Last March, I and RM once again traveled around Southeast Asia for about one month. Well, not exactly the whole Southeast Asia as we actually went to only three countries (Singapore, Malaysia, and Thailand) mainly for work, because we wanted to produce some artworks at two printmaking studios, one in Singapore and one in Bangkok. So, we thought why not making it a holiday trip as well since we were also planning to watch John Mayer’s concert in Bangkok anyway!
There were six cities that we visited: Singapore (of course, our first landing), Melaka, Kuala Lumpur, Hua Hin, Phetchaburi, and Bangkok. Of all six, I’ve never been to Melaka, Hua Hin, and Phetchaburi so it was exciting! For this post, I’d like to focus on Melaka as I was quite amazed with this city and would love to go back to find out the other side of it.
How to get there from Singapore
I and RM are a fan of slow travel, which means we tend to choose slower form of transport rather than simply flying. We don’t want to just visit every hotspot that people talk about but missing the experience of reaching the place just for the sake of arriving there as fast as we can. For that reason, we started the journey from Singapore.
Unlikely my previous Southeast Asia trip in 2016 in which I didn’t choose and buy all the transportation tickets to move from one city to another until one or two days before, this time I had booked almost all the tickets in advance, except for some tickets in Thailand because they didn’t provide online booking. We did this because we had one fixed schedule, which was John Mayer’s concert on April 3rd in Bangkok, so we didn’t want to ruin that for sure.
I arrived in Singapore on March 21 and went to Melaka on March 24 by bus. I traveled using Starmart Express bus (bought via 12go.asia) departed from Golden Mile Complex at 10.30 AM. It was 30 minutes late as the bus was supposed to depart on 10.00 AM. Nevertheless, Starmart Express was nice and spacious. Recommended!
The bus crossed the border from Singapore to Malaysia by the Second Link Expressway, Tuas Checkpoint. It was my first time crossing this checkpoint and the place was soooo empty! There were only a few people and most of them came from the bus I was using. Later I found out that it was an alternative route as the usual Woodlands checkpoint was always super packed.
The whole journey took around 4 hours so I arrived in Melaka Sentral at 2.30 PM. Since I wasn’t sure about the public transportation in Melaka, I decided to order GrabCar to my hotel that was located near Jonker Street, the main tourist attraction.
Food is where the heart is
I think most people will agree when I say that the easiest way to experience a culture is through its food, therefore I and RM really immersed ourselves in by trying a lot of food offered here. A lot, really.
RM watches so many YouTube videos every day and he follows some travel vloggers. One of them is Mark Wiens, a Bangkok-based travel writer, journalist, and street food connoisseur. The reason why I ended up visiting Melaka was because of, among others, Mark Wiens’ videos trying some food in this city. I admit that the way he explains all the food he’s tried looks very convincing, appealing, and details, it makes me drool.
So there I was, in Melaka, staying within-walking-distance-but-not-really close-to-hear-the-hustle-and-bustle of the most populated and crowded area that never sleeps: Jonker Street. I stayed for three days and two nights and managed to check so many food on the must-try list around Jonker Street. Some were awesome, some were so-so, but all in all it was a great experience.
Want to try? Here’s the list!
Jonker Street Night Market
Jalan Hang Jebat, 75200 Melaka, Malaysia
Opens from 6 pm till very, very late
If you don’t stay long enough to wander around Melaka, look no further than Jonker Street. The street is rather empty and wide in the morning and afternoon. People just wander around to eat at a restaurant or cafe, or to enjoy the beautiful old buildings. But when the dusk comes, the street turns into a super crowded and incredible night market, offering a wide array of local and international cuisine and a lot of interesting knick-knacks!
The most memorable food I ate here was Taste Better’s durian puff. The pastry is so soft and the chilly durian filling is scrumptious, not smelly at all. The combination of those two will melt in your mouth when you bite. Very delicious one is never enough. I also tried coconut shake, which is basically vanilla ice cream + coconut water, lychee yogurt ice cream, and popiah (believe me, lumpia Semarang tastes waaaaay better).
Chung Wah Chicken Rice Ball
18, Jalan Hang Jebat, 75200 Melaka, Malaysia
Opens at 9 am (I don’t know until when)
I and RM went to this place because of Mark Wiens and apparently Chung Wah was one of the most visited restaurants in the area. It was around 11 am in the morning and some people were already queueing for lunch. Since there were only I and RM, the waiter put us with two more people because the place was full. There were only two menus here: chicken rice ball and steamed chicken. Please note that you can only order half or whole chicken with five rice balls; hence sharing is caring.
To me, it tasted okay. The chicken rice ball was quite savoury but the texture was too soft for me. The steamed chicken was a bit bland compared to some other similar food I’ve tried in Jakarta. Mind you, I think Jakarta’s non-halal Chinese food is among the tastiest.
Hoe Kee Chicken Rice Ball
468, Jalan Hang Jebat, 72500 Melaka, Malaysia
Opens at 9 am
I and RM tried this place because we wanted to compare the taste and texture. Basically, Hoe Kee Chicken Rice Ball is the same as Chung Wah Chicken Rice Ball but less crowded (no queue!) and has better interior (perhaps newer). I ordered the same food, which was chicken rice balls and steamed chicken. The result? The rice ball texture was better but less tasty (for me) while the steamed chicken was more tasty. That’s all.
Sri Kaveri Catering
115, Lorong Hang Jebat, 75200 Melaka, Malaysia
Opens from 7 am till 10 pm
Still located around Jonker Street area, it was the only Indian restaurant I tried in Melaka. I’ve tasted better Indian food in Kuala Lumpur, but this one is also pretty good! Not a vegetarian restaurant, so beware of that.
Since I arrived there in the morning and was so hungry, I couldn’t objectively judge the food! BUT, their veggie mutton was very tasty it beat their real mutton. Seriously. I also tried two pieces of laddo, which apparently means sweet (or dessert?). The restaurant had various kinds of laddo but it seemed the owner didn’t speak English really well so I couldn’t find out the ingredients of each of it. He just kept saying, “Sweet, sweet!” while waving his hand.
Nyonya Dumpling at East & West Rendezvous
52, Lorong Hang Jebat, 75200 Melaka, Malaysia
Opens from 9.30 am
I didn’t know earlier that Nyonya Dumpling was actually bachang. But what makes it a wee bit more special is this sticky rice dumpling with pork (and mushroom, I think?) filling has a touch of lovely blue colour. I kinda like it, although it was not more than that because I already had my favourite one in mind.
I haven’t mentioned all of the food I’ve tried in Melaka because I wanted to focus on Jonker Street first. It is the most touristy place and must visit area for every first timer. Three-day-and-two-night stay was never enough and I am sure I have yet to see the real face of this city. Hope to post another story of Melaka!