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Hilton Malaysia Offers Tantalising Dishes For Dine-In and Takeaway

As we welcome the month of March, Hilton Malaysia presents an array of scrumptious dishes for everyone across its properties: from bento sets to high tea for two, and vacuum-packed meals to bring out the inner chef in you at home.

The Food Store, DoubleTree by Hilton Melaka – Bento Express

The Food Store, DouleTree by Hilton Melaka - Bento Express

If you’re always on the go, fret not – your lunch and dinner meals are covered, thanks to the delicious bento boxes for takeaway and delivery offered by DoubleTree by Hilton Melaka. Indulge the taste buds with special chicken and beef-themed menus such as Golden Fried Chicken with Salted Egg Sauce, Roasted Chicken with Homemade BBQ Sauce, Daging Dengdeng Berlado, Daging Rempah Bakar Madu and more. Each set comes with a salad, ‘Chef’s cake of the day’, whole fruit and beverage.

  • 1 Feb – 31 Dec 2021 | 11am – 8pm (Daily)
  • From RM35 nett
  • Pre-order is required 2 days in advance
  • A minimum order of 5 sets
  • Delivery charges apply

For reservations, call +606 222 3333, email MKZMM_CB@hilton.com or visit www.eatdrinkhilton.com

Makan Kitchen, DoubleTree by Hilton Melaka –Street Food Dinner

Makan Kitchen, DoubleTree by Hilton Melaka - Street Food Dinner

Miss hawker food? Inspired by the diverse culinary elements from the street food scene, you can embark on a gastronomic journey with DoubleTree by Hilton Melaka to discover an array of authentic street food from Malaysia. The all-you-can-eat assisted buffet comprises lip-smacking favourites such as Fried Kuey Teow, Nyonya Curry Laksa, Satay, Tandoori Chicken and many more that are too delicious to miss.

  • From 2 Feb 2021 onwards | Every Saturday, 6:30pm – 10:30pm
  • RM69 nett per adult | RM49 nett per child & senior citizen
  • Prior reservation is required. | Standard bank discounts are applicable

For reservations, call +60 6 222 3333, email MKZMM_FB@hilton.com or visit http://www.eatdrinkhilton.com

The Food Store, DoubleTree by Hilton Johor Bahru – Weekday Lunch Box

The Food Store, DoubleTree by Hilton Johor Bahru - Weekday Lunch Box

Perfect for a quick fix-up at work or fuss-free meal at home, DoubleTree by Hilton Johor Bahru’s lunch boxes are your go-to options. Perk up your palate with awesome flavours in this month’s highlights: Szechuan Chicken and Lamb Kofta Curry. Available for dine-in or takeaway via TABLEAPP.

  • Monday – Friday | 12pm – 2pm
  • RM16 nett per box (inclusive of a drink)

For reservations, call +607 268 6868, email JohorBahru.FB@hilton.com or visit http://www.eatdrinkhilton.com

Axis Lounge, DoubleTree by Hilton Johor Bahru – High Tea for Two

Axis Lounge, DoubleTree by Hilton Johor Bahru - High Tea for Two

Whether it’s an afternoon with your friends or an intimate tea treat with that special someone, Axis Lounge is the place to go for a pot of tea and dainty delicacies. Diners can look forward to Strawberry Truffle, Pink Blondies, Salmon Mousse on Brioche, Pizza Margherita and more. Choose from a selection of premium Dilmah tea or coffee to pair with the high tea set.

  • 1 – 31 Mar 2020 | 12pm – 4pm
  • RM78 nett for 2 persons

For reservations, call +607 268 6868, email JohorBahru.FB@hilton.com or visit http://www.eatdrinkhilton.com

Waterfront Café, Hilton Kuching – Bring Hilton Home

Waterfront Cafe, Hilton Kuching - Bring Hilton Home

From appetisers to mains and desserts, Waterfront Cafe offers all-in-one bento meals. Expect a nutritious and flavourful meal like Wok-Fried Beef with Onion and Ginger Bento, Fish Fillet with Thai Kerabu and Kampung Fried Rice Bento and Pan-Fried Chicken Chop with Rosemary Jus Bento. All delivered straight to your doorstep.

