The historic state is also a food haven. Ewe Paik Leong samples some quirky versions of local dishes and snacks
1Mee Kahwin, Restoran Ming Huat, Jalan Ujung Pasir, Malacca
Parked outside Restoran Ming Huat, this mobile stall sells a mix of mee rebus and mamak rojak called mee kahwin. The ingredients comprise mee, bean sprouts, fried beancurd, prawn fritters, hard-boiled egg, cucumber slices, boiled potatoes chunks and green chilli slices.
Crispy, crunchy, chewy and soft sensations roll about my palate with every chomp, and this textural variety creates an exciting mouth-feel. The not too thick gravy tantalises my taste buds with spicy, sour, sweet and nutty flavours all at once. Opening hours: 10am to 2pm.
2Putu Piring 1Malaysia, Jalan Bukit Beruang, Kampung Bukit Beruang, Malacca
This popular stall stands near the Jalan Tok Ali-Jalan Bukit Beruang junction. Its owner Kak Rahimah and her workers don a stylish green uniform. Each putu piring (steamed palm sugar rice) costs only 60 sen. When my teeth sink into a piece, its soft and moist rice cake delivers a powdery texture that also hints of desiccated coconut. What follows is a burst of caramel-like flavour from the palm sugar. Opens daily from noon to 6pm. Closed on Monday.
3Bikini Ice-Cream, Bikini Toppings Cafe, Lorong Hang Jebat, Malacca
A picture of a woman in a bikini is painted on a pillar outside this cafe which sells coconut desserts such as ice-cream, milkshakes, jelly and juices. The menu is scrawled on a blackboard with coloured chalk. The cafe also offers snacks, including sandwiches, waffles and cookies.
My bikini ice cream can be summed up as “coconut, coconut, coconut”. Smooth coconut-flavoured ice cream, tender coconut jelly cubes and firm coconut flesh make up the ingredients that are served in a coconut shell, and they almost blow my mind away.
4Pineapple Sauce Satay, Sun May Hiong Satay House, Jalan Kota Laksamana 1/1, Taman Kota Laksamana, Malacca
This is a no-frill, fan-ventilated coffee shop that serves chicken, liver and intestine satay. Inside, a banner functions as its menu. I order intestine and liver satay that are served with cucumber slices and nasi impit (rice cubes).
The unusual textures of the intestine and liver jerk me upright in my seat, and I nod in approval. Then, I dip the satay in the gravy. The thick sauce, though nutty and extra tangy, fails to send me to cloud nine, only cloud five or six. Therefore, it affects the overall evaluation of the dish.
5Cheesy Prawn Mee Hoon, Restoran Tong Sheng, Jalan Taman Melaka Raya 6, Taman Melaka Raya, Malacca
A full-fledged Cantonese restaurant, Tong Sheng offers several interesting dishes such as Horlicks prawn balls, butter curry with scallops and otak-otak fried egg.
Cheese prawn mee hoon, one of its signature dishes, is available in size small, medium or large. My small bowl contains one big prawn cut in half. The soup looks watery and my first visual impression is that this is a simple to prepare dish. The mee hoon is ordinary fare and though the cheese flavour melds marvellously with the fresh prawn, the seasonings are a tad weak.
6Flavoured Tau Fu Fah, Q Bean, Medan Selera Pasar Borong, Jalan IKS M4, Taman IKS Merdeka, Malacca
Tau foo fah (soya bean curd) and soya milk need not be boring! At least at this stall as it offers tau foo fah and soya milk in a variety of flavours. Among them are corn, ginger, lemon, peanut, wheatgrass, carnation, black sesame, sea coconut and cendol.
I sample the wheatgrass tau foo fah and sea coconut soya milk. Great balls of fire! This stall owner knows a little sumpin sumpin to bring the humble tau foo fah and soya milk to a new exciting level of taste.
7Beef Bak Kut Teh, Restoran Lois, Jalan Permai 2, Taman Perkota, Malacca
This is possibly the only restaurant in the country that serves beef bak kut teh. Beef balls, tripe, vegetables and beancurd skin come in a claypot filled to the brim with dark soup from which drift curly beefy steam.
First slurp of the soup blows my jaw wide open from the ferocity of its pepper! There is no herbal flavour so it’s different from the Klang bak kut teh soup. The beef balls are dense, while the vegetables add bright fresh notes to this dish. What a pity that plain rice is served, not garlic rice as in Klang, making this dish lose marks.
8Calanthe Laksa, Calanthe Art Cafe, Jalan Hang Kasturi, Malacca
With innovative dishes such as coffee butter chicken, creamy curry butter chicken and claypot yee mee laksa on its menu, I dare say that the chef is bold and creative. However, the same cannot be said of whoever handled the cafe’s decor as the use of recycled old furniture and valueless bric-a-brac conveys a tacky ambiance. Curry laksa, self-styled as Calanthe laksa in the menu, is among its signature dishes. A spoonful of the curry smothers my taste buds with potent lashings of coconut milk, lemon grass and turmeric. Its depth of flavour cannot be any deeper, while the other ingredients are in the right proportions.
9BBQ Corn, Uncle Bing, Jalan Hang Jebat, Malacca
At this stall, I order BBQ corn with black pepper sauce. The hawker sticks a raw corn into a cylindrical hole in an electrified oven. Before I can say: “Bob’s your uncle”, the corn is taken out of the oven. Slightly burned, it is slathered with my chosen black pepper sauce. The BBQ corn reminds me of charcoal-grilled corn but the former is juicier, and the black pepper sauce is powerful enough to flavour a piece of sirlion steak. There are also other flavours available such as wasabi, curry, mixed and original.
10Carnation Milk Crab, Restoran Lee, Jalan Bendahara, Malacca
Though it specialises in crabs, this no-frill restaurant also offers other dishes such as vegetables, prawns, meat and noodles — all cooked in various styles. Live crabs in tanks assure me that my carnation milk crabs will be fresh. My order arrives with a plate of bread sticks. A bit watery, the gravy tastes sweetish sourish, while the crab offers glorious meaty bites. However, this dish is pricey. Opens from 4pm onwards.