Updated: Oct 29, 2020
Two years ago, we explored Malacca on several visits and worked out a list of eating places both in the old town and outside the town but not too far away:
In this post, we highlighted 12 must-tries if you are going to Melaka for a short trip. In fact, the list here is how we actually planned our itinerary to try as many food as we can on a short 3-day trip (but we avoided public holidays when we carried out the plan).
How is this post organised? We will start with food that are must-tries for breakfast, then brunch, followed by lunch and so on till supper.
Let's start with what's good for breakfast...
1. Traditional Breakfast Set
The Nanyang Chinese traditional breakfast set includes two soft-boil eggs, toasts with butter and kaya (coconut jam) and a cup of traditional coffee. This is served in most of the coffee shops in Malacca, but the tastes and experience differ.
Must-Try @ Lung Ann Refreshments (隆安茶室)
Lung Ann is a traditional coffee shop located at a road junction. It serves thick black coffee that is not overly sweetened and goes well with their toasts set. The breads are lightly toasted to retain its softness while crispy on the outer surface. This is the best spot for light breakfast or afternoon coffee.
8am to 5pm | Closed on Thursday
2. Traditional Dim Sum
For travellers who have been to Malacca Old Town, there is only one place for dim sum. And Loh Yong Moh Tea House serves traditional dim sum without frills and at low cost.
Must-Try @ Loh Yong Moh Tea House (榮茂茶樓)
The key thing about Loh Yong Moh Restaurant is its persistence in serving traditional dim sum, focusing on food quality rather than making them look pretty. Ordering the food is easy, the staff will go to your table and show you what he has on his tray and you just point. After the meal, ask the staff to count the plates before paying at the cashier. For better experience, have some Chinese tea the traditional way.
5am to 1pm | Closed on Tuesday
3. Nyonya Rice Dumplings
Nyonya dumplings are usually filled with minced pork and glutinous rice, unlike Chinese dumplings that use fatty pork belly meat. Natural blue colouring, extracted from blue pea flowers, are usually added to the rice with tint of light fragrance to the traditional dumplings.
Must-Try 1 @ 60 East & West Rendezvous
East & West Rendezvous is popular for its Nyonya rice dumplings and ice-cold Nyonya cendol. Pairing its rice dumpling with a bowl of cold cendol is perfect for afternoon tea. The shop sells Chinese rice dumplings as well and other Nyonya goodies.
9:30am to 5:30pm daily
Must-Try 2 @ Poh Piah Lwee Dumpling
Another place to go for Nyonya dumpling is at Poh Piah Lwee Dumpling at the far end of Jonker Walk. The shop is actually more well-known for its poh piah (or spring roll). And is a great place for trying both their special poh piah and rice dumpling.
9:30am to 5:30pm | Closed on Mondays and Tuesday
If you are not an early riser, the following will be great for brunch or lunch...
4. Nyonya Laksa
Nyonya laksa is a popular spicy noodle soup dish in the Peranakan cuisines. There are various types and variants of laksa but can be broadly categorised into three main types: the asam laksa (of Penang) using sour asam (or tamarind) as base, the curry laksa that is coconut-milk-based and combinations of both. Asam laksa is generally sour-spicy whereas coconut-milk curry laksa is sweet-spicy, although most of its variants tend to be spicier than sweet.
Must-Try 1 @ Jonker 88 (大寶小食)
If you like hot and spicy Nyonya laksa, Jonker 88 is where you should go in the old town. It serves a wide variety of laksa dishes, like asam laksa (sour-spicy), baba laksa (coconut-spicy) and combinations of both (called baba laksa kahwin asam laksa, literally translated as "marriage of baba laksa and asam laksa"). Traditional Nyonya laksa uses prawns, but Jonker 88 has a chicken version for those who prefer otherwise.
Warning: Jonker 88's laksa can be really spicy! You can be soaking in perspiration half-way through a bowl of laksa, so standby some packs of tissue paper.
9:30am to 5:30pm daily; Fri & Sat till 8:30pm
Must-Try 2 @ Calanthe Art Cafe
If you like a lesser spicy version of the Nyonya laksa, head over to Calanthe Art Cafe. The cafe's signature claypot laksa is filled with variety of ingredients and the hot claypot adds flavour to the coconut-based curry laksa. Top up with a cup of one of Malaysia's 13 states' coffee to hype your Melaka experience!
