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Kuala Lumpur KL and Malacca / Melaka trip report (long)

Thanks Penang Rojak, Kyleoh and others for all your recommendations. Have just returned from 5 days in KL and Melaka - its the second time I have visited KL and the food definitely lived up to a second try! First time in Melaka and just want to go straight back there – lovely place and GREAT food!

I was in something of a quandry the whole time I was in KL- should I revisit places I went to last time (and LOVED!) or should I try new things? As much as possible I did both - but unfortunately sheer lack of tummy-space meant I still came back not trying as much as I wanted to!! But here is my summary of the trip from a chow point of view:

1) KL highlights

- Restoran Greenview for Sang Har Meen, Black pepper crab, la la (clams) cooked with curry leaves and chili, and kang kong belacan
I went to this place on the last trip and it was the highlight of my time in Malaysia. This time around my brother was visiting too and I wanted to take him out for a great dinner. Greenview didn’t disappoint. It was a TOTAL MISSION to get there! It was rush hour so taking a commuter train from KL Sentral to Jalan Templer proved difficult (had to wait for about the 3rd train as so full), then on arrival I thought we could walk but after a while think we were lost so got a cab – however taxi driver took us for a ride – literally! We ended up miles from the restaurant but thanks to another legit taxi driver and some helpful locals we finally ended up at the place. Despite all this palaver the meal definitely was worth it – I so recommend this place if you love prawns – Sang Har meen is one of my all time fave dishes!!

- Soong Kee (near Petaling Street) for beef ball noodles (another repeat visit – was a great as I remember! I ended up trying Shin Kee as a comparison but definitely preferred Soong Kee – guess its personal preference – they are both great.

- frog porridge on Jalan Alor – yum!! This congee stand is one of the street stalls on Jalan Alor – am turning into a real congee addict. Loved the flavour of this one – I admit I initially tried because I wanted to say Ive eaten frog porridge! But actually turned out to be a most delicious thing to eat.

- on the subject of congee – a delicious congee on level 4 of KLCC Suria – in the Rasa Foodcourt – the stall is labeled “Char Kuih” and does a great dried oyster and peanut congee served with char kuih (like long doughnuts). YUM!!!! I had never tried these fried dough sticks before and I was hooked – what a combo with the congee – now I need to find some good ones in New Zealand….

- Speaking of Char Kuih – thanks to the chowhounder who posted about “the crueller lady on Jalan Alor” – I found this family and their unnamed stall – its near the Durian stall on Jalan Alor. They make THE BEST fried dough – loved the sesame ones in particular – and at 70 sen this is THE bargain of the trip!

- Still on Jalan Alor: Wong Ah Wah for grilled chicken wings – every bit as good as people say (just standing there and inhaling the smoky aroma is worth paying for…)

- Restoran SMS Deen – walk along Jalan Alor to the end where the Durian seller is. You are now at a T junction with another road (not sure name, sorry) – turn left and SMS Deen is just there on your left. It’s a great Indian place which did superb roti and Dosai – the Masala Dosai was memorably good!

- Little Penang Kafe, Level 4 KLCC Suria – didn’t blow my mind quite as much as when I first went to this place on my last visit but remains solidly good for things like Assam Laksa and Lorbak

- Last, but by no means least – Lonely Planet know something about food when they mention the Durian Pancakes at the Mandarin Oriental – the only way to describe them would be “exquisite” – so delicious and worth every penny. The experience in itself is of course fun – going to the Mandarin Oriental and being presented with silver service etc. I literally turned up in my shorts and daypack (!) because I didn’t have time to change at the hostel. I thought they would turn me away for not being dressed up enough but they were very nice. I explained I just wanted the durian pancake dessert which was fine. It was 18RM and consisted of 3 crepe-like pancakes, inside each was a filling of durian and cream – it was a match made in heaven. Really and truly I would recommend trying this when in KL!

Disappointing/not so good (not much)

- I did find the Hokkien Mee stall on Jalan Alor (near the Durian Stand) (whilst using lard bits which I wanted to try) just was a bit too greasy for my tastes

- Yut Kee – the coffe was great but my brothers noodle dish (beef with ginger) was really overly salty – but I would still go back here as everything else was good and the atmosphere of the place is great

- Sister drunken chicken – I was glad I tried this but personally found the soup too sweet for my taste – but Im sure it has its followers.

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Onto Melaka / Malacca - I did a day trip here and it was my first time in this town and I reckon I would go back just for the food YUUUUMMMM!!!:

Highlights:

- Nyonya Makko – thank you to whoever recommended this place (Klyeoh?, Gomez?) as it was the best lunch of the trip. Unfortunately I was on my own so I couldn’t try as many dishes as I had hoped, but I gave it my best shot. Everything I ordered was fab: Assam fish was absolutely delicious – tangy and sour, Pong Teh chicken was lovely and savoury, and Kang Kong (my new fave vegetable) really great. Absolute highlight was their Cendol – am sooo a Cendol addict and this was the best example of the trip: really rich and tasty with a heat busting pile of ice on top. Would go back to this place in a flash – if you are going to Melaka you MUST try this place!

http://my.88db.com/my/Services/Post_D...

