Melaka, Malaysia



The recent tourism boom has seen many new food and beverage outlets open in Melaka, especially in the heritage areas of Jonker Street (Jalan Hang Jebat) and Heeren Street (Jalan Tun Tan Cheng Lock). However, competition is great and some outlets have difficulty surviving and the business eventually closed. Places you discover on your first visit may not be around anymore on your next visit. This should not disappoint as you will find plenty of eating options in Melaka and there are always new outlets sprouting out.

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Besides the usual Malaysian fare of Malay, Indian and Chinese foods, you'll be able to sample some foods peculiar to Melaka. On top of the list is the Peranakan or Baba-Nyonya dishes, a unique blend of Chinese cooking styles with a strong Malay influence and very spicy. Until recently Baba-Nyonya dishes were uncommercialized and confined to the kitchens of Peranakan households. Now, there are strings of restaurants in Melaka claiming to serve Peranakan dishes. Typical Baba-Nyonya dishes include "ayam pongteh" (chicken in bean sauce, originally cooked with pork) and "ayam buah keluak" (chicken cooked with a bitter fruit) and a whole array of traditional desserts.

Restaurant in Jonker Street

Restaurant in Jonker Street

Another Melakan speciality is "satay celup". It is like 'lok-lok' found in other parts of Malaysia but instead of dipping the skewered foods (fishballs, crabsticks, meat, prawns and etc) into boiling water, you dip them into a boiling vat of satay sauce. The sight of boiling satay sauce may not appeal to you but the crowds at the "satay celup" outlets have a different view.

A local Chinese dish considered a Melakan delicacy is the chicken rice ball, also known as Hainanese chicken rice. However, its origin is not from Hainan, China, but invented by Hainanese immigrants who settled here a long time ago. The chicken for this dish is very much the same as the boiled chicken prepared and served by the Chinese community throughout Malaysia. However, the uniqueness is the rice which comes in ping-pong sized balls.

Chicken rice ball in Melaka

Chicken rice ball restaurant

Melaka is also the home of the Portuguese-Eurasian community and along with it their cuisines. The dishes are a blend of Malay and Indian cooking, without any resemblance to Portuguese cooking. Fish features highly in the cuisines and like Baba-Nyonya dishes are spicy with a rich aromatic flavour. Favourites include "garing garing fretu" (fried whitebait), "kaemadu" (baked fish) and the fiery "el diablo curry" (devil's curry). The greatest concentration of outlets are at the Portuguese Settlement in Ujong Pasir.

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