As a Penangite, I have heard of the name Richard Rivalee for quite sometime, as one of the top local fashion designer but only until recently did I know that he is also an amazing chef too.
I recently came across the Richard Rivalee Nyonya Cuisine which I am told is already in its third location (where have I been all this time?) at Rain Garden (entrance is at a small lane off Bangkok Lane after the famous Bangkok Lane Mee Goreng). Slightly hidden off the main roads, but I guess if you asked the locals for good Nyonya food, many will point to here.
We came here in a small group, just the 3 of us ~ I guess we should have brought a lot more friends, because there are simply so many good food in the menu that we wanted to order but unfortunately, we have to understand the limit of how much we can eat.
One of the thing that you will notice as you stepped into the restaurant is the decor of the place – its amazing to see the nice table cloth as well as the collection of the antique displays which adds to the charm of the wooden structure building.
Then comes the food and we definitely ordered way way too much for three persons. To kick start things, a must have for any Nyonya restaurant – the jiu-hu char. Richard definitely got this right – sliced, not grated bangkwang so that you can actually get a good bite and then pack it with quality dried cuttlefish and mushroom to bring out the rich flavors. Perfect to be eaten by itself or wrapped inside the lettuce.
Then we had the deep fried five-spice pork rolls. The rolls are very flavorful from the marinated chopped pork inside and its really soft and juicy. I like its texture and taste and love eating it by itself, even though the accompanying chili sauce is nice too.
Next came the Acar Fish which was highly recommended as it was a crowd-favorite. Pickled mackerel prepared in turmeric vinegar, spiced with garlic, ginger and chili stuffed with pickled young papaya. Very refreshing indeed.
As for the Curry Kapitan, I would say is is thick and flavorful and is a must-order for those that love curry. As for the Pork Trotter in Vinegar or “Too Khar Chor” that was presented by Richard, it was nice as the taste is well balance and the texture of the pork trotter is really tender and soft.
The next dish we had is something I hate — really hate — how can someone like the stinky beans .. but then I was in the minority as my two other friends wanted it – so we had the Sambal Prawn with a medley of stinky beans, kacang botol and lady’s finger. If you ask me, its horrible, but my friends said it was perfectly done and carry that hint of spiciness.
Now, this is one of my favorite, the classic Nyonya Assam Prawn which carries such delicate balance of taste – fresh prawns in thick sweet, sour and salty gravy. This dish is authentic as it gets – pretty much the same like the ones I used to eat at grannys.
To go with all the delicious dishes, the restaurant offers few choices of rice ~ of course the standard white jasmine rice, then comes the tumeric rice, the butterfly-pea rice and the nasi ulam. The nasi ulam is nice to eat by itself, but I felt the flavorful rice overwhelmed the flavors of the dishes.
Now comes the sweet stuff ..
We had two items for dessert, Richard’s signature Sago Pudding with Gula Melaka and the traditional Bubur Cha Cha. The Bubur Cha Cha is just like how you get them at home, not too sweet, made with fresh top layer coconut milk with a combination of tender chunks of yam, sweet potatoes and sago.
However what stands out is the Sago Pudding with Gula Melaka. The gula melaka dip is perfectly caramelized and the sago pudding is made on the spot and coated lightly salted freshly grated coconut to balance up the sweetness of the dish.
In conclusion, I would say if you are looking for a good Nyonya restaurant with nice ambiance, Richard Rivalee Nyonya Cuisine at Rain Garden should be up on that list of choice for you.
Richard Rivalee Nyonya Cuisine
282 Jalan Burmah
10350 Georgetown Penang
Tel: +60111 6496399