Tuesday, September 1, 2009

The Merdeka Malacca Food Trip.

Over the Merdeka weekend, what better way to celebrate our independence than to eat our way around the city where it all started?

Weather on that gastronomic Saturday was excellent- clear blue skies, the occasional sea breeze, sunny but not humid. All bodes well for our gastronomic sojourns, except for the crowds. People, people, EVERYWHERE. You had to queue for practically anything that was worth waiting.
Photographic evidence will be provided throughout the post.

After meeting our ex-uni-mate/tour guide for the day, we start our glutton-fest at our first stop for breakfast...

1. Hup Huat(?) Porridge and its next door Yong Tau Foo, Bunga Raya
Blindly following our local friend's directions, we parked our car in an open space carpark that had some sort of a shack at the back of it. Little did I know that the shack was where we were going to have our porridge! Turns out that behind the shack are a few little shops: one famous for their porridge, and the other an equally popular Yong Tau Foo establishment. It really felt like a shack, and so regrettably I didn't bother to snap pictures.

Taste verdict:
The porridge had everything in it: from shrimps to pork strips to century eggs. Texture was creamy with each rice morsel well broken into : definitely not the sort of porridge I'd associate with 'sick people food'. The Yong Tau Foo from next door was pretty good too, albeit being greeted with a limited selection still remaining for the day (it was already 10am). The filling for the Yong Tau Foo was genuinely fish-y, and the tofu tasted self-made and devoid of the alkali ('kansui') aftertaste.

As I didn't snap photos or take note of the shop's name, I did a quick google and I reckon this shop called 'Hup Huat' may be it. All I know is that it is located in the Bunga Raya area.

2. Cendol @ Jonker 88 Museum Cafe

A glimpse of the queue at the shop. Fortunately we were there before the hoards of tourists came,
and so didn't have to sunbathe for our food like these poor souls. Not here, at least.

This well-known Cendol establishment in the well-known Jonker Street needs no further introduction (as evidenced by the barrage of blog posts mentioning this place upon googling the words 'Jonker' and 'cendol' together). This is my second time here, and this time round I had the durian version of the cendol. In this version, they would add a scoop of durian cream on top of the cendol.

Here we also tried the Nyonya fish cake salad(?). It consisted of slices of fried fish cake (鱼饼) served with rojak-style julienned cucumbers and a red coloured sweet dipping sauce.

Taste verdict:
The durian cream tasted good and went well with the cendol, but I wish they had given more of it because the taste got drowned quickly under the heap of ice shavings and 'gula melaka'.

I have to mention that the cendol served here is different from the Penang version that is more soup-y and generous with the coconut milk, 'cacing' and red beans. The form of cendol here is more akin to 'ais kacang' with its heap of shaved ice topped with lots of gula melaka.

As for the Nyonya fish cake salad thingy, the combination is refreshing, but the fish cake slices were extremely salty and had to be balanced by the vegetables and the sweet sauce (perhaps that was the intention).

After that, we decided to take a break from eating and played 'tourist' for a while. We wandered around the shops on Jonker, then trekked' up St Paul's Hill and hung out there in the shade while waiting for the food to digest.

Well rested, we marched down to the hill to our next battle post.

3. Chop Chung Wah Chicken Riceballs

Looking at the queue outside Chung Wah, upon entering the souvenir shop facing it (San Shu Gong)...

Me : Look at those idiots lined up just for Chicken Rice Balls!
Friend : Yeah...
Me : What's so good anyway? I love food, but in my books no food is that good to justify queuing in the hot sun for it!
Friend : Yeah, yeah...
5 minutes later, coming out from San Shu Gong...
Me : Ok, where to next?
Friend: Eat chicken riceballs lo...
Me : What the? What's A, LL, and VY doing over there in the queue?
Friend: Doing what you'd never do in your holidays. Queuing up for food. And it's our turn to queue now...
Me: ........
Fortunately, the queue wasn't long (the shortest one for the whole trip) and the weather wasn't as hot as the photos suggest.

Anyway, due to the crazy tourist hoardes, the proprietors made ordering extremely simple. After taking a quick look at our table, all waiter had to ask us was:
"Half or whole chicken?"

That's it. No fuss over preferred chicken parts, type of chicken, soup, vegetables, number of rice balls, etc. Minutes later, the chicken was served (by an auntie who 'Siam!'-ed the poor girl who was in her way) and each of us were served with 5 rice balls.

I am not sure if extra rice balls can be ordered, but you could venture asking one of their extremely busy staff for it (at your own risk). A potentially Oliver-Twist-Sir-may-I-have-some-more situation there, moreover ironic considering that we are paying customers.
And a word of advice- do not even think of cheating your way into the restaurant for a table. The hawk-eyed staff will make sure you got 'served' in their own way, I witnessed it with my own eyes.

Chopsticks reaching frantically for the chicken.

Taste verdict:
Rice balls and steamed chicken were good, but not great. I found the rice balls slightly lacking in aroma while the steamed chicken was slightly bland and soggy in texture. While some chicken rice ball purists might appreciate its subtle flavouring, I prefer mine doused in soy sauce, dark or light. That's why I prefer the chicken rice ball sold in a place in Melaka Raya. Although less authentic in its ambience, the tasty rice balls and succulent chicken more than made up for its lack of atmosphere.

to be continued..

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