Scrumptious-ness Abounds in Melaka!
When I was in Indonesia, I met a German traveler who had been in Malaysia. I asked her some places to check out and I asked her about the food. She didn't seem all that impressed by the food, which surprised me because I thought the food was famous here… I must say with no reservations that she was totally wrong. Or I should rephrase that, we must have completely different palates. The food in Malaysia is AMAZING! I have to say that pretty much everywhere I've eaten, both places I did research on and places I just ended up at have been really tasty. I have not had one disappointing meal.
Melaka has been a highlight of my Malaysian food pilgrimage. So much to try, and I think I was able to try all that I wanted. Sorry if you're not as into food as I am, but I'm going to do a meal by meal documentation here. Get ready for the ride!
I got into Melaka in the early evening on Monday, and after checking into my guesthouse, I headed straight to Jonker Dessert 88, a popular joint for cendol (a Malaysian ice dessert) and other dishes. I'd been craving laksa, so I got their signature baba laksa, which is noodles in a coconut soup base with fish cakes and a few veggies. So tasty. A great first meal in Melaka and it cost me 6 MYR ($2). Woohoo!
The next morning, I was up early and went to Low Yong Moh for dim sum. I ordered a bunch of things, but I had no idea what I was eating. I really wish I could read and speak Chinese! The roast pork bao was delicious. The other dishes were good, but I think I've had better dim sum. I spent 13 MYR ($4.30) on this spread!
For lunch I went to Poh Piah Lwee for poh piah (a Malaysian crepe-spring roll with some mix of veggies. I thought it was onions, but I think it's turnips and/ or jicama (according to Wikipedia!). So delicious. Light, savory and a bit tangy. I've never had anything like it. This place specializes in it. The cendol I had for dessert was ok… Someone had reviewed that this place's cendol was great. I'm not sure if I agree. But the poh piah was definitely worth it. And all together, 6 MYR ($2).
I had a snack later of a Nyonya dumpling from Poh Piah Lwee. The cute lady of the shop told me to come back that afternoon for their dumplings. She was too cute, so I came back to give her my business, and I was not disappointed. It was sooo good. And I ordered two more for takeaway. There were people driving by and buying up bags of these dumplings! Glad I got the two extra. I had them in my hotel in KL! Each dumpling was 4 MYR (a little over $1).
The dumpling was just a snack, so I went to Calanthe Art Cafe for dinner. I had passed it several times and it had a really cute exterior, so I went in for some coffee and more baba laksa! The waitstaff were really friendly, and I had a nice chat with one while getting bitten up by mosquitoes, as I found out when I got back to my guesthouse. These Malaysian mosquitoes are vicious! The interesting thing about this cafe is they have gone to all 13 Malaysian states and come back to sell all those types of coffees under one roof. They also have other kinds of coffee drinks and various Malaysian and Western dishes. They were setting up their Christmas decorations and playing Christmas music while I was eating; it was a really nice holiday environment, and the coffee and laksa were yummy. All together for 16 MYR (about $5.30).
Thursday was my last day in Melaka, with an early evening bus ride back to Kuala Lumpur. I had some Nyonya kuih and a nasi lemak at a small little eatery, Dans Dapur Ekspres. The owner, Danny, was a nice guy and chatted with me and two other visitors, two guys from Singapore. The kuih were good. They reminded me of Vietnamese rice flour desserts or Japanese mochi or Korean 떡 (rice cake). The lemak was ok. That's a very traditional Malaysian rice dish that usually has some dried fish.
Nyonya food is the traditional fusion food of the Malay women who married Chinese babas. My understanding is that Nyonya food has developed in its own vein, and it's a unique blend of various cultures. In any case, all the dishes I has were delicious!
My last meal in Melaka was at Nancy's Kitchen, known for their good Nyonya food. And it did not disappoint. I got Kueh Pie Tee, which is basically the poh piah filling in these little pastry shells shaped like top hats. Great hors d'oeuvres type snack. Then I had the chicken candlenut with rice for my main dish. Candlenut looks like a macadamia nut and it's used in sauces. This dish reminded me of a curry of sorts, very flavorful, lemongrass, ginger, and other Southeast Asian flavors. Really rich and tasty.
Thus ended my eating travels in Melaka. Very enjoyable and scrumptious! There are lots more places and foods to try, so if you end up going, just do some research and approach it all with an open mind and empty stomach!!