Malacca is Malaysia's oldest city. From its origins as a small fishing village, it became a strategic location on the spice trade route that drew Portuguese, Dutch and British colonisers to the city. Merchants from China began flocking to the bustling trading hub in the 15th and 16th centuries to get in on the action.
These colonisers and immigrants left a lasting impact as they integrated into Malacca, not only on the city's colonial architecture but also on its cuisine. Nyonya, or Peranakan, cuisine is a delicious blend of Chinese cooking styles with Malaysian, Indian and Southeast Asian flavours. The food alone makes Malacca a worthy tourist destination, and the restaurants and its UNESCO status drew over 12 million visitors in 2016.
Malacca is only a two-hour drive from Kuala Lumpur International Airport, making it a perfect weekend getaway from Hong Kong. Here's where to eat if you have 48 hours in town:
Skip breakfast and start your culinary journey at this Malacca institution before the lunchtime crowd arrives. Donald has been serving up Nyonya cuisine since the 1980s, and his restaurant is popular with locals and tourists alike. Before we had a chance to order, our waitress recommended a few dishes for us to try. We ended up with a rich chicken rendang with blue rice accompanied by a perfectly runny fried egg and a Nyonya laksa, a type of laksa native to Malacca known for its rich coconut-milk broth.
No 16, G/F, Jalan KSB 1, Taman Kota Shahbandar, 75200 Melaka, Malaysia
Open Tuesday–Saturday, 9am–4pm (or until the food runs out!)
2pm: Hoe Kee Chicken Rice
After a few hours of sightseeing, pop into Hoe Kee Chicken Rice to refuel with an afternoon snack. Chicken rice balls are Malacca's answer to Hainan chicken rice. Grab a few balls dipped in dark soy and chilli sauces, then head back out to Jonker Street to walk them off in time for dinner.
4, 6, 8 Jalan Hang Jebat, 75200 Melaka, Malaysia
Open daily, 9am–4pm
5:30pm: Pak Putra Tandoori & Naan Restaurant
Don't expect any frills at this spot, which is set up in a car park. You'll sit at plastic tables and chairs alongside cooks whipping up naan bread. The chicken is baked in the large tandoori ovens flanking the lot. The name says it all – order the tender tandoori chicken, with some cheese naan to go with it. Get here early – this place was packed by the time we left at 7:30pm.
Jalan Laksamana 4, Taman Kota Laksamana, 75200 Melaka, Malaysia
Open Tuesday–Sunday, 5pm–1am
9:30am: The Daily Fix Cafe
Skip the bacon and eggs and go for breakfast with a Malayasian twist. The pandan pancakes filled with gula melaka (coconut palm sugar) were a great way to start the day. The menu offers more traditional breakfast options too for those so inclined.
55 Jalan Hang Jebat, 75200 Melaka, Malaysia
Open weekdays, 10am–5:30pm, and weekends, 8:30am–5:30pm
12pm: Nancy's Kitchen
Nancy's Kitchen is another Malacca establishment famous for its traditional Nyonya cuisine. Start with a few Nyonya specialities like popiah (the Malaccan version of spring rolls) and pai tee (pastry shells formed in the shape of upside-down top hats, filled with vegetable and egg). If you're still hungry, the menu helpfully points out Nancy's most popular dishes.
13, 13-1, 13-2 Jalan KL 3/8, Taman Kota Laksamana, Seksyen 3, 75200 Melaka, Malaysia
Open Sunday–Thursday, 11am–5pm, and Friday–Saturday, 11am–9pm
6pm: Calanthe Art Cafe
Laksa, laksa, laksa. If you still have room for food in your stomach after two days of non-stop eating, fit in one last bowl of Nyonya laksa for your last Malaccan supper. This super-relaxed coffee shop and restaurant looks unassuming, but its laksa is seriously good.
11 Jalan Hang Kasturi, 75200 Melaka, Malaysia
Open Sunday–Thursday, 9am–11pm, and Friday–Saturday, 9am–midnight
The Majestic Malacca is a charming colonial-style hotel not too far from the city's attractions. The hotel's friendly staff can help you to arrange a private car from Kuala Lumpur International Airport for approximately HK$1,300 or you can grab a taxi from the airport for a more budget-friendly ride. Rooms cost approximately HK$1,300 per night.
188 Jalan Bunga Raya, 75100 Melaka, Malaysia, +60 6 289 8000