There is plenty to eat in Melaka, especially cuisine that takes inspiration from its rich heritage and history.
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Melaka is reopening as a tourism bubble on 1st October, so antsy Malaysians can finally quench their travel lust! What better way to get back our travel legs, so to speak, than a trip to makan angin and makan sedap!
Melaka food is special due to its foreign influences, including the Portuguese, resulting in delectable specialties that they do best. Here are some Melaka specialties you should look out for:
1. Nyonya/Peranankan Food
If you’ve never had authentic nyonya food, we don’t blame you. It’s hard to find and harder to cook.
Melaka, having its colonial heritage and blend of cultures, enjoys a good number of restaurants that do offer delicious and authentic nyonya food.
Try fantastic delights such as pie tee, crispy cups topped with spicy salad; ayam pong teh, a savoury-sweet chicken dish with fermented soy beans and gula Melaka; and nyonya laksa, which is richer and creamier with a different flavour profile than our usual curry laksa.
2. Satay Celup
You can’t go two minutes into a conversation about Melaka food without bringing up satay celup.
If you’re unfamiliar, the concept marries satay and hotpot together. The bold may even claim that satay celup is basically lok lok in satay sauce.
The satay celup ingredients aren’t anything like the chargrilled meat on sticks we know. Rather, all satay celup ingredients are cooked in boiling satay sauce in a deep, narrow pot in the middle of the table.
The variety of ingredients is plentiful, though most common is seafood like sotong and prawns or local vegetables such as kangkung. Just pick your favourite sticks and dip away!
(There has been some concerns about hygiene as some restaurants reuse the same satay sauce for different tables, so either make sure you’re the first round of patrons seated or ask for new satay sauce before you eat!)
Melaka, being a port town, will certainly have plenty of delicious seafood to eat.
In fact, you can get anything you want from piles of freshly boiled cockles to fragrant Portuguese-style grilled fish wrapped in banana leaves.
The seafood here is abundant, and comes prepared in all sorts of ways: to be served with rice, dug into with your bare hands, or eaten as is grilled or fried. Eat your fill of seafood at fancy restaurants with a gorgeous view of the Melaka straits, or enjoy a more humble meal at a simpler eatery.
However and whatever you eat, be prepared to walk away sea-riously satisfied.
4. Portuguese Egg Tart
This delectable treat is super binge-worthy and quite different from the flaky-style egg tarts more common in the Klang Valley.
Melaka’s Portuguese egg tarts follow real Portugese recipes featuring a crispier crust, jiggly custard center, and the most recognizable blistered top layer.
There are plenty of bakeries selling them near the town center, often in nice boxes for you buy back as perfect gifts for your friends and family who missed out on visiting Melaka.
5. NOT Chicken Rice Balls
When I learned that Melaka was also famous for something called “chicken rice balls”, I was shamelessly excited as both a chicken rice lover and a Japanese onigiri lover. I wasn’t particularly sure what to expect, but with the way the dish was hyped up, I was expecting something for sure.
Perhaps that expectation was my downfall after all, because all I could taste was metaphorical bitterness when I learned that Melaka chicken rice balls are called exactly what they are: chicken rice, but the rice is rolled into ping-pong sized balls.
If you break the balls down and fluff them up a little, it will be a regular plate of chicken rice.
That’s not to say that it was bad. Flavour- and taste-wise, the chicken rice balls were quite delicious. In fact, I do admit that having the rice rolled into balls lent a kind of new texture to the dish: with the rice packed a little neater, it lent a bit more bite to the rice that goes with soft, tender chicken.
Still, don’t come in with expectations of a brand new fusion dish to knock your socks off; instead, just enjoy the chicken rice balls as you would enjoy a plate of humble chicken rice.
Of course, if you’re looking to fill up your travel itenerary with more than just food, try checking out these 5 awesome things to do in Melaka when it reopens!
Anne is an advocate of sustainable living and the circular economy, and has managed to mum-nag the team into using reusable containers to tapau food. She is also a proud parent of 4 cats and 1 rabbit.