Top 17 Foods to Try in Melaka
Malacca city is the capital of the state of Malacca, on the west coast of peninsular Malaysia. With a rich historical and cultural background from previous Portuguese, Dutch and British rule, visiting this place gives you a unique experience. The city centre was listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site in July 2008, along with Georgetown in Penang.
I am an avid traveler and Melaka is one of my favorite places on earth. Besides its popular historical attractions, friendly and hospitable people and cheap and cozy hotels I just adore the local food. I am a picky eater. Food is something saint for me. I can skip my night sleep or an important appointment, but I will never, never skip my meal!
First of all my food must have an accurate and attractive plating; then the taste should be delicious and memorable; so memorable that I would want to return to that place over and over again for another food hunt. So here’s my summarized list of the top 17 food to eat in Melaka. I feel these dishes represent Melaka as a whole as there are a wide variety of Chinese, Malay and Nyonya (a combination of Chinese and Malay culture) styles of cooking. This gives you an overall taste of the best Melaka has to offer.
This is a dish of Chinese origin, and is most commonly associated with Hainanese, Malaysian and Singaporean cuisines. As I wrote earlier I like to eat. And chicken is one of my favorite ingredients. Here in Melaka, you’ll find something that is not commonly available in other parts of Malaysia, the chicken rice ball. The rice is first boiled in chicken soup with other seasonings. When cooked, it is rolled in a ball that gives the unique look and texture. You must try the Chung Wah’s one. Little chicken rice balls are very yummy, and the chicken is very tender!
Some prefer flavorful, well roasted but soft lean pork meat. Others are mad about fatty meat with crispy, sweet flavors. But most people like the delicious sweet and savory gravy that is poured over the char siew slices and hot rice. You can find any type of Char Siew Rice you desire. Melaka is full of various cooking styles. I enjoyed the Char Siew Rice served at Boon Leong Food Court(popularly known as Bunga Raya Food Court). Their Char Siew sauce is thicker and tastes nicer.
This is a fragrant rice dish cooked in coconut milk and “pandan” leaf commonly found in Malaysia. Nasi lemak is not only popular in Melaka, it is also considered as one of the national dishes. This street food is best served with the banana leaf as the aroma enhances the taste.
You can easily find good-tasting nasi lemak in Melaka. The one that I tried at New Wang Food Court had fluffy and fragrant rice and the side dishes were very good. The owner named the stall as “Nasi Lemak” so what do you think the signature dish is:?
The laksa is pungent, rich and well flavored from the spices and chilies. The aroma is super tempting. Once you put it into your mouth, I don’t know how to describe the taste; the food melts and takes you into heaven. For the uninitiated, there is a difference between Nyonya laksa and curry laksa. Nyonya laksa broth is prepared using chicken and prawns, while curry laksa uses chicken stock. The red-orange dotted oil on top of the Nyonya laksa comes from the prawns, which gives the curry a richer and sweeter taste.
Tengkera Duck Noodle Restaurant is known for the Malacca-style Duck Noodles and I had a choice of soup or dry noodles. The latter is tossed in thick gravy and topped with shredded duck meat. This comes with small bowl of soup. The soup version is also decent – it really depends on whether you’re a soup or dry noodles person.
Soon Yen, some locals call it ‘under the big tree’ food court, along Jalan Tengkera offers delicious duck noodles too.
The main ingredients of this dish is fish/seafood, ladyfinger, eggplant, long green bean and tomato. This dish is cooked in asam (tamarind) juice with chili and different spices. The cooking process involves soaking the pulp of the tamarind fruit until it is soft and then squeezing out the juice for cooking the fish/seafood. This is the signature dish of the state. A very hot and mild sour fish curry making it very appetizing and is best to go with white rice. I normally eat it during lunch and dinner.
Sambal is a condiment that has a chili-based sauce. Typically made from a variety of chili peppers, it is sometimes a substitute for fresh chilies and can be extremely spicy for the uninitiated. Secondary ingredients of sambals often include shrimp paste and/or fish sauce, garlic, ginger, or shallots/green onions, sugar, lime juice, and rice vinegar or other vinegars. Some ready-made sambals are available at exotic food markets or gourmet departments in supermarkets.
Some of the sambal foods that are so irresistible include sambal sotong, sambal ikan bilis, sambal kangkong and sambal chicken. The above-mentioned Nyonya restaurants are 4 of my favorite places whenever I want to get the authentic sambal taste. Yummy!!
This is a dish where an assortment of raw and semi-cooked seafood, meat (including raw meat) and vegetables on skewers are dunked into a hot boiling pot of satay gravy. The best Satay Celup is at Capitol Satay. The long queue may turn you off and some may not like the taste but for me, it is nice and worth to wait. Don’t let the outlook of the restaurant disgust you as it is an old restaurant. Let’s just say they don’t have the need to renovate it as it is already insanely popular.
If you are tired of standing and waiting for 1-2 hours just to find a seat, you can get an alternative at McQuek’s Satay Celup.
