By Cam Lucadou-Wells
There’s no doubt that Little Peddler is the real deal – or as they say the “real nonya” – for traditional Malaysian food.
In other words, the flavours are no holds barred from East Malaysia, Kuching and Sarawak regions.
Its curry puff with a melting, buttery pastry and a bitingly sharp sardine, potato and chilli sambal filling is a unique must-try.
Another is a deeply flavoursome prawn-and-clam noodle dish known as Char Kueh Tiaw (CKT). Infused in oyster sauce, it’s also available in beef or tofu versions.
Married couple Antonia and Chhee Law have brought the hawker-style of their popular St Kilda eatery into Dandenong Market – making use of the 153-year-old market’s fresh veg, meats and seafoods.
“I grew up here,” Antonia says. “I went here ever since the fishmongers and butchers were laid out in a line.
“I always wanted to be part of the market.”
She’s been a cook since she was chopping vegies and cooking rice at 7.
Chhee said he didn’t want to “Westernise” the traditional Malay offerings. “We decided we would serve our food as we would eat it.”
Little Peddler’s cosy layout displays foods from eyeline to ceiling. It’s a warm place from another world.
The other pleasant aspect is that Antonia’s parents Van and Ngoc Nguyen’s Little Asia eatery lives next door. It’s an intimate family corner, with each of their frenetic kitchens opening to one another.
On the Little Asia’s thick round chopping board, Van heaves a large cleaver as he slices barbecued meats such as Peking duck.
The Nguyens, who also run a Springvale outlet, offer great South Vietnamese Rachgia lunch fare such as pork sliders with the most incredibly succulent crackling.
Most popular in winter are the spicy noodle soups known as BBH (Bun Bo Hue). One of them is a medley of white pork meat loaf, beef balls, pork jelly, spring onions and coriander.