Malacca or Melaka, as it’s spelled in Malay, is a 3-4 hour bus ride from the Golden Mile Complex on Beach Road, Singapore. Travel time is dependent on which route the bus takes and the queue through immigration.
This is the first time that I’ll be traveling with an almost-local (well because he’s been mostly in other places that he’s hardly have enough time to be Malaysian) and I thought, it’s going to be a different experience altogether. For one, getting around is so much easier because communication is such a breeze; until they mistake me for a local and start talking to me in Malay and I start replying in English.The best part is having a tour guide all to myself, because I’m selfish like that. Insert evil grin here. I get insider information on the rather laid-back Malaysian culture, history and the local dishes to try, and what have you in between.
Traveling is not just about getting on a plane, capturing scenes and food with your camera; it’s about experiencing the place like a local. I realized I didn’t take a photo of the laksa and cendol dessert from Jonker 88 but I can relive the whole lunch experience in my head and even recall how crowded it was; how big that bowl of deliciously spicy laksa was and how delectably smooth the shaved ice was on that cendol dessert.
After that rather lengthy intro, let me start this food journey with the most famous street in all of Malacca, Jonker Walk.
Locally known as Jalan Hang Jebata but more famously known as Jonker Walk.
Jonker Walk is so famous you won’t have a hard time finding it. If you’re staying at the center, I suggest you check Google maps first. Getting a cab in Malacca is almost similar to getting one in Manila; it’s because most tourist spots are within walking distance from each other that they will earn little if they don’t contract tourists for a fixed price that ranges from RM10-20. You might think it isn’t much but when you realize how near it was, you’ll rue spending it on cab fare.
If you eat all the local food from one end of Jonker Walk, you’ll end up stuffed by the time you reach the other end, which is a good thing. It’s cheap, tasty and a whole lot of fun. You’ll find the locals very accommodating and they will really encourage you to try without being pushy.
The blue pea flower, also known as clitoria flower.
The blue-tinged glutinous rice cakes are made with blue pea flower petals and coconut milk. Definitely worth trying!
Pandan-infused sticky rice cake
This delicacy has that ‘tikoy’ feel to it but you can taste the pandan and it’s really tasty. I think I would love this warmed and paired with coffee.
Colorful-striped glutinous rice cake
Another of these glutinous stuff and I’m seriously stuffed. And we’re just on the first stall.
Oh by the way, we traversed this street under the afternoon sun and while I prefer the sun to the rain, it was a little too hot for comfort. As people have started crowding behind us, we took that as cue to continue walking and found these absolutely cute street food.
Grilled ham and quail eggs
When these bad boys are done, they get dressed up with mayo and chili ketchup and I’m in heaven. If you’re in no hurry like us, wait for the freshly cooked ones; you won’t regret the wait.
Dressed up grilled quail eggs and ham
We finally surrendered to the blistering heat and headed to an open bar. We ordered cold beer to wash down our skewered find and I thought that was the best idea of the day. Something I wouldn’t have said years before because I hate the bitter taste of beer. I would’ve chosen iced tea or soda but washing down all those glutinous rice cakes and grease with beer felt strangely good.
Suan Pan Zi
After some bit of catching up and having been considerably cooled down, we headed out of the bar only to find this almost extinct delicacy quietly daring us to try it. Had I been alone, I would’ve just passed this by and not have known that this dish is almost ‘endangered’ because one can hardly find it even in food courts. Suan Pan Zi or Hakka Abacus Seeds has yam, dried mushroom, pork flakes (I think), spring onions and of course, chili. It has different layers of textures and flavors that’s just really good together.
More local dishes to try.
After much needed freshening up, we headed to a local restaurant near Dataran Pahlawan for dinner. I forgot the name but it looks nondescript from the outside but you’ll be surprised how packed it is inside; a testament that food is indeed good.
Old Town Cafe
We managed to get our caffeine fix at the Old Town Cafe in AEON Bndaraya Melaka Shopping Centre. If I have the resources, I will bring this franchise home, leave my job and sleep here and breathe the delicious coffee aroma of this quaint coffee shop.
Lao Qian Ice Cafe
Since the sinfully creamy Old Town instant coffee is available in groceries here, I decided to purchase Lao Qian coffee, a famous local brand. The Lao Qian Ice Cafe is located inside Shan Shu Gong, which you cannot miss because it’s smacked right at the head of Jonker Walk. The coffee shop also doubles as a souvenir shop where you can buy these Malacca goodies to take home with you.
We capped off our food adventure with probably one of the best cakes I’ve ever had.
Our hotel may be a bit of a walk from the malls but it is merely a few steps from this gem of a cake shop. We went on a Sunday morning but it’s starting to get packed as early as 10:30 AM, merely half an hour from opening.
Strawberry Mille Crepe for dessert after breakfast.
This is actually layers upon layers of very thin crepe with light strawberry cream in between. The sweetness and tartness are so balanced and the cake so light that I think I can actually finish three slices in one sitting had shamelessness ruled me over.
Some say that one visit to Malacca is enough, well I think it’s worth another because this little town has charmed me into coming back. Alone or otherwise. 😉