12 August 2020

B-Kyu Armchair Travels - Melaka, Malaysia

We made it to Melaka for New Years Eve, where the pussycats sleep in tangles, musical Hello Kitty rickshaws rule the streets and we find the remains of great civic building projects, both good and bad, old and new.


For many years Alison has been trying to get to Melaka. Every time a trip vaguely went anywhere nearby, the call could be heard - 'Why don't we go to Melaka?" Shawn's last visit was nearly twenty years ago, so it was finally time for a catch up. So we went over New Year's Eve.

This time around we stayed at the family run Wayfarer Guesthouse, another fine Travelfish recommendation. It was right on the river and we managed to score a balcony room. Sitting on the balcony with a few beers was great - listening to punters drinking, singing and shouting below in the bars along the riverfront until the wee small hours was not so great.

We cooled down after our bus trip from Johor Baru only to get back out in the heat and wander around the block. We didn't walk far before we stopped for lunch.

A short menu is a good menu.

All of the signs were here of a good simple meal. Lots of mismatched tiles, what looks like a family run place, random piles of cooking utensils and ingredients.

Minced pork and noodles. A pile of pork mince on a bed of rats tail noodles, our favourite type.

Lau Shu Fen, long wheat noodles with slices of fish cake and a crunchy strips of unidentified fried goodness.

As evening came around we wandered back out. View from the pedestrian bridge over to Kampung Jawa.

The backstreets around this side of the river we will explore in good time.

We head back closer to home for beers and dinner. Restaurant Sin Yin Hoe on Lorong Hang Jebat, on the corner near our digs, is our spot for a new year eve repast.

Kicking back after a long day with a Skol.

Hokkein mee in a brown sauce with bits of pork. Somewhat plain but super satisfying.

Yellow wine pork. This was one of those dishes where you take a taste and discover something totally unexpected, the curious eaters dream. The broth seemed to be made from cooking wine, flavoured with loads of shredded ginger and strips of black fungus. If you'd given us a straw to finish it off we would have happily finished another bowl. It was full of complex flavour and can you tell we loved it?

Choose your protein...

and the rest.

Out along Jonker Walk there are endless rickshaw drivers with load flashing lights and music blaring. Just the ticket for a heritage site. If only we had packed earplugs, we might have taken a spin on the Hello Kitty love express.

The river view from our balcony. Not in sight the bars downstairs full of very happy New Years Eve punters. They were certainly in sound though, one group was very jolly into the wee hours. Us old folks need our beauty sleep, so something to consider if you get a riverside room around here on New Year's.

Next morning breakfast at Restoran Selvam No 2 Jalan Temenggong, just at the roundabout at the start of Little India. A great way to start the new year.

We wait for a while to be served but once the order is taken the roti start flying out of the kitchen along with dosai, appam, and puffed puri. It's busy and every one else has had the same breakfast idea for New Years day.

Iced tea to beat the already creeping heat of the day.

A roti and a roti telur (egg filled roti). Each order is served without sauce, then three connected pots filled with different sauces are passed around so you can ladle what you like onto plates.

A tangle of guesthouse pussycats. Sleeping is the other best way to beat the heat.

Malacca is a nice place to wander around the burbs. So many smaller kampung areas with bungalows. It hasn't yet succumbed to a wholesale apartment explosion, although it is certainly on its way.

Nyonya is high on our food hit list. There's a number of Nyonya places along Jalan Merdeka that looked all fancy pants so in our own b-kyu way we picked the least fancy of the lot.

Yep, not a hint of fancy.

It's a quiet old day, customers trickle in a little later round these parts.

The menu.

Nyonya laksa, filled with noodles and shredded cucumber and eggy bits. A not so spicy broth can be heated up with a bit more sambal, while the tofu puffs soak up the broth.

Mee rebus, that slightly sweet curry covers up the noodles and chopped up fish cakes. And oh, the orange coloured melamine bowls.

Oh how we love Asian malls - not the fancy Prada selling ones in KL, we love the B grade malls, even if it's just for a little aircon.

We also have a love of Asian fashion photography using western models... 

Asam Pedas Jr was wildly popular but we sadly never made it back to this corner to try it out.

Later in the early evening we head back over to Jalan Temmengong. The light is beautiful reflected on the buildings.

The buildings are beautifully decorated, many are still well maintained.

Kedai Kopi Sin Heng was getting ready for the evening, and we settled in for a feast.

Others had the same idea.

Crab menu

Steamed crab with beehoon, one of our favourite meals ever. Nothing slows down greedy eaters than having to crack your way through crab claws. Crab always rewards the patient.

Lala, or pippies in ginger and curry leaves. The addition of curry leaves in this dish was one of those 'of course!' moments about food, and for us really summed up a real fusion of ingredients, a sign of what the meld of cultures in this area produces.