9am to 11pm; Fri & Sat till 12am | Closed on Thursday
5. Chicken Rice Balls
Chicken rice are common dishes in Southeast Asia and varies in cooking styles across the different nations, but the basic ingredients are still chicken and rice. In Malacca, rice balls are served with Hainanese-style (means the chicken is steamed) kampung chicken. The rice balls are made from flavoured rice that are hand-rolled and compressed into the shape of ping pong balls. The size may differ at different outlets but roughly 5 rice balls make a regular bowl of rice.
Must-Try 1 @ Kedai Kopi Chung Wah (中华茶室)
Chicken rice ball is the only dish that is sold at Chung Wah. However, it has crazy long queues on weekends. There is no shelter outside the tea house, so bring an umbrella if you decide to queue for its chicken rice ball. Chung Wah's kampung chicken is small in size but the meat is really tender.
Note: The minimum serving is half a chicken that is usually for 2 person. If you are travelling solo, you will probably have to finish half a chicken with less rice balls or join other travellers for a meal.
8:30am to 3pm daily; Sat & Sun till 4pm
Must-Try 2 @ Hoe Kee Chicken Rice Ball (和记鸡饭)
Hoe Kee's chicken rice ball is served with soy sauce on the rice and kampung chicken in fragrant sesame oil. Apart from chicken rice balls, Hoe Kee also serves asam pedas, or sour-spicy fish, which is one of their hot-selling dish too.
9am to 4pm daily
6. Peranakan Cuisine
Being one of the two birth places of Baba-Nyonya (or Peranakans), Malacca is the place to try Peranakan cuisine — the result of blending Chinese and Malay ingredients and cooking styles. The most commonly-used ingredient is coconut milk and spices and most dishes are spicy. Note that authentic Peranankan dishes do include pork.
Must-Try @ Nancy's Kitchen
Nancy's Kitchen is a popular restaurant that serves authentic Peranakan food. You can try their popular appetiser Top Hats (pai tee) and few dishes including non-spicy fried egg cincalok (fermented shrimps), spicy chicken candlenut (one of their signature dishes), steamed fish paste (otak-otak), water spinach, chicken in tamarind, etc.
Nancy's Kitchen also serves poh piah (spring rolls), Nyonya cendol and Nyonya cakes, which are great options for afternoon tea.
11am to 5pm; Fri/Sat/P.Holiday: 11am to 9pm | Closed on Tuesday
When the afternoon is hot and humid, get out of the heat and go for some dessert or finger food...
7. Nyonya Cendol
Nyonya cendol is an ice-cold sweet dessert made from crushed ice topped with coconut milk, green jelly, red beans, etc and with the locally-made gula melaka (palm sugar). Some shops also topped it up with durian. There are quite a number of shops and restaurants serving cendol in Melaka, so we will point out a couple of them in the old town.
Must-Try 1 @ East & West Rendezvous
Pair up a bowl of Nyonya cendol with Nyonya rice dumpling for afternoon tea. That will make two must-tries at one stop.
Opening Hours: See above.
Must-Try 2 @ Jonker 88
Try the icy-cold and sweet dessert after a bowl of fiery-hot and spicy Nyonya laksa. It's the best way to cool down after a "hot" meal.
Opening Hours: See above.
8. Poh Piah (Hokkien Spring Roll)
Poh piah is fresh spring roll with several ingredients wrapped in paper-like flour crepe. The main ingredients are usually stir-fired turnip, fresh bean sprouts, lettuce, etc.
Must-Try 1 @ Poh Piah Lwee Dumpling (香薄饼食家)
Poh Piah Lwee is one place where you get to try laksa, Nyonya dumpling, poh piah (spring roll) and rojak. The uniqueness in Poh Piah Lwee Dumpling's poh piah is the addition of crispy fried pork lard which makes their spring rolls very different from others.
Opening Hours: See above.
Must-Try 2 @ Nancy's Kitchen
If you are at Nancy's Kitchen to try the local Peranakan food, do try their poh piah with lots of fresh ingredients and egg.
Opening Hours: See above.
Satay is meat skewered on a wooden stick and charcoal-grilled. The grilled meat skewers are then served with spicy peanut sauce. In Malacca, peanut-pineapple sauce is used, which is not spicy but sour-sweet.
Must-Try @ Sun May Hiong Satay House (新味香沙爹屋)
Sun May Hiong Satay House serves mainly pork satays (chicken satays sometimes), and they do have offal satays like pig intestine and pig liver. The satays here are usually slightly charred with a smoky taste that adds some aroma to the meat.