I've tried tons of Peranakan food, but contemporary ones? Not so. Situated at Penang's historic and iconic landmark, Fort Cornwallis, is Kota - when Francis meets rempah. Think Peranakan food plated nicely and served in fine dining portions - definitely a first for me.
For starters, the Jumbo Platter is good for sharing. If you look through the menu and are spoilt for choice, this pretty much solves the problem. The ensemble of Malaysian snacks include Pai Tee Cup, a traditional Peranakan snack with a crispy shell encasing stewed turnips.
The choices of mains at Kota will also leave you with a dilemma. Portions are not exactly huge, so you may want to consider opting for two mains if you are a big eater like me, or if you are not out on a first date. The Nyonya is a beautifully crafted rice assemble with layers of blue coconut rice, topped with rendang, otak otak and achar. One of our favourite picks from the mains we tried that we felt still preserved the Peranakan essence while plated in a modern way.
The Kari (or curry) had a good kick of spiciness which we all enjoyed, topped with a puff pastry that resembles eating a pot pie. If you like your traditional marinated satay skewers, the Satay (also one of our favourites) is a must-try, with tender chicken roulade stuffed with rice, sliced up and drizzled with a roasted peanut sauce. You know satay, but a much fancier version.
Disappointing enough, there were hit and misses with the desserts. The Cream Brûlée that came served in three variations were a hit - comes in Gula Melaka, Black Glutinous Rice and Pandan. However, the Nasi Lemak Cake (yes, savoury for dessert) left us sitting on the fence, with sambal anchovies and a sweet yet savoury complicated flavour i just couldn't put together.
The restaurant isn't huge, and i can hear they get a little packed during dinner. Entrance fees are required but apparently will be off-set on your bill. Not the cheapest in terms of pricing, but honestly i haven't found another place that serves modern Peranakan food and i think it's worth the try at least once.
Kota - when Francis meets rempah
Jalan Tun Syed Sheh Barakbah
George Town, Malaysia
+60 4-371 4929
This was an invited media tasting.