How to eat everything in Melaka

Rainbow-coloured Melaka has bloomed (nay, exploded) from port city to tourism phantasmagoria. Late-night markets, art and craft emporia, and historic sights all conspire to seduce the crowds. Then there's the food... I attempted to eat my way around Melaka on a research trip for @lonelyplanet

  1. You'll need a solid breakfast to fortify yourself for a day of sheer eating. Start as you mean to go on. Hotel Puri in Melaka's Chinatown has an especially scenic outdoor terrace for breakfast, with a waterfalls sprinkling away as you nosh on platefuls of char kway teow (fried rice noodles).
  2. It's my first full research day in Melaka. Mentioning the heat quickly becomes a theme for this pale traveller. Luckily sour plum and lime cordial becomes a fast friend, and spicy banana leaf veggie Indian food proves surprisingly refreshing.
  3. But it's Melaka. The Jonker Walk Night Market beckons, with its menagerie of odd foods. Most intriguing is the Sea Monster squid stall. Untempted by this one.
  4. More difficult to resist is the Peranakan (Straits Chinese) food that melds Malay and Chinese influences, like in local favourite Nancy's Kitchen. I forget my alone-ness, and eat. And eat. And more sour plum lime cordial, because did I mention the heat?
  5. Every traveller experiences an etiquette cringe at some point, and since this is Ramadan, it's my time to shine. I wandered into a halal restaurant a few minutes before it was time to break the fast, so I sat awkwardly and nibbled a totally undeserved sweet treat.
  6. It's probably fitting to lift my face up from my plate and mention something about Melaka the city. It's a vibrant and colourful place: Dutch-inspired buildings are painted crimson and pink, a giant replica Portuguese ship harks back to its trading past, and the blend of architectural styles (from British to Moorish via Indian and Dutch) makes its scenery as delicious as the food.
  7. This vibrant red tints several of #Melaka's heritage buildings ❤ #LPinMalaysia
    This vibrant red tints several of #Melaka's heritage buildings ❤ #LPinMalaysia
  8. Speaking of which, meet signature dessert cendol. Somewhere in that mountain of ice lies your salvation from the humidity. Dig deep beneath layers of coconut milk, kidney beans, jaggery, tapioca pearls and some green stuff (noodles made with pandan flour).
  9. Another unmissable Melaka treat is the local spin on Hainanese chicken rice. Poached chicken is served with a spicy dipping sauce and the rice is balled up into stomach-stretching spheres.
  10. Hainanese chicken rice: in Melaka, the rice is wadded up into little carb cannonballs. The orange stuff is a garlic-heavy sweet chilli sauce. #LPinMalaysia
    Hainanese chicken rice: in Melaka, the rice is wadded up into little carb cannonballs. The orange stuff is a garlic-heavy sweet chilli sauce. #LPinMalaysia
  11. But I prefer something on the spicier side. So I went to Melaka's finest Pakistani tandoori.
  12. And somehow the next day I wasn't too bloated for the Malaysian equivalent of a Starbucks frappuccino, the red bean smoothie at Old Town. I feel no guilt, it was damn good.
  13. But I've found my food niche in Melaka, and it's Peranakan all the way. All bets are off, all buttons unpopped, and the flavour party of lemongrass, chilli and buttery-smooth sauces is hitting my tastebuds.
  14. Super spicy Nyonya-style chicken rendang. Washed down with a much-needed sour plum & lime cordial. Ahh, much better. #LPinMalaysia
    Super spicy Nyonya-style chicken rendang. Washed down with a much-needed sour plum & lime cordial. Ahh, much better. #LPinMalaysia
  15. With the winning dish being Kocik Kitchen's creamy pineapple prawns, a meals that still haunts my dreams. And lingers on my thighs, probably.
Read next page