Malacca restaurant: A glimpse of Malaysia
Thursday, 28 May 2009

Beef Rendang
Beef Rendang by kutitots, on Flickr

A few weeks ago, Marc and I were invited to taste the cuisine of Malacca, a new Malaysian restaurant along Jupiter Street in Makati. I was skeptical at first—I’ve long had not-so-satisfying experiences with unfamiliar foreign food—but Marc said we wouldn’t know if it was any good unless we tried. You see, Marc’s the one more adventurous when it comes to food—I’m not much of a risk-taker if it involves eating and drinking.

I have to admit that in this case, I’m glad I agreed and went ahead with the gastronomic tour at Malacca.

Marc and I arrived a bit early for the food tasting. While waiting for our hosts, we were served kropek (shrimp crackers) as an appetizer. It tasted like how kropek should taste like. The shrimp crackers came with a dip—Malaysian shrimp paste. Now that was what made it different.

KropekKropek by kutitots, on Flickr

There wasn’t anything special about the kropek, but the dip was one of a kind. It was similar to a deliciously cooked Filipino bagoong, however, there was some spice in it that didn’t seem Filipino. Maybe it was the Malaysian spice working, but whatever it was, it tasted good!

I frankly had no idea what the drinks on the menu were, so I just had what every one else was having: Barley with Lemon. Marc was a bit more adventurous—he had Teh Tarik. To be honest, I wished I ordered an ordinary softdrink instead. The Barley with Lemon was indeed refreshing—it tasted somewhere between pandan and sweet tea—but I never been one to enjoy tea concoctions unlike Marc (the only “tea taste” I could actually enjoy was sweet mint tea). He really enjoyed his own drink and mine. But then again, maybe it wasn’t that bad. I was, after all, able to finish the entire glass of Barley with Lemon on my own even though I don’t really like tea-like concoctions 😛

Barley with Lemon and Teh Tarik
Barley with Lemon and Teh Tarik by kutitots, on Flickr

Since the drinks were served first, I honestly began to feel my skepticism about the food coming back. I was frankly starting to get worried that the lunch we’d be having would be borderline strange. But, surprisingly, any thought of skepticism was banished the moment I took a bite of the first dish from Malacca: Char Kueh Teow.

Char Kueh Teow
Char Kueh Teow by kutitots, on Flickr

As you can see, Char Kueh Teow is a noodle-based dish—egg noodles with delicious spices and vegetables. It was a bit similar to Pad Thai—a dish I was craving for before we went to the restaurant—but tastier. The crunchiness of the bean sprouts perfectly complemented the softness of the egg noodles, and the dish just had the right amount of spicy kick into it. The spiciness was more than just tolerable; it emphasized the slight sweetness of the dish and the unfamiliar flavors that I could only guess as Malaysian. The vegetables, I was glad to find out, were organically grown in one of the owners’ private farm in Tagaytay.

Satay
Satay by kutitots, on Flickr

Satay is probably Malacca’s answer to the Filipino barbecue. But unlike our version, it’s not laden with Westernized sweet barbecue sauce. The grilled pork on bamboo skewers were tasty enough that you could eat them without the delightfully sweet peanut sauce, but taste seemed a bit incomplete—the peanut sauce complemented the pork marinade perfectly, bringing out the spices otherwise hidden without it.

Curry Laksa
Curry Laksa by kutitots, on Flickr

Their Curry Laksa was unlike the Indian curry I was used to. It was also spicy, but this one was quite different. The soup not only had noodles, tofu, shrimp, and a variety of vegetables, but it also had a bit of a coconut taste. I particularly enjoyed this dish—it was tasty and spicy, yet, you could still eat it without needing to pair it with rice.

That’s actually one of the things I liked about the dishes served at Malacca. The dishes were very tasty, yet far from being salty. Growing up in a family where saltiness in food can be very unhealthy, I have always been wary of “tasty” dishes. Because for some reason, the saltiness in a very tasty dish is usually proportionate to the amount of spices the dish has.

