“You should go on a Melaka food trip!”
This was the most common (unsolicited) suggestion I got from friends upon them learning that I was going to Melaka. Not particularly a foodie, I pushed those suggestions on the back burner. My fancy with Melaka lay on stuff that I found more interesting. But boy, I didn’t know any better.
It all changed when a Melaka-born friend I met in Indonesia the week prior, drove down from Kuala Lumpur and showed up in my hotel. Nicole and her boyfriend, Casey, very hospitably dragged me on a food trip around town. Bent on awakening the foodporn star in friends visiting their hometown, Nic and Case led me to the best local secrets in Melaka’s merry mix of gastronomic adventures.
Under their tutelage, let me take you to a full day of eating your way around Melaka — my new, by far, favourite food capital in Southeast Asia.
0830H | Start the day with Chicken Rice Balls.
Exploring Melaka entails a lot of walking. Therefore, it is imperative to have breakfast. What better way to carbo-load and fully-charge your energy levels for the day than Chicken Rice Balls?
Kedai Kopi Chung Wah, right outside the Jonker Street marker (beside Hard Rock and across H&M), serves the best in town! The place opens up to 3pm on weekdays and 4pm on weekends, but unless you are prepared to line up, it is wisest to go there for breakfast.
Retaining the good old ambiance of traditional Malaysian-style restaurants of open kitchens, Kedai Kopi Chung Wah has no need to hide behind pretty interiors. Its signature Kampung Chicken (steamed) and Rice Balls (rice cooked in chicken stock and rolled into balls) will leave you asking for seconds (or in my case, thirds! LOL).
For spice lovers, a huge jar of chilli sauce is available on every table. Needless to say, it was perfect to tie the whole dish up.
Price: 8RM per single serve (Chicken and 5 Rice Balls)
Kedai Kopi Chung Wah
Address: 18, Jalan Hang Jebat, 75200 Melaka, Malaysia
Hours: Monday – Friday 830am-3pm ; Saturday – Sunday 8:30am-4pm
Phone: +60 16-733 0699
1030H | Sip a cup of Melaka Kopi for morning tea.
After a morning stroll around Jonker Street, warm up (or cool down if you want the cold variety) with a shot of Melaka Kopi (Malacca Local Coffee).
Geographer Cafe at the corner of Jonker and Hang Jebat, is housed on a pre-war building, with warm and cozy atmosphere. Its woodsy interior and fast internet make the cafe an ideal chill-out place to catch up on journal writing or blogging.
The coffee isn’t really mind-blowing, considering how the coffee culture is cut-throat in Peninsular Malaysia. But the selling point here is in the explorer vibe that Geographer Cafe is able to perfect beautifully. That, plus, the excellent vantage point for people watching that the cafe has effortlessly provided.
Price: 4.5RM (Hot) | 5.5RM (Cold)
Address: Jalan Hang Jebat, 75200 Melaka, Malaysia
Hours: Monday – Saturday 10am-1am ; Sunday 8am-1am
Phone: +60 6-281 6813
1230H | Feast on Green Salad and Pineapple Beer.
For lunch, do splurge for the things that are worth it. Also, when lost in the bustle of Melaka, seek for a refuge where you can enjoy lunch in the stillness of the town without losing grip on the chaos of its art.
Good news for you, The Baboon House is just the place for that.
Doubling as an art gallery and a mini rainforest, it is every oddball’s happy place. It was mine, right off the bat. There is a catch though: no one is supposed to take photographs inside. (But a little bird told me she steals snaps all the time, so I did, too. Don’t judge! :P)
Much has already been written about The Baboon House’s freshly ground coffee and gourmet burgers, so if you are keen, choose to try something else. For example, their garden salad (read: bacon) and homemade pineapple beer are a must-try!
Price: 9.5RM Homemade Pineapple Beer | 15.5RM Green Salad (+2.5RM Service Charge)
The Baboon House
Address: 89, Jalan Tun Tan Cheng Lock, Kampung Bukit China, 75200 Melaka, Malaysia
Hours: Wednesday – Monday 10am-5pm
Phone: +60 12-938 6013
1400H | Cool down with a Sugarcane Juice-to-go.
I have a deep love for those who work small jobs with big pride. Street vendors, for instance. So I make it a point to buy from them on my travels, hoping to help, even if it only meant 1.5RM of spare change.
This uncle for example, cheerfully said hello whilst I was taking photos of the facade of Cheen Hoon Teng Temple in Jalan Tokong. So I struck a conversation which ended in me guzzling cold sugarcane juice from a plastic bag.
Here, let me tell you a secret: street vendors are the most credible source of local information on a place. They know not only history, but also folklore. Sometimes, even gossip. Thus, if you are running out of twists to your narratives, go find a street food cart. 🙂
Price: 1.5RM (per serve)
(in front of) Cheng Hoon Teng Temple
Address: 25, Jalan Tokong, 75200 Melaka, Malaysia
1700H | Meet friends over Satay Celup for dinner.
The best relationships are forged over food. Communal eating is something that is highlighted in Ban Lee Siang’s Satay Celup.
Similar to the concept of the more well-known Hot Pot, a boiling pot of peanut sauce is sunk into a hole at the centre of the table where skewers of meat, vegetable, tofu and shellfish are dipped into and cooked.
Customers get to choose skewers of food from a buffet style counter, which are then dipped into a boiling peanut sauce. A number of rules are practiced though:
- The satay sauce is only refilled, and not replaced between customers.
- Ergo, double-dipping is a big no-no.
- Skewers don’t get thrown away. You leave it at the table for the attendants to count later.
- Skewer count determines how much you have to pay.
Price: 1RM (per stick)
Ban Lee Siang Satay Celup
Address: 53-C, Jalan Ong Kim Wee, 75300 Melaka, Malaysia
Hours: Friday-Tuesday 4pm-1230am
Phone: +60 12-651 5322
1800H | Cap the day off with Putu Piring.
Jalan Tengkera is famed for the Putu Piring sold in the area. Loosely, it translates to Rice Cake Plate, after the delicacy’s plate-like shape. What makes Jalan Tengkera’s Putu Piring is that it specifically uses Gula Melaka, a palm sugar variety that is unique to Melaka.
This family-owned and operated Putu Piring store opens daily (except Sundays) at 6pm, just in time for after-dinner desserts. Try to come a bit earlier though, to beat the queue.
Usually served on a banana leaf with a bed of salted grated coconut, Putu Piring is best eaten while hot.
Price: 1.10RM (per piece)
Putu Piring Tengkera
Address: 252, Jalan Tengkera, 75200 Melaka, Malaysia
Hours: Monday- Saturday 6pm-10pm
Phone: +60 6-282 1505
Did I miss any must-eat food in Melaka?
Please write so in the comments below!