  • From 1 Feb 2021 onwards | 12pm – 7pm
  • RM20 nett per set
  • Pre-order is required one day in advance

For reservations, visit https://takeus-home.com/hilton-kuching/ or order through TABLEAPP

Hilton Kuching – Vacuum Packed Delights

Hilton Kuching - Vacuum Packed Delights

If you are looking for ways to have a fun and delicious affair at home, check out the pre-cooked meal packs from Hilton Kuching that are sure to make your next meal a guaranteed flavour-some experience and a breeze to put together. Be your own chef and cook tasty dishes like Beef Rendang Tok, Lamb Curry, Creamy Mushroom Soup and more.

  • From RM15 nett per pack

For reservations, call +608 2223 888 or email KUCHI_FB@hilton.com

Review: Mamee Jonker House 163 Retail Park Mont Kiara – Needs More Mamee

You might recall a recent blog post where I visited Mamee Jonker House in Melaka – a museum/resto/themed space dedicated to all things Mamee. Blog post here. I thoroughly enjoyed their creative dishes, which utilised Mamee noodles as the main carbo, spruced up with various ingredients.

The photos from the story I did for work were so good (thanks to N@Hubs!), the Editor jokingly said she wanted Mamee. There’s actually a Mamee Jonker House in KL as well, and it wasn’t too far from the office, so we set off on a little lunch adventure.

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Mamee Jonker House KL is located at 163 Retail Park in Mont Kiara, and it bears the hallmarks of the original outlet – ie lots of Mamee paraphernalia, a section selling Mamee snacks and noodles, a family-friendly kitchen space where you can customise your noodle cups, as well as a chic dining area. The interiors are bright and cheerful, with tall windows that allow for plenty of natural sunlight to filter in. There is also a children’s playground area at the back of the outlet.

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A fun wall of doodled Mamee cups

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As Mamee hails from Melaka, visitors will find a proud display of its cultural heritage, including rattan baskets and handmade crafts from Melaka for sale

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When it came to the food, however, I was a little disappointed as it was quite different from the one I enjoyed in Melaka.

Rather than Mamee dishes, the menu is more a mix of Melaka cuisine and typical cafe fare, with items such as Hainanese Chicken Rice, Nasi Goreng Kampung mixed with Western offerings like Fish & Chips, as well as light bites of sandwiches and fries. The only few dishes that actually feature Mamee is the pasta (option to switch with Mamee from regular pasta) and the Mamee Mee Goreng Mamak with Satay. 

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Colleague’s Bolognese Pasta (replaced with Mamee) consisted of homemade meatballs, tomato, herbs and parmesan cheese. Tastewise it was good, and the al dente, springy texture of the Mamee noodles lent it a unique twist.

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Editor had the Mamee Mee Goreng Mamak, wok fried and served with a sunny side up. She said it was okay but nothing great.

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Meanwhile, I had the Mee Bodoh (yes, as in ‘Stupid’ Mee). This is apparently a famous dish in Melaka, run by one Pak Hassan (will try it someday). The original requires yellow noodles, but I. Was. Going. To. Get. My. Damn. Mamee. So I requested for the chef to change it to Mamee noodles.

Also, a conversation with the waiter:

Me: Why do they call it Mee Bodoh? 

Him: (I think he was nervous) Er, mee ni, dia bodoh ah… (er, thesenoodles, they’re stupid…) 

Editor: chortles with laughter 

Him: (backtracking) Er mee bodoh ni, dia famous dekat Melaka.. style dia panggil Bodoh. (er this mee bodoh, it’s famous in Melaka.. the style is called Bodoh). 

