Last weekend I made a quick little day trip to Melaka, Malaysia with a small group from my work. I had been looking into going to Malaysia over a weekend and had heard nothing but great things about the Malaysian coastal towns from Melaka all the way up to Penang. Melaka wasn’t really on my radar as a place to visit, but since one of my colleagues was driving and setting up the trip, I figured why not? Melaka, it turns out, is a very cool historical city with ridiculously good shopping deals and some fabulous food.
Lots of stalls were barbequeing rice, meat, and fish wrapped in little banana leaves. These stalls were everywhere and seemed to be quite the hit.
One of the Melaka street food staples: quail eggs with chicken hot dog and cheese wiz. Can you say yum?
The guy who was setting up the trip had been talking up Malaysia all week and raving about the great food in the region. Malay food is found everywhere in Singapore but sometimes it’s just better from the source. We left Singapore early in the morning and stopped for lunch outside the border city Johor Bahru at an Indian restaurant. The leader of our excursion, Jeffri, loves Indian as well as spicy food so we got along great.
Upon arriving in Melaka in the early afternoon our first stop was to hit the main shopping center – truth be told this excursion was supposed to be a dedicated shopping trip. The big shopping center was filled with countless vendors and all kinds of beautiful fabrics, rugs, and furniture. One lady in our group bought a bunch of incredible wood tables and beds for super cheap.
Classic Asian over stimuli. And if you’re wondering, yes I jumped in the Minion mobile.
I’m not really that into shopping (don’t know too many guys who are) so I just walked over to the mall to get some AC and checked out the food scene. Once in the mall I ended up buying a couple nice fake soccer jerseys for $5 dollars each. Score! The same quality ones would’ve easily been $15 each even in Thailand. Coming from someone who hates shopping, even I couldn’t pass up the deals here.
We then made our way to the historical district where we walked around Jonker Street – this is where all the action happens. It’s kind of of like their China town with a big open street market. A little touristy but still worth checking out. The history behind Melaka is it was fought over for thousands of years as a critical trading passage and passed hands many times all the way back to the ancient Chinese, Vietnamese, then the Portuguese, Dutch, briefly the Brits, and finally back over to the Malays.
You can see all the different cultural influences as you walk the streets with the architecture and especially the food. There is even a modest Dutch population that still lives in Melaka to this day. This is also where St. Francis Xavier stopped for an extended period of time on his Asian travels so there are some historic churches; however you certainly know you are in a Muslim majority country.
Lots of fried egg, dough balls, and chicken – but no pork and minimal beef here. The street food was almost European-esque with all the kebabs and pastries. The lady I was with got the freshly fried potato chip skewers in the background.
For my first meal in Melaka I treated myself to the most traditional Malay meal, Nasi Lemak – which also happens to be the Malaysian National dish. The dish consists of a marinated sambal-style chicken served with rice cooked in coconut milk, peanuts, dried anchovies, a fried egg, all on top of a banana leaf. There are a lot of different variations but the one I had wasn’t served on a banana leaf so I guess it wasn’t as authentic, however still tasted great.
The dish is similar in popularity to a burger in the U.S.. Every place has their own variation and there are extremely basic versions and then there are some fancy ones but you’ll always find it on every menu in Malaysia. The dish I had was very simple but was the perfect choice for a light meal. The coconut rice together with the spicy chicken is such a great combination!
After dinner I walked up and down Jonker Street trying all the different street foods. I tried a Durian Puff which is just a pastry filled with a Durian infused cream. You are supposed to wolf it down like a shooter so the strong durian taste doesn’t linger. I ended up with durian cream running down my face and more than one giggle from some Chinese teeny-boppers. Hopefully I made their snapchat story. #thatguy
I also tried an Avocado shake with palm sugar drizzle. Amazing. I don’t know why this isn’t big in the U.S yet.
More quail egg- meat kebabs! Yes please! And as a bonus: panda shaped dim sum! Sweet! I have no idea what pickled mustard meat tastes like but I’m sure it’s good. I always crack up at how weird some of the flavors are in Asia. But I guess it’s all relative.
And finally, as if I wasn’t full yet, I bought a bunch of fried dough balls (5 different flavors: matcha, red bean, chocolate, sesame, and original) for the ride home. I surely didn’t come to Melaka to shop, but I did come hungry! Another fun and great food trip in the books.