Makansutra: A little taste of South-east Asia in China
Chinese couple set up Peranakan restaurant in Hangzhou city
You see many foreign chefs and cooks making their mark in Singapore.
Italians and pizza cafes, Chinese nationals and hardcore Sichuan cuisine and Japanese chefs' ramen and sushi joints, among others.
We don't see many Singaporean chefs creating an impact overseas, save for the usual suspects - chain stalls offering chilli crab.
Then there are those foreigners who are taking it further - fearless entrepreneurs flying the South-east Asian makan flag high.
This Chinese couple, who spent some time in Johor Baru, returned home to Hangzhou city and boldly set up a Peranakan restaurant in the heart of the city "because no one is selling it here".
Rebecca and her husband set up Sayang Nyonya Restaurant inside the slick GDA Plaza mall offering more than 80 items, including Indian curries, Klang bak kut teh, Thai tom yam soup and Malay nasi lemak.
She hired a Malaysian chef to create the mish-mash of a menu - dishes average a decent $10 to $20 - when it opened in May and took over the kitchen when the chef left.
The place has a functional and dainty cuteness about it and is photogenic, which is great for social media.
First up to be put to the test was the restaurant's "signature" dish: Ikan Assam Pedas.
The all-important sweet, spicy and sour sauce had lovely hints of rojak flower, or bunga kantan, spiked into it.
But its unique touch was the "double texture" - one side of the fish was pan-fried crispy and the other was steamed.
We polished off the plate in five minutes.
The Nonya Laksa was up next and it failed us miserably, so we shall say no more (but we gave her some feedback on the use of laksa leaves).
As for the Kuala Lumpur-style Bak Kut Teh, we found that all our expectations - the herbal notes, the sheet of bean skin covering it, the soft ribs, tau pok, you tiao and the chopped garlic bits doused with dark soya sauce - were met.
However, the broth was light on herbs to cater to her clientale, especially the well-travelled younger customers Rebecca is banking on.
Two desserts arrived and the Kueh Dadar (gula melaka grated coconut crepe rolls) was on point.
It is made to order and the skin was soft and the bit of sweet coconut inside lends it necessary texture and taste.
The Kueh Salat did not come with a layer of kaya, but in two layers of coconut glutinous rice, one coloured with bunga telang, or blue pea flower.
A little bowl of kaya accompanied it as a dip - agreeable and not strange at all.
The prettiest dish of the lot was the Nasi Lemak.
The pyramid block of blue pea flower-coloured rice was enticing and rich enough, but it was the basic version of peanuts and cashews (no ikan bilis), half an egg, keropok, cucumbers and sambal (a gentle version).
If only it had a crispy ikan selar or a chicken wing with a bolder sambal, this could have been the hero of our meal there.
The couple are already planning a second outlet in Suzhou city early next year.
Sayang Nyonya Restaurant
GDA Plaza, 4F10-1 (Level 4)
609, Yan'an Road