Friday, May 29, 2015

Malacca Diaries Part One

During the Labor Day long weekend, I traveled to Malacca with my family for a short getaway. 

The motto I embraced when I embarked on the trip was - Eat and Drink.

The journey to Malacca took around 5 hours via coach. We stopped at a nearby 'hawker center' in Johor Bahru (JB) for breakfast after approximately an hour after crossing the customs.

We were all practically starving at that point. I did have breakfast but seeing as my stomach was a bottomless pit, a few bread sticks simply weren't enough :X

The carrot cake was predictably different from the ones we had in Singapore. It was much thicker and chunkier. The flavoring was also drastically different. 

To be honest, I prefer the carrot cake I usually have in Singapore. I prefer the softer texture, and the more flavorsome taste. The one in Malacca was harder and less chewy - it shattered the moment I bit into it.

JB style Wanton Mee and Bee Hoon.

I ordered one spicy Wanton Mee which I specifically asked to be less spicy. I can tolerate spicy food, but I usually prefer not adding any chilli because I'd like to be able to taste the original flavor of the dishes. E calls me a "Non-sauce person", which I absolutely agree with.

Anyway, back to topic! The Wanton Mee was REALLY spicy. And that was the less spicy version -.-"'

Upon finally arriving at our destination - Malacca - we headed to a Satay House to have yummy yummy satay.

I was a little deterred by the long queue, but not my fellow travel companions.

My mom reasoned, "It's a public holiday. There are gonna be queues everywhere."

And I guess I agreed.

So we queued.

And FINALLY - The moment of revelation arrives!

We were all pretty famished at that point, so each of us devoured an estimated 16 sticks.

The sauce was HEAVENLY. It was a combination of peanuts and pineapple, perhaps grounded along with other seasonings. Needless to say, the sauce was tremendously sweet. But it was unique and delicious.

The satay itself, which was made of pork, was less flavorful as the ones in Singapore. If I were to compare JUST the satay, I'd say Singapore satay tasted better. The Malacca satay was less marinated. But when you dip it into the sauce, it becomes... just WOW.

We ordered plate after plate until our stomachs were practically bursting.

Now let me digress a little - The ordering style in Malacca was extremely different from that in Singapore. You took your basic order from the waiters, who would then serve you your first order. Then the waiters would walk around with plates of food in their hands. If you wanted the food they were holding, all you'd have to do is tell them. After your meal, the waiter would come over where they'd count the number of plates on your table and charge you accordingly. 

This ordering system really confused me. I could not fathom how the waiters would be able to keep track of everything. But who am I to question their efficacy? After all, they did serve us our food.

Our next stop was right beside a drain. Yes, a drain.

I was excited to visit the place because its rare to find such places in Singapore. Imagine that, being excited to eat by a drain -.-"' 

This place, which I forgot the name, was insanely famous for its cockles which they call, "Si Hum". It was hidden in a small alley, which I later discovered was part of a road. An actual road with vehicles. 

It was packed full of patrons who were mostly tourists. I noticed a couple of tourists from China. 

We settled down in an 'indoors' area which could accomodate more people. 

The tables were low and we had to sit on stools.

There were holes in the table where small buckets were placed. These were the 'dustbins' where we were meant to throw our cockle shells. 

We told the waiter to serve us whatever they had. He came back with these -

Now at this point, I'd like to say, I did not enjoy this meal at all. 

The food was, at best, average. The shellfish were small and unappetizing. It did not help that we were all crammed around a small table that was stout and dirty. The place was squalid and in obvious disarray. 

I felt almost claustrophobic.

When we exited the place, I saw how they prepared the food. The drinks they served us was in a large bucket that looked unwashed. I watched as the waiter rinsed the dirty cups in a large bucket of water that looked almost... brown. He then dumped the drinks into these dirty cups callously and served them to the unsuspecting customers. 

The cuttlefish was hanging on hooks where flies hovered above them. The flies have almost entirely claimed the slices of cuttlefish, until the chef used his bare hands to remove the latter from the hooks and served them to awaiting patrons. These customers seem undeterred by the lack of hygiene, and were eager to sample the dishes. 

We scuttled away.

It was evening when we had finished our meal.

We wanted to try Cendol, a Malacca specialty, and our driver recommended this place in Jonker Street. He told us how the coconut shavings were fresh, and how absolutely delicious the Cendol was. We were instantly tempted. 

To be honest, I could barely taste the difference between good and bad Cendol. They all tasted equally delectable.

I poured the entire cup of Gula Melaka (a type of sugar for which Malacca was renowned for) into my bowl.

For those who don't already know, Malacca's heritage revolves around Peranakan culture. We simply had to try the Nyonya Zhang (Peranakan style dumpling). 

The tip of the dumpling was an intriguing blue. My aunt explained that an authentic Nyonya Zhang was supposed to have a blue stain, which was made from flowers. These days, however, many people use food coloring to produce the blue color.

Well, this marks the end of the first part of my Malacca diaries!

Til next time then ~