…Long story short, he didn’t answer my question (perhaps he had no idea why it was called that) but it was funny all the same.

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Again, noodles were cooked al dente which I liked. It had a sweetish taste, kinda like when you stir fry something in Maggi sauce, but there were also some other seasonings I couldn’t quite put my finger (or tongue) on. Tasty, but not WOW or anything. I still prefer the dishes I tried at the original Mamee Jonker House in Melaka. Pricing here is also on the higher side, maybe due to the setting.

Verdict: They need to incorporate more Mamee noodles in their offerings, to be honest. That’s just my humble opinion. Food is good, not great – I think this is a one-time visit for me.

MAMEE JONKER HOUSE KL (163 RETAIL PARK) 

Lot 3F-01a, 163 Retail Park, Jalan Kiara, Mont Kiara, 50480 Kuala Lumpur, Federal Territory of Kuala Lumpur

Opening hours: 10AM – 10PM

Phone: 03-2022 5588

 

 

Visiting The Melaka Butterfly & Reptile Sanctuary @ Ayer Keroh, Melaka

The Melaka city centre can get pretty crowded with tourists, especially over the weekend and holidays. If you’re looking for a more relaxing (and educational!) excursion, consider the Melaka Butterfly and Reptile Sanctuary. Tucked in Ayer Keroh, about 15 to 20 minutes away from the city, this mini zoo of sorts was opened in 1991 and is home to hundreds of insects, small animals and reptiles, as well as some larger specimens.

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For a 30-year-old park, the place is well maintained, spread over 5 hectares and set amidst lush, tropical surroundings. There are dedicated areas within the vast park for butterflies, reptiles, birds, etc. It’s also a nice place to escape Melaka’s blistering heat. Entry is RM22 per pax.

There weren’t many visitors when we came to visit on a Monday afternoon, so we took our time exploring the various exhibits and habitats. Some allow for you to get upclose to the animals, and when I mean upclose, I mean upclose. You can pet rabbits, the resident giant iguana, or take a selfie with the parrots and the cockatoos.

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N and I had great fun trying to locate the different insects and creepy crawlies within their glass cases; most times they were camouflaged, so it was like a game to spot them.

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Fat, colourful iguanas congregating on Pride Rock

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Resident white cockatoo. Did you know that cockatoos are very smart animals? They are said to have the cognitive abilities rivalling a four-year-old human child, and in studies, can undo locks to get to food.

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There were two sections dedicated to butterflies, and there were hundreds of them swooping overhead, some even flying into our faces, or landing on our shoulders. These pretty insects have a fleeting beauty, as they have a short life span lasting just 10 days.

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Most of the butterflies were of the same species so we didn’t spot much variety, but they were still pretty all the same.

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A beautifully landscaped section with a pond and artificial waterfall, stacked with fat, gold, red and white koi fish.

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Venturing to the aviary, we came across this bird (I named it Sid Vicious) with beautiful blue plumage and a rockstar mohawk. It looked completely unafraid of humans and came quite close to us, before hopping back over the ‘fence’ into its habitat.

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The sanctuary is also home to a pair of American alligators. They were absolutely huge and looked as if they could swallow my entire body whole, and then some. There were also some saltwater crocodiles, gharials and emus.

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The sanctuary’s resident alligator snapping turtle. Dubbed ‘living fossils’, the species dates back to over 200 million years ago. An alligator snapping turtle can live up to 150 years old. They can weigh up to 220 lbs and are quite capable of literally snapping off your fingers.

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At the reptile section, we caught glimpse of some beautiful snakes, including an albino python and a giant king cobra. I’ve always wanted to keep a small ball python, but I can’t bear the thought of feeding it live prey like mice  (Apparently it’s best to feed them live prey to simulate how it is in the wild).

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Bright and colourful (and poisonous) frogs. in the wild, the more vibrant the colour, the more likely they are to be poisonous. Kind of like nature’s warning signs.

