Now a road trip requires one essential thing. Snacks. We had plenty of them.
A petrol station stop gave us ample opportunity to stock up. The Whoa Spicy Garlic Twisties were rather addictive, tasting more like garlic chicken.
I bought this snack solely because of the packaging. The Muruku Ikan was a fish-flavoured snack that was quite thick and crunchy.
Our early start paid off and we made the 140km journey from Kuala Lumpur south-west to Melaka in good time. What was more exciting than seeing all the billboards advertising various foods along the way was spotting pylons made to look like giant chip cannisters.
Christ Church Melaka, built in 1753
Originally a Dutch Reform Church, the building took 12 years to complete.
Malacca Town is a popular spot for tourists, a gaggle of daytrippers who traipse about the city centre exploring the remains of St Paul's Church, built in 1521 and located high on the hill, the old Portuguese fort of Porta de Santiago and the myriad of shops and eateries that line the narrow and winding Jonker Street.
We follow suit.
We do, however, resist the offers of a ride in a rickshaw, in spite of the considerable efforts invested in decorations.
Row of rickshaws
There are dozens of rickshaws, some are fitted with speakers that blast latest pop songs, others come with flashing lights that are turned on as dusk falls.
It's reasonably quiet, however, and it seems like everyone is sitting around, taking a pause from the stifling heat.
We take pause for lunch. If there's one thing you must do in Malacca it's have chicken rice. The influx of Chinese settlers to the area resulted in a unique Chinese-Malay cuisine known as Nyonya. Hainanese immigrants in Malaysia put their own spin on the Hainan chicken dish by creating chicken rice balls.
Kedai Kopi Chung Wah
We join the long queue outside Kedai Kopi Chung Wah, a tiny eatery that specialises in Hainan chicken rice and chicken rice balls. The owner is no-nonsense, brusquely asking for our order before we're even seated, but the queue moves quickly and soon we find ourselves at a heavy table made from solid marble in one corner.
A jar of homemade chilli sauce is immediately placed on our table. We decant small amounts of it into our individual saucers, tiny flimsy bowls made of disposable plastic.
Chicken rice balls on the counter
It's loud and chaotic. There is only one dish on the menu: chicken rice, and the man in charge of the chopping station is working non-stop with his cleaver.
Chopping the chicken
Hainan whole chicken RM29 (about AU$9.20)
Chicken rice balls RM0.30 per plate (about AU$0.10)
The chicken is soft and juicy, the flesh doused with chicken stock. Chicken rice balls are compact nuggets of rice that are a little stodgy in texture. I'm not quite convinced bythese, preferring a drier rice to absorb the juices from the chicken.
Kalamansi lime drink
Tourists in rickshaws
After lunch we check out the shops along Jonker Street
, a slow meander that seems to revolve mostly around t-shirt shops. On the street we're distracted by a stall manned by two kids aged under seven. Billy
buys a small box of mochi rolled in crushed peanuts, I get a packet of menthol and sesame toffee, laboriously hacked into small pieces by a young boy with a hammer and chisel.
We find ourselves on the lookout for dessert and find ourselves staring at the cart promising Famosa Original Nyonya Cendol.
Famosa Original Nyonya Cendol
The restaurant is Famosa Chicken Rice Ball, and as we grab stools to sit on, we realise there's an expectation we'll be ordering more than just dessert.
We happily relent.
Red walls and framed old photos inside Famosa Chicken Rice Ball
Famosa Chicken Rice Ball is one of the bigger restaurants aimed at tourists, and whilst they claim their chicken rice is the best, we stick with smaller snacks given that lunch was only 90 minutes ago.
Roasted pork RM6 (about AU$2.15)
Yam rice ball RM0.30 each (about AU$0.10)
Otak otak steamed fish cake RM10 (about AU$3.60)
Yam rice ball, roasted pork and otak otak
The roasted pork is ribboned with fat and topped with a tile of crunchy crackling. Whilst the yam rice balls look unusual, they don't taste particularly different from chicken rice balls.
Otak otak is surprisingly light in texture, a fluffy mousse that is creamy with coconut and redolent with spices and lemongrass.
Nyonya cendol RM3 (about AU$1.10)
Nyonya cendol differs from the usual version by its use of gula melaka, or palm sugar syrup, instead of rose syrup. Fat and shiny kidney beans congregate with chewy strands of pandan flavoured noodle. The ice is soft and fine shaven, swollen with the toffee sweetness of palm sugar and a generous ladle of rich coconut cream.
Only an hour earlier we'd walked past No. 1 Kopitiam Famous Authentic Nyonya Cendol and marvelled at its interior. Past the narrow entrance we spied a simple benchtop, a row of stools and shelves that seemed to be packed with paraphernalia.
"Second cendol?" asks Billy, even as we're licking the last of the gula melaka from our lips after our last one.
"Of course," I respond.
Coca Cola and Pepsi collection
The owner, we soon discover, is a keen collector of Cocoa Cola and Pepsi memorabilia. The shelves are stacked from floor with ceiling with cans from all over the world. It makes for interesting viewing as we wait for our cendol, which barely takes five minutes to arrive.
