WellingtonEat & Drink
The interior of Little Penang on Victoria Street, customers enjoy their meals and the chef is seen in the kitchen out the back.

Little Penang

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 and there’s one that stands out among the rest, Little Penang.

Little Penang serves up a relatively small menu of Nyonya dishes and hawker street food. There’s nasi lemak with dried anchovies, and mee goreng topped with vegetable fritters. Or else try 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).

The atmosphere is bustling but relaxed, and tables quickly fill up, especially on Friday and Saturday nights. If you’re coming for dinner or with a large lunch party, it’s best to call ahead and book.

The interior of Little Penang, a Malaysian restaurant in Te Aro Wellington.

In a city with so many Malaysian restaurants to choose from, Little Penang focuses on Peranakan or Nyonya cuisine. It has Chinese, Indian and ethnic Malay influences, and has proved a huge success. Owners Tee Chiew Phie and her husband Keith remain determined to create authentic flavours with no shortcuts or dumbing down. When they can’t find certain ingredients in New Zealand, Tee and Keith import them from Malaysia.

No matter what you choose to order, you’ll be counting down until you can return. This is Wellington ‘cheap eats’ at its finest.

The exterior of Little Penang, a Malaysian restaurant in Te Aro Wellington.