Written by Candice Neo
All other photos not credited taken by TripCanvas
Update: Kee Ann Food Street is currently temporarily closed.
Hands up who’s bored of JB/KL and loves Melaka (Malacca)?
As a Singaporean staying in KL, Melaka is one of my favourite weekend getaway destinations (I love the old town vibes and culture!) and besides the usual must-go eateries for local food, the vibrant Jonker Street is always part of my itinerary.
If you know Melaka (three hours’ drive from Singapore and known for its rich heritage and Peranakan culture), you would know Jonker Street – the most popular night market in town where you can find a huge variety of street food, knick knacks and souvenirs.
But if there’s one word to describe Jonker Street now, that would be — commercialised. We spotted many trinkets that closely resembled those you can find in Bangkok’s Chatuchak market, lots of imported (and non-creative) items and unexciting street food. Not to mention the crazy crowd (yes even on a Sunday night) and humidity just made the whole experience pretty unenjoyable.
So guess what? On a recent trip, we discovered a new night market — Kee Ann Food Street — that’s just a 10-minute walk away from Jonker Street, yet many times better! Lined with stalls selling hipster food (many with a Taiwanese spin!), handmade bags and accessories, Instagrammable stalls with vintage looks and generally good vibes with lots of creativity, this seems to be a local secret, so it’s definitely much less crowded as compared to its overrated neighbour!
Here’s our recommendations on the best stalls to check out (some tried and tasted!):
1. Lobsters, crabs and jumbo prawns fresh out of a vintage Volkswagen Kombi: Seafood Bar
Love seafood and everything hipster? This seafood bar can’t get more exciting! Take your pick of big prawns, lobsters, crabs, scallops, squid, cockles and more from this Volkswagen microbus, and they will grill it right in front of you. So you get to tear into those jumbo prawns while they are served hot, fresh and juicy!
The most expensive item is the lobster set (which comes with a fresh lobster served with sides of mussels and clams) at Rm 88 (approximately S$29) — a steal!2. Korean hotteok with a cheesy fusion twist: Malkor Tiger
As someone who can’t live without Korean food (when I was staying in South Korea for a month, I had to have my soybean paste stews, kimbap, kimchi and tteokbokki every day), imagine my excitement when I saw a hotteok (Korean pancake) stall!
Even better when I discovered that the chef is actually a cute Korean hunk, who handmakes hotteok fresh every day. Their bestseller is their cheese-filled traditional hotteok but gaining popularity is their new creative version — instead of serving the hotteok the flat (traditional) way, it’s rolled up and stuffed with sausage and cheese!
As I bit into mine, the sweet sugary hotteok was savoury at the same time and the melted grilled cheese pulled away satisfyingly. The portion is quite big so leave some space for it!
3. What happens when you fry the king of fruits?: Crispy fried durian
You know the common Pisang Goreng (fried banana), but how about fried durian? As a durian lover myself, I couldn’t resist!
Don’t expect the legendary Musang King here, as the durians used are mainly regular Kampung durians, but once you bite into the hot crispy skin, the flesh is fresh and sweet and melts in your mouth. Definitely a must-try if you love the king of fruits!
4. The best otak otak!!: Muar Famous Fish Otak Otak
I’m not even exaggerating here. The fish otak otak from Muar is really the best I’ve ever tasted (I’m a huge fan of otak otak and have tried many) and I’m really pleasantly surprised to find it in Melaka!
Trust me, this is actually quite different from your usual otak otak. The paste is soft and fresh, melts in your mouth and you can even taste bits of fish if you buy the big portion to bring home! My Mom-in-law would ask to buy it whenever a relative travels to Muar, and it’s excellent when served with other dishes in a home-cooked meal. It’s only mildly spicy (and my spice tolerance is medium if I use the Chinese Ma La (麻辣) spice level as an estimate) but very flavourful!
If you buy the regular otak otak sticks, they are still delicious but they don’t come with the fresh fish bits that gives the otak otak that unique texture. So I strongly recommend you to get the box version, which only costs Rm 9 (approximately S$3)!
5. You can smell this tofu from a few metres away!: Older Sister Stinky Tofu (大姐臭豆腐)
If you’ve travelled to Hong Kong or Taiwan, you will be familiar with this local street delicacy, which is said to taste really good despite the stench.
Though not commonly found in Malaysia, this Melakan stall seems to have mastered the art of this stinky snack. I’m personally not a fan of fermented tofu, which some have compared to blue cheese (to be fair, I’m not a fan of blue cheese too), but if you’re adventurous enough and not put off by the smell, you might want to give it a go!
P.S. Stinky tofu is prepared from a brine made from fermented milk, vegetables, and meat. Sometimes it includes dried shrimp, amaranth, mustard greens, bamboo shoots, and Chinese herbs. Fermentation can take up to months!
