Depending on who you speak to, the former sleepy hollow of Melaka deserves as much attention for its culinary delights as Penang and Ipoh. For those who have endured the nightmarish traffic getting to and around Penang, there is much in Melaka’s favour (it’s small so everything is nearby) should you be tempted to plan a foodie weekend away.
Nyonya laksa is the best way to awaken the senses (and condition the tummy) for a full day of indulging ahead. Yung Lai Siang opens early and is just a short drive from the main touristy Jonker drag, having relocated from near Putra Hospital to Jalan Thamby Abdullah. There are only three things served here: laksa, prawn noodles and puffs — curry, chicken and coconut. Order a few to nibble on while you wait for your soupy noodles. What sets this laksa apart is the topping of crispy beancurd strips.
If you like things slightly snazzier, another noteworthy laksa to try is the one at The Bendahari, a cool community space that also serves the famous Donald & Lily’s laksa from Thursday to Saturday weekly.
If you happen to be sightseeing around Melaka’s historic heart, a short stroll to nearby Plaza Mahkota will take you to one of the best non-halal Hainanese satays in the country. Ming Sate Hut’s modern new premises gives no clue to its lengthy history which is into its third generation.
There are only chicken, pork, gizzard and pork liver satays to choose from but all are top-notch. The meats are first marinated in a special 13-spice blend while the customary peanut dip — smooth as butter, it must be said — is enlivened with chilli oil and pureed pineapple. Ketupat, cucumber and onion need to be ordered separately as these are not gratis.
Melaka offers several wonderful options for lavish, banquet-style feasts. But if you are on a budget or just want a simple yet satisfying dinner, you should head to Pak Putra Restaurant. Just a short distance from the old town, Pak Putra opens from about 5.30pm till late, so it is perfect for those who like to eat early or indulge in a spot of supper.
In-the-know foodies come here strictly for the tandoori chicken accompanied by several orders of lovely naan. In keeping with the craze of adding cheese to dishes (case in point: Korean spicy cheese ramen), it has to be said that Pak Putra’s cheese naan is worthy of every single calorie. There are regular, double and triple cheese naans, so definitely opt for the latter while your metabolic rate remains your friend. Wash it all down with a mug of cooling mango lassi and we guarantee your dreams that night will be sweet indeed.
This article first appeared on Jan 9, 2023 in The Edge Malaysia.