Sunday 10 June 2018

Alibaba & Nyonya @ TTDI

Delightfully local

June 11, 2018

Our eyes are drawn to the old-fashioned hawker stall-on-wheels at the entrance to Alibaba & Nyonya. 
At the side of the cafe, street art sketchings on the wall along the side lane are equally pleasing while inside, the use of colourful tiles, marble-topped tables and windows with metal grilles painted turquoise blue, help create a yesteryear ambience. 
While poring through the menu, we sip on whole fresh coconut with lychee (RM8.96), cincau lychee juice (RM8.02) and apple juice with chia seed (RM9.91).
Cool drinks for hot afternoons
Acar Rampai makes a delightful starter
Crispy Popiah is also available, with teh tarik, as an afternoon tea set

For starters we nibble on Acar Rampai (RM6.51), a scrumptious dish of crunchy pickled vegetables topped with crushed roasted peanuts, and Crispy Popiah (RM9.91) stuffed with delicious stirfried jicama, carrot and tofu. The popiah is well fried to a golden brown there’s no oily aftertaste. It stays crispy for a long time too.
Kerabu Udang
We pick a cold salad. If you’ve not been nibbling the Acar Rampai, the Kerabu Udang (RM27.26) will do a great job to awaken the tastebuds. Big poached prawn (shelled, I note happily, except for the tail bit) are tossed in a piquant dressing made with chilli, lime juice, chilli paste, herbs and lots of fresh shallots.
Sambal Petai Sotong
Since we’ve had prawns, we decide to get Sambal Petai Sotong (RM25.38/RM36.70). The pale colour of the dish is definitely a let-down as I’m used to having sambal petai in fiery red hues. But there’s plenty of squid and very fresh too.
King's Curry Fish Head 
Chef’s Recommendations are indicated on the menu with a toque, so we ask for King’s Curry Fish Head (RM70.75) instead of the more common assam pedas gravy. No regrets. The grouper fish head is fresh with plenty of flesh attached. The gravy is creamy and scented with a good balance of spices while added vegetables such as onion, tomato, ladyfinger and long bean make the dish more interesting.
Other fish dishes available include Flying Fish Tilapia, Assam Pedas stingray, black pomfret or red snapper and tilapia/red snapper steamed in soya sauce.
Slow-cooked Spicy Mutton Curry
It’s not all seafood at Alibaba & Nyonya. Carnivores will enjoy the tender chunks of lean meat in the slow-cooked and scrumptiously spicy Mutton Curry (RM27.26/RM51.70) as well as Chicken Pongteh (RM20.66/RM39.43), that classic signature chicken-potato stew that every Nyonya maiden of yore had to master before her coming of age. The gravy is thick and mildly sweet, with a depth of flavour provided by shallots and taucheo (fermented brown beans).
Delicious Ayam Pongteh (left) and Ayam Dara Goreng
I enjoy the pongteh more than I do the Ayam Dara Goreng (RM18.77/RM33.87) which is deepfried kampung chicken that has been marinated in lots of spices as the latter is quite dry. There’s also chicken/beef rendang as well as the Thai-style pandan leaf-wrapped chicken.
There seems to be some Thai-influenced dishes in the menu such as tom yum soup and Thai-style tofu.
Pucuk Paku fern shoots cooked in sambal sauce
For vegetables, diners can choose kalian, kangkung, pucuk paku fern shoots, four angle bean or sweet potato leaves) but there are only 3 styles of preparation:  Sambal, stirfried or stirfried with garlic. Our choice of sambal fried pucuk paku (RM13.68) turns out to be a delicious combination, with fernshoots so fresh and tender they had to be gathered only that very morning.
Telur Belanda comes with a sweet and sour tamarind gravy
Our last order is to pacify one person in our group hankering for eggs. Instead of steamed egg or onion omelette, we pick Telur Belanda (RM10.19), a dish of sunny side eggs over which the chef ladles sweet and sour tamarind gravy cooked with chilli and onion. Very yummy, especially as the egg yolk is slightly runny and creamy.
So what do we eat with all these dishes? I think plain rice will be best but I cannot resist the lure of Nasi Ulam (RM6.13) if it’s on the menu. There are plenty of shallots and crispy deepfried bits of salted fish but I feel there are not enough shredded herbs to make it fragrant. Ask for sambal belacan; this perks it up immensely.
Mee Siam
For solo diners, there are a few choices of rice and noodle dishes including Nasi Ulam Ayam Dara (RM17.45), a combo plate of herbed rice served with deepfried kampung chicken and salted egg, Char Kway Teow (RM15.57) with prawn, fish cake, egg and beansprout, Seafood Fried Rice (RM15.57) with prawn and squid and Nyonya Mee Siam (RM15.57), with prawn, fishcake and beansprout stirfried in a tomato chilli sauce.  
Clockwise from left: Signature ABC, Sago Gula Melaka and Cendol
For dessert, we share Signature ABC (RM7.08) and Cendol (RM6.13) and Sago Gula Melaka (RM5.19). The ABC has plenty of red bean, attap seeds, sweetcorn, cincau and roasted peanuts. The cendul too has squiggly green cendul and red bean.
Sadly, though the coconut cream is thick and lovely, the gula Melaka syrup for the sago pudding is watery and does not provide the necessary aroma and sweetness to the bland sago.
Selection of nyonya kuih for tea or even dessert
From 3pm to 6pm daily, Alibaba & Nyonya serves Tea Time Treats of nyonya kuih,  Mee Siam & Fried Egg, Mee Goreng & Fried Egg or Crispy Popiah, all served with hot coffee or teh tarik.

Alibaba & Nyonya (halal)

54 Jalan Tun Mohd Fuad 1, Taman Tun Dr Ismail, Kuala Lumpur.
Kuala Lumpur
Tel: +603-7722 1142

Daily, 11am-10pm. 

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