Ivins...It's Growing On Me
We were back at Ivins again today, and I was rather surprised that I actually enjoyed the food (I am normally not a fan of Peranakan food). It got started right thanks to the nasi kuning, or "yellow rice," which is made yellow not through the use of saffron, but through tumeric. It was also heavy in coconut flavor (kind of like nasi lemak), which gave this a lot of character. An additional bonus was the interesting black nuts in the ayam buah keluak that you scooped out onto your rice. I had it before, but for some reason, it was particularly enjoyable today (maybe because it went well with the coconut flavored rice?).
Other items we had today ranged from honey pork (self-explanatory), satay babi (little slices of unskewered pork sitting in that peanuty satay sauce), curry fish head, fried ngo hiang, and bakwan kepeting, or tasty meatballs in a thin clear broth. There were plenty of veggies too, including sambal kangkong, longbeans titek, lady's fingers sambal, as well as stewed cabbage dishes nonya chap chye and sayur lodeh, the former being more Chinese (lighter with tofu skin) but the latter being more Malay (spicier). We also got a couple of those tamarind-based Thai-like dishes, assam pork rib and sotong assam puteh. It sounds like a lot of food, but keep in mind that the plates here are pretty small (just a notch bigger than Spanish tapas).
Maybe the reason why I enjoyed nearly every dish today was because I stayed away from eating the tedious tasteless chunks of meat, sticking mainly to the gravies and veggies instead. Granted, I still won't get cravings for this stuff (and I still don't like that fishy spicy stench that greets you when you open the door to the restaurant), but I have to admit that Peranakan food is growing on me. Who'd have known??