If you’re travelling in a family with young children, I think the Melaka Butterfly & Reptile Sanctuary is an awesome place to take the kids on an educational (but fun!) excursion. Even without the kids, it’s great for the adults too. Kudos also to maintenance; you can see that the animals are all well kept and fed, rather than in horrid zoos where space is cramped and they all look half dead.

BUTTERFLY & REPTILE SANCTUARY 

Lebuh Ayer Keroh, 75450 Ayer Keroh, Melaka

Opening hours: 8.30AM – 5.30PM (daily)

Website

 

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Attractions Near Jonker Street, Melaka : A Day/Night Itinerary

Tucked in the heart of Melaka’s Chinatown, there’s plenty to see and do in Jonker Street – from unique craft shops and museums to temples, mosques, decades-old eateries, chic cafes and more. It also has a rich history. Dutch colonists lived in nearby Heeren Street, just next to the Melaka River, while the main thoroughfare, ie Jalan Hang Jebat, was home to rich Peranakans (Straits Chinese) settlers, who built lavish homes with beautiful architecture and filled them with exquisite furniture.

BY DAY 

Lung Ann Refreshments 

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Start the day with a traditional Malaysian breakfast at Lung Ann Refreshments. The shop’s setting is typical of Malaysian kopitiams, where elderly aunties and uncles bustle about preparing your orders, and drinks are served in white and green ceramic cups. No fancy noodles, only the basics – half boiled eggs, and toast with kaya and butter, washed down with either coffee or Milo.

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I didn’t realise how Malaysians take this for granted (usually if someone asks about local dishes to recommend, I’d think of nasi lemak) until N told me how unique he thought it was (half boiled eggs for breakfast isn’t a thing in the Phils, apparently). Sometimes it’s really the simplest things that are the best. Bread is nicely toasted and fluffy, with generous amounts of kaya and butter. Despite how simple it looks, half boiled eggs are notoriously difficult to get right (the timing has to be extremely accurate). The one’s at Lung Ann were perfect.

Baba And Nyonya Heritage Museum 

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A private housemuseum that once belonged to a wealthy Peranakan businessmen, the Baba and Nyonya Heritage Museum is a must visit for lovers of culture and history. The Peranakan, or Straits Chinese (also called Baba Nyonya), are a community descended from Chinese settlers who immigrated to parts of the Nusantara, ie Dutch-controlled Java in Indonesia, southern Thailand, the British Straits Settlements of Malaya (Penang and Melaka), as well as Singapore. Many adopted local customs, whilst still maintaining a strong Chinese heritage – resulting in a unique blend of cultures that you will not find elsewhere. The Malaysian Baba and Nyonya, for example, speak a creole version of Hokkien and Malay, dress in baju panjang which is influenced by the Malay kebaya dress, but still practice ancestor worship.

You can wander the museum, which consists of three terrace homes joined together as one, on your own – but I highly recommend the guided tour. The tour brings the entire house and its past occupants to life, as knowledgeable guides point out details and events that have happened in those very spaces. You get a sense of being separated by time, but not space. Everything is lavish, beautiful and meticulously made – from elaborately carved furniture inlaid with mother of pearl and silk embroidered paintings done by masters in China, to hand painted tiles, crystal ware, porcelain dining sets.

Note that photos are only allowed in the foyer.

Cheng Hoon Teng Temple

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Literally the ‘Temple of the Green Cloud’, Cheng Hoon Teng is the oldest functioning Chinese temple in Malaysia,  built in 1673. It is dedicated to the three precepts, namely Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism, so visitors will see deities dedicated to all of these religious beliefs. The altars in the main hall are dedicated to Guan Yin, the Buddhist Goddess of Mercy, as well as the Taoist goddess Mazu and deities such as Kwan Ti, the God of Justice, and Thai Sway, the god of worldly human welfare.

