The beauty of living in Singapore is that this little island is in such an amazing location. It’s your ticket to the world. For one of the long weekends, I chose a little quaint slice of the world by taking a cheap 5-hour bus ride across the border and up north towards Melaka.
Some people call it Malacca but I prefer the more traditional version, Melaka. My last trip here with my family was easily a decade ago. I could remember quiet streets, quaint shop lots and of course, the famed delicacies. It was the echo of Chicken Rice Balls, Satay Celup and Cendol that tugged at the heartstrings, prompting a not-quite spontaneous trip to this heritage city.
Arriving well past our scheduled time with a bursting bladder attributed to being stuck at the causeway connecting Singapore and Johor, the man and I dumped our bags after check-in and headed out for some fuel.
Jalan Hang Jebat, or more popularly known as Jonker Walk, is one of Melaka’s main tourist drawcards. Our hotel was a fair twenty minute’s walk from the famed stretch and much to our delight at the end of the trek, we found bright lights and throngs of people. We had a night market on our hands. Whee~
At the very first little stall we were drawn to something close to my heart – muah chee. Watching the vendor slice into the rice flour dough on a bed of crushed peanuts and sugar was a blast from the past. I distinctly remember the crowds and craziness of my two Malaysian Carnivals in Adelaide selling muah chee. Oh what joy and fun! The man being a big fan bought a little flimsy cup with RM3.
Cheap sticky peanuty goodness. We polished it off on our foray deeper into the whimsical market.
Landing ourselves at Jonker88 Mueseum Cafe, we knew what we wanted to have for dinner in a heartbeat. After placing our orders, we took the chance to take in our surroundings.
High ceilings, dark creepy second-floor indoor balconies, antique clocks, framed memorabilia set the scene for this wonderfully quirky shop.
First to arrive was the fish soup noodles, one of the only two dishes left at 8.30pm as everything else was sold out. It was very light and tasty without the dreaded fishiness of some icky fish-based soups. Generous chunks of fish, adequately sized prawns, bouncy fishballs and two huge pieces of tofu skin joined smooth noodles in the bowl. It was indeed a very good belly-warmer.
The showstopper of the night was this little baby here. The Nyonya Assam Laksa. Having not done my research for Melaka, I didn’t know that this was one of their up-there dishes to try and we were in a spot of luck as this was the only other option left on the menu apart from the fish soup.
It was kick-ass astronomical. The ingredients were identical to the previous bowl of very good noodles and therein ends the similarities. The Nyonya Assam laksa had a ruthlessly angry red soup with chunks of mackerel swimming about. It was spicy, tangy and downright funky. Sitting low in the heat-o-meter, the man loved it but thought it was too spicy for his tender buds and I happily downed the bowl of furiously appetizing noodles, hellish-looking broth and all. Fist-pump!
With a full-belly and reasonably less cranky, we shared a bowl of cendol to cool things down a bit after the eventful laksa. Forgive me for not taking note of what type of cendol this one was, I was too busy chowing. A ball of crushed ice was topped with preserved mango then drizzled with cherry syrup, evaporated milk and Gula Melaka. It was a sweet ending to a great meal.
Moseying our way to the end of Jonker Walk, we found ourselves facing a monument of epic proportions – pun intended. This guy was the city’s hero. Statues and busts of this guy was virtually everywhere and here we have one of the biggest ones right in front of his gym/training centre. This huge statue of a massively blown-up ripped body in a skimpy pair of undies with a Frosty Boy-lookalike head had me almost busting my spleen laughing. I’m sorry. I couldn’t help it, no disrespect to the good citizens of Melaka.
Making our way back through the market again, we picked up these Hokkaido cheese cakes from a very friendly vendor, who happen to be very fascinated with my beloved Sarawak state. One of the cakes was injected with mango cream while the other had custard. Both made good snacks during the walk.
Capping off our first half-day in Melaka, we had a nice little stroll by the picturesque Melaka river along with many other visitors dotting the waterfront. A light breeze and some fresh air did wonders to our wrung out working-class souls.