Malacca & My Malaysian Menu of Mirth

The alliteration of ‘M’ words is by no means coincidental. Put together the ‘M’s and it spells ‘Mmmmm’ – which is exactly how one would feel after a trip to our friendly neighbours Malaysia.

Food in Malaysia tends to be identified with a particular area or town – Ipoh hor fun, Penang laksa, KL hokkien mee, Klang ba ku teh. All these individual locations deserve a post on their own, given the true gastronomical excellence that they provide: in each locality, almost every outlet selling the said dishes are of decent, if not top notch, quality. I shall attempt, in this post, to offer a glimpse into the spectrum of Malaysian fare available using the town of Malacca as an example.

In a recent trip to Malaysia, I was in Malacca and made a trip down to the famed Jonker Street – which , at night, turns into a pedestrianised street (aptly called Jonker Walk) night market selling foodstuff, mobile phone and fashion accessories and much more. Being a food blog, we will of course focus on the food; however, the history of the street should not be neglected. Back in the old days, Jonker Street was where rich Chinese merchants – trading in the port of Malacca – congregated and settled, making the street the centre of the Chinese community. If you look around, old buildings of Chinese clan associations and temples still exist in their original incarnations.Photo 21-07-2013 06 33 21 PM

The street market offers fare ranging from the sweet to the savoury, snacks to wholesome meals. Here are some highlights.

Muah Chee – glutinous rice snack coated in peanutsPhoto 21-07-2013 06 50 56 PMPhoto 24-07-2013 11 06 28 AM

The muah chee here was really smooth and I liked how the peanuts actually are able to fully coat the rice chunks . Also, the peanut coating was not overly sweet and you could taste the roasted flavour of the peanuts – which is something most muah chee stalls aren’t able to boast.

Fried Carrot CakePhoto 24-7-13 11 05 57

We get this almost everywhere in Singapore and given a choice, I’d opt for the Singaporean version more often than not. However, note that the fried carrot cake in Jonker Street (and the wider Malaysian food scene) is different from what we’re used to in Singapore. Vendors tend to add bean sprouts into the frying mix and this, I feel, makes a huge difference to how it tastes – perhaps a little too healthy hence my deference to the Singaporean version.  Also, often there isn’t a choice between the black and white versions that we are familiar with in Singapore. I guess that’s a good thing because you only need to order one plate, unlike in Singapore where it’s too tempting to just order both!

Potato RolesPhoto 24-07-2013 11 06 20 AM

This is interesting. Basically it is a deep fried whole potato cut into small slices. After which you can choose your flavouring ranging from mayonnaise, chilli, black pepper to cheese. Essentially this is like your packet potato crisps, just that its freshly made on the spot.

Durian PuffPhoto 24-07-2013 11 06 24 AM

Just look at the durian cream oozing out of the puff! This was really good, especially since it’s served chilled. The pastry was thin and light, which complemented the durian cream inside. If you’re looking at this and expecting it to taste like the S$7 for 2 durian puffs sold at Goodwood Park Hotel, Singapore, you’re missing the point.  The puffs here are not stuffed with a thick durian filling; rather it’s a watered down version which is surprisingly refreshing – a unique description of anything durian-related. Moreover, at RM5 for 3 (that’s S$2) it is well worth the money spent

Coconut JellyPhoto 23-07-2013 10 35 39 PMPhoto 24-07-2013 11 05 33 AMThis is my personal favourite. It is basically gelatinised coconut water. This means that the natural coconut taste is preserved and not artificially enhanced and, once again, an extremely refreshing option on a hot, humid day.  

Dim SumPhoto 21-07-2013 06 58 33 PM

This was not anything particularly special, aside from the fact that the variety was pleasantly abundant and that the ingredients were fresh and served piping hot. No need to queue for hours (*ahem* Tim Ho Wan) or pay sky high prices (*ahem* Yan Ting) if all you want is to satisfy a craving for a couple of prawn dumplings or siew mais.

