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Over Cendol-gence – the heart of Malaysia & Thailand: Day 3

A day trip to a town with a name that sounds like an ethnic curse word. Rickshaws that looks like they’ve had a reality show make over. Cendol crawl uncovers one of the best cendol I’ve ever had, as well as a face off against my arch nemesis. 100cm of pure awesome.

All this and more on Day 3 of the heart of Malaysia & Thailand – A Food Tour.

Malacca Town, Malacca

Our travel group hits the road once more, this time for a day trip out to Malacca Town in the state of Malacca; an approximately two to three hour scenic drive from Kuala Lumpur (KL).

Once we reach Malacca Town, we head over to Stadthuys Square, also known as Red Square due to the colour of the buildings within the area. Stadthuys, if you’re wondering, is the Dutch word for “town hall”.

Yeah, Dutch. The history behind that gets a little complicated. More on that later.

Upon entering Red Square, you can’t help but notice the beautiful, floral decorations of the many rickshaws that cycle around the area.

When I say many, I really mean many!

It’s somewhat of a surreal sight to behold. Every rickshaw is pimped out with their own unique floral decorations, lights, and the occasional sound system. It’s like Queer Eye meets Pimp My Ride.

Another thing that’s prominent around Red Square are the market stalls beside Christ Church. Standard fare as markets go but no food vendors to speak of, from what I could see at least.

Walking around the city, you’ll notice that there is somewhat of a colonial or European feel to the architecture. The answer lies within the annals of history.

Malacca started off as a fishing village populated by Malays and ruled by a Sultanate. The city was conquered by the Portuguese in 1511. The Portuguese contribute their buildings, including the fort A Famosa (more on that later).

In 1641 the Dutch defeat the Portuguese, contributing their own architecture, including the Stadthuys red buildings. The Dutch hand over to the British in 1824 and the British in turn the Malaysian in the 1940’s.

So, yeah, complicated history.

Kedai Kopi Chung Wah, Malacca

Lunch time comes around, so we gravitate towards Jonker St. Though Jonker St is known for its antique stores (quite interesting if you’re into that sort of thing), we make our way instead to the only restaurant with a queue forming at its entrance – Kedai Kopi Chung Wah.

If people are queuing for food, it must be good, right?

Kedai Kopi Chung Wah specialises in Hainanese Chicken & Chicken Rice Balls. So much so, that the only things on the menu are the variation of portion ands cut of chicken, and the rice balls.

For the chicken, prices vary from 2.50 RM for a single wing to 26 RM for the whole bird.

The chicken is somewhat disappointing for a restaurant that not only is meant to be known for its chicken, but puts all its proverbial eggs into one basket when it comes to menu options. I found the breast to be dry, despite the generous amounts of juices/sauce that is served with the chicken.

The rest of the chicken was nice enough though. Moist and soft in texture. There are a couple of options on the menu to exclude the breast portion. Now, I can see why…

The complementary and rather mild chili sauce is a must have; an additional layer of flavour over the subtle flavour of the chicken.

Though I may have been disappointed with the chicken breast, the Chicken Rice Balls (0.30 RM each) were even more disappointing. Though it did have something of a chicken flavour to it, the rice was saturated to the point of it having a stodgy pastiness to its texture.

Famosa Chicken Rice Ball, Malacca

With the disappointing memories of lunch past, we make our way to Famosa Chicken Rice Ball. Our intention was some post-lunch dessert, more specifically cendol. However, the store policy required that we couldn’t just order desserts, so…

Second lunch consisted of Otak Otak (10 RM), which is essentially a fish cake, typically made from mackerel;  a small portion of Roast Pork (6 RM); the thing we actually came for, Cendol (3 RM); & Yam Rice Balls (0.30RM each).

Having only had an inedible version of Otak Otak at a restaurant in Australia, this was my first taste of the real McCoy. I was pleasantly surprised with how very edible and how unterrible this otak otak was. A smooth, soft & somewhat creamy fish cake with wonderful flavours of chili and aromatic herbs & spices. Now I have a proper benchmark to compare other otak otak to.

The roast pork was served room temp but had a wonderfully crunchy tile of crackling with each bite. The cendol, the Nyonya variant which substitutes rose syrup for palm sugar syrup, is creamy sweet goodness.

The yam rice balls tasted pretty much the same as regular chicken rice balls. There wasn’t any distinctive flavour, texture or “yamminess” that I could attribute to the yam. However, at these ones weren’t as pasty as the previous set.

