After its major revamp, the Central Market is now a host to many authentic attractions including eateries, one of them being Precious Old China, the place where city hustlers head to for authentic Peranakan dishes.
If foodies were familiar with the Old China Café in Chinatown, they might compare the interior of that café with Precious Old China. This is after all not an accident – Precious Old China is actually the younger sister of Old China Café. When entering Precious Old China, guests will be welcomed by a regal wooden entrance made out of chengal wood, complemented by a stately bar that spans almost five metres long.
This café’s atmosphere combines wooden furnishing with soft lighting from vintage chandeliers, giving it a welcoming and intimate feel, typical of a wealthy Peranakan home. Enough about the interior – the real draw to this place is the food. For starters, it is recommended that guests try the pai tee, mixed vegetables eaten in a pastry formed into a mini cup made out of wantan skin and
topped with sweet and spicy condiments, which gave it an invigorating taste and triggered guests’ appetite.
Another dish is loh bak, minced chicken mixed with five-spice powder and yam bean all steamed together in bean curd skin prior then deep fried and eaten with condiments. Then came the entrée, which came in the form of blue-coloured rice. Cooked with coconut milk, lemongrass, pandan leaves and galangal, the rice’s blue pigment actually comes from the butterfly pea. Flower (bunga telang).
The rice tasted like nasi lemak was nicely complemented by the chicken cooked in thick and dark brown-coloured jungle nut gravy that interestingly tasted like the mixture of sweet, bitter and spicy. The two signature dishes that guests should never miss are the Nyonya dried chilli beef and the prawn in yellow curry. The beef was cooked with dried chilli, provided it with strong spiciness and coupled with a dash of sweetness.
Another must-try dish here is the spicy assam fish cooked with ladyfingers, which is an iconic dish from Melaka, the place where the Peranakans originated. The taste of the dish’s spicy and sour grave blended beautifully together. We also tried the bitter gourd omelette with cencaluk, which was remarkably satiating and complemented the dinner nicely.
To conclude our meal, we tried out the sago gula Melaka, a famous local dessert comprising starchy sago eaten with brown sugar and coconut milk. Durian lovers will also love to know that Precious Old China also serves santan durian, which is durian eaten with coconut milk, producing rich and mild sensation on the taste buds. To wash away the rich aftertaste, guests can order
various refreshing beverages such as assam drink, roselle drink, ice lemon tea or local milk coffee.