Kung po frog. We love getting frog whenever we can, it is such a treat to have it done in this spicy and a little sweet way.

Yes Mum, we had vegetables as well. Cabbage in a simple salty brothy sauce, probably a little bit of Knorr stock.

Restaurant dog tries to get in on the action. If there ever was a case for an international dog adoption, this was one. We could have bundled up this gorgeous pup and taken her home in a heartbeat.

Breakfast on day #2 we returned to Restoran Selvam. There were still things on the menu we wanted to try.

Packets of nasi lemak on the table, ready to eat. Can never resist these.

Appam was served with sweet coconut milk in the two outer wells with the centre of the dish filled with crunchy brown sugar. Rip off the flakey edges and dip into the coconut milk and suck up the sweetness. We also tried the rĂ´ti served on the same style plate, fill the three different spots with a different type of sauce. Favourite was the dahl, a soupy variety with large red chillies. All washed down with hot chat, sweet milky tea.

This pussycat isn't dashing off anywhere soon.

We walked along Bunga Raya though Chinatown. Fabric shops, homewares, getting ready for Chinese New Year. Along the river is the broken down monorail, built for around 150m ringgit but appears now to be discontinued. Sure lined someone’s pockets. The area around was developed with the expectation they will come but so many shops were empty. 

Lunch opposite the mall in a Chinese kopitiam. It has multiple stalls and we can't decide what to get especially when you want it all.

Small bowl of noodles with pork and soup on the side with fish balls.

Our eye also spies a Jonker Walk curry rice, pieces of chopped chicken, tofu puffs and tea egg on top of rice and a plate of Malaysian style curry that you pour on as you please. The owner brings it over and explains he has been making this for years, he is 71 now. The stall used to be on Jonker Walk, his father ran the original stall and now his son is here as the old town changed. 

Meanwhile, back at the guesthouse...

A walk along the river boardwalk and we  try to come up with a collective noun for a pram full of poodles. A proodle? Pramdle?

There are some businesses who have twigged it makes sense to have boardwalk access.

Cendol Kampung Hulu menu - durian? Oh yeah, add on extra durian!

Our durian cendol, ice cream, extra durian, chocolate, drool....

The boardwalk gets good business from walkers and family strollers. It hasn't quite got the right balance on the inside stalls, but it is having a go.

We head back up Bunga Raya later in the night for dinner. It's quieter and there are no Hello Kitty riskshaws.

Restoran Lu Yeh Yen is a real traditional Chinese restaurant.

A big menu, but we are hoooongry.

It's a laid back kind of place.

Claypot fish head, a mystery dip of fishy bits in a brown sauce.

Kang Kong in sambal sauce, an essential side dish.

Salted fish fried rice, our favourite way to sneak in fried rice.

What? Is it really? Oh my goodness - sweet and sour pork!

The next day we started out looking for a porridge shop and ended up with one of our absolute favourites by accident. As usual when we follow up recommendations the place is either gone, closed or we wander around and jut can't find it. It’s part of the reason we usually just follow our nose and find what pleases us at the time. Yeah yeah we miss out on one good places but usually we also miss out on a lot of angst and tired feet.

The place had only been open about three weeks. It was once an old goldsmiths shop, and had been leased out and shared between a coffee shop and a noodle business. The original office with louvres was still in place but the rest had been maintained. There must be such a temptation to Edison light and expose brick places but this was bright and clean without looking like everywhere else.

The draw are here was one dish, a Hokkein pan mee. The aunty and niece team combine together to produce bowl after bowl of handmade noodles. 71 year old Aunty (just helping out until the business picks up some more) stands at her pasta machine and rolls through golf ball sizes of noodle dough. Niece takes the flattened dough and rips pieces of it off the disc, straight into a pot of stock. The stock is made by putting chicken bones and radish into a bag and sewing it together like a giant chicken tea bag, it's easier to fish out and remove and leaves the stock clear. Minced chicken (not pork, trying to attract halal customers), some hyacinth leaves, chopped coriander and done. On the table. With it a dish of sambal, oily and garlicky. Mama, gone to heaven on this one.

We are bid farewell by a security guard pussycat.

We love Melaka.


  1. Great post! Ipoh is another one to add to the list (for sometime in the distant future!). Had a great time there a couple of years ago, very old school, laidback, friendly, and great food. And great value of course. The old town (old school kopitiams) and the new town (bean sprout chicken, silken tofu and the market) were equally excellent.
    Stayed at the French Hotel. Grab very cheap. Easy access from KL on the train.

    1. Mmmm, Ipoh, what a grand idea you've just sewn into my brain!


Thanks for your comment joy - please keep your musings happy - if you want to complain about a restaurant please do it on a restaurant review site (or your own blog) - we're all about celebrating cultural diversity and the great eats that come along with it :-)

Our ethics: We pay for all our own meals and travel (though sometimes Mum shouts us).