Authentic Malaysian eats at Little Penang

The Malaysian restaurant that award-winning Australian chef Ben Shewry can't wait to go back to


Cuba precinct


175 Victoria Street

If you had to sum up Wellington’s favourite cuisine, the answer would likely be Malaysian. In just 500 metres along Cuba Street you’ll find 12 Malaysian restaurants, but step off Cuba Street to Victoria Street there is a restaurant that stands out among the rest Little Penang.

Ben Shewry, New Zealand chef and owner of Attica restaurant in Melbourne (which was named in The World's 50 Best Restaurants in 2018), ate there when visiting Wellington during Visa Wellington On a Plate and he says he can't wait to get back.

"For me, Little Penang represents incredible family spirit and self-determination, Tee Phie and her family have created a restaurant which is really moving. Proudly representing their heritage and their family recipes in the most delicious way possible while giving back and supporting the Wellington community which has supported them. It's a beautiful and sweet-hearted place to dine and I cannot wait until my next visit!"

In a city with a considerable representation of Malaysian restaurants already, Tee Chiew Phie and her husband Keith decided to take a different approach to Malaysian food in Wellington when they opened their first restaurant on Dixon Street. Tee and Keith decided to focus on Peranakan or Nyonya cuisine, which has Chinese, Indian and ethnic Malay influences but uses spices and ingredients specific to the area.

The pair were determined to create authentic flavours with no shortcuts or dumbing down. However, when they found they couldn't find certain ingredients in New Zealand, like dried anchovies and ginger flower, Tee and Keith chose to import them from Malaysia.

Little Penang serves up a relatively small menu of Nyonya dishes and hawker street food that they especially missed from Malaysia: nasi lemak with those precious imported dried anchovies; their much-loved mee goreng topped with vegetable fritters; char koay teow with cubes of rich pork crackling; and kerabu salad with mango, cucumber and apple. There's a rotating daily special, including the spicy-sour assam laksa (you'll either love it or you won't).

But no matter what you choose to order, like Ben, you're bound to be counting down until you can return.

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