Takoyaki – Japanese Dumpling BallsPhoto 21-7-13 21 23 04

I have always felt takoyaki should be a staple in street markets, given how light a snack and how universally palatable they are. I mean if you don’t take the original octopus fillings, go for cheese! Or if you’re allergic to prawns, have the sausage option! In fact, to me at least, takoyaki balls actually whet up one’s appetite so its presence should benefit the other stallholders as well. The ones here aren’t exceptional as they are too floury for my liking. But, as I mentioned, a must have in every street market.

Fried OysterPhoto 21-07-2013 09 23 38 PM

As a dish, this is one I always look out for anywhere I go. The thing about Malaccan fried oysters is that they fry the oysters for a rather more substantial amount of time than Singaporean hawkers. Hence you get a oysters that are more cooked. Somewhat similar to the oysters you get in Penang. I personally prefer this style because the oysters become less watery and, texture-wise, goes better with the fried flour. If you are Hepatitis-paranoid, perhaps this version will set your mind at ease (if only by a little).

Nonya snacksPhoto 24-07-2013 11 06 06 AM

There are also sweet snacks available along Jonker Walk. Here is kueh dadar, a nonya pancake role filled with grated coconut. The one I bought was pretty mediocre but at only RM1? Always worth a punt.

We adjourned to a nearby zi char restaurant for dinner after roaming the streets for snacks. Well everyone deserves a proper meal after walking so much!

We elected to come to this eatery just metres away from the main food street. The waiting time for the food was more than half an hour but I tell you when the food arrived it, it was thoroughly worth it.

Curry Fish HeadPhoto 24-07-2013 11 05 15 AM

The curry fish head was delightful, the fragrant curry taste and generous servings of veggies. It also wasn’t too oil unlike most other curry dishes. The fish was fresh and cooked to perfection – usually most curry fish head would be pre-prepared, and hence likely to be overcooked; this one had no such problems.

Salted egg yolk fried chickenPhoto 24-7-13 11 05 24Basically this was fried chicken coated with a salted egg yolk paste. It could be ordered with pork ribs, prawns or chicken and we opted for the latter. This was quite a unique take on a common zi char dish. The salted egg yolk paste was not too thick, yet it was ultra creamy in texture. No way did it taste like a heart attack waiting to happen  as you’d expect with such a rich dish. I also found it a nice touch that the chicken pieces were filleted for our convenience and I was happy to devour each piece whole.

Claypot pork cooked with sesame oil and salted fishPhoto 24-07-2013 11 05 11 AM

This was nice, especially when eaten with plain rice. The pork was very soft and the salted fish bits added a panache to the overall taste of the dish.

Tofu with seafood topped with dried scallopsPhoto 24-07-2013 11 05 07 AM

This was another enjoyable dish. The seafood, comprising prawn and squid, was fresh. What impressed me was the generous toppings of dried scalloped – which was fried till crispy, so much so I almost mistook them for shallot bits! That, of course, would not have done the dish any justice as the scallops – in the way they were fried – definitely enhanced the taste of the dish by miles. Photo 24-07-2013 11 04 57 AM

For the sake of a wholesome meal, we also ordered spinach fried with garlic and long beans with dried shrimp. The long beans were especially good, in fact it was so good that it was long gone before I could even snap a close up picture of it. I guess it was due to the fragrance of the dried shrimp; again I suspect that they had pre-fried the dried shrimp before putting in the beans.Photo 24-07-2013 11 05 01 AMPhoto 24-07-2013 11 04 53 AM

Restaurant Chong Sek

20,Jalan Portugis,75200 Melaka
75200 Melaka, Malaysia

Malacca, and indeed Malaysia as a whole, is certainly a good place to visit for food – the peranakan food scene here is famous but sadly overly commercialised. But try your luck and visit any independently-run eateries or stalls and you’ll be pleasantly surprised. More Malaysian posts to come – watch this space!

