Melaka is one of Malaysia’s most historical states – and also popular for its Nyonya heritage, which is a culture born of the surge of marriages between the Malays and the Chinese back in the days. Being a foodie, I would always jump at any opportunity to travel to nearby locations in my own country where people are endlessly raving about the food, and Melaka is definitely high on that list. All that was needed was a few hours’ drive, some cash and a strong appetite.
Picture my excitement when my boyfriend had to make a day trip and he was going to take me along. While he was busy with his work errand, I was planning our meals – all halal, by the way, because my boyfriend is Muslim. So here we go – Kuala Lumpur to Melaka.
**Just for those who might be curious, here is some non-food related information – we actually started out from Subang Jaya on a low-traffic hour and it only took us about 2 hours to get there. Not too bad for going out of state – I was pleasantly surprised at how near it was. Apparently a good bowl of authentic Nyonya chendol is not that far from reach. Prepare about RM20 for toll charges; depending on which route you take, you will need to pay about RM15 to pass (maybe more, but definitely not more than RM20).
Nyonya Lunch at Restoran Indah Sayang
We started the eating part of the trip at lunch time. Being typical Malaysians, we wanted our rice or it wouldn’t count as an actual meal. I figured that it would be a waste to eat anything else we usually easily get in Kuala Lumpur so I opted for searching for a good, authentic (almost home-cooked) and reasonably-priced (or better yet, cheap) Nyonya restaurant (or sometimes called ‘peranakan’ cuisine). Google search results led me to a few allegedly really cheap and good restaurants but then again my experience that day affirmed my thought that value is subjective. What someone would describe as cheap is not really within my budget for one person. So we walked and surveyed around and came across this restaurant called Restoran Indah Sayang. It was similar to the rest of the restaurants we patronized and left in terms of menu, but it was quiet and there was no customers around (but it was understandable as it was already 2.30pm and well past lunch hour). And this one was cheap! Yay! When the food and drinks arrived, I must say, it was really good and the lady who took our order – she’s the cook and I believe this is like a family business – so it was probably someone’s mother’s cooking too!
So here is the damage:
Chicken rendang and rice RM4.50
Beef rending and rice RM5.50
Sambal petai RM10 (shared between two of us)
3 glasses of water (RM0.30 each) RM0.90
A glass of really good and fresh lime and sour plum juice RM3.50 (only complaint was that I wish the glass was bigger)
Crackers for appetizers (they just bring these to you before you even order) RM2
Therefore, split between two people, it averages to about RM13.20 per person.
Durian Chendol at Jonker 88
If there is one thing you absolutely cannot miss in Melaka, it would be their sweet ice desserts locally known as chendol. Chendol actually refers to the green chewy rice flour jelly and what makes it famous in Melaka is the gula Melaka syrup they put in the dessert – which is basically coconut palm sugar. So deciding the next item to delight our palate was not difficult as all, as walking down popular tourist area Jonker street was hot as heck! We found Jonker 88 easily enough, one of the most popular places for chendol and curry laksa (also another popular Melaka dish that we did not manage to eat on this trip). Getting a bowl is easy enough at this place – you walk up to the counter, tell them what you want, they make it, you pay and then you grab your bowl and find a table, sometimes when the place is full you can sit on a random table-less chair or even politely ask to share a bench with someone.
Durian chendol RM5.50 (I opted for durian because I love that fruit, but the whole thing became too overwhelmingly sweet but my boyfriend like this one better while I preferred the ‘classic’ chendol)
TOTAL: RM10 (Averagely RM5 per person)
Pandan Pancakes at The Daily Fix
This was the hardest snack to decide on because we were both stuffed at this point but I was not ready yet to give up and just wait for dinner – we were missing out on too much! So we decided to split the next meal – and that was the best decision I have made in a while. A few bloggers and reviewers have mentioned this crazy-good pancake, which essentially is not local food, but was fused with local ingredients such as pandan, coconut and again gula Melaka. The portion was huge and albeit we have not taken a break since meal 1 and 2, we picked up our utensils and did not stop eating until the pancake was gone – I am pretty sure under 10 minutes. Best part is the water here is free! By the way, this place is pretty nice and quaint, and many would describe it as a ‘hipster café’ – however, I felt like cafes in Jonker Street were already hipster way back then before it was cool, just that it was just described as “artsy” because the people who coined the term “hipster” were probably still in diapers.
Local pandan pancakes RM13.90
I scoop of vanilla ice cream RM3.50 (I think this is was essential because it made the pancake so much better than it already was)
TOTAL: RM17.40 (Averaged out RM8.70 per person)
Dinner at Ikan Bakar Parameswara
We had to take a little drive to this place which a friend recommended – and it was worth it because we ate dinner by the Selat Melaka – the Straits of Malacca; a stretch of water between Malaysia and Indonesia where most of the country’s significant historical moments of economic importance took place. So this seaside restaurant serves mainly barbequed fresh fish and other seafood and some side dishes as well, such as sautéed vegetables. I was actually quite worried about what the bill will amount to and I spent the time waiting for our food to arrive to gawk at the amount of food the other tables were consuming. We had a modest but fulfilling meal, and I was sure that our bill would be more than RM50. Again, water was free!
Barbequed stingray RM16.80
Two bowls of rice (RM1.20 each) RM2.40
**the above two items were subjected to GST (government service tax) of 6% = RM1.15
Stir-fried asparagus RM9
TOTAL: RM29.35 (the whole meal was shared by 2 people, so averagely about RM15 per person)
So after that really good and cheap dinner, we headed back home. The grand total of food expenditure was RM83.15 for two people and I think that is pretty good! One tip is to go for water as much as possible unless it’s a specialty drink – it is healthier and cheaper (most of the time even free!). For those, planning to travel to Melaka for food, bring your appetite and enjoy!