Address: 1025 Whitehorse Road, Box Hill 3128
How to get there: Street Parking available, Box Hill train station
Telephone: (03) 9898 8108
Wednesday – Sunday | 1100 – 1500
Dining conditions: Sunday 25 August 2013 – Lunch
Average Per Head: $, Cash Only
Hits & Misses: Hit, Favourited, Recommended
My friend had been wanting to visit Madam Kwong’s Kitchen for a very long time – she had told me that it makes authentic Nyonya cuisine and had been recommend by many local Malaysians. Having very little idea of what makes Nyonya cuisine different from Malaysian cuisine, I decided to do some research before we went.
From limited resources, I found just enough to understand the foundation of Nyonya cuisine and its cultural influences.
The word Nyonya is an old Malay term addressing female descendants of early Chinese migrants who inter-married local Indonesians or Malays - adopting partially or fully to Nusantara (a.k.a Indonesian Archipelago or Malay World) customs – including the adaptation of local ingredients and cooking styles. Nyonya 娘惹 is the term for the women assimilated into the local culture and Baba 峇峇 is for the men.
In the simplest explanation, Nyonya used local ingredients in their daily cooking as you naturally would during culture assimilation, this dates back to the 15th and 16th century; they have developed a unique variety of cuisine that is widely known as Nyonya cuisine today.
a unique cuisine where local ingredients such as chilies, belacan (Malaysian shrimp paste) lemongrass, galangal, turmeric, etc. are used. – Nyonya Food
If you are not familiar with authentic Nyonya food, I would suggest you start off with familiarising with the basic spices and ingredients used in their cooking.
Nyonya desserts can also be a good place to start =] They include colourful cakes (kuih) and sweet, sticky delicacies. They are commonly made from sticky rice and steamed.
Visit Bee Yinn Low’s Nyonya Food website for more details on this topic and discover great Nyonya recipes.
Parked my car near Station Street and took the walk towards Madam Kwong, I realised that the shop was located away from the busy Box Hill dining and shopping district – simply somewhere I wouldn’t have taken notice of, yet its popularity had proven that it did not need excessive decoration to draw the attraction; they let their products do the talk. Outside the shop the parking spots were full, but if you drove into the side street, there should be more parking in there. Glad that we made it there nice and early, it felt almost too easy to have gotten what seemed to be so special – I guess that was our reward for waking up early on a Sunday.
The Nyonya kitchen was more than just a kitchen, it has supermarket shelves placed on the left of the store packed with Malaysian cooking essentials and commercial fridges on the right with frozen products and pre-made sauces/meals. If you love durians, you will have to get your hand on their Malaysian durian in the freezer – $16 per pack.
I was curious about a lot of things sitting in that fridge, but more excited about what sat in the counter top hot food bar. I looked at the menu board, then into the food bar, then at my friend. I didn’t know what signature dish I was suppose to have, yet I didn’t want to miss out on a good Nasi Lemak; ‘Can I please get the Nasi Lemak?’ Pointing at the object wrapped in banana leaf, I finally decided to make the order to the young girl behind the counter.
It was a small version of the Nasi Lemak, I ordered it so I could try other food with my friend. She had gotten carried away with buying Chai Kuih (dumplings), Popiah and a variety of dessert.
Madam Kwong certainly knew how to win the hearts of diners with her impressive variety of hawkers and meals; what was simply in front of us were passed down by heritage, mastered over time and freshly handcrafted.
Be sure to visit their kitchen soon for a taste of the Nyonya cuisine, if you would like to feed yourself full by imagination first, please see Madam Kwong’s guest post at Nyonya Food on a kuih benka or tapioca/cassava cake recipe – it looks SO delicious!
Kuih Dadar recipe also available at Nyonya Food.
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