Melaka's food mirrors the city's eclectic, multi-cultural DNA. Peranakan cuisine (Nonya; prepared here with a salty Indonesian influence) is the most famous type of cooking here, but there's also Portuguese Eurasian food, Indian, Chinese, Indonesian and more.
On Friday and Saturday nights, Jin Hang Jebat turns into the not-to-be-missed Jonker Walk Night Market.
Poh Piah Lwee (Jin Kubu; O 9am-5pm) An authentic and lively hole in the wall with one specialist cook preparing delicious Hokkien-style popiah (RM2), another making near-perfect rojak (RM3) while the third whips up a fantastic laksa (RM3).
Low Yong Mow : Famous Malaysia-wide for its large and delectably well-stuffed pao (steamed pork buns), this place is Chinatown's biggest breakfast treat. With high ceilings, plenty of fans running and a view of Masjid Kampung Kling, the atmosphere oozes all the charms of Chinatown. Take your pick from the endless variety of dumplings, sticky rice dishes and mysterious treats that are wheeled to your table.
Donald & Lily's :Back behind the Heeren Inn, with the staircase entrance hidden by a few hawker stalls selling cendol, this is Melaka locals' favourite stop for the regional laksa (RM3) and Nonya cendol (RM1.20).m.Uilua Pak Putra Restaurant (56 Jin Kota Laksmana; tandoori from RMS; S dinner, closed every other Mon) This fabulous Pakistani place cooks up a variety of meats and seafood in clay tandoori ovens perched on the sidewalk. Apart from the tandoori try the taw prawns (cooked with onion, yoghurt and coriander, RM10) or mutton rogan josh (in onion gravy with spices and chilli oil, RMS). Side dishes of veg are around RMS and a mango lassi costs RM4.
Cafe 1511 : Next to the Baba-Nonya Heritage Museum is this high-ceilinged Peranakan cafe, with original tiles along the wall, lovely carved screens, a mishmash of decorative objects from Southeast Asia and a Nonya menu. At' the time of writing this place was also planning a guesthouse.
Vegan Salad & Herbs House : Around the corner from the Buddhist Guanyin Temple in Chinatown, this health-conscious spot offers a range of uncooked, crisp vegetables, brown rice set lunches and wholemeal bread buns.
Nancy's Kitchen (15 Jin Hang Lekir; meals RM10; 11am-5.30pm, closed Tue) In a town already known for its graciousness, this home-cooking Nonya restaurant is our favourite for friendly service. The server is as chatty as they come, full of suggestions of what to order and will have you making conversation with the other handful of customers in no time. Try the house speciality: chicken candlenut (RM10).
Hoe Kee Chicken Rice : Serving the local speciality of chicken rice ball and Assam fish head (fish heads in a spicy tamarind gravy), you'll need to arrive outside of peak time or expect to wait for a table. The restaurant's setting, with wood floors and ceiling fans, seems to further bring out the exotic flavours.
Heeren House :In the hotel of the same name, make this a slot for healthy Western breakfasts, a light meal of quiches and salads (from RM12) and yummy brownies (RM4). You can browse the integrated shop for a wonderful selection of upmarket batik and other crafts from all around Southeast Asia, while you wait for your food to arrive.
To Be Korean Cafe : as well as pages of other speci-alities (some vegetarian) can be enjoyed here while your feet get the dead skin nibbled off them by little fish - the tables are placed over a pond so can dine with your feet in or out of the water. There's also a selection of'Korean healthy teas' (from RM3.50) that purport to cure a plethora of ailments.
Harper's Cafe :Perched elegantly over the Sungai Melaka, breezy Harper's serves ex-cellent (though small) Malay-European fusion dishes in a rather stark decor. It's worth visiting for the food, though the service can be slow.
Howard (286 8727; 5 Jin Hang Lekir; meals RM40; lunch & dinner Wed-Mon) A finely crafted ambience of creaseless linen, elegant furniture, black-and-white chequered tile floor, flavoursome international cuisine (lobster bisque, roast rack of lamb) and nonintrusive service, Howard's is a thoroughly unhurried sive wine list, this is definitely Chinatown's swankiest choice.
Jalan Melaka Raya & Around
Serving Chinese food in the main hall and Halal at the back, Newton Food Court (Jin Merdeka), just west of the Mahkota Parade shopping complex, is Melaka's newest and most attractive hawker centre. It's under an immense thatched roof and is bordered by palms.
The new jetty over the river in front of the Holiday Inn has a number of semi-up-market restaurants serving satay celup and Western food.
Restoran Amituofoh (292 6426; 2-20 Jin PM9, Plaza Mahkota, Bandar Hilir; (3 breakfast, lunch & dinner) This Buddhist vegetarian restaurant - the gift of a Chinese philanthropist - provides food on the house. You should make a contribution, but otherwise there are few conditions: you must wash your own plates and cutlery, and taking food away is not permitted.
