Makanan in Melaka 2011 – a Delightful Sampling
Alas the trip to Melaka was only a 2-day-1-night affair. With such a short time to make do with, I had to make the best out of it! Melaka, like Penang and Singapore are strongholds along the Straits of Malacca and thus custodians of the Peranakan culture. Melaka, having a longer developing history and slightly more leisurely set pace of life possibly mean that Straits Chinese heritage is much better preserved over there than here in Singapore, making it the ideal place to immerse oneself in the nyonya baba culture. And what better way to start with than food!
Restoran Nyonya Nancy’s Kitchen, located along Jalan Hang Lekir between Jln Hang Jebat aka Jonker Street and Jalan Tun Tan Cheng Lock aka Heeren Street was highly recommended by a friend prior to the trip. We didnt take eat a proper meal here, but merely sampled their nyonya kuihs!
Pulut inti, glutinous rice steamed in cococnut milk and drizzled with the sap from the petals of bunga telang. The “topping” is grated coconut cooked in gula melaka palm sugar. The glutinous rice was very aromatic from fresh coconut milk with a slight hint of unami from the salt added. Grated coconut was delightfully moist and full of flavour, been cooked in gula melaka.
Ondeh Ondeh, served traditionally in little daun pandan baskets. Glutinous rice balls filled with melted gula melaka and “dusted” with steamed grated coconut. I absolutely love the “phishing” as the each ball yield and burst under the pressure between the tongue and the palate, releasing all the sugary sensation! Food orgasm at its best!
Rempah udang, toasted glutinous rice dumplings with a shrimp filling and wrapped with banana leaf, made famous by the drama series, Little Nonya. Another favorite of mine, as I simply adore the complexity of flavours in the sweet and savory rempah filling, with ground coriander seeds, candied winter melon strips etc.
Nyonya Apom Balik, pancakes made with gula melaka and coconut milk. A truely peranakan delight! The pairing of coconut milk and gula melaka is a match made in heaven!
An assortment of Kuih Angku, with mung bean and peanut filling. The weakest link of the lot IMHO but still much better than a lot of what we have over in Singapore. The skin was very soft and tender, but they were somewhat overshadowed by the others.
As you can see, it is already quite a spread with just the kuih muih alone! Not to mentioned some others not in the photos, like seri muka which were quickly gobbled even before a proper shot could be documented. :(
Next off was Jonker 88. What’s a trip to Melaka without a cendol and laksa fix!
They serve a HUGE variety of laksas here, from curry-base, to lemak-base, to asam-base. Accustomed to eating very lemak-based laksa over here in Singapore, I was eager to try the asam-based Penang laksa. Not sure if its really authentic, but the intermingling spicy and tangy soup base was ultimate “shiokness”!!! I finished the whole bowl all by myself, only short of licking the bowl clean!
They also serve non-laksa dishes, like this noodle dish which resembled some kinda yong tau foo with yellow noodles. Looks quite drab but actually quite sedap! But I liked the laksa better!
And for some authentic Melakan cendol! check out the santan and gula melaka!!! Awesome to the max!
The ingredients were deceivingly sparse and simple with only kidney beans and slithering cendol “worms” but the whole concoction worked sooooooo well, that I had to “re-enact” the “shiokness” back at home! With premium gula melaka from Melaka of course!
Variations of the same theme… Ais Kachang, with lots of rose syrup, gula melaka and jackfruit strips!
To find good food, follow where the locals eat! Steering clear of all the touristy joints, we landed ourselves at this Food Court roughly north of the Chinatown area. And it is this foodstall which we came specifically to patronise. Looking at the crowd gathering in front of the stall when we arrived, we knew our decision was correct!
Is this authentic Peranakan cuisine? Strictly speaking no. But we were told that the lady boss in the photo above is a true-blue Nyonya (and so was her apron incidentally!). So I’m pretty sure she would have introduced elements of Straits Chinese cooking into her food, and sure enough, she did!
And are these her stalll helpers?! Hell no! They are dining customers! This stall runs on a “buffet” style kinda system where you literally pick what you wanna eat. So one gets to choose what to eat and how much to eat!
What a sight to behold, as a large crowd of folks hurdled around a small foodstall cramped to the max, elbow to elbow, picking their personal favorites. Judging by how high some of the piles were piled, the food must be good or the folks were damn hungry! I’m hoping it to be the former!
“Popular” dishes get snapped up really quickly, bearing minutes after they were placed alongside the hoard of food, some metal trays empty even before one could deliberate on what to eat. No time for procrastination at all! And with such a spread, one is literally spoilt for choices!
Everything is DIY here, from plating of rice, selection of dishes to ladling of gravy!
This is the modest spread we had that day… not even a quarter of what was offered by the stall! I would definitely run back to try out more next time I’m in Melaka!
Ayam Goreng Berempah, one of their signature dishes and absolute must-trys. The chicken were very heavily spiced, just the way I like ’em with a real crisp exterior while still reasonably moist within.
Fried egg which tasted quite like Egg Foo Yong, with the mix of vegetables embedded within. Very delicious homecooked food!
Sotong Katak Gerang Asam. Really succulent bits of cuttlefish with very spicy and sour sauce from the liberal use of tamarind juice. I could finish up the sauce with just a bowl of rice alone!
Sotong Sambal Goreng. The baby squid though thoroughly infused with flavour, remained completely tender! A culinary mystery indeed! the sambal belachan sauce is very shiok!
Ikan Goreng with just a blended chilli with limau katsuri (lime) concoction. Good food in premodial mode. Simplicity at its best!
Rendang Daging… very very lemak! Sedap nia! The beef was really soft and tender to the bite, fibres disintgerating instantly in the mouth. The kuah alone warrants an extra bowl of rice!
The last dish is complimentary from the lady boss, Sambal Bendi which was fresh from the kitchen as I quickly took shots for the other dishes. Prima facie, I’d thought the dressing to be the same as the ikan goreng but no! The concoction used for the okra was much much more intricate and complex, with a somewhat herby ulam-like aftertaste. Was it daun limau purut? Or was it bunga kantan? Or was it daun kesom? Only one way to find out!
A majority of the dishes ordered were predominantly hot but monotony is hardly a word we can use here. They portrayed different shades and levels of spiciness and taste, whose intricacies and idiosyncracies were quite amazing. Similar and yet holding such distinct flavour profiles on their very own. The work of a true Nyonya indeed!
It was a very short 2 day-1-night getaway. No I didn’t try the chicken rice balls along Jonker Street, and no, we didnt brave ourselves up Bukit Cina to try the famous Satay Celup. But the makana in melaka was very very rewarding indeed. And all the better as it meant that I would definitely be back for more!
Restoran Nancy’s Kitchen
No. 7, Jln Hang Lekir, 75200 Melaka
No. 88, Jalan Hang Jebat (Jonker Street), 75200 Melaka
Nasi Lemak Ayam Goreng Panas Panas!
Gerai Makanan 1, Wang Food Court, Jalan Tun Sri Lanang, 75100 Malacca
Melaka Getaway Dec 2011
On the Trail of the Phoenix – Pengat Durian
On the Trail of the Phoenix – Sambal Jantung Pisang
On the Trail of the Phoenix – Sambal Udang Belimbing
On the Trail of the Phoenix – Ikan Gerang Asam
On the Trail of the Phoenix – Nyonya porcelain ware @ the Peranakan Museum
On the Trail of the Phoenix – Babi Pongteh