Treat Yourself To Nyonya Cuisine Magic By Chef Lai Kuan Geo
Image Credit: The buffet is delicious, authentic and true to its flavours

Chinese and Malay food in mainstream Indian restaurants has been narrowed down to a few dishes. So, when Chef Lai Kuan Geo is bringing his delicious Nyonya food, which is a blend of Chinese ingredients with various distinct spices and cooking techniques used by the Malay and Indonesian communities, to Tamra, Shangri-La Eros, and New Delhi, any true-blue foodie would be curious and want a slice of that experience. Available for both lunch and dinner buffets, the dishes presented by Chef Kuan are delightful.

The dinner commenced with an interaction with Chef Kuan, who was gracious enough to explain all of his creations and the specialities of the cuisine before we started digging in. Peranakan cuisine, or Nyonya cuisine, comes from the Peranakans, descendants of early Chinese migrants who settled in Penang, Malacca, Singapore, and Indonesia. Nyonya cooking is the result of blending Chinese ingredients with various distinct spices and cooking techniques used by the Malay and Indonesian communities. This gives rise to Peranakan interpretations of Malay and Indonesian food that are similarly tangy, aromatic, spicy, and herbal.

The meal began with the prawn and chicken satay, and that instantly increased our expectations for the entire meal. Perfectly spiced and tenderly cooked, the satay is a must-try. Next on the list was laksa, and it definitely did not disappoint. The creamy, soupy dish was a vegetarian’s delight, along with a soy okra dish. So, there are ample options for vegetarians, but the feast can definitely be called a non-vegetarian's delight too. The buffet also included Hainanese chicken rice, where the meat was ever so lightly seasoned and tasted absolutely fresh. Chef Kuan is known to be very particular about his ingredients. "We have to get the right ingredients to complete the recipe, and even if we do not get one item right, I’d rather not do it. What we are serving is completely authentic," said Chef Kuan.

Apart from the buffet offerings, the chef graciously served exclusive dishes at the table. The presentation of the two-way pork belly, crispy pork, and bamboo chicken was impeccable, and they tasted as good as they looked. The dessert, which Chef Lai Kuan believes should be healthy and nourishing, especially for women, included rice pudding, coconut milk pudding, and fruit broth. Out of everything delicious that the dessert table featured, what really stood out was the mango sticky rice pudding dish. Chef Kuan jokingly quipped that the secret to his healthy skin was eating these desserts. "Naturally sweetened by fruits, the desserts are guilt-free and not too sweet. My grandmother too is fond of these," he said.

Other signature dishes made under the supervision of Asian food guru Chef Lai Kuan Geo and served at the buffet include scallop and seafood cake, sesame spring chicken, mushroom in a claypot, roasted bamboo rice cakes, chilli pepper salt ocean basket, whole red snapper chilli jam, bosomboh, chai kuih, asam laksa, and char kway teow from Penang, and more. So, if you want to taste the unbridled flavours of Nyonya cuisine, you might want to pay a visit to Tamra, and you will walk out full and happy.