No. 1 Kopitiam Famous Authentic Nyonya Cendol, Malacca

Despite reaching my food capacity limit, we make another stop for cendol, this time at No. 1 Kopitiam Famous Authentic Nyonya Cendol.

You could easily mistake this place for a Coca Cola museum. The owner is an avid collector of all things Coke & Pepsi. I know some people that would utterly geek out over the collection.

I thought the cendol at the other place was good. However, the Cendol here (2 RM) was even better. Though you are served a smaller portion, the flavour and texture of this cendol far outdid the previous one. The tasting note I put down for this was “silly soft”, as the ice was shaved to a super-fine snow-like texture.

This was, by far and away, one of the best cendol that I’ve had throughout the whole trip.

Kim Hock Food Industry, Malacca

I know what you may be thinking. Cendol? Again? We actually had something of a shopping break before we endeavoured into our third consecutive serve of cendol for the day, so it wasn’t so bad.

Having come across the Durian Cendol sign during our shopping break, cendol was on the mind again. Rather than having cendol at this place, we instead headed out to Kim Hock Food Industry for dual purposes – shopping of various food stuffs and, of course, the durian cendol.

Tickets for Durian Cendol (5 RM) need to be purchased at a desk inside the warehouse-like centre. If you’re not into durian, you can opt for the standard cendol at 4 RM.

With ticket in hand, we made our way back outside to a small hole in the wall, conveniently located by the outdoor seating, to collect our desserts.

The durian of the durian cendol, a sauce or pulp for lack of a better phrase, reminded me of why I absolutely hated durian with such ferver. The flavour & aroma are the same stomach churning ones of every previous experience with artificial or frozen preparations of durian.

I gave it a couple of mouthfuls but give up soon afterwards, throwing the majority of the contents in the bin. It wasn’t even worth fishing around for the non-durian bits. The appetite had long since left the building.

St. Paul’s Church & Fort A Famosa, Malacca

With the mind to hang around Malacca to have Nyonya food for dinner, we make our way back into Malacca Town to do some more sight seeing.

The statue of St. Francis Xavier, known for his missionary work for the Roman Catholic church, stands in silent vigil outside the ruins of St. Paul’s Church.

St Paul’s church at one time served as the burial site of St. Francis Xavier, before he was shipped over to his final burial site in Goa. Portuguese & Dutch dignitaries still remain buried within the church.

There are also a number of old world fortifications to explore, such as the remnants of the A Famosa fort built by the Portuguese (bottom right).

Shooting cannons with a Canon camera. I don’t know if that’s irony but it feels like it should be :)

Newton Culture Food Village, Malacca

As the sun sets over the horizon, we make our way to a restaurant that I had in mind which was very highly regarded when it came to traditional Nyonya style food. Unfortunately, the restaurant is only open for lunch; a little piece of information I wasn’t able to find out until I was glaring at the trading hours sign of the restaurant.

We make do by going to a nearby food court, Newton Culture Food Village, in the hope of finding Nyonya food, preferably something good.

Cockles (2 RM) are ridiculously cheap, cooked to order, and served with a dipping sauce of kecap manis, chili sauce, lime and crushed peanuts.The cockles take some getting use to open at first but we soon work our way through them in short order.

The Cuttlefish (6 RM) is served crunchy in texture with vegetables & a belachan chili sauce.

Oyster Omelette (10 RM) is a source of discussion between the group. Some prefer it with a crispier texture, as was experienced at Jalan Alor in KL. Others prefer the soft, fluffier style, such as this one was served. Either way, it’s a popular dish to order within the group.

The Deep Fried Chicken (10 RM for 3 pieces) is fried in bag. Though I’m not sure what that does for the chicken, I don’t think it mattered all that much as the chicken was overcooked i.e. dry and a little tough.

We finish with our second order of Otak Otak for the day (0.60 RM each; buy 10 get 1 free), mostly due to its value from what I understand. Different from the other version as this was served in individual portions. It was also much firmer to but otherwise rather tasty, with a spicy note to it.

Original Penang Kayu Nasi Kandar, Petaling Jaya

We meet up with an old uni friend of Billy’s at Original Penang Kayu Nasi Kandar. I opt for the Teh Tarik over a cold drink or ice dessert, such as the Ais Kacang Special (special apparently because of the scoop of ice cream).

Roti Pisang (2 RM) is a banana-filled roti served with what I found to be a surprisingly savoury curry-like sauce.

Murtabak Ayam (5.50 RM) is a stuff roti, filled with chicken & eggs, served with a couple of curries. Tasted rather nice but after all the food had that day, there wasn’t a lot of appetite for it.

