Discovering Nonya’s menu reminded me of what my personal food guru Anthony Bourdain used to say about East Asian cuisine, ‘the crunchy and tender, the sweet and salty, the hard and soft, the warm and cold – all mixed to emphasize the philosophical orientation behind Asian culture’.
The interior is beautifully laid out, with classic Southeast Asian touches that really give a sense of how much work has gone into achieving the best of west meets east.
From the mottle-green table tops to the backroom with fluttering palms and classic rattan lighting, I instantly had the feeling of being one of Graham Greene’s stuffy European expats supplanted in a foreign land.
Helped by the attentive waiting staff I opted for some spinach and bamboo shoot dumplings with chilli soy sauce on the side. Aside from being massive, the dumplings on their own were delicate in texture with crunchy bits of bamboo shoots giving bite among the tender spinach.
I followed with grilled coconut chicken with gravy and rice on the side. I must say, in terms of spice, I expected ‘the beast from the east’, but a storm of flavour didn’t quite materialise. Yet, I also appreciated the quality of the ingredients. The chicken was perfectly grilled, with the gravy and relish on the side adding a beautiful oriental touch.
My choice of desert was the definite standout here. Sticky rice pudding topped with mango strips sprinkled with sesame seeds and served with coconut cream on the side. Not overly sweet, and with a multitude of textures on one plate – a real delight.
Each dish comes with its own separate sauce, which aren’t removed after each course. You can either choose to find it confusing, or open your mind to the new possibilities in front of you. It’s a potential food orgy in prospect; leave your keys in the bowl at the door.
Chatting with the waitress while drinking a Jungle Love (mekhong, citrus, pandan, whites and poppy seeds) I asked about where all these taste inspirations came from. She explained that Nonya is the ‘little baby’ of a half-Asian owner together with a half-Thai partner who supervise the cuisine, borrowing the best their childhood flavours and tastes have to offer.
It struck me that this is the real recipe for making great food. Passion in what you do is essential if you want others to buy into your idea and keep coming back time and time again.
At Nonya you get just that – a cultural fusion baked in with a wonderful dance for the taste buds. When all is said and done, everyone likes a dance, right?
10 Claremont Street G3 7HA
0141 221 6200