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Even if you’re not a devotee, the temple is worth visiting for the architecture alone. Lacquered surfaces, gold gilding, intricately carved archways and windows abound. The main hall, made from timber, was built without the use of nails.

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Keilun, ie what Westerners like to call foo dogs (they’re actually mythical lions).

Orangutan House 

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The quirkily named Orangutan House is an art gallery-cum-souvenir shop, where you can get colourful printed tees and art pieces. It’s hard to miss if you’re walking around the area, as there is a huge mural of an orang utan on the side of the building. The inside is equally colourful and trippy.

Explore the Streets

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Jonker Street is chock full of interesting sights, and sometimes the best way to see them is just to explore the area on foot. You never know what hidden gems you might uncover. In any case, they make for great photos. (Above) the doors of the Hokkien Association.

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This neat little nook next to the river.

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BY NIGHT 

We’re not done: sundown is when the fun really begins. Jonker Street is the place to be on weekends, as there is a huge night market, just there for you to snack from one end to the other.

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Crowds, yes.

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Worth it because you get to gorge on delicious street food…

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Did I mention delicious street food?

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Delicious street food!

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One does not come to Melaka and not have a refreshing taste of a coconut shake. 

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You can also commission a street artist to have your portrait drawn…

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Or buy a hand-drawn sketch from this extremely talented young man. His drawings were phenomenal!

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Jonker Street’s entrance is hard to miss, as you have this inn/restaurant lined with red lanterns, which somehow reminds me of the classical Chinese novel ‘Dream of the Red Chamber’.

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You can do the touristy thing and hop on to one of the loud and colourful trishaws for a spin around the city.

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If crowds are not your thing, opt for a cruise down the Melaka River, which is decorated on both sides with neon lights.

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Dutch Square, just a few steps away from Jonker Street, is also much more quiet at night.

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Literally had the whole place to ourselves for photos.

I hope this itinerary has been useful in helping you to plan what attractions to see while in the Jonker Street neighbourhood. Happy travels!

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Review: Capitol Satay – Melaka’s Original Satay Celup

Happy New Year, everyone!

Whether you celebrated with loved ones at home, with friends out partying, with your pets in your jammies or just alone with a nice book (that’s what I did anyway), I hope it was a good one. I’ve been a bit lazy with my blogging (spent the holiday season gaming, mostly), so now it’s back to the grind again (at work as well)!

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N and I were in Melaka recently, and being foodies, we had to try the local specialty. The original plan was to get oh-chien (stir-fried oyster omelette), but it started raining heavily and we ended up at Capitol Satay instead. Founded in the 1960s, the place is extremely popular with out-of-townies so there’s always a line. We got seats relatively quickly, within 15 minutes of waiting.

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Seating is limited, and the restaurant is not air conditioned. That doesn’t stop the crowds, though.

What do they serve?

Despite the satay moniker, I think it’s more accurate to call it lok lok, ie hotpot. First, choose from a variety of meat, seafood and vegetables on skewers. Then, bring them to your table and dunk the skewers into an aromatic peanut-based sauce, kept bubbling at the middle of your table, until your food is cooked. Voila! Enjoy with bread and cucumber for dipping.

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Choose your poison. There is a dizzying selection at the chiller – sausages, meatballs, seafood tofu, beancurd sheets, oyster mushrooms, Taiwanese sausage, crabmeat sticks, pork, squid, chicken, lamb, etc.

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What we got

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As we ate, restaurant staff came over occasionally, to add more sauce or to stir the pot so that stuff didn’t stick to the bottom. The peanut sauce was fragrant, with a sweet and nutty flavour. I especially liked the bacon-wrapped enoki mushroom. After awhile, everything started to taste the same, although N seemed to like it well enough. Our meal for two came up to about RM30++ which was reasonable since we only took about 20 skewers. If you’re dining in a large group, or if you’re a big eater, the portions might not be filling.