Sin Ming Roti Prata, Singapore

i’m constantly in search of good prata and i think i finally found a place i can call my favourite for this indian dish!

i would say its quite a hidden gem since most people who think of eating prata in the thomson plaza area flock to the bigger and more conspicuous prata house along the main upper thomson road, me included, until i recently discovered Sin Ming Roti Prata, located in a coffee shop at the foot of a hdb block off the main upper thomson road.

i’ve been there twice in 10 days; my craving to have it again came about an hour after i had it the first time (i am ridiculously greedy, i know), as we were having ice cream for dessert at Salted Caramel.

i am completely sold by the prata from this stall for several reasons:

1. the pratas are all freshly made on the spot by a prata man behind the counter after you place your order. no such thing as reheating prata that was made much earlier here, which makes the pratas deliciously warm when you tuck into them. the dough for each prata is kneaded by hand and i feel this is what sets apart the prata here from others which to me, taste more mass-produced and aren’t vastly different from the good frozen pratas you can buy from supermarkets.20130705_110520

2. as you can see from the picture above, they have a really extensive menu! (though i stuck with my standard cheese & plain pratas.)
on my first visit there, we ordered a chicken murtabak to share on top of our pratas. the murtabak was not bad – huge with plenty of onions and chicken, and encased by the same yummy fluffy, light & non-oily prata. i’ve never really been a murtabak fan though, and i would say this murtabak didn’t suceed in making made me a convert. don’t get me wrong – it was very good, but not exceptionally outstanding such that it left me craving more (unlike the prata).OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
chicken murtabak

3. the pratas are what i consider to be perfect pratas – crispy on the outside and soft & fluffy inside. they’re also not very oily; in fact, there was very little oil left on the plate after we finished our prata both times i was there! makes them appear a little more healthy and the feasting a little less guilt-inducing? (some wishful thinking at work here heh)OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA cheese prataOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAperfect plain prata

4. the curry gravy is thick and has a really tasty kick. i find that quite often, the curry that prata shops provide with their prata can be rather diluted but that is not the case at all at sin ming prata! i personally quite like the curry they provide, though my parents (who tried the prata there after i raved about it) found it too sweet for their liking. i can see why some might find it too sweet, but i suppose you can always order other curries to go with it if you want, or just have the prata with sugar! the prata itself is good enough to keep me going back, nevermind the curry!

5. they have amazing prata coins!!! i saw them on the menu but didn’t think of ordering them the first time i was there, so they were a must-order on my second trip there. the novelty of mini pratas did not disappoint! the prata coins were thick, giving them a really satisfying bite and emphasising what i love most about the prata from this stall – the fact that they are crispy on the outside while chewy and fluffy inside. the fact that they were small made them crispier than normal pratas, but their thickness allows them to retain the chewiness inside. i found them a bit pricey at $3.50 for 6 coins, but they were delicious so the price probably won’t stop me from ordering them again the next time i’m there…20130715_123148 $3.50 for 6 prata coins

6. i also love that the stall is tucked away in a little neighbourhood coffee shop; no flashy signs or advertising.
i was initially concerned that the fact that it wasn’t a standalone prata shop might mean that i would miss out on what i deem the full prata experience – completing the prata meal with a milo dinosaur 😉 i had nothing to worry about though! the drink stall uncle was more than happy to make one for me heehee.
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so there you have it, my 6 reasons for why sin ming roti prata is currently my favourite place for a roti prata fix in singapore! the stall also sells indian rojak, mee goreng, briyani etc, all of which are supposed to be pretty good. have yet to try them though, maybe next time!

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Sin Ming Roti Prata

Blk 24 Sin Ming Road
#01-51 Jin Fa Kopitiam
Singapore 570024

Soon Heng Silver Stream Rojak, Singapore

I AM OFFICIALLY GOING THROUGH A PHASE WHERE I AM OBSESSED WITH ROJAK.

its the strangest thing because i never used to like it this much. it was something i wouldn’t mind having to share while at a hawker centre, but over this easter break, it has become (for seriously unfathomable reasons – i am so puzzled) something i NEED to have whenever i see a stall selling it hahaha!!!

for the confused non-singaporean readers out there (hello! you should really make a trip to singapore one day to FEAST if you love food as much as we do) – rojak is “a Singaporean-style salad of beansprouts, greens, tau pok, you tiao, pineapple, cucumber, and peanuts tossed with a prawn paste.” (thank you google for that definition) it’s kind of like a traditional local salad we eat here in south east asia, and can also have sweet turnip, green apple, mango and cuttlefish as ingredients, just to name a few. as you have probably gathered, it is a dish where anything goes – a whole range of ingredients can be added; in fact, rojak is malay for “mixture”, hence the very apt name for the dish.

