Aunty Koh Chendol


5113 Bukit Rambai, Malacca

Phone: 6016-366-2637

Our search for the best chendol (a Malaysian shaved ice dessert) in Malacca brought us to Aunty Koh's home at Bukit Rambai, a small town near Klebang beach, approximately 20 minutes drive from Malacca town. This is Malacca's best kept secret, my family and friends back home might kill me for telling everyone about it, but the nyonya chendol here is too good to not share it with people.

So what makes Aunty Koh's chendol so darn good? Well, everything here is prepared fresh daily, and it's that simple. Aunty Koh gets her chendol from her brother's home factory just a few doors down and she makes her own coconut milk, the creamiest and most refreshing coconut milk. She only serves chendol during the weekends and from 12pm - 2pm so there will always be a crowd gathering at her place as soon as she opens (her front gate). She also works alone, so expect to wait a while before you get your chendol. Be sure to also order double when you arrive so you don't have to wait too long for your second serving, you'll definitely want more after the first.

Chendol to go - red beans and chendol, top with shaved ice, gula melaka (palm sugar) and coconut milk

voilĂ , the best chendol I've ever had!

Pandan leaves that are use to make chendol (jelly)

Actual direction from Aunty Koh's business card

Malacca Food Tour Introduction

My hometown Malacca was once a prosperous entreport for spice route from 1500s-1600s. Thanks to its colonial past, with Portuguese colonizing Malacca in the 1500s, Dutch in the 1600s and British in the 1800s, Malacca is a melting pot of local culture and those of its colonial masters. Just like its colorful history, Malacca cuisine is complex, with influences from the Chinese, Malay, Portuguese, Indian, Dutch and Siamese. Peranakan and Portuguese-Eurasian food for example, are the product of cross cultural marriage between local Malays and Chinese immigrants during 15th and 16th century, and between the Malays/Chinese/Indian and Portuguese during 16th and 17th century.

But the Malacca cuisine Gan and I grew up eating are mainly Chinese food of different dialects, brought over by our Chinese ancestors from different parts of Southern China during 19th - early 20th Century. Some of our Chinese ancestors moved to Malaysia (then Malaya) to seek better life. Those who came to Malacca during that time were mostly of Hokkien, Teochew, Hakka and Hainan dialect descent, which is why Bak Kut Teh (Hokkien cuisine), Teochew porridge and oyster omelette (Teowchew cuisine), yong tau foo (Hakka cuisine) and Hainanese chicken rice (Hainanese cuisine) are so popular here in Malacca. Just like the Chinese cuisines found in other parts of Malaysia, Malacca Chinese cuisines have their own local flavors and varieties.

During our food tour to Malacca, Gan and I tried to emphasize our itinerary on the diversity and uniqueness of Malaccan food such as Bibik Neo Peranakan food, Oysters Omelette (not entirely similar to the more famous Taiwanese Oh-Ah-Chien), Nyonya/Durian chendol, Taiwanese pork chop/beef noodles, Hainanese chicken rice balls, satay babi and Nyonya zhang (dumplings). You can trace most of the origins or influence of these food to the cultural influences of the immigrants or various past rich history of Malacca. Malacca was awarded the World Heritage status just recently so it is aptly appropriate that we're now documenting the richness of the history of Malacca food. Most of these places are already pretty famous since they were already featured in local TV food programs and are more popular among the tourists. There are still some hidden gems in Malacca though, which are not yet discovered by "food scouts", like the chendol place in Klebang that my parents brought us there.

Even though Gan and I have left Malaysia for a long time, we still think highly of the food we grew up eating in Malacca. It's the local proprietors' dedication in preserving traditions and maintaining food quality that keeps it good and affordable for the people to enjoy. Of course Malacca is still not as popular as Penang (Georgetown, the other World Heritage site recently awarded together with Malacca) as a food destination, but it does have alot of good/unique food to offer.

San Shu Gong


: Jonker Street, Jalan Hang Jebat, Malacca

Phone: 6-06-281-3118

I don't usually go to Tan Kim Hock or San Shu Gong when I'm back in Malacca because it seems to be targeting tourist business with all the snack gifts sold in the shop. But I have a reason to go back there again next time, for its Durian chendol. The ice coffee at San Shu Gong was also very satistfying. The bottle came with an ice block at the bottom and they pour the coffee in right before serving. Definitely better and cheaper than the coffee I get in New York!

The famous Durian Chendol - doesn't look very presentable, but taste pretty good. If you like durian, this will be your favorite durian dessert.

We were told the San Shu Gong was opened recently in Malacca by the heirs of the Tan Kim Hock business family. It took up the entire corner building of what used to be the Chung Kiaw Bank building right below the bridge nearby Stadhuys.

