Malacca : History. Diversity. Gastronomy. (Part 2/2)October 20, 2011 | 7,454 views
*For the first half of this series, jump to THIS post.
And he means business. Continuously dishing out plate after plate of his signature Mee Kahwin (literally translated to “Marriage Noodles”); a combination at times also known as ‘Mee Rojak’ elsewhere.
The onslaught of eating throughout the previous day got us reeling from the after effect; bloated, tired yet satiated. And brushed with not the slightest hint of regret. But of course, the post-holiday effects got me staying away from sinful stuff for days.
We could have gone for Chung Wah chicken rice balls, since we were up pretty early (okay, it was already about 10am, but still good enough for a Sunday brunch) and the tremendously famous shop on Jonker Street was still pretty vacant.
Instead, defying all odds … or rather, expectations, we ventured over to this almost non-descriptive coffee shop named Ming Huat on Jalan Ujong Pasir; directly opposite of Portuguese Settlement’s entrance. Interested to know where else we went on the second day? Read on …..
She must be really REALLY concentrated in her task; passionately chopping up the roast chicken for the eager customers. No, I don’t think she serves chicken rice BALLS.
Ming Huat has been around for ages; slightly more than half a century. And this place DOES have its steady stream of support; judging from the voracious breakfast crowd that Sunday morning.
We were there for two purposes; the Mee Kahwin and the Epok-epok. Both of these sounded alien to you? Don’t worry. I was puzzled too, though I had a rough idea of what the former was before visiting Ming Huat.
This stall started operating about 10-10.30am, and oh boy …. the people were circling this stall even BEFORE they finished setting up! They sell nasi lemak and ketupat, though no epok-epok in sight.
Mee Kahwin is a clever matrimony of Indian style of mee rebus (usually yellow noodles blanched and served in a sweet and spicy starchy gravy with potatoes, bean sprouts and green chillies), and Indian rojak (for a clearer picture, read this post). I have tried this version of ‘fusion’ noodles at Teluk Intan (the Mastan Ghani branches) and on Jalan Tunku Abdul Rahman at this charming kopitiam named Capital, which is also popular for their nasi padang (Indonesian style of rice served with a myriad of dishes; usually consisting of dry and spicy dishes, with an extensive selection of curries).
Mee Kahwin @ Ming Huat Restaurant – Beancurd and potatoes, with a piece or two of “cucur udang” (prawn fritters … or wait, it could be “cucur bawang” or onion fritters) cut into bite-sized pieces, piquant green chillies and bean sprouts. The gravy was an amalgamation of flavours; sweet, spicy and savoury. Though I was not enticed by the overly heavy alkaline taste of the yellow noodles.
Nasi Lemak Biasa (RM2.00/USD0.60) – Coconut milk-infused fragrant rice served with a handful of crispy anchovies fried with spices, a beautiful piece of fried egg (more like a ‘telur dadar’), blanched water convolvulus (kangkung) that lent a pleasant sweetness and balance to the dish, and the irresistible sambal (cili paste) that was almost too good; slight bitter tinge with a sweetish base and a tingling torch to the roof of the mouth.
The first customer was a Chinese uncle; buying at least 10 packets (!), and the rest of the customers (mostly locals, from my POV) were eagerly lapping up packets after packets of nasi lemak or ketupat. They serve their homemade ketupat (the rice dumplings, wrapped in a criss-cross pattern weaved from coconut palm leaves) with a ‘kerisik’ like condiment. “Kerisik” is made from grated coconut flesh that was dried, toasted and then grounded.
The breakfast experience was supposed to be a quickie.
After all, I had another TWO places on my list for breakfast that morning. Yeah, blame it on the micro-managing gene.
But then again, how could we have rushed our first meal that Sunday morning? When the tranquil atmosphere; broken only by small talks between elderly men in their late 50’s, of locals slowly sipping up their Aik Cheong (presumably) coffee to perk up their day with, of people from all races seated diagonally opposite of each other; acknowledging each other’s presence without a single nod yet sharing the same passion for Mee Kahwin and Nasi Lemak for breakfast?
We took our time. Our sweet time to savour every slurp of the noodles, and every spoonful of the rice.
And no, you don’t even need to pay when you’re served. This is not the city.
Juat Lye Kedai Kopi – A short drive away from Melaka town; and a heave of relief I know, from the congested one-way traffics and tourist haunts. Here, you find authentic brew of Aik Cheong coffee, the famous Malaccan brand. Kopi kaw (or thickened coffee/double shots) can be served with or without condensed milk. Best is, go for the ‘cham’ otherwise known as ‘yin yong’ in some places. A mixture of coffee, tea and condensed mil k. Let’s not forget the perfect complement to a cup of coffee; toasted Hainanese bread with kaya and butter.
The second stop for breakfast was skipped since we were running short of time. It was supposed to be the Malacca’s version of wan tan mee; the twist comes in the form of vinegared chili sauce and lard fritters. Maybe the next round then.
But I’ll not dismiss the fact that my craving for the usual caffeine fix kicked off almost immediately after breakfast. It’s a bad habit, I know.
But who’s saying coffee’s bad?
Juat Lye coffee shop is slightly off the map; about 8 or so kilometres from town. But then again, the journey was completely endurable. The coffee shop sells curry noodles and a local version of fish ball/fish cake noodles named Hee Kiaw too. But we opted for coffee and toasts instead.