getting a taste of this supposedly famous rojak at toa payoh has just fuelled this sudden love for rojak. check this out:

 

i think what sets good rojak apart from the rest is its sauce, and this soon heng silver stream (what a mouthful) rojak was drenched in a delicious sauce. it was the perfect mix of sweet and sour (though my dad noted that it was sweeter than most other rojak sauces – but that was what made it nice!!!) and they were ultra generous with the peanuts. they also add cuttlefish into the rojak which not every rojak stall does, and our $5 serving was a really big one for its price. great value!

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definitely my go-to place for rojak at the moment, till i find one that can beat this heehee. have been dreaming of it since i last had it, and MOSDEF need to go back for more this weekend before i fly back to london for exams ugh.

PS. my mother’s response to my latest obsession:IMG_20130416_133120

PPS. yes, she genuinely wants me to get fat.

PPPS. hi mum if you’re reading this!!! (she did promise to be a loyal follower of rockabitebaby heehee)

Singapore Foodspam

I AM IN HEAVEN.

Singapore = food, food and more food. And not just any food – amazing, delectable, delicious, mouth-watering, wonderful, sensational, marvellous, FOOD GLORIOUS FOOD.

this is the look i permanently have on my face:Image

one of sheer joy and excitement. my eyes light up like the high beam lights on my car when i see food. food from SINGAPORE. food from HOME.

took a while to get down to writing this post because i had some issues transferring pictures from my phone to my computer but its all been sorted now, so here i am!!!

been eating heaps since i got back and this post is 1) proof of that and 2) basically going to be a picture spam – you have been warned!!! after all, a picture paints a thousand words 😉

so, let’s begin.
random delicious things i have eaten since getting back (and this isn’t even half of it):

1. bak kut teh from my favourite bkt shop in singapore for dinner on the first day i got back! it is seriouslyyy good stuff, but its the herbal and not the peppery sort so it really depends on what type you like; this may not be your cup of tea! for those who are interested though, you can get some amazing piping-hot Klang-style bak kut teh at:

Leong Kee (Klang) Bak Kut Teh
321 Beach Road

don’t forget to add yew char kway (aka you tiao) and some salted veggies to your order! 😉20130324_190638the braised pigs trotters were yummy too!!! check it out – bubbling away…20130324_190801

2. i’ve also had countless cups of bubble tea – what’s new? for those who know me well enough, you’ll know that i love this drink so much that i worked at a bubble tea shop for a few months while waiting to enter uni last year. during the interview when they asked me why i wanted to work there, i simply said “I LOVEEEEE BUBBLE TEA”, and i think it must have been the unmistakeable sparkle in my eye and quickened rate of speech (due to sheer excitement of talking about my favourite drink) that landed me the job 😉

i do have my favourites – honey milk tea with pearls/grass jelly milk tea/fresh milk tea/milk tea with pudding+grass jelly+pearls (yes i am a milk tea kind of person!) but i generally drink alllll kinds of bubble tea and love checking out random new stores that pop up all over the place just to suss out which ones serve the real deal 😉
TIP: Toa payoh central currently has a grand total of 5 (or more???) bubble tea stores. perfect for a bubble tea drink trail? hahaahah.
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3. finally tried plain vanilla cupcakes from holland village after hearing so much about them – and i think they are definitely better than the ones at twelve cupcakes!!! maybe it was the outlet of twelve cupcakes i went to, or maybe they were having a day where their cakes were a little off, but i was unimpressed when i tried the cupcakes at twelve cupcakes! i found the cake too dry and more like a muffin than a cupcake, whereas at plain vanilla, their cupcakes are denser and more moist – how i think a cupcake should be!
get some at:

Plain Vanilla Bakery

34A Lorong Mambong
Holland Village20130326_145606
4. i am a fruit monster. and i am so happy to be back home getting to eat all my yummy tropical fruits (okay not everything in this picture is local, but look at the mangosteens and dukus!!!). here’s what happened when my sister and i went shopping for fruits when i first got home:
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5. amazing leafy, green, fresh & proper asian vegetables:
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didn’t realise how much i missed my legit asian veggies till i saw what my mother brought home from the market. think she got a little excited at the prospect of me being home and went all out with the marketing hahaha! but i’m not complaining.