CAPITOL SATAY 

41, Lorong Bukit Cina,
Bandar Hilir, 75100 Melaka,
Malaysia
Opening Hours: 4PM – 12AM (daily)

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Pasar Karat: Jonker Street Melaka’s Antique Collector’s Market

The term ‘Flea Market’ comes from the French marché aux puces” or “market of the fleas”, as it was believed that old furniture or items such as clothing, often sold at these bazaars, supposedly contained fleas. In Malaysia, we call our flea markets ‘pasar karat’, or ‘rusty market’ – because people often sold off their scrap metal for a cheap price, and metal rusts, hence ‘karat’. Despite the name, you can get all sorts of things at a pasar karat, ranging from antiques to vintage items, souvenirs, second-hand clothing to furniture. One man’s trash is indeed another man’s treasure!

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The Pasar Karat at Jalan Lekir (just off Jonker Street) in Melaka is open from 9AM to 3PM on Saturdays and Sundays. If you’re in town over the weekend, this is a great place to check out ! The items on sale are mostly antiques and vintage stuff like coins, vinyl discs, old photographs, cassettes and VHS tapes, bowls and plates, home decorations, ornamental weapons and more.

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Even if you aren’t buying, it’s nice to see the old items on display, like these mini grandfather clocks, tea sets and classic rotary dial phones(remember those?). Feels kind of like an open-air street museum!

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Hand-drawn and coloured postcard-sized paintings!

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You can buy ornamental weaponry such as keris blades. Or perhaps you fancy an abacus or an old charcoal iron?

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I was surprised to see some vintage posters of Chinese-communist propaganda on display as well.

The Pasar Karat at Jalan Hang Lekir is open from 9AM to 3PM on Saturdays and Sundays.

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The Daily Fix, Melaka – Jonker Street’s Most Popular Cafe

As Melaka’s Chinatown, Jonker Street is one of the city’s most popular enclaves, filled with old temples, interesting museums, attractions and cool cafes. Highly recommended is The Daily Fix, a chic establishment hidden at the back of a souvenir shop called Next KK Sdn Bhd.

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Walk straight to the back of the shop and emerge to an Instagrammer’s dream. The design is reminiscent of British colonial Chinese shophouses, with an inner courtyard that extends up to the second floor, allowing for plenty of natural sunlight to filter in. Earthy hues, an abundance of plants as well as cosy couches and wooden furniture make for a relaxing and casual dining ambience. There’s also a rattan swing seat.

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The main dining area boasts warm, ambient lighting from modified lamps that feature old fans as decorative fixtures. The roof is timber, the brick walls deliberately left partially exposed for that vintage, retro vibe. Old school paraphernalia, such as clocks, weighing scales and lamps, adorn the shelves where baristas bustle about preparing coffee.

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More seating at the back, with a backdrop of trays sporting floral designs.

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The menu is a mix, with brunch dishes and light bites such as sandwiches and salad, heavier mains such as pasta, and desserts like pancakes and waffles. For drinks, there are flavoured coffees, smoothies, fruit juices and more. N and I get a Creamy Carbonara to share, as well as their Signature Salted Gula Melaka coffee.

The pasta, which has spaghetti with mushroom, chicken ham and crunchy smoked duck topped with a poached egg and shaved parmesan, is delicious. The noodles are cooked al dente, giving them a nice bite, and the sauce is creamy without being overwhelming. The beverage is excellent as well; the sweet, caramel-like intensity of the gula melaka (palm sugar) balancing out the more bitter notes of the coffee.

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We also get a Blueberry Cheesecake to round off the meal. It comes topped with a candied Mandarin orange, which is a nice touch. Despite being a cheesecake, the cake is surprisingly light, and is only mildly sweet.

The cafe is apparently famous for their Pandan Pancakes, but we did not try them during our visit.