Gan: Something has been bothering me during this recent trip back home. Lately, there's been an influx of tourism investments and a lot of all these new businesses have sprout up all over Malacca. Maybe it's the World Heritage prestige or maybe it's something else. Prosperity can be a double edge sword. It is always easier to lax and makes mistake into habit when the end goal is too easily obtained. One loss customer from a bad service or product can be replaced with many more willing customers. Fame and prosperity allows you that. We hope the heritage continues to be well preserved and not sacrificed in the process.

Hoe Kee Chicken Rice Balls

Hainanese Cuisine

Address: 4, 6, 8 Jalan Hang Jebat, Malacca

Phone: 6-06-283-4751

Hainanese chicken rice, despite its name, was not a dish from Hainan, China, but instead was created by Hainanese immigrants in Malaysia and Singapore. This dish can be found in many places in Malaysia, but Malacca's version is different because the rice is shaped into ping pong size balls and served with sliced chicken. It can be argued that the main focus of the meal is the chicken rice, and not necessary the chicken meat itself. Gan will always reminisce his childhood school days when he would get half a dozen chicken rice balls in a plastic to go and fill it up with the always essential condiment of special blend of chilli sauce with some thick and light soy sauce. He claims it's the last dish he would like to have if he ever were given the choice before he meet his maker!

There are two places in Malacca that are famous for its chicken rice balls as long as I can remember - Hoe Kee and its rival store across the street call Chung Wah. Most locals go to Hoe Kee for its chicken rice balls and Chung Wah for its chicken. But to me, both are equally good, so I'll go to whichever that has a shorter line.

(Top) Chicken Rice Balls (Bottom) Hainanese style chicken and chicken gizzards

Chung Wah Chicken Rice Balls shop, Hoe Kee's long time competitor located just across the street. Check out the line outside despite the 90 over degree temperature! It wraps around the building to the bridge.

Fried Oyster Omelette

Teoh Chew Cuisine

Address: Medan Makan Boon Leong, Jalan Bunga Raya, Malacca

Open Nightly

Growing up, this was my favorite place in Malacca for midnight snacks. I didn't realize this is actually a popular Teoh Chew dish until recently. I have tried Taiwan's oyster omelette in NYC as well as Taipei, and I think this oyster omelette beats all the oyster omelette in the world. The Taiwanese version of "Oh-Ah-Chien" is much more starchy with heavy focus on undercooked tapioca flour and runny egg, with its huge dollop of sweet tasting chilli sauce. This Malaccan version is well cooked so you can really taste the fiery fire burnt smell (wok hei). It tastes best when eaten with owner home made dipping chili sauce on the side. One secret which is well known with the locals. It tastes even better when left in fridge overnight, and re-stir-fried with oil the next day and mixed in with rice. Dehydrating the dish gets you a stronger flavor and taste - see, the dehydration method in changing the character of the food (not just for preservation) can be applied to good effect here. :-)

Bibik Neo Nyonya Restaurant


Peranakan Food

Address: No.6 Ground Floor, Jalan Merdeka, Taman Melaka Raya, Malacca

Phone: 6-06-281-7054

Peranakan are Chinese who came to Malacca in the 15th-16th century and they've created a unique Peranakan or Straits Chinese culture, where the customs, food and descendants are products of cross racial marriages with local Malays. These Straits Chinese descendants are called Baba (men) and Nyonya (women) and their cuisine is known as Peranakan or Baba-Nyonya food. Chinese food are mainly mild in flavor, outside of the famously spicy Sichuan food or heavily spiced Xinjiang food. You can see the influence of the South-East Malay spices in the Baba-Nyonya food. A lot of them are spicy or even strongly flavored. Sourcing of local ingredients or re-adjusting the flavor profile of the immigrants original dishes into local palate will always produce a unique blend of new cuisine. This is why we are so proud of our heritage in Malacca, due to the richness of its history, including food. Kangkung Belacan, Buddhist Delight, Ayam Ponteh, Ayam Buah Keluak, Assam Fish are some of the popular peranakan dishes. There are a number of peranakan restaurants in Malacca but the more famous ones are Bibik Neo, Ole Sayang, Nancy's Kitchen and Mrs. Lee. But my all time favorite peranakan food is still my good friend Ai Poh's mom's cooking. Compared to Penang's peranakan food, Malacca's more home cook style, and also has more Malay influence. But definitely satisfying!

clockwise from top: shrimp masak lemak (pineapple curry base), ayam pongteh (black bean sauce), cincaluk omelette (cincaluk is a local Malacca tiny shrimp), top hat

clockwise from top: shrimp masak lemak, ayam pongteh, cincaluk omelette, top hat, deep fried fish with sambal, kangkung belacan (shrimp paste), nyonya chap chai (nyonya style buddhist delight), ayam buah keluak