Written by Veyroniqa
Heading to Melaka but looking for something authentic? Besides Kee Ann Food Street, which is just 10 minutes’ drive from the overly touristy Jonker Street, Melaka is home to a variety of legendary local cuisine, and no we are not talking about those famous and overly commercialised ones that everyone knows of!
Skip your regular go-tos for chicken rice balls and satay celup; we’ve even asked the locals and found out where they usually head to for authentic Melaka food – and you know they are good if the locals love it. This also includes Peranakan food, of course, as the Peranakans are historically one of the main communities in Melaka.
Come on this legendary food trail with us to uncover the local hidden gems!
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1. Serving flavourful duck noodles for 70 years – Tengkera Duck Noodle
Some people might dislike the taste of duck (yours truly included) but the soup is so light that you won’t be overwhelmed. Tender strips of meat served with either springy yellow noodles or kuey teow – how can you say no to that?
It’s so popular you’ll find it packed no matter how early you arrive, but they have super fast service so it’ll be your turn before you know it.2. Traditional and authentic Nyonya kuihs – Dapur Cho Cho
A 4th generation kuih shop operating from the home kitchen of the Cheng family, Dapur Cho Cho is a hidden gem tucked away from the touristy and bustling areas of Melaka. In fact, it’s pretty close to the Melaka International Airport!
Here, you’ll find a small variety of mouthwatering Nyonya kuihs daily. To maintain the standard of the kuihs, the granny (also the matriarch) of the family often does taste tests! How cute is that?
Since they are a kuih supplier (find their kuihs at Nancy’s Kitchen, Amy Heritage Nyonya Cuisine, Majestic Hotel) they encourage customers to order in advance. Plus, they sell out pretty early too (usually before 10am) so remember to come early!
Getting there is not easy as there are no signboards and the house number is not immediately obvious. But it’ll be worth it when you eventually find it because their onde-onde is said to be one of the best around!
3. Traditional home-cooked Peranakan food – Nyonya Delight
You’ll find yourself right at home at this quaint little place run by a friendly ladyboss. Her laksa and lontong are not to be missed!
Make sure you check their Facebook page for specials as they sometimes have Nyonya kuihs and other delectable dishes.
Parking can be an issue as it’s in a residential area (and can be hard to locate), so it might be better to take a cab instead.
4. Unique Malaccan childhood noodles – Hoo Khiew Prawn Cracker Noodles
Did you know, noodles topped with prawn crackers is actually a childhood favourite among Malaccans!
Operating from the front porch of a house, you can choose between kway teow, yellow noodles, or bee hoon. Kway teow is the most popular choice as it complements the light and flavourful soup just perfectly. Served with fish balls and a sprinkling of fried shallots, it’s a culinary delight you shouldn’t miss out on.
Don’t expect super fast, top-of-the-line sort of service but enjoy the ambience of a home-cooked meal.
5. A blast from the past: Taibak and shaved ice balls – Taibak Corner
This is a traditional dessert you will be hard-pressed to find anywhere else. Taibak is a Peranakan dessert which is glutinous and bland, usually paired with grass jelly or attap chee (palm seeds).
It’s also known as “Mother’s tears” because it is something a mother would make for her children as a farewell drink the night before they leave home and move abroad.
Another novelty item is their shaved ice balls – a ball of ice is drenched in syrup and is eaten with your bare hands by sucking it dry. This used to be easily found in Malaysia and Singapore in the 1960s, but has become increasingly rare since. They are also known as ice kacang balls as the syrups used are those traditionally used in ice kacang.
If you’re hankering for something filling or savoury, we hear that their mee goreng kosong is pretty darn good!
6. Serving herbal pork stew for 80 years – Restoran Kok Keong
Restoran Kok Keong is known for their pork meat stew, the Malaccan twist on bak kut teh (pork bone stew usually cooked with herbs)! You can choose to have intestines, pork belly, lean pork, pork liver with tofu or go with pork ribs or trotters instead. The broth is slightly sweet and goes very well with their yam rice.
If you’re not a fan of yam, you can opt for fluffy white rice but it’s definitely recommended to go for their flagship meal – stewed pork soup paired with taro rice.
With three generations under their belt, they’ve perfected the art of this unique dish and while the shop front is not appealing, there must be a reason why their regulars return again and again, especially when they have been serving their stews for 80 years!
7. A pit stop nasi lemak lovers cannot miss out on – Deli Muara Ikan Bakar
Ikan bakar with nasi lemak and a generous garnish of delectable sambal – you won’t be able to stop eating, at least, according to our inside sources. 😉
And besides nasi lemak, you can also get fresh seafood. Popular dishes include nestum prawns, deep fried sotong and local veggies.
