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I was less impressed with Malacca than Penang as well. Jonker Walk was a drag and I didn't really "get" the the chicken rice. They had great laksa, though!

You've made me wish I had spent more time getting off the beaten track. I was there last March and had such a hard time adjusting to the heat! I couldn't walk around during the 11am-4pm window, it was too hot. So I ended up not seeing very much while I was there.


'Here is Malacca as it's always been, Malacca for Malaccans, undisturbed and unperturbed'Love this line Robyn. Great way to see a place


thank you Robyn for daring to go where few thread. :)


A great post - so engaging and so much sentiment between the lines and Dave’s complimenting photos.

Referring to the older posts you linked:
Isn't the 'original' Hainan chicken rice dish served with a 'rice ball' anyway?? That’s how I remember it anyway back from Taipei days. They are normally called ‘Singaporean Hainan chicken rice’ (!) and the rice usually served in a bowl. But my impression is in its tradition, the rice is scooped up into a lump and served on the side of the chicken. I tend to think the idea of this ball originated from Hainan. Though I am not sure the rice ball necessarily associated with the chicken meat – I mean these fishermen were peasants, perhaps the meat went to higher status families or in God offerings. A reader said it the chicken would be too expensive for the fishermen. The dish is of course made popular and known in the SE Asia by these immigrants. (did you say this ball often associated with Melaka? I guess this wife made it a round ball – the origin is to make it a 糰 - a fan tuan, not necessarily round)

Also, Bak Kee is Rou Geng 肉羹。 Kee refers to the specific flour-dipped meat broth.

Those songbirds cages are so Chinese (less Hokkienese) - seems Chinese older folks find great comfort in these birds in cages. In Taipei, in the older days, these men from China used to carry them everywhere. In an 'Asian cuisines' restaurant we recently went to in the Eastern Berlin - we were pondering about these prettily decorated bird cages hanging on the ceiling all over the premises; hard to associate birds and food. Only now I saw the connection! - a tradition of love and comfort.

(In Taipei, talking about 25 odd years ago though - you sometimes got 'Hainan chicken rice' which was like it's specialty chicken meat on one side, and served with a 'top bowl' of Hainan rice, not necessarily cooked in the traditional way with chicken oil & juice, but nonetheless, 'Hainanese'in its style)


Delicious food to eat....


Omg, Robyn, the fish the fish. Back in the old days, there were a couple Teochew porridge restaurants near to Goh Huat Seng! My parents loved to eat there and being the youngest, they would always take me. It was prepared differently, braised with soy sauce and yes, the best parts were the bones that just dissolved in the mouth. We loved eating there, and my parents loved the Teochew porridge! The fish is called Bok kok hoo in Hokkien, same fish you have in the pictures. A few years ago, when I was home, I drove my dad all through the street of George Town tried to find the restaurants but they were long gone. We were so sad. :( I think the only ones I've seen is the one beside the kaya toast on Kampong malabar but there was no such dish. I wonder if the squatting lunch place on Magazine Road has it!


Thanks for the recommendation! I've been trying to find Kampung Panta on the map. Could it possibly be Jalan Kampung Pantai?


Lina - yes, we weren't out and about much betw 11-4 either. When I say get out early, I mean like 7am. It's one of those places that takes a little effort. I had the same "hate it" then "ah, I get it" reaction to Luang Prabang last year.

Kalyan -- thank you!

Lydia -- I'm trying to figure out of your comment has a typo in it or if there is some hidden meaning I'm not catching. ;-) ?

Thank you Katy. Yes, there is alot sentiment between the lines. After doing stories on conservation/preservation/Unesco/management in George Town and now Malacca I think I could write a mini book. I don't think that the powers that be in Malaysia would appreciate what I would have to say, though. Let's just say it's all been very enlightening.
RE: rice balls -- you have to hit the link back to the rice ball post. It is really a ball of rice, rolled between the palms. Kind of a gimmick, I now think.
And the songbirds -- also a Malay tradition, as we found last month in Kota Baru, Kelantan where they have bird singing contests every week at a couple spots in the city. The one we popped over to had 375 birds in attendance (in cages like this), judges, a scoreboard, prizes, etc!