- Pineapple Tarts from Bibik House on Jonkers Street – great snack

- Durian Cendol from Lao Quin Ice café (not in the same league as Nyonya Makko’s cendol but nevertheless nice, thirst quenching dessert and interesting to try the durian twist on things…

I was disappointed that the legendary chicken rice ball place was shut by the time I reached it (Chung Wah I think the name was?) but I really could not have fitted it in anyway!
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So in summary, Malaysia for me remains one of THE great countries in the world to travel to if you are a chowhounder. Prices are great value, quality tends to be at least good if not excellent and the variety of authentic cuisines available is wide (malay, nyonya, indian, chinese - im sure the latter is actually broken down into various regional chinese cuisines but I am not sufficiently au fait with this to know which cuisines are represented). I am now back in NZ and CRAVING all this food! Luckily we have a couple of places here that do Malaysian food – but im on the hunt for cendol and congee with dough sticks – my 2 latest addictions...

I also went to Bangkok on this trip and will post a trip report for there soon.

Thanks again chowhounders for your recommendations – its great to get them and it made my trip so much better – please post if you want Auckland recommendations from me.
Happy chowing!!
FF

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  1. It's so nice to hear back from you, food fascist, and I'm so proud & happy that you like Malaccan food. So you went to Sam Suk Gong Building - that's where Lao Qian Ice cafe is located. It's different from Tan Kim Hock, which is a few kms away, but you made the right choice - Jonkers St is the place to be.

    You miss Chung Wah's chicken rice balls because they close 3pm, or even earlier once they finish selling everything but the kitchen sink.

    Next time, you have to stay overnight in Malacca. The atmosphere changes in the evening - even the types of foods available are different. For eg., you have to try the famous "satay celop" which are bamboo skewers of all sorts of seafood & meat which you dip into boiling cauldrons of spicy-peanut satay brew, fondue-style. To die for, very lip-smackingly delicious. Or as we say in Malacca "Sedap sekali!"

    In the evenings, you can also go to the Portuguese Settlement, where the large square is lined with Portuguese-Malaccan restaurants selling typical Eurasian dishes like Curry Debal, Smore, barbecued sambal fish etc.

    Many Malaccan Eurasians, like my family, descended from Portuguese settlers who came in the 15th century. Our food also shares influences/similarities with other similar Portuguese colonies, eg Goan vindaloos to our own Curry Debal which is full of chillies & vinegar.

    5 Replies
    1. re: M_Gomez

      Wow M Gomez - you definitely have me convinced to go back and stay in Malacca overnight next time! the satay celop sounds amazing and very interesting to read about the Portuguese influence there too. Next time!!

      1. re: M_Gomez

        M_Gomez, I am here in Melaka for 3 days and I want to eat everything! I see some recent reviews for Nyonya Makko aren't that great: http://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant...

        Do you think it's still worth a visit?

        What else should I try over the next few days? I'm a big fan of laksa and would love to find the local version.

        1. re: Lina

          You should try the place I mentioned down below in the same hawker stand as the chee chung fun place. The was sold out by the time we got there at 10 or 11, so it must be very good. It's very popular, anyway.

          1. re: Lina

            This may be a bit late, but you should give Nyonya Makko a try - I'd been eating there since the late 1980s when it first opened, and I still go back whenever I make my pilgrimage home to Malacca.
            Nyonya Makko makes the best ngoh hiang or meat rolls in Malacca. The owner taught one of my aunts the recipe, and she now makes absolutely delicious rolls.
            One thing which changed however is that Nyonya Makko became "halal" sometime ago, all pork dishes removed to make it accessible to Muslim customers. But Peranakan or Nyonya food is simply not the same without pork dishes.
            Don't miss the cendol dessert though - they boast that it's the second best in Malaysia after the one in Penang.

            1. re: M_Gomez

              And the #1 cendol in Malaysia would be Teochew Cendol in Penang Road:

              http://food.malaysiamostwanted.com/ve...

        2. Great to hear that you enjoyed Malacca & KL. Next time, you MUST cover the food capital of Malaysia: PENANG!

          3 Replies
          1. re: penang_rojak

            thanks Penang rojak - on my last trip to Malaysia in 2007 we went to both KL and Penang (and then onto Langkawi) and I thought the food there was GREAT!! I think you are spoilt for choice in Malaysia with such great places as KL, Malacca and Penang!

