June, 2022 - Warong Old China

Warong Old China - Organised by our lovely hostesses Ana Lisa Johnson and Viktoria Oris – Thursday the 2nd of June, 2022


Our Enak! destination this month was in Chinatown of Kuala Lumpur.


It has been close to three years since I was in this part of town. Chinatown is noted for being in the older part of Kuala Lumpur and is a popular tourist destination. My visit was in 2019, just before the pandemic when the grandchildren visited from Melbourne.  We had their portrait painted by a local artist at the rear section of the Central Market Pasar Seni.

Warong Old China is just two streets away from the Central Market and is housed in a beautiful looking ethnically decorated pre-war building.  The façade is made up of a mish mash of the old colonial and antique.


The owner Leonard Tee was there to share with us some family history as well as stories of how his three restaurants came about. He spoke about the Nyonya/Peranakan culture and how he was trained from young by his grandmother on the intricacies of preparing Nyonya cuisine.

Intan Maizura from the News Straits Times wrote an in-depth article on Leonard and his restaurants, and you can read about it by following this link. Feast for the senses at Warong Old China! (nst.com.my)

Leonard mentioned finding the stained-glass crown from a church in India. The Indonesian paintings on the wall were antique and a mixture of  traditional women in sarong and a portrait of Chiang Kai-Shek.

We, Enak! members were present in good numbers and while some have frequented Leonard’s restaurants, for the rest of us it was a new experience.


We were there for the buffet. Organised by our lovely hostesses Ana Lisa Johnson and Viktoria Oris seen here with Rosemary Chin and Leonard Tee.


Owner, Leonard Tee had our rapt attention throughout our introduction to Warong Old China. We were fascinated with stories of Nonya/Peranakan cooking, culture, and history. We had a question-and-answer session, and he took the time to explain to everyone how his restaurants came into being. After the talk we were led to an adjoining room where the buffet had been laid out. The room had a lovely Peranakan bridal bed at one end and a cabinet filled with antique tea and coffee pots on the right.

The buffet was laid out with two choices of rice, then the pineapple prawns and the other dishes and ending with a pie tee station at the end of the buffet table. I was very excited about the pie tee station and couldn’t wait to reach it and see what would happen. There was a waiter manning the station ready to serve us. The pie tee shells were larger than any I have had. They have an interesting history and from what I understand are shaped to replicate the summer hats used by the wives of the British colonial officers who were stationed in Malaya at the time. The pie tee is similar to a pastry shell and is crispy and crunchy to the bite.  It is first filled with a mixture of cooked seng kwang (jicama) then topped with parsley and crushed peanuts and a dollop of blended red chilies. You should eat it as quickly as possible as it gets soggy. Just take a bite and the flavor explode in your mouth.

There were two choices of rice. White rice and pea flower dyed rice.  I took the pea flower rice out of curiosity. The only other time that I had blue pea rice was with ‘nasi kerabu’.  Leonard explained that his grandmother colored the rice with blue pea flowers in order to entice the grandchildren to finish their food.


Lemak Nenas Udang / Pineapple Prawns cooked in Coconut milk was the second item on the buffet. I absolutely loved that there was a lot of gravy with this dish as I tend to soup my rice.


Nyonya chap chye was next and this dish seemed like a mish mash of different colors and shapes. It was served on a bed of cooked rice noodles. If you look closely, you can identify most of the ingredients. There were slices of corn, carrots, shitake mushrooms, broccoli, peppers, chilies, prawns, straw mushrooms and button mushrooms besides the squares of bean curd skin.

Sesame fish fillets were the next item on the buffet. The bite size fillets were crispy and firm to the bite. The taste of the fish and nutty flavor of the sesame seeds were a good combination, and you could eat it as is or dunk it in the pineapple gravy like I did.


Sweet and sour eggs or Telur Tempra were next, ‘telur’ meaning eggs and ‘tempra’ is from the Portuguese ‘temperado’ to season. This is in reference to the highly seasoned sauce that is poured over the sunny side up eggs. It is good to remember that the Nyonyas in Malacca were influenced by the Portuguese as they ruled Malacca between 1511 and 1641. These eggs were a riot to look at what with the yellow of the egg yolks, the fresh crunchy onion rings and the red of the shredded chili and the dark brown sweet and sour sauce served on a bed of fresh green lettuce. It was juicy, and crunchy from the crispy fried edges of the egg white to the piquant sauce which was an explosion of flavors. It went very well with the pea flower rice. Combine all the dishes together and you have a very colorful plate.

The prawns were my favorite, and I must confess to taking a little more than I should have. The addition of pineapples gave the dish a lovely piquant taste.



There is so much to say about the dessert. What a feast for the eyes, the limpid colors of dark brown syrup radiating outwards towards the gelatinous sago beads and pooling in sweet santan. The deep flavors of the palm sugar syrup and the neutral sago beads were offset by the sweet creamy coconut milk. There was a young waiter helping to serve each of us a portion by ensuring everyone got a serving with a generous and sometimes extra scoop of santan ‘coconut milk’.

At the end of the meal, we had a lucky draw that was sponsored by Lai Meng Lam. The lucky draw prizes included hats and face mask made in matching batik fabric.


At the end of lunch, we took a group photo which is at the beginning of this review. 


We were invited to tour the art gallery in the floor above the restaurant.

A visit to the gallery is recommended as it is filled with contemporary objet d’arte and paintings.

Location:- Warong Old China
144, Jalan Tun H S Lee, City Centre,
50000 Kula Lumpur,
Wilayah Persekutuan Kuala Lumpur.


Review by Shanti Moine