Born and raised in Penang, I have a penchant for Penang nyonya food. There aren't many authentic Penang nyonya food in KL. There are more sub-par ones than there are good ones. I am therefore, on a permanent quest to find that perfect, authentic restaurant.
Authentic here is defined as a replicate of my grandma's cooking. She was one woman who cooked like nobody I know, and her skills are surpassed by none in the nyonya food area. That is not surprising, as she was brought up in a home where her father had employed a professional chef to cook for them, and from whom she had learned the skill as a kid. Yup, born in 1917, she was brought up in that era's decadent lifestyle of having a chef with a few cooks, drivers, home tutors, servants and a lady's maid to attend to her.
The Wok Cafe is nowhere near my grandma's level, but is on par with Tanjung Bungah Restaurant in Chow Yang, SS2, another restaurant whose owner came from Penang. However, with its quaint furniture and deco, The Wok has a cozier ambience. The gold engravings on the doors and partition screens plus the signboard made me feel like I was back in my grandparents' house. My grandfather had an engraved sign with "The Lee family" in Chinese character above the door too.
The infamous Rose Chan
The place was crowded when we arrived, and there was some confusion amongst the limited number of staff. We had to wait for a while before our order was served.
Perut ikan - RM10
Perut ikan literally means fish stomach although none were used by The Wok Cafe. While it was enjoyable, I still think no one can cook this dish as well as my grandma. The extra ingredients to give it a cuisine touch were missing. I suppose it's not possible to make it the way my grandma did and charged only RM10 for it.
Assam fried prawns - RM24
The prawns were succulent and sweet though the assam flavour was too subtle to be detected (again, using my grandma's cooking as the benchmark). Still, I liked it enough to lick the gravy off the shells.
Otak-otak - RM6
Very dry and without much flavour, the otak-otak was a disappointment. The best so far, is still the one in Penang at Song River, Gurney Drive. Following closely behind is the one at Taman Tun Dr Ismail (KL) wet market.
Sago gula Melaka - RM4
The sago gula Melaka was one of the better ones I've had. The gula Melaka, or palm sugar, was undiluted and fragrant. We ordered one each. The next time I'm there, I'm gonna order two for myself. I love sweets....sago gula Melaka, trifle, caramel pudding, chendol.....you name it, I love it.
Overall, considering I could not order my grandma up from the grave to cook for me, I would say the food was decent, I enjoyed it, and I would go back again to try the other dishes on their menu.
The Wok Cafe
No. 26-G, Jalan PJU 5/21
The Strand Damansara
Tel: 012 - 275 0396 / 012 - 263 5460
(Turn into at the CIMB junction, and at the T-junction, turn left.)