Tandoori chicken is a popular Indian dish consisting of roasted chicken prepared with yogurt and spices. The name comes from the type of cylindrical clay oven, tandoor, in which the dish is traditionally prepared. Two of the good places to eat the best tandoori is Pak Putra Tandoori Naan and Restaurant D’ Tandoori House. Their tandoori is so tender and I highly recommend it! The naan, a leavened, oven-baked flatbread, boasts a smoky flavor from the tandoori with slightly charred edges. Very tasty, especially when eaten with the tender, flavorful chicken.
Satay or sate is a dish of seasoned, skewered and grilled meat, served with a sauce. Satay may consist of diced or sliced chicken, goat, mutton, beef, pork, fish, other meats, or tofu; the more authentic version uses skewers from the midrib of the coconut palm frond, although bamboo skewers are often used. These are grilled or barbecued over a wood or charcoal fire, then served with various spicy seasonings. Good consistency on the peanut sauce and the taste is just right without being overly sweet.
I like the satay taste at Sun May Hiong Satay House as the sour-sweet-spicy sauce is just the right accompaniment to the meat.
Oh yeah, it’s called “fried oyster omelet” too – due to the big amount of eggs. Oysters are fresh and although not big in size, the generous amount makes up for it. As for myself, I got to say that I enjoyed eating it. The eggs are simply delicious, and I actually care about the oysters – I just loved them. Fried oysters can be found in some Melaka food courts and the one that I like most is at the stall in Bunga Raya Food Court.
Also known as top hats, Pai Tee is a crunchy flour cup filled with julienned vegetables, omelet and fried shallots. These tiny treats went very well with the chili sauce provided. Simply pop it into your mouth and enjoy its crunchiness. The ‘hats’ were quite small – I could have polished all 5 pieces easily. Nancy’s Kitchen is the place that amazed me with these little yummy things.
Nyonya Kuih (kuih is a term for Malay cakes) are bite-sized dessert that are colorful and popularly taken as a snack. Some are steamed, some grilled but most are sweet. My favorite Nyonya Kuih is Ondeh-ondeh (or onde-onde). It is either made from sweet potato or glutinous rice flour. The cute little ondeh-ondeh are infused with pandan (screwpine leaf) juice and filled with Gula Melaka (local sugar) or palm sugar and then rolled in with some fresh grated coconut. The palm sugar that’s in it literally bursts in your mouth when you take a bite. This warm dessert oozes into your mouth. Just ignore the diet and start a day with these sweet and delicious little yummy things.
I just love the authentic taste of Nyonya Kuih at Nancy’s Kitchen. For takeaway, drive over to Baba Charlie Nyonya Cakes located in a residential area which is frequented by locals and widely reported on media.
This is a traditional dessert made from shaved ice, coconut milk, green starched noodles with pandan flavoring and palm sugar. Other ingredients such as red beans, glutinous rice, grass jelly, creamed corn, might also be included. Each spoonful leaves behind a lingering sweetness and a creamy aftertaste from the fresh coconut milk. You should try it at Jonker 88!
Mille crêpe is a French cake made of many crêpe layers. The word mille means “a thousand”, implying the many layers of crêpe. Go into Nadeje, but don’t expect to see a 1000-layer cake. You won’t find any. Here’s what to expect — about twenty lacy crêpes layered with fresh cream and custard.
The top crepe is usually sprinkled with sugar and flambéed until the surface caramelises. The cream was delicate yet firm enough, and the cake didn’t collapse at the plunge of a fork. The crepes were thin and crisp at the sides, and digging into the cake was like shovelling through snow. Light and luscious, each bite yielded a smoky sugar coat with refined layers of crepe and cream. Sounds yummy to you – go and try it!
This is a Fujian/Chaozhou-style fresh spring roll. The popiah is one of the better ones in Melaka, where the egg wrap is generously filled with ingredients, sweet sauce and piquant chili sauce. Good stuff! The egg-skin wrap was of just the right thickness and held the popiah together nicely. Moist, generously filled and full of oomph from the chili sauce – what’s not to like? Baba Low and Nancy’s Kitchen is the right place for this authentic delicates.
One of my readers suggest to review and include the coconut milkshake at Klebang in the list of best Melaka food. I personally went to the place and ordered one with ice cream. The recipe looks simple. It is a concoction of coconut water, flesh, ice cube and vanilla ice cream blended together in a mixer.
The resulting taste turned out to be exceptionally good! The natural sweet and creamy aftertaste with smoothie-like texture are soooo refreshing that one serving is not enough for me. I heard people love to drink this even on the rainy days. So imagine what would happen during the sweltering days…a very long queue!
These are my top 17 foods in Melaka. Some will make you laugh, some will make you cry, but all will make you hungry for more innovative meal hunts.
Read the dish name and try to remember if you ate it, with whom, where and when. I am sure you will have plenty of memories. Some may be sad, other happy, but all as a part of your life. In case you didn’t had a chance to try some of my favorite Melaka cuisines, just go for it.
Do you have any recommended places to try out these Melaka cuisines? Tell us by leaving your comment below and we’ll send our foodies to try them out and get the possibility to be featured on this page.
On the other hand, your tastes differ from mine. If you think I miss out some of the food that deserves to be included in this list, please leave a comment below and tell me which food and why that you will definitely try whenever you visit Melaka.