Wookiee Hut Cuisine presents:
Nyonya
Grand St., SoHo, NYC
212-334-3669
Review by SuSu, Runt





In an area of town with many Chinese restaurants, it is possible to miss the "other" ethnic offerings. Nyonya is described as "home-style Malasian" and though the interior is nicely appointed and clean, it has a very homey aspect. Every time we've been here, there are several people around one of the big tables in the back with a huge pile of vegetation on it. They are cleaning and sorting the veggies, and it has a very "everyone at the village pitch in" feel.

You can feel left out of the community, but you are a customer and you can order the food. A lot of it is really inexpensive — its possible to have dinner here for under $10 per person. Way under! Big bowls of soup run about $5, stews served in ceramic crocks are a few dollars more.

We don't know much about Malaysian cuisine, so we just picked what looked good in writing, trying to get a bit from several categories. We'd since been told to try for the "yum rice" which is a big $1 serving of rice, yam, pork, and vegetables, as well as the Thai-esque lemon and lemongrass squid cooked in foil, or the Indian-sounding achat, which are pickled vegetables. We'll remember that for next time.

The food is not as flavorful as Thai, and not as vegetable-laden as what's found in Chinese restaurants. It is different and it is good. There are a lot of duck-based dishes, too. It's heavy on the carbs and thus very filling, perfect for a tourism stop or a study break for those low on cash.

It's not readily apparent that this place is Malaysian. We went in thinking it was Chinese, or perhaps Vietnamese. The cooking styles are like other Asian cuisines, in that there are boiled, braised, and pan-fried offerings. It could be that Malay style cuisine is mutable, so it can move in any number of directions, or perhaps the proprietors are trying to fit into the area. The food is even reminiscent of Singapore, which isn't a surprise, being that that island nation is located within Malaysia. They are the majority population there, not the one in power. So perhaps we can be forgiven our confusion.

Pros: the food is plentiful, cheap, and tasty in the sense that you don't have to worry about that cousin of yours who won't eat spicy stuff. The bathroom is stylish (though small) and very clean. Cons: you do feel like you're impinging on the family powow, and there is something disturbing about seeing your food being processed in the dining room. It might even be against health code. But the food is good, so give it a try and decide for yourself.


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