Divine Peranakan cuisine at Baba Ho Liao

What happens when a Serani and a Chinese-Punjabi with Peranakan lineage dine at a Peranakan restaurant?

They argue over the origins of the food due to its many similarities.

This was so during my recent lunch date at Baba Ho Liao with several colleagues, including the Serani himself, Graig Nunis.

As we browsed the appetisers to the main dishes, the smarty-pants insisted his people were the ones who created the dishes (blasphemy!).

During our first and third visit to the restaurant, we went for the set meals comprising Petai Fried Rice, Nyonya Laksa, Ayam Pong Teh, Chicken Limau Purut and appetiser Kerabu Timun.

The Petai Fried Rice was excellent, according to colleague Haresh Deol. I found the Ayam Pong Teh (chicken and potato stew) comforting from the first bite as it reminded me of the version my Ah Ma (grandma) would make for our family.

Petai Fried Rice. Images: Amar Qastellani / Twentytwo13

If you are looking for an alternative to rice and you are not a big eater, try the Nyonya Laksa which is big enough for two.

Nyonya Laksa. Image: Amar Qastellani / Twentytwo13

Not wanting to miss out on the other delights, we decided to head to the restaurant again a few days later.

This time, we ordered Cili Garam (Kurau fish), Udang Lemak Nenas, Sambal Petai Sotong, Ayam Limau Purut, Mutton Curry, Terong Goreng Lada Hitam and Bendih Ulam.

My favourite was the Udang Lemak Nanas, Ayam Limau Purut and Bendih Ulam.

The beautiful marriage of flavours – rempah, coconut milk and sweet pineapple – was so good, one could settle for the Udang Lemak Nanas dish alone with a plate of steamed white rice.

I also found the cencalok excellent and will satisfy the palate if you’ve been longing for good ol’ Melaka-style Cencalok.

Graig said while the deep-fried Kurau was divine, he would have preferred if the sambal was slightly drier but was full of praise for the Ayam Limau Purut.

According to another colleague Amar Qastellani, the mutton curry was good but would have been excellent if it was slightly spicier. We all agreed the Terong Goreng Lada Hitam was simply out of this world!

Terong Goreng Lada Hitam

With origins from the famed Aunty Lee restaurant in Ujong Pasir, Melaka, the pork-free Baba Ho Liao in Taman Tun Dr Ismail opened its doors some two months ago.

Owner Jackson Tan said they relocated from Plaza Arkadia, Desa Parkcity due to challenges of the Movement Control Order.

Tan travels to Melaka every 10 days to source for raw ingredients, including belacan, cencalok, tamarind paste, gula Melaka and other spices. He said the ones sold in KL are not the same.

I suppose this is why the food here is as authentic as it can get – from the flavours to the fragrance of the rempah (spices) as well as the presentation.

Other dishes offered include Ayam Buah Keluak, Cencalok Omelette, Itik Tim, Chap Chye, Mee Siam and Pie Tee. Desserts include Sago Gula Melaka and Cendol.

Cendol and Sago Gula Melaka.

If you are craving for authentic Melaka Peranakan cuisine, Baba Ho Liao is the place to be.

Baba Ho Liao
129, Jalan Aminuddin Baki,
Taman Tun Dr Imail, 60000 Kuala Lumpur
Contact number: 03-77316122
Opening hours: Daily – 11.30am to 3pm, 6pm to 10pm.