Nyonya cendol RM2 (about AU$0.70)
The cendol is cheaper here, and the portion is correspondingly smaller too. The petite bowl is flooded with coconut milk, a peak of gulaka melaka soaked ice barely breaking the surface. It's sweet and creamy and satisfying.
Looking for gifts or souvenirs?
Billy takes us to Tan Kim Hock, a treasure trove of edible gifts that include durian candies, sago biscuits, dried cuttlefish snacks and bottles of lemon honey syrup. Inside are giant towers that look like they might topple over until we realise they're made from empty cardboard tubes sticky-taped together.
What we do find outside is another tempting offer - yes, time for cendol number 3.
Durian cendol RM5 (about AU$1.80)
and I are the only stayers in the cendol championship by now. The plastic bowl is brightened by the cardboard holder in yellow and tangerine, but we're a little disappointed by the taste, the red beans a mush of beans and sugar, and the durian sauce a thick jam that is less fragrance and more sour.
Our efforts to enjoy a Nyonya dinner are thwarted when we turn up at Kapitan House to find it closed. Instead we walk around the corner to Newton Culture Food Village, a huge covered food court that boasts marble tables and plenty of stalls to choose from.
Newton Culture Food Village
Loving the rockin' hair do's
Sweet corn ice RM2.50 (about AU$0.90)
One thing we noticed about food courts is the entrepreneurial nature of drinks vendors. As soon as you're seated, a drinks vendor is by your side with a menu and a notepad. I tried a sweetcorn ice which tasted like a can of sweet corn blended with ice cubes. Sweet and salty, I found it deliciously refreshing, like an icier version of sweetcorn ice cream.
Deep-fried chicken RM10 for 3 pieces (about AU$3.50)
arrived in mysterious bags that had been fried along with the chicken. Extricating them from the paper was a little tricky for some of them, the flesh sticking to the paper, and whilst there was a hint of marinade and a lovely smokiness, I found them a touch dry, even with the accompanying chilli sauce.
Cuttlefish RM6 (about AU$2.15)
Strips of crunchy cuttlefish are sprinkled with crushed peanuts, doused with a spicy belecan sauce on top of a bed of green vegetables.
Fried oyster omelette RM10 (about AU$3.60)
We also dig into a plate of oyster omelette, this one thicker and wetter than the crispy version we'd had at Jalan Alor
. The oysters are plump and juicy and kalamansi limes and sprigs of coriander provide a palate-cleansing boost.
Cockles RM2 (about AU$0.70)
Cockles require a little patience to eat, but for less than a dollar, we find the plate of shells a worthy investment. We prise open the shells quite easily, using a toothpick to dip the flesh inside into a saucer of kecap manis, chilli sauce, kalamansi lime and crushed peanuts.
Otak otak RM0.60 each (about AU$0.20)
Otak otak are an aromatic arrival, long lengths of banana leaf holding pockets of spicy fish mousse. The banana leaves are tinged brown from their time over the charcoal grill, and we carefully remove the staples to find a present of fish that is smoky and delicious.
It's a two-hour trip back to Kuala Lumpur and after a day of non-stop eating, surely we couldn't eat another thing...
Of course we ate more. Travelling with food bloggers is dangerous. And brilliant. Often both at once.
Just outside of Kuala Lumpur is the city of Petaling Jaya and our last destination of the day, Kayu Nasi Kandar. We wend our way through the late night supper-goers, most of them watching soccer on the TV screens. We're meeting Christine, a long-time friend of Billy's.
Mee goreng RM$4.20 (about AU$1.50)
Murtabak ayam RM5.50 (about AU$2)
We pick at a pile of mee goreng fried noodles and the flaky roti-wrapped omelette that is murtabak.
In Petaling Jaya, the ais kacang
here is flavoured with rose syrup.
Roti pisang RM2 (about AU$0.70)
There is also roti pisang to be shared, a pastry filled with thin slices of banana and served with a pot of banana sauce.
Stretching out the 1m roti
We are primarily here for one attraction, the 1-metre roti so enviably reported on by Chocolatesuze
Rubbing butter on the pastry
It doesn't seem possible, making a 1m-tall roti on such a modest grill.
Holding the 1m-tall roti up to set
I shouldn't have doubted them. The pastry is stretched out until paper-thin, rubbed generously with butter, and then folded into a cone shape and lifted until the pastry cools and sets.
Delivering the 1m-tall roti to our table
The waiter seem a little bemused by the excited camera action that greets his arrival but how could you blame us? The 1m-tall roti beggars belief.
Carefully laying the roti down across three plates
The roti tisu is incredibly crisp and thin, coasted in a glaze of sugar. We eat with our fingers, tearing off shards that shatter in the mouth.
We rub our bellies and finish it all.
EDIT: Thanks to GYF reader Winnie, you can find out what happened when the staff at Kayu Nasi Kandar find out they've been featured on Grab Your Fork here.
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