Same too for the Mee Goreng (4.20 RM), which I found to be rather greasy even with the segment of lemon to help cut through the fat.

One thing I did have an appetite for, and I presume the main reason for us coming here at all, was for the 1m long Roti Tisu (5 RM), much raved about and salivated over on Chocolatesuze.

This monster is a spectacle to behold, from its creation all the way through to its somewhat theatrical service along the length of three separate plates.

It also tastes fantastic! Ultra thin for maximum crispiness with a sugar and buttery finish. I can’t think of a better way to finish of a day of over indulgence than with an over indulgent dessert.

Can you?

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{ 27 comments… add one }
  • john@heneedsfood June 15, 2010, 1:02 pm

    Great travelogue and beautiful pics as always!

    • Simon August 5, 2010, 1:02 pm

      Thanks for reading and enjoying them! :)

  • Minh Giang June 15, 2010, 1:08 pm

    Ahhhh cendol, the perfect solution to a hot day. Haha I still can’t believe you managed to find her facebook profile!

    • Simon August 5, 2010, 1:01 pm

      Can’t say I’m proud of the stalking skills but where there’s a will…

  • sugarpuffi June 15, 2010, 4:30 pm

    ahh!!! so much food. so jealous.I wouldnt sit on the rickshaw though…looks gay with the florals…

    • Simon August 5, 2010, 1:00 pm

      I don’t think it could take out weight considering all the eating that had be done to date.

  • Mark @ Cafe Campana June 15, 2010, 7:11 pm

    I know it sounds silly but I just want to wear the 1m roti as a hat. Your photos are great, I kind of feel like I was there.

    • Simon August 5, 2010, 12:58 pm

      You’re not the only one dude. Played around with that with the stumpy dwarf version at Mamak.

  • Trissa June 15, 2010, 7:46 pm

    Thank you for the wonderful tour of Malacca! Beautiful photos, great detailed write up as well.

    • Simon August 5, 2010, 12:57 pm

      Thanks for taking the tour :)

  • Moya June 15, 2010, 9:21 pm

    Wonderful narration and photographs, my stomach started to bloat in sympathy about halfway through. How unterrible is that?

    • Simon August 5, 2010, 12:57 pm

      It’s awefully unterrible :)

  • Helen (grabyourfork) June 16, 2010, 12:09 am

    One can never have too much cendol! And now I’m craving 1m roti tisu too…

    • Simon August 5, 2010, 12:56 pm

      Though we did test our limit to how much cendol one could bare, or at least I did :)

  • Iron Chef Shellie June 16, 2010, 11:07 am

    ahhhh takes me back to when I attended my cousin’s wedding in Malacca years ago.

    Currently craving Hainanese chicken rice and cendol more than ever now!

    • Simon August 5, 2010, 12:56 pm

      Same here, for both. It’s just not the same here.

  • FFichiban June 16, 2010, 2:01 pm

    Hee hee I like playing I-spy in your photos :P and *hi5* say no to durian! But lots of yes to the other foods mmm esp that 1m roti!

    • Simon August 5, 2010, 12:55 pm

      A very big yes to the 1m roti. Miss the spectacle of it all!

  • Thang June 16, 2010, 4:21 pm

    Hi Simon, I do love hainam chicken, one of my all time fav foods… no matter what country I go to, always try to look for it. Though I like the chicken in pieces rather than in boneless pieces like in the picture here.

    • Simon August 5, 2010, 12:54 pm

      It was boned at one stage. Just was cut up for table service.

  • billy@a table for two June 17, 2010, 9:48 pm

    Chendol….. the best drink ever for the summer heat. I think you are scarred for life with durian! HEHEHEH

    • Simon August 5, 2010, 12:15 pm

      Don’t know about scarred for life but certainly wasn’t won over. I appreciate it more, and can appreciate why some people love it, but not by much.

  • yewenyi June 18, 2010, 9:46 am

    Roti Pisang was the great find of the trip for me. The otak otak was good, somtimes it to can be really bad and chendol with palm sugar is definetly the only way to go.

    • Simon August 5, 2010, 12:11 pm

      Haven’t looked back from palm sugar. Always try to replicate that combo now, even at Mamak.

  • mademoiselle délicieuse June 27, 2010, 12:25 am

    I want that 1m roti tissu…although I wouldn’t be that much taller than it!

    • Simon August 5, 2010, 12:07 pm

      LOL! If on there was a 2m roti tisu…

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