Roti Canai Terbang (Jin Melaka Raya 3; roti canai 70 sen-RM3; Q breakfast) Get excellent roti canai (flaky pancakes) either plain or stuffed with your choice of onion, egg, cheese or all three. This is a huge roti canai establishment and it packs in the locals.
Ind Ori ( 282 4777; 236 Jin Melaka Raya 1; dishes RM1-15; (3 8am-midnight) Mmm, Indonesian Pedang food: fresh and heated in a point and ask buffet. It's just like the real thing but without the flies and dubious sanitation issues. House specialities include avocado juice with chocolate sauce (RM4.50) and sekotang (sweet cream and peanut dumplings with green beans and hot ginger; RM5.80).
Ole Sayang ( 2831966; 198 Jin Taman Melaka Raya; meals RM13; (310am-lOpm, closed Wed) Come here for ambient Nonya atmosphere, decorated with old wooden furniture and dim lighting.
Bayonya ( 292 2192; 164 Jin Taman Melaka Raya; mealsRMIS; (310am-10pm,closedTue)This authentic eatery is a locals' favourite for its excellent and inexpensive home-cooked Peranakan cuisine. One of the must-tries here is the durian cendol (RMS).
Little India to Bukit China
Follow the sounds of a chopping meat cleaver to Medan Makan Bunga Raya (Hungry Lane; btwn Jin Bendahara & Jin Bunga Raya), where you can feast on Indian-style curry-pork rice in the Centrepoint food court (Jin Munshi Abdullah) is the place to seek out Indian and Malay treats for lunch. Further north Hang Tuah Mall (Jin Hang Tuah), a pedestrian walk, swarms with open-air food stalls every evening.
Capitol Satay ( 283 5508; 41 Lg Bukit China; meals RM8; (3 from 6pm) Famous for its satay celup (a Melaka adaptation of satay steamboat), this place is usually packed to the gills and is one of the cheapest outfits in town. Stainless-steel tables have bubbling vats of soup in the middle where you dunk skewers of okra stuffed with torn, sausages, chicken, prawns and bok choy.
Selvam ( 281 9223; 3 Jin Temenggong; meals RMS; 53 from 6pm) This is a classic banana leaf restaurant always busy with its loyal band of local patrons ordering tasty and cheap curries, roti and Tandoori chicken sets (RMS.50). Even devout carnivores will second guess their food preferences after trying the Friday-afternoon vegetarian special with 10 varieties of veg for only RM6.
Bulldog Cafe ( 2921920; 145 Jin Bendahara; meals RM10; O from 6pm) Features Nonya, Chinese, Thai and Western dishes. For cheap snacks, sample the Nonya popiah (RM2) or the pai tee (RM3), crispy cone-shaped morsels of rice flour stuffed with vegetables.
There's really not much reason to head out to this nondescript neighbourhood other than to eat. On Friday and Saturday evenings, head to Restoran de Lisbon (Medan Portugis; meals RM30; (3 dinner Fri & Sat), where you can sample Malay-Portuguese dishes at outdoor tables. Try the delicious local specialities of chilli crabs (RM20) or the distinctly Eurasian devil curry (RM10). Any other time of the week, Medan Portugis has food stalls serving similar dishes to those found at restaurants at seaside tables.
Unlike much of Malaysia, Melaka is studded with watering holes. The Friday- and Saturday-night Jonker Walk Night Market in Chinatown closes down Jin Heng Lekir to traffic and the handful of bars along the lane become a mini street party with tables oozing beyond the sidewalks and live music.This ventilated, breezy bar with outside seating and late hours, in a pre-war corner shophouse, is a godsend. A tasty choice of local and Western dishes (meals around RMS) and laid-back, but professional, service round it all off.
Voyager Traveller's Lounge ( 2815216; 40 Lg Hang Jebat; Q)) Ease back into a wicker chair and order a cold beer (and/or an all-day Western-style breakfast) from the glowing bar built out of recycled bottles. Yaksa, the super-helpful young owner, can arrange activities throughout Melaka, and on certain nights there's live music.
Cheng Ho Tea House (Jin Tokong; Q 10am-5pm) In an exquisite setting that resembles a Chinese temple garden courtyard, relax here over a pot of fine Chinese tea .
More entertainment opportunities will be available by 2010 at the site of the Eye on Malaysia, Melaka .
Sound & Light Show (adult/child RM10/2; shows 8.30-9.15pm) Held outside the Dataran Pahlawan shopping mall, shows happen only when there's enough demand, and even then they may not be in English. Melaka's history is presented from a strongly nationalistic angle; nevertheless, it's quite good theatre.
Pure Bar (591A Jin Taman Melaka Raya) Popular with locals, this has become Melaka's most fun nightclub/bar. It's also gay friendly.
Arena (The Jetty) At the foot of the jetty in front of the Holiday Inn, this glass-walled night spot has a big stage for live bands and a hopping bar.
Golden Screen Cinemas (g) 2810018; 2nd fl Mahkota Parade; tickets RMS) Shows everything from Western blockbusters to Bollywood flicks. There's another branch at Dataran Pahlawan.
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