Lion City), this recently opened joint may just be the place for you—Little Nyonya.

Little Nyonya

But don’t go looking for a little “madame” or “auntie” in the house (nyonya is a Javanese term of respect and affection of foreign and Straits-Chinese women of prominent social standing), for the person running the kitchen is a Singaporean man. And, if you are having a hard time pronouncing (and even recalling) the two-syllable word “nyon-ya”, Non-Ya or even Nona (which is Javanase fo “lady”) is acceptable. No matter how you pronounce the name, it’s the food in this restaurant that speaks.


Maybe what’s “little” in Little Nyonya is the fact that we can get a little of Singapore whenever we need that Peranakan fix. The cuisine will remind you of the quick service and low-priced servings of a hawkers place in Singapore but in a much better environment—enclosed, cooler, padded seating—it is after all, a restaurant, and serves the traditional Malay-influenced dishes we have grown to love, and crave for.

The “Nonya” cuisine is a blend of Chinese ingredients with the Malay spices and cooking techniques that make the dishes unique—tangy, aromatic, spicy and herbal. The most popular would be the Laksa, a classic coconut-based noodle soup, which is quite popular in Singapore and Malaysia, and Little Nyonya is serving it in three versions—with chicken, Shio Bah (pork belly) and seafood. The seafood laksa, I must say is good.

The Little Nyonya experience is not all about the laksa only. My must-try list includes the so-Singapore Hainanese Chicken, Shio Bah (greaseless pork belly), Black Pepper Riblets (pork riblets cooked in pepper and spices, plus brandy for extra kick) and the very addicting sweet and spicy Crispy Baby Squids.

The menu in this restaurant was purposely made short, as what is expected in any hawker center— an order-serve-eat-and-go experience. But at Little Nyonya, you can linger and enjoy a few more of the Singaporean dishes you may not have tried yet (which I will do on the next visit), or perhaps sip your Teh Tarek slowly while munching on an order of Singaporean Buchi.

Now you know where to head to should you start craving for a taste of Singapore.

Little Nyonya is at CVA Building along Quirino Avenue. Open daily from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. (082) 300 6674.

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Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on May 19, 2013.


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