Dec 2016 - Limapulo: Baba can cook, nonya legacy

On 8th December, 2016, 13 Enak! members and two guests met at Limapulo for an epicurean adventure! Chef and owner, 73 year old John Tan Kim Chye (also known as “Uncle John”) was sitting outside ready to welcome us and eager to share his story.      

The full name of the restaurant is LIMAPULO: BABA CAN COOK, NONYA LEGACY located at 50 Jalan Doraisamy, KL 53000, off Jalan Sultan Ismail, in an area called The Row (a few steps from Medan Tuanku KL Monorail Station). If you don’t have time to read this review in its entirety, just remember you MUST GO there. The Peranakan food is delicious, and you can tell it is made with patience, love and passion by Uncle John and his staff. It is open 12-3pm and 6-10pm, but closed on Sunday. The Nonya Laksa he serves received The Star's People’s Food Award, but it is only available Monday, Wednesday and Friday, while the Mee Siam is the special on Tuesday and Thursday. Any day you go will be a treat for your taste buds, and you will not be disappointed!  


Our Enak! group shared 10 dishes and they were all great! Pai Tee (aka Top Hats) a popular appetiser of veggies & prawn in a casing, like a very small tart. Cucur Udang - small fritters. Roti Jala - lacey rolled up pancakes with curry sauce. Mee Siam - noodles (the Tuesday and Thursday special). Chicken Berempah - Uncle John's recommendation. Telur Cincaluk - egg pancake. Sembal Terung - spicy eggplant. and Chap Chai - mixed vegetables. For dessert we had Sago Gula Melaka - tapioca pudding with palm sugar and syrup; and Cendol - coconut milk, jelly, palm sugar and shaved ice!  

So what does the long name of the restaurant mean?


Limapulo means 50, the address in Malay. Baba Can Cook is a reference to Uncle John who is 100% Peranakan, therefore he is a Baba, and he can really cook! Nonya Legacy is a reference to the women that passed down the Peranakan recipes from one generation to the next, especially his mother. To be Peranakan means that male descendants in your family came from China to settle in the Malay Archipelago and married local women. In Uncle John’s case Melaka/Malacca was home. The blending of these two groups created the Peranakan culture, with its own distinct way of cooking, speaking, customs and traditions. Males were known as Baba and the females were Nonyas. 

Since Uncle John is the last Baba in his family, his hope is to leave a legacy that will honour his Peranakan ancestry from Melaka, and give people the opportunity to enjoy the unique food from his roots. Together with his young business partner and God-son, Alan Yun, they are doing just that at Limapulo, where a steady stream of patrons come by to enjoy the Nonya fusion dishes. At 73 Uncle John is inspiring, reminding us that even after a long and varied career you can still find your passion, like he did, in cooking! For a close up look at Limapulo and more words of wisdom from this gentleman go to: Once there, look for a few other clips about Uncle John. 

Oh, I almost forgot…try their specialty drink, Peranakan (ginger) Ale!


After lunch some of us went to the new Peter Hoe shop a few doors down, but on the second floor. The entrance is a bit hidden though, just like at the previous store!

Hope you get a chance to visit Limapulo at The Row! 


Hosted by Maryann Kobzan-Diakow

Restaurant Limapulu, Baba can cook, Nonya legacy

Address: 50 Jalan Doraisamy (The Row area) Kuala Lumpur  53000, off  Jalan Sultan Ismail,  (a few steps from Medan Tuanku KL Monorail Station).