Whenever I am overseas, I love visiting the traditional “wet markets” which the locals go to for their groceries and daily produce. It provides a real glimpse of what the locals eat and the cuisines that develop as a result. During one of my recent visits to Melaka, I was brought to the Pasar Pulau Sebang morning market located at the heart of Tampin by a friend who guaranteed that I would love love love this place. And boy was she right!
Unknown to most tourists who only know Jonker Walk as a shopping district with a weekend night market, this area located on the northern banks of Malacca River is commonly known to the locals as “Melaka’s Chinatown”. Flanked by Heeren Street and Harmony Street on its sides, there are many old surname clans and locality associations, i.e. the Hokkiens from Eng Choon 永春, the Hakkas from Fui Chiew 惠州, and the Cantonese from Kong Chew 冈州 and SamSui 三水 found here, just to name a few. These clans and associations once helped their fellow kinsmen who either bore the same surname, or came from the same hometowns back in China before migrating to this region is search of better livelihoods, in numerous ways, including finding lodging and jobs, writing letters to the families back in Mainland China, providing a venue for folks whose families are not here with them to get together during celebratory activities and festivities, and of course to as simple as finding someone who could speak their same colloquial tongue to talk to, exchange news and gossips with, just to ease those moments of homesickness.
Over time, many Chinese eateries and small delis also sprung up around these clans, selling foods which the folks were familiar with, like hailam kopitiams near the Hainan Association, and of course 榮茂茶室 Low Yong Moh Dim Sum Restaurant along Jalan Tokong.
There are lots of interesting eating places in Melaka apart from those that serve Peranakan cuisine. Like the Chinese braised duck noodles and really good “hum jeen pheang” I had recently in Tengkera nearer to Limbongan, as well as uber fresh cockles and clams at Taman Merdeka Batu Berendam. While many of these require a bit of traveling away from Melaka Central and thus often out of the tourist radar, some of these places which have really good food are right smack in town just minutes away from the bustling shopping districts, like Sun May Hiong Satay House in Kota Laksamana, as well as Pak Putra which many purportedly serve the best naan and tandoori chicken in all Malaysia!
On our last day in Melaka, we were trying to make full use of our time yet making sure that we won’t be late for our coach ride back to Singapore. Then I remembered Sun May Hiong Satay House which my friend highly raved and recommended, that is just a stone’s throw away from the beautiful Casa del Rio Melaka we have been putting up at for the last couple of days. It seems like fate has it that satay should our last meal in Melaka for this trip! And a well deserving meal it was!
There are many new restaurants and cafes springing up all over Melaka each showcasing their own interpretation of Melakan Peranakan cuisine. For me, that is a heartening thing as it allows us to sample more of how each dish may have slight nuances and variations when they are cooked by different folks. In my last trip to Melaka, I brought some of my friends to my friend Ruby Song’s restaurant, “Nyonya Taste Cuisine” located at the end of Kota Laksamana, just a stone’s throw away from the Jonker Walk shopping district. We were in for a treat!
It is always exciting to be back in Melaka and even more so at Casa Del Rio. Tucked in an idyllic spot near to the mouth of Melaka River, the hotel offers the tranquility of luxurious lodging and hospitality complete with the the convenience of being so near to the heart of all the bustling sights and sounds this beautiful city has to offer. I’m so glad to be back here again, not just to stay and enjoy the comforts of its amenities but more importantly to sample the all new Ala Carte Dinner Menu just recently made available at Case Del Rio’s key restaurant, the River Grill.
Yes! I am back in Melaka again, barely a month since the last trip, only because there is still so much of this city that awaits to be explored and discovered. Despite the numerous trips I have made here over recent years, there is always something interesting, new and bizarre or old and nostalgic that continues to beckon me for a return to this beautiful city.
The only difference this time round is I am not travelling up alone but together with 4 other foodie-minded friends to experience what Malacca has to offer. The first stop upon getting off the coach is a welcome “tiffin lunch” set in the style of a Tok Panjang at the luxurious and idyllic Casa del Rio Melaka.