I was under the impression that Penang holds the seat when it comes to Malaysian cuisine, but I was told otherwise by my friend from Melaka. She may be biased about it, since she comes from Melaka, but this was what she told us; people from Melaka goes to Penang for food trips, while people from Penang goes to Melaka for their own food trip.
During our short two-day Melaka adventure, we got to taste firsthand if this UNESCO city can indeed holds its own against its northern counterpart.
ADDRESS: 45-E JALAN ONG KIM WEE, MELAKA | 06-284 1935 | OPEN EVERYDAY FROM 5:00PM TO 12:00MN | GPS MAP 2.202283, 102.243634
|FIRST RESTAURANT ON OUR FOOD TRIP ITINERARY|
Our first taste of Melaka should’ve been a McDonald’s. Forgive us, but we we were quite hungry for something familiar after our three-week Laos trip. Good thing our friend F directed us where to eat in Melaka; Ban Lee Siang.
This unassuming hole-in-the-wall serves satay celup, a kind of cuisine said to be unique in the city. It’s basically skewered meat, seafood, veggies, dumplings and almost everything you can think of that you can be set on a stick. You then dip the raw stuff into a pot of simmering gravy sauce where you let it cook for a bit before chomping down.
|A VARIETY OF SKEWERED SOMETHINGS|
Ban Lee Siang is one of the more famous restaurants (or restoran, as the Malaysians call them), in Melaka serving this kind of food, with Capitol Satay going head to head in terms of popularity.
We quickly settled down as one of its patrons vacated a table.
|DUNK. COOK. EAT.|
Our host did the shopping for us. From a wall of glass refrigerators, she hauled an assortment of meat balls, bean curds, seafood, kang kong and what-nots that I can’t identify on a tray. Prices range from .50 MYR to .70 MYR. You’d know the more expensive ones by the color of their stick tips.
She then told us to simply dunk these on the thick, boiling satay gravy and wait for a few minutes.
I was quite excited to try it, which resulted to a burned tongue.
|HOW MANY STICKS DID WE JUST ATE?!|
I love, love, love everything! The normally regular taste of these streetfoods transforms into something much more special after being cooked in the peanuty satay gravy. And its quite affordable too. I can’t remember how many sticks of everything we had! The only thing missing, really, is rice. Haha.
JALAN TENGKERA NEAR METHODIST SCHOOL, MELAKA | OPEN FROM SATURDAY TO THURSDAY 8:00AM ONWARDS | GPS MAP 2.203803, 102.232760
|FULL HOUSE AT HASSAN’S|
One of our all-time favorite Malaysian dishes is mee goreng. We just can’t get enough of this stir-fried noodle delight after tasting our first one at Jalan Alor in Kuala Lumpur a year ago. So we were quite excited when we went to Hassan’s Mee Goreng on our second day in Melaka.
F told us that this open-aired restaurant is the go-to place for mee goreng when in Melaka. And it was readily apparent when we arrived there some minutes later. The place is packed to the rafters with locals having their daily noodle fix, it was actually quite a challenge to get an open table.
|LOOKS VERY SIMILAR TO SPAGHETTI!|
Apparently this restaurant closes after all their food have been sold out. And that’s usually before noontime. We were quite lucky to be there early.
From their menu, I can see that Hassan’s serve only two dishes, mee goreng and nasi lemak (rice cooked in coconut milk and pandan leaf. That’s a good indication as any of their specialty.
|CAN YOU SPELL SPICY?|
After a few minutes of confused ordering and seating arrangements, three plates of mee goreng (1.50 MYR) were finally plunked down our table. It came with a side dish of telur (fried egg), sambal (chili paste) and sliced cucumbers (0.80 MYR) which we mixed in with the noodles.
Hassan’s mee goreng is quite oily (uhmm well, all mee goreng are, I guess) and serving size is quite petite (although just right for its price, as it is super cheap). Upon quickly finishing our meal, my buddy and I agreed that it was just okay. We still preferred the one in Jalan Alor. Their kopi ais (1.40 MYR), however, is really good. So it was still a worthwhile visit.
|THE OWNER OF MELAKA’S OLDEST CHICKEN RICE BALL RESTAURANT|
Last, but definitely not the least on our list, was Melaka’s chicken rice balls. We were told that we have to be here early lest we wanted to stand in line just to have a taste of this famous Melakan street fare. We were quite lucky as we not only arrived there without a queue outside, but a free table was also waiting for us!
