Updated: Dec 17, 2019
We made several trips to Malacca for short getaways in the last couple of years and had tried a significant number of food in this historical city. Most of Malacca's local food can be found in the old Chinatown. If you like to taste different food while travelling, then you are in the right place — both in Malacca and this post.
There are many nice places to have local food in Malacca, and it is quite a long list with photos. So, we will have three posts to list them all. For this post, we will list places right in the old town itself, in and around Jonker Street, the busiest lane in the old town.
1. Calanthe Art Cafe (a.k.a. Malaysia 13 States' Coffees)
Calanthe Art Cafe is definitely a must-visit cafe for coffee lovers. Among a long list of beverages, it serves traditional style coffees from all 13 Malaysian states and you can pick any states' coffee to taste the different flavour. One of their creative coffee is "mini cappuccino" where they use Melaka coffee to make cappuccino instead of espresso.
Apart from coffees and art, Calanthe serves a wide range of Malacca local food too — nasi lemak, roti canai, Nyonya laksa, claypot laksa, assam pedas, chicken satay, and more. We recommend their signature laksa and claypot yee-mee laksa. You can also try their nasi lemak (rice cooked with coconut milk and pandan leaf), which runs out fast by lunch time.
Note: Open from 9am to 11pm; Fri/Sat: 9am to 12am | Closed on Thursday
Calanthe Art Cafe is our top pick!
2. Jonker 88 (大寶小食)
Nyonya laksa is a popular spicy noodle soup in the Peranakan cuisines. There are various types and variants of nyonya laksa: the asam laksa using sour assam, the curry laksa that is coconut milk-based and combinations of both.
If you like spicy Nyonya laksa, Jonker 88 is where you should go. It serves a wide variety of laksa, like assam laksa (sour-spicy), baba laksa (coconut-spicy) and combinations of both (called baba laksa kahwin assam laksa). Traditional Nyonya laksa uses seafood, but Jonker 88 has a chicken version for those who prefer not to have seafood. If you are not into spicy food, they have other non-spicy noodles too.
Don't miss their nyonya cendol, a popular dessert in Malacca, while you are there.
Note: Open daily from 9:30am to 5:30pm; Fri/Sat: 9:30am to 8:30pm
3. Kedai Kopi Chung Wah (中华茶室, a.k.a. Chung Wah Chicken Rice Ball)
Chung Wah is a popular tea house with 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. Their chicken rice is Hainanese-style (means that the chicken is steamed) and using kampung chicken, which is smaller in size but the meat is much more tender. Chicken rice ball is the only food that is sold in Chung Wah.
Rice balls are 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 is equivalent to a regular bowl of rice.
The minimum serving is half a chicken for 2 person. If you are alone, you will probably have to finish half a chicken with less rice balls or join others.
Note: Open daily from 8:30am to 3pm; Sat/Sun: 8:30am to 4pm
4. Hoe Kee Chicken Rice Ball (和记鸡饭)
Hoe Kee also serves Hainanese-style chicken rice balls. Their chicken are served with soy sauce and fragrant sesame oil. Apart from chicken rice balls, Hoe Kee also serves assam pedas, or sour-spicy fish, which is their hot-selling dish too.
Note: Open daily from 9am to 4pm
5. Famosa Chicken Rice Ball Restaurant (古城鸡饭粒)
Among the 3 chicken rice balls restaurants that are located within 50m of each other, Famosa Restaurant is the most business-savvy and offers more food options on top of chicken rice ball. They serve roasted chicken, steamed chicken, salt-water chicken, satays, etc. The restaurant is much bigger and can accommodate larger number of diners without having to queue under the sun.
Note: Open daily from 9:30am to 9:30pm
6. Loh Yong Moh Restaurant (榮茂茶樓, a.k.a. Rong Mao Tea House)
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, unlike most modern dim sum restaurants. Costs are kept low without adding other frills. Ordering the food is easy, one of the staff will go to your table and show you what he has on his tray, you just point. After the meal, ask the staff to count the plates before paying at the cashier.
Note: Open from 5am to 1pm | Closed on Tuesday
7. Lung Ann Refreshments (隆安茶室)
This is a traditional Chinese-style coffee shop, which sell traditional soft-boil eggs, toast and coffee set, satays and teochew noodle. The thick coffee is not overly sweetened and goes well with the kaya (sweet coconut jam) toasts. The breads are lightly toasted and the softness are still there. Truly traditional.
For satays, they have pork, pig intestine, pig liver and chicken meat. Instead of the usual peanut-based spicy sauce, they added pineapple. This gives the spicy sauce additional sweet-sourness that goes very well with charcoal-grilled satays. And the ketupat, or rice dumpling, are served in their woven palm leaves.
Note: Open from 8am to 5pm; Satay from 1pm to 4pm | Closed on Thursday
8. Geographer Cafe (地理学家)
Geographer Cafe is a cafe/bar/pub/restaurant. If you are there on weekdays and nowhere to hang out at night, this cafe is most likely where you will be for some drinks. They have a wide range of food and beverages suitable from day to late-night. Apart from local food, they also serves pastas and other western food to suit everyone.
Geographer Cafe's signature dish is curry ramen, which is a vegetarian dish. They also have satays and fruit rojak (fruit and vegetable salad serves with fermented prawn paste). Unlike other traditional satays, which are usually in small pieces and mostly using pork, Geographer Cafe's satays is chicken only and comes in thicker chunks. And they are served with traditional spicy-peanut sauce.
Note: Open daily from 10am to 1am
We are frequent travellers to Malacca and will keep this post updated. So, do bookmark this post and visit us again when you are going there. And don't forget Part 2 for the next 7 places.
Continue for No. 9 - 15 in Part 2