La Madame The Modern Peranakan Style

Published 29 February 2016   


M. Ramadhan


Back at the end of 15th century when mainland Chinese decided to move to the Southeast Asian region, they not only brought their culture and tradition but also created a new subculture known as Peranakan. Coming from the word ‘anak’ (or child, and meaning descendant), this subculture existed all the way from Cambodia and Myanmar down as far as Indonesia.

As a subculture, Peranakan has very interesting and distinctive characteristics that makes it stand out from other cultures. The language for example, combines Malay and Chinese and even Dutch. Their interior design also has a mixture of the indigenous culture with Chinese and colonial accents, either from the Dutch or British. Last but not least is the presence of the Peranakan food that is known as ‘Nyonya’ (madam) cuisine. Like the background itself, Nyonya Peranakan cuisine has the distinct local flavours of Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia mixed with the Chinese way of cooking and tradition.

In Indonesia, this Peranakan subculture still exists amongst the Indonesian Chinese, and is enjoyed by all people in general, especially food wise. La Madame is the newest establishment in Jakarta’s Hang Tuah disctrict that is focusing on Peranakan food, owned and operated by Sinta Lie, who is well known for consistently promoting her Peranakan roots.

Open since the end of 2015, La Madame is a one-stop-shop for Peranakan culture, where you can find everything from the delicious Peranakan restaurant, the House of Kebaya boutique that focuses on the Nyonya style of kebaya, and a florist and a beauty salon on the third floor. The idea of presenting Peranakan culture is also shown in the venue’s design. From floral pattern flooring and upholstery, carved latticework, white colonial themes, to the murals and Chinese furniture designs, all are in the spirit of modern Peranakan design. It is a beautiful haven that everyone will enjoy.

Foodwise, Sinta Lie really embraces her great family recipes, including dishes such as ‘Nasi Campur Peranakan’ (mix rice), ‘Noodle Tuaeim’ (chicken noodles), ‘Asinan Nyonya’ (fruit salad) and ‘Ketan Hitam Enso’ (black sticky rice with durian cooked with palm sugar). It is quite nostalgic for me to see all the food that my late grandmother used to cook for us. La Madame’s menu really brings back many great memories of the ‘70s and ‘80s tastes and flavours that are not really common to find anymore.

Highlights for me here include the uber delicious ‘Laksa Nyonya’ as well as the ‘Lontong Cap Gomeh’ that is perfect for sharing. The ‘Dumpling Soup’ here is also very authentic, and if you are coming from a Peranakan family like I do, then this soup will be a great reminder of home. Simply put, with La Madame, Sinta Lie has successfully preserved her Peranakan roots and shares it to the world in this new and modern way.

La Madame Peranakan Cuisine & Bar
Jl. Hang Tuah Raya 8. Jakarta
Tel: +62 2127 510 583

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