8. Popiah deliciously infused with pork fat – Ta Chong Popiah
Personally, I like my popiah with lots of sweet sauce and topped with a generous serving of peanuts but if I had to choose between that and one that’s got deep fried pork lard, we both know who is the clear winner.
Many in Melaka say that this place serves the best pork lard popiah, so it gets quite crowded and you might need to wait for quite a bit.
Pro tip: Call to order and pick it up instead of eating there – easy! If not, remember to go early as it gets sold out pretty quickly!
9. Packed with tourists and locals alike – Chop Beeng Cheong
This place is famous for its noodles, and is affectionately known as “shake head noodles” (摇头面) as the chef shaking his head while preparing them (some have said this is due to a nerve issue).
The place looks just like a typical kopitiam, but it’s known for their holy trinity: noodles, oyster omelette and BBQ wings.
TripCanvas’ Tip: Do note that the noodles and their signature dishes are only available in the morning, while at night, there are different vendors selling completely different food.
10. Charcoal-cooked red beans for a fragrant ABC! – Hygienic Min Chong Ice Cafe
Having been around for 70 years, you can be assured of its authenticity and quality. The ABC (which stands for Air Batu Campur and also known as ice kacang – an iced dessert usually served with red beans, grass jelly, sweet corn, sago topped with santan or milk) and chendol are his bestsellers.
They also serve ice balls here but apparently it’s not available on weekends. You can also get your rojak fix here too!
What’s special about his ABC is that he cooks the red beans with charcoal, and his chendol is especially “Q” (meaning chewy!).
11. Not the usual touristy chicken rice ball eatery – Huang Chang Chicken Rice Restaurant
You must have heard of the famous chicken rice balls in Melaka and some popular restaurants that sell it. We say, skip those commercialised ones in the city centre (we are not going to name, but you can find out with just a quick Google search) and go for the humble hidden ones that the locals frequent.
Huang Chang Chicken Rice is one such hidden gem. Their rice balls are not as large as those from famous restaurants, but they are comfortably bite-sized. And you know if the locals flock here (it’s usually packed) and deem that this place serves “the best chicken rice balls”, you’re onto something good here!
12. Locals’ secret to authentic spicy satay sauce – Ming Chi Satay Celup
Before travelling to Melaka, you might also have already heard of satay celup (steamboat satay whereby uncooked meat and vegetables are skewered and dipped into a pot of spicy peanut sauce which is placed over a heat source to cook) as one of the must-tries here. And with so many famous ones around, how do you know which is the most authentic and local?
Ming Chi Satay Celup used to be a roadside street stall (known as Kah Im) and everyone would gather at the carpark where it’s set up to enjoy. However, they have recently moved to a proper shop but their sauce is still deemed as the best by locals (with a little kick of spiciness!).
While you probably won’t have the same huge variety that you can find at bigger restaurants, rest assured that the ingredients are fresh and tasty.
P.S. We know that there’s certain controversy regarding satay celup and how sellers might recycle the sauce, but there’s no way to be sure as it is common knowledge that most do, so enjoy this dish at your own discretion. We sure won’t let that stop us – I mean, as long as it’s been reboiled, all the bacteria should technically be killed, yea?
1. Authentic Taiwanese food that’s been around 40 years! – Hing Loong Taiwanese Noodle
Their beef noodle soup is what everyone comes for but their pork chop will make you go for seconds! No matter how full you are, you’ll find room for more. 😉
Since most people don’t come to Melaka for Taiwanese dishes, many of you might have missed this hidden gem that locals flock to for a hearty meal.
It’s quite interesting to see how this Taiwanese beef noodle soup has been influenced by Malaysian culture as it comes with a side of fragrant sambal. How’s that for a Taiwan x Malaysia fusion?
2. 50 years of Hainanese goodness – Heng Hong Tin Kee Restaurant
When most of us think of Hainanese food, chicken rice usually comes to mind, but there’s so much more than that!
At Heng Hong Tin Kee, don’t miss their famous mutton soup which is infused with herbs and packs a punch of flavour!
Another popular dish is the Hainanese Lotus Leaf Chicken. Steamed for an hour with chestnuts, mushrooms, lotus seeds and salted egg – just thinking about it makes us hungry!
Comment and share with us your favorite hidden gem in Melaka and we might feature it above! If not, enjoy and tag that friend who loves eating and plan your next foodie trip together.