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Fusion cuisines are all the rage, but the idea of mixing flavors across boundaries is hardly new. On Grand Street, Nyonya sits among the remnants of today's Little Italy; the restaurant's name refers to "the ladies" -- the women of Chinese-Malay marriages. Also known as Straits Chinese food or Lauk Embok Embok, the flavors of Nyonya mix Chinese and Malay components, deriving from grandmothers' recipes and the influence of Indonesian and Thai cuisine. Coconut milk figures heavily in dishes, adding sweet, rich flavors pared with kaffir leaves, ginger flower, coriander and cumin. Thai flavors reign in hot chilies, black prawn paste, and sensations of sourness, resulting in ingredient-heavy complex flavors throughout.

Nyonya's extensive menu caters to the most discerning palates and Gothamist guesses you'd have to make fifty visits before trying all their offerings. Regardless, a must-have starter are the roti canai, traditional crepe-thin crispy pancakes, cooked on a griddle and served with chicken curry dipping sauce. Thin and chewy, these must be eaten right away for the added crunch, but are the tasty regional alternative to the bread basket. Chicken satay with peanut sauce--also a Malaysian specialty--bears similar flavors to widely consumed Thai chicken of the same style. Among noodle dishes, the specialty are the flat wide rice noodles, chow kueh teow ($5.50), pan-friend with shrimp, chives squid, bean sprouts, and eggs.

Of the rice dishes, the nasi lemak arrives as a heaping scoop of sweet, fragrant coconut rice and is served with mix-ins of chili anchovy, Malaysian pickles, curried chicken still on the bone, and two hard boiled eggs. Fried rice comes with mainstays of salted fish or seafood or pineapple; in other rice dishes, the grains are steamed with turmeric and cloves, spices infusing the dish from all angles. Poultry is also popular and Gothamist spied the sarang burong on another table and had to have it: a bowl-shaped dish of fried taro is stuffed with shrimp, chicken, corn, mushrooms and cashews. The starchy taro is mushier than one would think, but soaks up the garlicky dish's sauce.

Steamed red snapper with the house's special sauce is the highlight of the laundry list of seafood dishes. Mango chicken and spare ribs also make the list of reputed dishes-to-try on the next visit. Overall, despite the oddly painted wall mural and less-than-inspiring décor, we were charmed by the array of flavors covering all sides of the palate and Gothamist has all plans to head back and check a few more dishes off our list.

Nyonya is located at 194 Grand Street between Mott & Mulberry. 212-334-3669