[Photographs: David Straight]
You might have noticed that we have a small obsession with Malaysian food. It comes from 10 blissful days spent in Malaysia and Singapore a few years back, when we ate five times a day and ignored Important Cultural Sites and went in search of the perfect Nyonya fish curry. Eating at Bunga Raya – which you’ll find next to the mall in New Lynn – takes us straight back there.
This is Nyonya food, which comes from the kitchens of Chinese mamas and grandmothers in Malaysia who started to play with local ingredients – Malay spices, that sort of carry-on. The room isn’t much – there is a lot of green vinyl and there are green table cloths and fluorescent lighting – but the service is warm. They usher you to your table, they ask how everything is going, and they make good suggestions.
All of which is irrelevant, frankly. They could serve this stuff on the side of the road and we’d still obsess about it. There is a Hainanese chicken rice ($10) that is right up there with the best we’ve ever eaten, and which took us straight back to a hot afternoon in Penang – delicate, succulent, salty from soy and fragrant. There is a Nasi lemak ($12.90) with a chicken curry to rival all others. We highly recommend the “Three Kingdom Veges”, with green beans and eggplant, stir fried with chilli and sambal, hot but not overwhelming, and nicely smoky. And there is an Assam fish curry ($15), which is tangy to the point of tartness thanks to the tamarind, thick with spices and coconut cream and truly, utterly astonishing and which made us want to get on a plane to Singapore immediately, before we realised this was just as good. New Lynn should thank its lucky stars. SFG
HOURS Lunch and dinner, Wednesday to Monday.
ADDRESS 3062 Great north Road, New Lynn, ph 827-8666.
IMPORTANT DETAILS Lunch, which we’ve quoted above, is cheap; dinner a bit pricier – most of the dishes are $25 to $30. Also! A number of dishes, including a full Hainanese chicken and the Nyonya fish-head curry are available only if you order them ahead. We think you should.