6. bread – nothing that i can’t get in london but still good good food nonetheless:
freshly-baked fruit & nut loaf from baker & cook, a lovely little shop near my place, perfect for me to pop by for some good bread!

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Baker and Cook
77 Hillcrest Road

more yummy breads, from Maison Kayser this time – orange bread (L) and fig bread (R)! YUMMY.20130401_093631

7. something i grew up on and will always love – $1 ice cream from the pushcarts along orchard road! my standard order: attap chee ice cream in bread!!! i’ve always found it strange how people don’t know that these uncles sell attap chee ice cream; i’ve had to convince many disbelieving friends that attap chee ice cream does exist, these uncles do sell it, and YES, they have whole attap chees inside!!! hahaha. this uncle’s cart is the one i patronise the most – outside taka, at the crossing that will bring you to paragon! (and yes, i was so excited to be back and eating it again that i took a picture with the uncle hahaahhaahha)20130327_201323a

8. made a trip to peperoni’s – always going to be one of my favourite restaurants along the stretch of eating places at greenwood! super yummy squid ink linguine that made me look like i was wearing black lipstick for the rest of the meal:
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i love the pizzas they do at pepperoni’s too; they have the GINORMOUS family-sized ones which are always exciting and what i love is that they can do 2 flavours on 1 pizza! my favourites are the suprema, parma ham, frutti de mare, and the pancetta, and omg, you HAVE to try the giant portobello mushroom appetizer if you are there – it is to die for, especially if you are a mushroom lover like i am!!!

Peperoni Pizzeria
6 Greenwood Avenue

9. my mum had a friend visiting from the states and we had a mini local food feast at home! it was all very exciting and satisfying – 20130329_193631
CHICKEN WINGS!!!20130329_195953
POPIAH PARTY!!!20130329_200714
MEE SIAM!!!
along with many other things – oyster omelette, satay, chicken rice, kueh pie tee etc etc etc! YUMZ. i think i might have been more excited than her visiting friend… hahahahaha

10. homecooked wonders: i am so lucky to have a maid that is an AMAZING cook at home. here’s some of the stuff she has whipped up since i’ve been back – i have decided that i shall write a post on her one day hahaha just to honour her cooking prowess and skillz.
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had some traditional teo chew style yu sheng, just because i didn’t get to toss any over CNY this year 🙂20130330_200354
okay she didn’t cook this – we had it delivered hahahaa but still yumzzz. and i was super intrigued by how the pig is SMILING.. do you see it too!?!?20130330_204852
steamed fishhhh – something i have missed!!!20130330_205345
liver cooked to perfection – credit goes to my mum for this!!!
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my all-time favourite chinese soup – lotus root and peanut soup! omg i could eat bowls and bowls and bowls of this.20130331_195955tau suan!!! one of my favourite local desserts. she makes a mean pulut hitam too (Y)20130325_121626simple homecooked noodle soup with ikan bilis and an egg done just the way i like it – ah, how good it is to be home!!!

11. tau huay – lots and lots and lots of it. 20130330_212731

12. sugar cane juice!!! oh how i have missed you.20130331_132052

12. ngoh hiang – ALL-TIME FAVE, especially the prawn cracker (Y)20130331_132527

13. my favourite breakfast from ghim moh market – thosai/appam/soya bean milk20130403_082222

14. MEE JIANG KUEH – from my favourite stall, also at ghim moh market!!! its the best, srsly. 20130403_083434
okay i think i should stop now – i really apologise for the picture spam; i think i might have gotten a little carried away… but this is already a whittled down selection of food!!! i still have several individual places that i have visited and want to write about, and will get down to that soon and update when i am not stuffing my face or burying my head in books (who am i kidding – that has not been happening much at all) and hence have the time to write a proper post (like tonight when i decided that property law was just not happening for me 😦 as my friend very appropriately asked – “are you studying or eating???” )

till then, HAPPY EASTER, EVERYONE!!!

much love,
rach (& her growing food baby)