|The breakfast area of Puri Hotel, which looks and feels exactly like the little gardens in Europe.|
PERANAKAN FOOD: KOCIK KITCHEN
Many friends/relatives who visited Melaka recently warned me that the Peranakan food there is very underwhelming. When I arrived, I was quite stunned to see Peranakan restaurants literally everywhere. It is just impossible to know which to go to. We settled with Kocik Kitchen as it's just a stone's throw away from our hotel and was highly-recommended by a friendly auntie working our hotel's front-desk.
|Just a small part of our spread.|
Many friends told me they were underwhelmed by the peranakan food they ate in Melaka but our meal at Kocik Kitchen did not disappoint. Especially their Gula Melaka desserts. Da bomb! How do I eat chendol after this? #strangerinmelaka #cendol #chendol #kocikkitchen #melaka #malacca #peranakan #peranakanfood #gulamelaka
CAFE: THE DAILY FIX CAFE
If anyone here is waiting eagerly for inspiration for a #cafehopping trip, I'm sorry, I can't even say I visited a cafe. We wanted to, but despite the rain, it proved to be an impossible wait for a seat at The Daily Fix Cafe. A group with a 8-month old and a fixed lunch reservation will struggle to wait an hour-and-a-half in unexpected weather. The beauty of the place and its incredible popularity convinced us to pack some drinks and cakes back to the hotel. We are looking forward to revisiting it already to finally try the Pandan Pancakes.
[First Impressions] The Daily Fix Cafe Even though it was the last Sunday of the year, we thought we could get lucky at this popular cafe as it was raining. Alas! There were 10 groups in the queue before us and even taking away the famous pandan pancakes would result in a half an hour wait. Rough luck then, but we managed to take away 3 cakes that were readily available in their display, as well as some drinks. Durian cake was really nice, brownie moist and satisfying too. Drinks were good, not great, the only let-down was the generic ice cream that came with the brownie. My brief encounter with the cafe convinced me that they have done most things right and deserve their success, hope to be able to taste their menu offerings proper next time. #thedailyfix #thedailyfixcafe #jonkerstreet #melaka #melakafoodies #melakacafehopping #cuppa #strangerinmelaka #strangerfirstimpressionmelaka
SEAFOOD: RESTORAN TONG SHENG
The most memorable part of this expedition was the queue. We waited 2.5 hours to get a table. If not for the comfortable cafe nearby which allowed the girls, the old and young to chill the wait away, I don't think we would have survived. The review of this restaurant did not come easy.
It's not that the food's not good. Dishes like cheese beehoon and cream crab are uber creative and didn't taste too shabby, but I really can't imagine waiting so long for them again.
If you are interested, I recommend you to try calling in to make a reservation days beforehand, it might save you a lot of time.
[First Impressions] Restoran Tong Sheng 東昇園海鮮家 Waited an incredible 2.5 hours with 3 generations of folks for this supposedly-must-eat restaurant. Honestly, the food was pretty good, especially the execution of the sweet and sour fried fish. The prawn beehoon and milk crab both presented unique tastes which I have not tasted elsewhere. Was it worth the wait though? Probably not. #melakafoodies #melaka #malacca #malaccafood #restorantongshen #cheeseprawnbeehoon #milkcrab #sweetandsourfish #strangerinmelaka #strangerfirstimpressionmelaka
NYONYA CAKES: BABA CHARLIE NYONYA CAKE
This place divides opinion, some say it's the best while others didn't want to take another bite after their first. Truth be told, I only ate 4 out of the huge assortment of nyonya snacks I bought, and hit the jackpot twice. The ondeh-ondeh and nyonya rice dumplings were both exquisite, but the layer cake was quite disappointing.
Then again, with its interesting setting, variety of cakes and convenient take-away model, I still recommend it as a perfect place to pack some Nyonya cake back before you leave Melaka.
[Nyonya Kueh in Melaka] Baba Charlie Nyonya Cake This is basically just a house that sells nyonya cake, but you can consider it your one-stop shop for all you nyonya cake cravings in Melaka. I recommend you go early as it's very popular and only opens till 3pm. I went just before lunch and many items seemed to be running low, though I don't know whether the trays will be refilled. I did not try all the cakes, so I can't tell you conclusively how good all the cakes were. I highly recommend the ondeh ondeh and nyonya rice dumplings, they are excellent. Didn't fancy the layer cakes so much as they were harder and drier than what I am used to. Everything felt more old-school than exquisite, which is actually a good thing. All in all, though, a must-visit I feel, to take some traditions of Melaka home at the end of your trip. #babacharlie #nyonyacake #nyonyakuih #strangerinmelaka #melakafoodies #melaka #malacca
SAVING THE BEST FOR LAST: TEO SOON LOONG RESTAURANT
This Teochew-cuisine institution that used to have only 4 tables is so famous that they now mostly only take reservations, so it's not a place where you can make a last-minute decision to dine at, even if you are ready to queue.
Lots of dishes hit the spot here, especially the hard-to-find stir-fried meesua and the seductively-herbal braised duck. The fried shrimp roll is also one of the best renditions of this common dish I had ever eaten.
[First Impressions] 潮顺隆餐馆 Teo Soon Loong Restaurant Someone told me this is the best restaurant in Melaka. They are so popular they usually do reservations only, with 2 seatings per meal. We booked our table during the 2nd seating for lunch at 1.30pm. While waiting for our table to be prepared, our order was taken and the food was served promptly upon seating. I loved a few dishes, especially the stirfried meesua and herbal braised duck. The fried shrimp roll too, was excellent, full of succulent, crunchy huge sea shrimp. What everyone orders is their fried noodles with oyster. Some of my companions liked it, I felt it was ok, fell a little short of my expectations as it was a little fishy and lacked wok hei. Our order of stir-fried bittergourd with eggs was wrongly written as the braised bittergourd with pork ribs, which happened to be their signature dish. I liked it very much. As this is a traditional teochew restaurant, we had to order their steamed fish. It was light, fresh and tangy. Best restaurant in Melaka? Maybe. It certainly didn't disappoint. #潮顺隆 #teosoonloongrestaurant #melakafoodies #strangerfirstimpressionmelaka #strangerinmelaka #teochewcuisine #teochew #teosoonloong
BONUS LOCATION: MAMEE JONKER HOUSE
This is for big boys like me, who might have grown up munching this crunchy noodle snack. This place evokes memories buried deep down inside and sells exclusive merchandise that are both happily-coloured and of good quality. Conveniently-located right on Jonker Street, you can't miss it.
|Mamee and #thekawayiis|
Melaka feels like a place doing its best to keep its charming identity, but is gradually overwhelmed by an increasing number of tourists over the years.
A lot of the food from the most popular places tasted good, but somehow I felt that given more focus and time, they would have done a much better job,which I assume they did many years ago. It felt more like enjoying potentially-excellent dishes than eating great food.
What I appreciated most is that the service staff in Melaka stand out as friendly and approachable even if most of them are drowning in their work, and that even though there are way too many visitors, most of the tourists are from Malaysia/Singapore, which thankfully keeps the local character of this little town.
Do make a trip there before even more undesirable changes happen. If I can do it with such a big group, you can too.
PS. You can easily access all this information on Facebook and Instagram using the hashtag #strangerinmelaka. I would love to hear from you if you do manage to visit some of these recommended locations.