According to a Chinese legend, during the Qing dynasty, a scholar who failed the imperial exams decided to sell tofu as a living. One day, he placed his unsold tofu into an earthen jar, and after several days, he realised that his tofu had turned green and stunk badly. But to his surprise, when he tasted the foul tofu, it was actually delicious! So he started selling fermented tofu at his stall and it later even made it to the imperial palace as a delicacy!
6. Warning! Only for those who LOVE everything burning spicy!: Ba Dao Mian (霸道面)
Its name translates to “tyrant noodles” or “overbearing noodles”, and we are not surprised! Served yong-tau-foo style, you can pick what you want to go with your spicy noodles, such as fishballs, meatballs, bittergourd, fishcake, tofu and other yong tau foo varieties, and they will prepare it for you.
If mind-numbing spice gives you kicks, then this is for you!
7. Peel off this Taiwanese crepe: Homemade scallion pancake (独家手抓饼)
With a Chinese name that’s loosely translated to mean “hand grab pastry”, this Taiwanese snack is meant to be so delicious that you wouldn’t be able to resist picking it up with your bare hands.
Having evolved from the traditional scallion pancake, this handmade crepe originated from a night market in Taiwan in 2004, and is made from flour and margarine to create a fluffy crepe with a crispy paper-thin outer layer and soft inner layers that you can tear off layer by layer with every bite. It’s usually served as a wrap filled with sausages, lettuce, egg, ham, cheese and other savoury ingredients you can usually find in a sandwich.
The version sold at this market isn’t as layered as how it appears to be in Taiwan. I opted for ham and egg and it tasted a bit like a thicker and softer version of roti prata (or roti canai as they call it in Malaysia). I would definitely try the chicken teriyaki filling next time — that seems to be pretty popular!
This a bit more ordinary when compared to some of the other exotic snacks here, but if you are looking for something safe yet delicious, go for it!
8. Grab your Korean-style handmade customised bags and accessories! Or get some henna done
Yes my fellow shopaholics, it’s time for you to sit up and leave your boyfriends/husbands at the numerous food stalls! Walk to the end of the street and you will find a couple of stalls selling pretty earrings, headbands, bracelets and other accessories! And some earrings go for as low as Rm 5 per pair (approximately S$1.70) — a steal!
I got this shabby chic headband that costs only Rm 10 (approximately S$3.30) from one of the stalls, and it’s very comfortable (not the kind that’s hard and gives you a headache after a while — or am I the only person who faces this problem?).
My favourite is this little stall called Yen’s Handmade (photo below), which (as you can tell from the name) sells everything handmade and customised, from cute little handbags to earrings to headbands! Yes, you can pick and choose which charms you want to go on your handbag, or buy one of their designed ones off the rack! I couldn’t resist this pair of snowflake earrings — at Rm 15 (approximately S$5), it’s more expensive than most of the earrings sold at the other stalls but come on, it’s unique.
The artist herself was at the stall, and she enthusiastically showed me some of her freshly minted earrings. They don’t have a website, but you can contact her on WeChat (ID: cyen0209) and ask for their catalogue!
We also spotted a henna stall (instead of the usual mani-pedi) so why not try something different while you’re here? 😉
Special Mention: White Rabbit Milk Tea at Jonker Street
Now I know I mentioned to avoid Jonker Street, but it does have one teensy redeeming factor — White Rabbit Milk Tea sold at one of the Go Tea stalls!
We saw a Go Tea stall at Kee Ann Food Street as well, and there’s more than one Go Tea stall along Jonker Street, but we only saw this one offering the White Rabbit version! So far, only Yum Cha, a bubble tea chain in KL and Ipoh, sells White Rabbit bubble tea in Malaysia. Seems like other chains are experimenting!
My bubble tea tasted pretty sweet (as expected) with a hint of White Rabbit candy but overall, the milk tea was just too overpowering. I personally prefer Inside Scoop’s White Rabbit ice-cream, but it’s only sold at the Klang Valley outlets for now. Still worth a try if you love the childhood milk candy!
P.S. If you are into the brown sugar bubble tea craze, you will find that both Kee Ann Food Street and Jonker Street are lined with indie stalls selling their own version! As a self-professed BBT addict, just looking at these made me happy. I tried one along Kee Ann Food Street but wasn’t very impressed though (bobas were too hard and difficult to chew). Guess I’ll stick to The Alley and Xing Fu Tang, but if you want to support some local businesses, feel free to try but manage your expectations! 😉
Now that you know Melaka has a new dose of hipster and creative street food, why not make that road trip up north this weekend? Tag your foodie travel buddies too!