Bee, have you ever made this melting-bones fish? Forgot all about that stall -- thanks for the reminder.

Thanks Sara, yes -- it is Pantai with an "i" (which means "beach" -- next to the river) ... as I had it in the body of the post's text.


No, I haven't made it, will have to try. My mother made this killer spicy-soy-lemongrass-infused fish soup with the same fish. I will try the next time I go home. The fish is also great when deep-fried with just a tamarind rub. Ahhh, I will have to ask you guys to try the foods of my childhood (my cooking) when I am back in Penang next time. :)
PS: Pardon my typo and grammar in the last comment, using a phone. ;)


I did look that link and saw the rice balls. I can not tell you where I made the impression from, it was 30 years ago – at the time many of these ‘Southeast’ Asian eateries were opened or maintained by Overseas Chinese students who were sponsored by Taiwan government for university degree in Taiwan. I wouldn’t be surprised if the first such eateries were in the neighborhood of Taida or Shida and I lived in between the two campus. Somehow these people were known to be good cooks or possess good catering business sense too. My memory of it was 1. the chicken and the rice cooked with chicken fat and juice were ‘separate’ dishes. And the rice had a name, and you could order the rice and match with other dishes. 2. This rice ‘roll’ was traditionally palm rolled, I didn’t mention earlier, that was the ‘proper’ way though not always common in the restaurant and I don’t remember they came in small balls as in your post. My memory of the name ‘Singaporean’ Hainan chicken might be dubious, now thinking of it as I didn’t think we ‘recruited’ Singaporean students (or not many anyway) – mainly from Malaysia, Vietnam, Indonesia and Burma; lesser Hong Kong.
I just googled and looks like although the story about the birth of Melaka’s rice balls was not supported historically (the wife, chicken and chicken rice), the palm rolled rice balls certainly was. Taken from an article about ‘the legend of Hainan chicken rice’:
(…in the olden days, the rice cooked with chicken fat & juice were rolled into ‘fan tuan’ and it’s called in Hainanese “饭珍” Fan Zhen – meaning all the good things. Rice roll is rarely served this way in Hainan Island anymore, but the tradition was brought over to the Malay neighborhood in the 1920-30 and is now popular in Malacca 马六甲.) The author is from China.


Lovely post Robyn - gives me a sinking feeling - the Delhi authorities keep making noise about 'regenerating' the Old City and I dread the kind of kitsch you describe in Malacca. Good to know you can still find something real though.


I am impressed. Everything looks so authentic and delicious.


I just want to tell you guys how awesome you are and thank you for showing me so many parts of Malaysia I've never known. I had lived in Kuching for 17 years before moving overseas for studies. And never got the chance to discover Malaysia for myself. Thank you also for showing me a different perspective of Malaysia. I've begun to appreciate the old world charm in certain parts of the country and I am loving every moment of it.
Keep clicking them cameras and keep writing! ;)
and love from NZ

The Magic Pie

It's the first time I've been in your blog....so great!


Very true about what Jonker St as well as the whole town have become. I was brought up in Malacca but left after school.

When I came back it had transformed from a tired but respectable old town to this. So kitsch as you say, so crowded with buildings, people and traffic. Not to mention the many new ‘attractions’ like that silly Portugese galleon made of concrete, the ‘replica’ of the sultan's palace next to the Malacca Club, re-painting the Malacca Club building with such garish colours, that huge shopping complex on the padang - the field where the country's independence was proclaimed, that man-made island full of abandoned buildings and that huge commercial development that includes Mahkota Parade on reclaimed land.

Now this town looks a bit silly calling itself a historical city. You can’t see the history for all the concrete and plastic. I never recommend it as a place to visit to anybody who asks.


thank for showing us the real malacca to us
and not another chicken ball or pineapple tart.
see the the beauty in the daily life of normal malaccan,apart from your casual day trip that drown in jonker street of kitsch.


Great blog, nice to discover so many things about Malacca. Thanks!

Food Safety Certification

Nice post Robyn! Asian foods do sometimes look the same. I think I found a dish in the Philippines where it is the exact same as Long Fatt's stewed pumpkin. I like to taste the difference of the two.


Planning a trip to Melaka and sad to see Google Maps says Long Fatt is permanently closed. I hope not.

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