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There’s always a long line at The Daily Fix, so we recommend coming as soon as they open (9AM – for breakfast/brunch), or mid-afternoon when the lunch crowd has thinned. Else, be prepared for a wait.  Prices average from RM18 – 25 for mains.

THE DAILY FIX 

55 Jalan Hang Jebat, Melaka
Opening Hours: 9am – 11.30pm (Mon-Fri), 8.30am – 11.30pm (Sat-Sun)

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4 Historical Spots To Visit While In Melaka

Melaka is one of Southeast Asia’s most historically rich sites. Founded by a Javanese Hindu prince in the 1400s, it thrived as a port and welcomed traders from as far as China, Arab and India. It was then conquered by the Portuguese, the Dutch and the English for hundreds of years. Naturally, old structures and the influence of various cultures remain, making Melaka a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

For first-timers in the city, there’s no running away from visiting four important historical hotspots. They’re all within walking distance of each other, so getting to each is just a matter of legwork. Just ready the sunscreen, shades, an umbrella and lots of water – Melaka is scorching at most times of the year.

THE RUINS OF ST PAUL’S CHURCH @ ST PAUL’S HILL 

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The heart of Melaka is centred around a hill (now known as St Paul’s Hill), since the high vantage point affordsgood views of the coastline (ergo, important back then to see ships + invading forces).

Perched on top of this hill are the ruins of St Paul’s Church, a Roman Catholic church built in 1521 by the Portuguese nobleman Duarte Coelho. Originally called the Nossa Senhora da Annunciada (Our Lady of the Annunciation), it was dedicated to St Mary. The church was later deeded to a Jesuit missionary called Francis Xavier, who used it as a base for his missionary trips around Southeast Asia. After his death and ascension to sainthood, his body was interred for a while at the church, before it was sent to Goa. A burial vault was also opened in the 1590s, and many Portuguese nobles and people of distinction were buried here.

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After the Dutch invaded in 1641, the church was re-designated as St Paul’s Church under the Dutch Reformed denomination. For a while, the Dutch community in Melaka used it as their main church, but left it abandoned after the new Christ Church was completed in 1753. Parts of the building were also taken down to help fortify defense structures around Melaka. The church building fell further into disrepair during English occupation, when it was used as a gunpowder depot.

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View of the Straits of Melaka from St Paul’s Hill

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There was a church event going on at the ruins during our visit.

The building itself is just a shell of its former self – four walls, no roof and exposed red brick, lined with elaborately carved stone grave markers. One wonders how it must have been like in its heyday, when both the Portuguese and then later the Dutch came to pray and attend religious sermons and events.

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The stage was set up for a play later in the evening, while the open grave where St Francis Xavier’s body was once interred was littered with flower petals.

PORTA DE SANTIAGO @ A FAMOSA 

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When the Portuguese invaded Melaka in 1511, they established their base at the hill (now St Paul’s Hill), built a fort around it, and called it “The Famous”. The Dutch continued to use it during their occupation, but when the British came, they destroyed almost all but this last gate called the Porta de Santiago. Visitors who visit the site today will find little more than a simple gate, its brick facade blackened and weathered. Over the archway is an inscription, Anno 1670, as well as the logo of the East India Company – both additions by the Dutch. While there isn’t much by way of sights, the historical significance itself makes this place worth a visit. It is, after all, the oldest surviving European remains in Southeast Asia.

MALACCA SULTANATE PALACE MUSEUM 

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Just steps away from the Porta de Santiago is the Malacca Sultanate Palace Museum, a reconstruction of the old palace based on written accounts in the Sejarah Melayu, or Malay Annals. The old palace was said to have sat on the hill where St Paul’s Church is now located, but it was destroyed when Portuguese forces invaded. This modern version tries to stay as true as possible to descriptions from the Malay Annals, and was built with timber wood without the use of nails.