            1. re: food fascist

              And not forgetting Ipoh. If there's no Penang, I'd say Ipoh is perhaps the No. 1 food destination in Malaysia:

              http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/626043
              http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/598851

              Another of my favorite food destinations in Malaysia is Kuching. That's in East Malaysia, on the island of Borneo. Sarawak Laksa & many other dishes are simply delish & simply unforgettable.

              http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/505933

              1. re: klyeoh

                ok so you guys are now convincing me another trip to malaysia is in order!!! not sure when but when I DO go I now have a LOT of places I need to check out!! :)

          2. @food fascist and slightly off-topic (apologies!): Did you ever post your trip report on Bangkok? I'm leaving next week and would love to see a report similar to this one, but I haven't been able to find it on the boards. Thanks!

            11 Replies
            1. re: CeeDubbVA

              It is great to read about Malacca. We are headed there tomorrow and plan to stay overnight - any suggestions on where to stay to be close to all the food?

              looks like my list is:
              Nonya Makko
              Jonkers St
              Chung Wah rice balls
              satay celop
              Tan Kim Hock

              any chowhounders around Melaka that want to meet up on Fri or Sat - more people = more things we can try!

              1. re: debbieann

                The best hotel in Malacca is probably Majestic Hotel:
                http://www.majesticmalacca.com/

                1. re: debbieann

                  chung wah rice balls were great and nonya makko was also good. ended up staying at mimosa hotel. not many rooms available due to the holiday. had surprisingly good cendol at pinkberrys near the fort.

                  now in KL

                  1. re: debbieann

                    Whoa, congratulations - you actually managed to try Chung Wah's chicken rice balls during the current school holidays/Christmas season when hordes of Singaporeans, Johoreans and KL-lites swarm Malacca's narrow streets, and endless queues form outside the more famous restaurants!

                    Did you also try the chendol at Nyonya Makko which is reputedly one of the best?

                    1. re: penang_rojak

                      yes we did - and we liked it! but then a local person took us for cendol at pinkberrys near the fort and I liked that too, maybe even a little better than Nyonya Makko, but I need more cendol to compare.

                      Now we are in Ipoh, planning on dinner at Lou Wong and then early early breakfast at Kong Heng. Trying to figure out where we are (hotel lotte) and where the places are. Will walk to dinner hopefully in a couple of hrs.

                      Had great kaya toast at yut kee in KL.

                    2. re: debbieann

                      So nice to hear of someone who appreciates the food from my hometown/birthplace :)
                      If you' d stayed overnight in Malacca, you should have gone for the satay celup, or some fiery Malacca-style Portuguese food at Portuguese Square. Curry Debal is guaranteed to blow your socks off. Another time, maybe.

                      1. re: M_Gomez

                        I tried to check online and was always disappointed to find no way to get to Malacca on a one day cruise ship stop at Port Kelang.

                        Do any of you in the country who do love this place and know it better than the tour books know if there is a sure-fire way to accomplish this trip ---- in one day and get back to the cruise ship on time to depart?

                        I spent several weeks in KL a number of years ago (summer law program at Univ of Malaya) and want to spread out a bit more than KL, but now only have this one day to do it.

                        Thanks for any help. Otherwise it might just be a trip to Crab Island from Port Kelang, or any other local suggestions that might work.

                        1. re: glbtrtr

                          WE just came from that area and went to Ipoh from KL and it took only a couple of hours on a train and Ipoh had some great food. believe it or not - GREAT bean sprouts and delicious hor fun. But locals will know more. good luck! hope you can do it. Maybe hire a driver?

                          1. re: glbtrtr

                            Oh no, it'll take you at least 2.5 to 3 hours to go to Malacca from Port Klang each way. Any one-day cruise ship stop will definitely be very tight!

                            But I do believe that many cruise ships arrange bus transfers that will take you right into downtown KL, where you can have at least a good meal within the few hours given. This is perhaps the best option you have.

                            1. re: M_Gomez

                              We have several days in Singapore on our cruise, so I figured it was worth one of those days to get to Malacca from Singapore even though it is twice the distance, but we won't have to worry about getting back to the ship before it leaves. There is a Malacca-Singapore Express bus. Great news.

                              1. re: glbtrtr

                                I would rather arrange a chauffeured car rental. I did a one-day trip to Melaka (from KL) by bus, and ended up with just a couple of hours there (but I had to leave by 3 to get back for a dinner reservation). And while I was there, I had to rent a taxi for a couple of hours (taxi rentals are comparatively expensive in Malacca) because there's really no other way to get around. There's pretty much nothing around the bus station.

                                The car rental will give you more freedom than a taxi, plus you can make stops on the way to and from Malacca. I wanted to stop for these http://eatingasia.typepad.com/eatinga... , but I didn't think I could get the bus driver to stop.:-

                                )

                                If you do go to Malacca, do try to find this place http://eatingasia.typepad.com/eatinga... . The chee chung fun is the best I've ever had. But go early--we got there around 10 or 11 (I can't remember now), and the laksa was already sold out.