Nothing like what I had imagined; which was a hole-in-the-wall establishment with marble tables and mirrored walls or steel mesh high above the ceiling for ventilation, Juat Lye was just like any other coffee shop in your neighbourhood. A modernized version in the middle of nowhere in Taman Peringgit Jaya. Really. The light industrial aura was there, albeit most shops were closed on Sunday morning. Or they could be permanently, I don’t know.
But they sure make good toasts and a damn fabulous cup of ‘cham’.
Apom Durian @ Baba Charlie’s – The brownish tint had to come from gula melaka (brown, palm sugar), right? A whiff of pungency hit the nostrils almost immediately after the first bite. Even before the first bite.
Remember during the last trip, we missed Baba Charlie’s? It was a bummer alright, when they chose to close for the festivities. But adamant little Motormouth made a vow. Almost 2 years later, there we were …. in the backyard of their home; passing by the open kitchen and on to the wide selection of Nyonya kueh (sweet and savoury Nyonya cakes) on display; all beckoning for us to break the principle of moderation.
It took us considerable effort NOT to pick more than we could chew. But how do you resist when there were easily more than 20 types of Nyonya kueh available?!
Ondeh-ondeh; glutinous rice flour balls dyed with a beautiful jade green colour from the pandan (screwpine leaf) juice, filled with a caramel-like sauce made from gula melaka then rolled with freshly grated coconut and topped with a sprinkle of sesame seeds.
Grab a basket and go crazy. Literally.
Nyonya kueh; see how many can you name from the picture above?
Baba Charlie make some good pineapple tarts too. I still have a few pieces with me now, and I dare say these were much better than Madam Goh’s, or even LW’s. Both of them are famous brands scattered around Jonker Walk.
Admittedly, I did not find Baba Charlie Nyonya Cake (www) being impressive. Don’t get me wrong. Yes, the array of Nyonya kueh sold are astounding. Colourful creations, with almost every single type of Nyonya kueh imaginable available.
After all, they are the most famous name in Malacca. And they sell in various night markets too; a clever marketing ploy.
Yet, the Apom Durian lacked in flavour and texture, even when compared to Nancy’s Kitchen‘s. The rempah udang is one of their best sellers, and yes it was delicious. Yet, not exceptional. The same goes for the other varieties too. The most glaring disappointment came from the curry puffs though, to my surprise.
Possibly a case of setting my expectations too high?
Just beside the famous Bunga Raya lane lined with stalls serving almost the same fest, Goong Hoh is the dilapidated coffee shop with unquestionably warm reception. Come during lunch hours and see for yourself.
Thanks to a colleague who were just there a few weeks ago, and no doubt gratitude’s in order to her Malaccan friend for recommending this place.
A place where the locals would go for their ‘char siew fan’ (BBQ pork with rice) fix on Jalan Bunga Raya.
I did the first stall on the lane way back in 2008. Eating in front of the stall itself, with flying chopped barbecued meat all over our faces.
Okay, maybe not.
Caramelized pork roasted over charcoal fire, then served with a sticky sweet sauce that was a fine complement to the white rice (no, they don’t serve oil rice here, I believe). Copious amount of char siew gravy can be requested if there’s a need. This plate of individualized portion also included a few cuts of roasted pork (strangely, sans the crispy skin) and pieces of egg omelette (!). All for RM4.50/USD1.50 only!
And this extra request for a small plate of sambal with cili padi (bird’s eye chillies), caramelized shallots and dried shrimps was the brightest idea ever. Just too good for words, you can have this condiment with your rice, the roasted meats, or the fried fish from the same stall.
The faded signboard said Goong Hoh. Or Gong How. Or Kong Hou.
Just look for the shop with a red signboard adjacent to the lane named Medan Selera Bunga Raya or something. And come early before they run out of food. They have been up and running for 42 years. So is it any wonder that they’re still luring in the crowd?
A Record Shop on Jalan Bunga Raya. Wait, do we still have this in KL or even Ipoh?
That particular lunch ended our 2 days short getaway to Malacca. If you’re wondering did we do anything aside from eating and sleeping?
Yeah. We drove. Strolled. Snapped photographs. And erm ….. jostled with the crowd on Jonker Walk. But we gave most tourists spots a miss.
If you’re wondering why no cendol with gula melaka, chicken rice balls, Nadeje mille crepe cakes, satay celup or even satay babi?!
Both the Malacca 2008 and 2009 series covered everything that a first-timer to Malacca should have eaten. And maybe more. Thus, it’s always a challenge to hunt for something different; entirely out of the spectrum yet worthy of a visit if you find no fun in eating chicken rice balls for the umpteenth time.
“Goodbye Malacca. For now.“
MING HUAT RESTAURANT (Mee Kahwin, Nasi Lemak)
Opposite of entrance to Portuguese Settlement,
Jalan Ujong Pasir, Melaka.
Business hours : 9.30am – 3pm.
Closed on Fridays.
JUAT LYE COFFEE SHOP (Coffee, Toasts, Curry Laksa)
371G, Taman Peringgit Jaya,
Business Hours : 7.30am – 2pm
BABA CHARLIE NYONYA KUEH
72, Lorong Pantai Tengkera 2C,
Off Jln Tengkera,
Tel No : +6019-666 2907
Business Hours : Daytime only, except Thursdays
GOONG HOH CHAR SIEW & ROAST PORK RICE
70, Jalan Bunga Raya,
Business Hours : Lunch only.