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Inside, visitors will find various exhibits detailing the history of the sultanate, as well as cultural and historical artefacts. Only the main hall is air conditioned; it is very stuffy upstairs and at the outer verandah, so it’s best to visit at a cooler time of day.

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The story of Hang Tuah is told here through a series of paintings.

Hang Tuah is the OG of Malay warriors and features prominently throughout Malay legends and literature, although whether or not he truly existed remains highly debated. He was apparently highly skilled in the martial arts (silat) and was an extraordinary warrior, second to none.

One of the most famous tales is the one where some ministers of the court, jealous of Hang Tuah’s standing with the Sultan, spread slander and lies about him, to which the Sultan ordered him executed. The chief minister who was tasked with this knew that Hang Tuah was innocent and instead hid him in a cave. Hearing of unjust done to his childhood friend, Hang Jebat – who after Hang Tuah was the best fighter in the land – ran amok, seeking to avenge him.

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It was then that the Chief Minister revealed that Hang Tuah was in fact, alive – much to the relief of the Sultan. Jebat was happy that Hang Tuah was alive, but Hang Tuah berated his friend for rebelling against the Sultan. A fight ensued that lasted for seven days, and Tuah emerged the winner after killing his friend. He continued serving Melaka, going on numerous other adventures. Yes, a rather grim ending for Jebat who was only thinking of avenging a friend whom an unjust ruler wronged – but hey, loyalty to the Sultan was paramount to anything else back in the day, even childhood friends whom you grew up with.

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A diorama of the Balairong Seri, or the audience reception hall where the Sultan received political dignitaries, guests and his advisors.

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Costumes worn by the different classes in Malaccan society, including royalty, as well as accessories and jewellery such as hair pins, brooches, belts, etc.

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Another diorama, this one of the Sultan’s bedchamber.

The Melaka Sultanate Palace Museum is open daily from 9AM to 5PM. Entrance is RM3 for Malaysians and RM5 for foreigners.

RED SQUARE / STADTHUYS/ CHRISTCHURCH 

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Last but not least, make your way to the Red Square, where you will find fire-red buildings which include a clocktower, the 18th century Dutch founded Christ Church, and the Stadthuys, which was once used as an administration building and residence for the Dutch Governor and now houses a museum of History and Ethnography. The square is a colourful place, filled with loud and gaudy-looking trishaws that blast techno music and are decorated with pop culture characters. Once the main mode of transportation around Melaka, you can now take a ride around town for a hefty RM25.

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If the Melaka Sultanate Palace Museum detailed the history of the ancient Malay kingdom, the Stadthuys is more focused on the period between the landing of the Portuguese up until Japanese occupation in the days of World War II. Exhibits include a selection of weaponry, including swords, sabres, guns and armour, plus items from trade such as pottery, crystal glasses, silverware and the like.

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Melaka’s four conquering forces – the Portuguese (1511 – 1641), the Dutch (1641 – 1825), the British (1826 – 1942) and the Japanese (1942 – 1945).

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A diorama of Melaka during the Portuguese occupation. notice how the fort was still completely intact, surrounding the city.

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A painting depicting the captain of the Portuguese guard surrendering the keys to the city to the Dutch after the defeat of Portuguese forces.

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Aside from colonial history, the museum also houses exhibits on local culture and practices of the community. Pictured is a diorama of a traditional Malay-Melakan wedding. The bersanding ceremony, where the bride and groom sits on a raised dias, draws from Hindu cultural influences.

The Stadthuys is open from 9.30AM – 5.30PM daily. Entrance is RM5 for Malaysians and RM10 for foreigners.

If there’s one thing Melaka isn’t short of, it’s museums – although I can’t say they’re all impressive. If you like museum-hopping, also worth visiting is the Melaka Maritime Museum (housed in a replica of the Portuguese galleon Flor del Mar), the People’s Museum, the Stamp Museum and the Submarine Museum (housed in a decommissioned submarine by the coast), to name a few.

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