Thursday, April 12, 2012

Malacca - Admiral Cheng Ho Visit

My best friend registered his marriage last year. Just one day before my marriage registration. Ironically, my wedding ceremony is just one day earlier than him. So when I got to know that we won't be able to attend each others wedding ceremony I was a bit disappointed that I can't be his true brother (fist hits 3 times on the chest) on his big day. But after sharing our own story on the actual wedding day, I'm glad I escaped the torturous sister's treatment from his side.
 Since, I won't be able to witness his big day, he invited me to his marriage registration in Malacca. It was a mass wedding registration function. I reached there one day earlier. Though this is the second time he brought me about  in Malacca, it will never be enough. Food, heritage and sight-seeing is aplenty here. And when you talk about food, how can one missed out the chicken rice ball here. The last time I remembered about chicken rice ball was way back in university when I first came here with him. Boy, I must say that the chicken rice business has transformed into one copycat business. There are a lot of owners trying to dupe visitors into believing that their stalls served the authentic chicken rice ball. There's even one franchise which used Mr Sayur Rosak's name to 'claim' it was recommended by the celebrity food critic himself.
With in-depth knowledge of all the history in Malacca, my friend told us that there are only 2 famous shops serving the chicken rice ball. One is Chung Kee and another is Hoe Kee. And they are just a stone throw away from one another. On weekday, the queue is not that great. But come weekend, the queue between the 2 shops though are 100 metres apart, can even joined for God's sake! I observed most of the visitors are mainly from Singapore. Crowd aside, the quality of the food is balliciously executed. We waited outside for 10 minutes but the queue was shortened quite quickly. If you come here alone and don't mind sharing table, you will be seated even faster and easier.

When Malacca was listed as one of the World Heritage site, the tourism industry here has taken a boom. Of all sudden, almost every monuments in the Malacca has transformed into national treasure. Any items that look old are considered gold. The hotel business is booming too. You will find small timer hotel operator now gaining weight against the much established hotel here. Prior to my stay here, I was staying at one hotel (so-called 3 stars) for a day job trip as a translator. In short, the hotel was horrible. Anyhow, that was paid by my company so I won't elaborate much. This time, I booked this hotel called Fenix Inn from HotelClub. In short, the hotel inn was fantastic! Basically, it was the old-fashioned motel above the shop lot in KL. Just that they had done a good job on the renovation and modernised the budget motel business. That's why they don't even want to associate themselves with the name motel but rather the word inn.
  Below are the comparison:

So-called 3 star hotel vs Fenix Inn

Box TV set - LCD TV set
TV on old cabinet - TV hung on the wall (can even rotate)
Only national TV stations - Astro with Supersport!
Carpet flooring - Wooden flooring
2 bottles of drinking water - Delcol water dispenser outside (you can fill more than 2 bottle)
No ironing facility - Shared ironing facility at the aisle.
Psycho-feel bathroom -See-thru partition with Alpha water heater
No car park - Car park inside shops (need not worry your car being towed at 10.30PM)

Like I say before, food hunting in Malacca on weekend means you will be fighting for seats with others. My friend told us to be prepared when we set our time for the satay celup dinner. It was only 6PM and not even a normal dinner time for us. When I drove near the the shop, I saw a bunch of people lining up along the street. OMG! The queue for our must-try food in Malacca, satay celup had reached 3 shop lots lengths.
With the queue not as fast moving as the chicken rice shop earlier as they need to wait for the food to be cooked inside the groundnut filled hot and spicy, we had no choice but to wait and observe the atmosphere along the street. There is one shop which copycatted this satay celup concept which is just located 2 shops away. If I'm the shop owner I have two things in mind. One. "*&*!#% they are willing to queue up in front of my shop to wait yet they don't even want to try at my shop!". Two. "Thank God those who are not willing to wait in the queue gave up and come to my shop instead $$$".
  Well, some will be tempted to go other shop instead. But we ain't going to give up after coming all the way here. We decided to stick to our original plan. There are notices on the wall of their shop which curse claim that they don't have any brother or sister that open another branches elsewhere. Therefore, they re the only one in Malacca with the name Capitol. Capitol Sister, Capitol Brother, Capsquare, Captain America and any Cap-you-think-of has nothing to do with the owner of this satay celup. Think of celup, think of Capitol. Mr. Capitol, we heard you. 
  So, what make it so different from the "luk-luk" you have in those day  where the stalls were opened in front of the cinema. If my memory serves me right, I remembered dipping a few stick of raw food into boiling soup to cook it. Then we will put the sauce either sweet sauce, chili sauce or the favourite of all, satay peanut grounded sauce. The concept is same with the satay celup here in Malacca. Just that they skipped the boiling soup part and use the sauce instead to cook and sauced your food in one go. They mix sugar and chili into the peanut grounded sauce to your liking and resistance. 
 If you asked me what is the main difference this shop has to offer that other can't, I can't really answer that. I guess authenticity has a thing play here. Nobody remember the name of the person who reached the peak of Mount Everest second right? Another thing I can point out maybe due to the freshness of the food they offered and also the sauce used to cook the food. What I like most here was when they have this bonus hour where they will put a few stick of abalone, tiger prawn and some slightly expensive seafood on your table.

Me: Boss, this one I didn't order oh.
Boss: No worries, you eat I count. No eat I won't count.
Me: ???
First-timer like me for sure won't dare to even eat or even dirtied it with the sauce. Such an expensive food. After that, we came to know that this 'special' food are counted the same price as what we saw on the fridge. Yup, tiger prawn for the same price you pay the for the meatball you picked from the fridge. This is what we called bonus hour. By the time they served up this bonus hour items, we were already 80% full. And nope, you can't offered it to other table. Nevertheless, we took a few and decided to give up on the rest. It was already 7PM and the crowd grew longer to 4 shops instead. Well, it is the tougher you get your food, the more appreciative of you on the food I guess. Apart from the preservation of ancient monument, Malacca has also experienced a boom in international hotel investment like the Casa del Rio Hotel in the heart of the city. The architectural design pays tribute to the Portuguese heritage of Malacca. The cheapest room you can get is RM 388. For that you got to fake your IC to be a senior citizen.
Having this building along the river is truly a sight to behold. When I first saw the Malacca River during my primary school trip, it was small and of no difference with Klang River or teh tarik. It is hard to imagine that this was the same river that attracted the Portuguese, the Dutch and the British to make this place the central of trading port. The Malacca River with its cruise is the biggest surprise I heard of when my company organised the company trip a few years back. I took the opportunity this time around to experience myself  since I missed my company trip. Clean embankments on both sides stretches for several kilometres. You can even see mangrove tree being preserved to prevent soil erosion. The idea was basically to make the river pollution-free. The back of the shops had been converted so that you can have a cup of tea while savouring the breezy river brushing down your hair.

It's makes you feel like the ancient Admiral Cheng Ho having a cup of tea with the Prince of Rome.

1 comment:

lee jun-hoe said...

Ah, how I missed the Melaka rice balls! So many years already have not had them.. and now I'm missing so many Malaysian food..

And congrats on getting married.