As soon as we sat down, lumps of almost perfectly round half-a-golf-ball-sized rice were set on our table. A plate of Hainan chicken soon followed. My companion looked at each other in mild confusion. F then told us that you can’t actually order food here, as soon as customers sit down; it is assumed that those are what you would be ordering. She further said that don’t even try to order, lest you want to be stared down by the owner.
Well. Alright. So we went right down to business.
|FIRST TIME FOR ME TO SEE RICE LIKE THESE|
The rice balls were made of moist fragrant rice and were quite soft with a mild salty gingery flavor. It was just okay on its own, but it goes really well with the Chung Hwa’s Hainan chicken. I normally don’t dig steamed chickens, preferring them crispy fried, but these ones were quite good, especially with soy sauce.
|HAINAN CHICKEN SOY SAUCE, YUM!|
Serving size is good enough for the three of us, so it was quite affordable at 22.30 MYR. To wash everything down, we each had a glass of a lemonade-like drink which was quite forgettable.
|FOOD TRIP MELAKA!|
Can you say burp?! We definitely can! It was a good two short days of eating in Melaka and we knew we barely scratched the surface of the city’s food scene. So how does it fare with Penang’s cuisine? Well, they’re really not comparable as those we have tried in Melaka don’t have a counterpart in Penang. Well, besides the mee goreng, but KL’s wins that round, hands down.
+ + + U P D A T E 2 0 1 6 + + +
ADDRESS: 42 JALAN TUNG SRI NALANG, KAMPUNG DURIAN DARUN, BUKIT CINA, MELAKA, MALAYSIA | GPS MAP: 2.203625, 102.252789
|ROTI JOHN IN MELAKA ~ MYR 2.60|
The first night we stalked around the area near The Pines Melaka hotel near Bukit Cina for dinner, we chanced on a hole-in-the-wall eatery hawking roti sandwiches. But it wasn’t the traditional Malay bread that struck me when we passed their stall, but a baguette-like bread being fried on an open pan. Roti john, it was called.
The next day, we made sure to buy one before heading to our usual mee goreng haunt, wanting to pair it with our favourite Malaysian noodle dish.
Story has it that this particular sandwich originated from Singapore during the sixties. The story goes that an English dude asked a hawker if he has a hamburger. With no such item on the menu, the vendor thought of frying a loaf of bread set with muttons, onions and eggs; everything, altogether. He then gave it to the Englishman and told him, please eat this roti, John. And that apparently, was how it got its name.
|MEE GORENG PLUS ROTI JOHN|
Melaka’s version of roti john is a bit different, however. They don’t use muttons, but rather, mushed fish fillet incorporated in an egg batter spread inside the bun. This gets fried, bread and all, into a golden crisp. Afterwards, they put in some greens, mayonnaise, ketchup and cheese. Finally, it gets chopped and is presented to you in all its greasy glory.
The taste? Sinfully delicious; crispy outer layer, moistly soft bun with a crunchy inner core. It is very, very messy as well. I suggest you set it on a thick wad of tissue paper while letting it cool down to lessen its oiliness.
ADDRESS: JALAN BENDAHARA, BUKIT CINA, MELAKA, MALAYSIA | GPS MAP: 2.201232, 102.252938
|KEDAI LEMPENG ZANA HAWKER CENTER|
Of course, we wouldn’t let a day pass in Malaysia without hitting the hawker stalls for a plate of mee goreng (fried noodles). This time, we didn’t have to go far from our hotel before spotting an open-aired hawker center with our favorite noodles.
|NASI GORENG PLUS FRIED CHICKEN (AYAM) ~ MYR 5.50|
Kedai Lempeng Zana literally translates to shop selling cake slabs. Now, I really didn’t see any pastries being sold inside the compound. What they’re hawking though are all the usual Malaysian goodies like char keow teow, laksa noodle soup, nasi goreng (fried rice) and ayam (fried chicken); which is definitely right up our alley.
|KOPI AIS, UNFORTUNATELY, NOT THAT GREAT ~ MYR 1.80|
|MEE GORENG IN MELAKA ~ MYR 4.50|
We settled down on the first stall we saw selling mee goreng, and it didn’t disappoint. It was almost as good as our favorite one from Jalan Alor Food Street in KL. The refreshments are sold centrally, and we, of course, asked for kopi ais (iced coffee). Unfortunately, it was a bit too bland for our taste.