I was pleasantly surprised to find that Malacca’s Beef Rendang is far from being salty. I’ll be honest and say that I eyed it quite suspiciously when it was first brought to our table. It looked a lot like the typical Filipino Beef Caldereta, a dish that I always found disappointing when eaten in a restaurant because for some reason, it’s always served too salty for my taste. But Malacca’s Beef Rendang was different. Aside from the obvious coconut-y taste and spices common to Malaysian cuisine, the beef was very tender and just had the right amount of saltiness.

Rotti
Rotti by kutitots, on Flickr

The Rotti is actually an appetizer, but I figured saving it for last since it was my favorite. Don’t let its weird presentation fool you—it’s really yummy. The soft, chewy yet flaky texture had a distinct sweet taste. The Rotti is dipped in a peanut sauce similar to the one paired with Satay, and yet the overall taste is still very unique. The sweet and chewy texture of the pastry brought out tastes in the peanut sauce that made it seem distinctly different even though it was basically just the same sauce.

For dessert, we were served Sagu Gula Melaka and another coconut-based dessert (sorry, I can’t recall what it’s called). The Sagu Gula Melaka is the one with ice cream on the photo below:

Sagu  Gula Melaka
“Sagu Gula Melaka by kutitots, on Flickr

Marc didn’t enjoy the desserts as much as I did. Because unlike him, I’m fond of coconut-based desserts, and I liked this Sagu Gula Melaka better than the other unnamed dessert. If you’ve tasted the Filipino drink “palamig” sold in carinderias or manlalako, its taste is similar to that—only much more coconut-y. The sago served in this dessert was unusually fine; it looked like caviar and had a melt-in-your-mouth quality. I could probably down two of this dessert if I wasn’t so full already at that time.

Off hand, it’s easy to say that my overall gastronomical experience at Malacca could be summed up in three words: unique and delicious!

The dishes are priced somewhere between Php200-500. If you’re going there for a dinner or lunch for two, expect to spend more or less Php1,000. In my opinion, the price is fair considering the quality of food, service, and the ambiance, but it’s probably not where I’d eat on a daily basis. Probably for dates with my husband, yes, I’d go back there. The food is worth it!

But aside from the delicious food served, I’d have to give the restaurant’s ambiance a thumbs up as well. Its interior design is a balance between modernity and the cultural heritage of Malaysia. Authentic carvings, artifacts, and paintings were specially flown from Malaysia by the owners—giving a touch of historical Malaysia to the edgy architecture.

The interiors definitely adds authenticity to Malacca’s pride: serving authentic Malaysian cuisine. To be honest, I can only take my hosts’ word for it on this aspect—I think I can only know for myself if the dishes were indeed authentically Malaysian until I’ve actually tasted food served in Malaysia, which I unfortunately haven’t. Maybe one day, I will. But for now, I can recommend you visit Malacca, for its friendly crew and delicious food—yummy food my Filipino taste buds can vouch for!

For more photos of Malacca, its interiors, crew and dishes, you may visit my Flickr Food Set.

Malacca
Ground Floor, Jupiter Place, 136 Jupiter St., Makati
Phone: +632 8993587, 8954282
Restaurant Hours: 11AM to 11PM

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5 Responses to “Malacca restaurant: A glimpse of Malaysia”

  1. MrsLavendula says:

    i love teh tarik but ive never tasted barley with lemon..the photos look so appetizing! hubby and i have been wanting to visit malacca but just havent had the time. when i show him your pictures maybe our visit may become sooner than i think…

  2. Musikero says:

    Yummy! I particularly like their version of satay. Really juicy.

  3. janna says:

    every bite was worth the money we spent! i’m also not one to try foreign food but eating at Malacca proved to be one of my best gastronomic experiences. i can’t wait to eat there again!

  4. laz says:

    i so love these! its so very very informative. keep it up! thank you!