The exciting night market in Melaka

Melaka Jonker walk night market yummy dinner foodJonker Walk Night Market

📍Melaka, 7th of September 2018. Before we get to telling you just how much fun and delicious our dinner at the Jonker Walk night market was, we'd like to tell you how we got there in the first place.

How did we end up here?

Going with the flow

To be honest, we were unsure we were going to visit Malaysia on this trip at all. There were simply so many other places higher on our priority list, we thought we’d only come here in the end and only if we still had time. This was the idea, however, already from the very beginning our plans had to change on a continuous basis. This was no exception. Flights from Bali to Vietnam (our original next destination) or any other place on that priority list were over our budget or very inconvenient. Going to Malaysia, on the other hand, seemed the smoothest option. Plus, it was on the way to Thailand. We decided to spend three weeks here until our flight to Phuket which we booked while applying for a 60-day Thai visa.

First impressions

Our guide book which is slowly starting to look like it has seen more places than it actually has, recommended us to go see Melaka - a cultural city south from Kuala Lumpur (KL). Excited, we immediately jumped on the bus to Melaka without spending any extra time in KL.

Already from the first moments of being in Malaysia we could feel we were in a different world in comparison to Indonesia. Everything seemed to be more developed and organized - transport, announcements, ticket information, directions... The prices were also different.

The most radical change to us seemed to be the people. This is a purely subjective opinion, most probably caused by the extra positive experiences we had made in Indonesia. But here is what was happening. Mimicking Indonesias, we continued randomly greeting and smiling to strangers on the street, but weren't getting the expected response. We both felt it. The Malaysians probably thought "silly Europeans smiling for no good reason" :D. Saddened, we wondered how long our Indonesia-induced positivity would last, now that we are out of that environment. Time will show. I guess the only way to stay positive is to stay positive.

Staying open-minded

We arrived in Melaka in the early afternoon and checked into our capsule hostel. We were already considering staying at one of those in Surabaya, but back then went for the option with amazing breakfast reviews. David, inspired by pictures of capsule hotels online, was very excited about staying in this futuristic hotel. Unfortunately, he will still need to wait for that experience since the place in Melaka looked more like a un upgraded big dormitory. There were two levels of beds, each properly isolated from each other and with a curtain in front, so you can have a bit of privacy in your bed. It was actually pretty cool – the bed was huge (for two people) and very comfortable, ergonomic design allowed us to even lock both of our backpacks in the compartment behind our heads. In conclusion, the accommodation was not bad at all, just not what we had expected.

On a side note, fun fact about Melaka - we were not sure whether "Malacca" or "Melaka" was the right name, so we googled it - in 2017 Malaysian government officially changed the English/international name "Malacca" to "Melaka", so only the latter is the correct one to use nowadays. There you go, now you know too 🙂

The fabulous dinner at the night market

Jonker Walk night market gate

The day we arrived to Melaka we were absolutely knackered since we had to get up at 4:30 AM that morning to catch our flight from Denpasar. Not to waste the whole day to traveling, we set out to explore the city in the evening. The first thing we noticed on our stroll was the fact that there were more pedestrian-friendly roads, however still without pedestrian crossings (thankfully, we had already mastered the street-crossing in Indonesia ). The city looked rather empty – there were wide roads, way more traffic lights, shops, but nobody around - and we weren’t even far away from Chinatown nor tourist attractions! It felt a bit weird.

After a short walk we made to the famous Jonker Street Night Market. Now that looked promising – the street was buzzing with people going through small stands selling all sorts of colourful stuff (the kind of stuff that appears cool until you take a closer look and realise you can’t find a single item you would actually buy). Hungry for food and new experiences, we tried a couple of things from various stands, not always knowing what exactly we’d just ordered. But hey – we said we would challenge ourselves to new flavours and tastes, so this was the opportunity to do so 😉

So here is the overview of our delicious surprise 6-course dinner:

Course #1.

Friendly sausage lady

The beginning of this oddly put-together dinner menu was a spicy sausage from a very friendly and smiling lady, just at the beginning of the market. (On a side note, if you haven’t picked up on that yet from our previous posts – David is continuously hopefully trying out sausages wherever we go. If we ever move to Asia, we will need to find some solution for a constant sausage supply from Europe. Any ideas?). Not sure there are families or classes of sausages, but if I would need to classify this one, it would be a child of a chorizo and cervelat. A nice snack, the sausage was very juicy and a bit spicy, but hopelessly didn’t meet David’s expectations, maybe because his mouth was on fire? Not sure 😉

Course #2.

Chinese Pork dumplings

The next item on the menu were Chinese dumplings (dim sum) – you could get a selection of 5 of them for 4 RM (something like 80 eurocents). Although they were all pork, the selection was nevertheless interesting – at least 12 different kinds with all sorts of dough colour and shape. Naturally, we just chose by colour as we had no idea what the differences beyond the colouring were. Frankly, we couldn’t tell much difference after tasting them either. The spicy sauce made the otherwise rather plain dumplings pretty ok. Would not go for a second portion though.

Course #3.

Takoyaki -traditional Japanese snack

Fighting our way through the crowds we noticed a man in front of a pan with twelve little bowls frying something and masterfully flipping it using chopsticks. It was really entertaining to watch – seems you need a lot of practice as you must be quick and precise at the same time. The mysterious thing was Takoyaki – a Japanese snack. Translated into the foods we know, it is kind of a mini omelette with a filling (in our case – octopus) in a shape of ball. The final product not only tasted deliciously (the absolute winner of tonight!), but it also had a great presentation! It was very soft on the inside with a yummy crust covered in sauces.

Can this be beaten?

Course #4.

Grilled oysters and scallops with garlic - YUM!

The next item on the menu was a garlic-grilled scallop served on a shell (I guess they cook them separately and then put on the shell?). David had never tried one of those before and I haven’t had one for a very long time, so we couldn’t resist the temptation of having one at the market. It was delicious as expected, although not suitable for sharing. Looks like David will have to try the scallop some other time 😉

As the sun set down, the market became even busier. The little cafes and adjacent little streets were full of young people enjoying a drink listening to the sounds of street artist voices competing with the constant background noise of human chatter. Neon balloons, fumes, fire, colourful street facades and screens of smartphones made the scene very bright and vivid. Minus the occasional claustrophobic panic attacks, the evening was turning out to be exciting!

Course #5.

Waaaay too many options!

To be honest, we weren’t hungry anymore, but simply couldn’t pass the stand selling all sorts of grilled meat and fish without trying something (🤞lean breakfast tomorrow!).

There was beef, chicken, scallops, octopus, fish, various sausages – just to name a few, so the struggle of choice was real. After a lengthy indecisiveness we went for duck. The right choice! Juicy and flavourful, with a hint of smoke from the grill. What a fantastic way to finish the main course part!

Course #6.

Shake it - shake it - coconut shake 😀

No proper dinner goes (or should go) without a dessert, so we ended the feast with a coconut shake sold at the very end of the street. There are a couple of stands just next to each other selling the same things and seemingly having fun trying to outcry each other while promoting their stands, albeit in a very amiable way. One of the benefits of traveling as a couple is that we can and often do share food so that we could try more and different things. This shake, however, was not easily shareable. Unlike the scallop, it was not due to its size but rather its yumminess. Almost fighting for the sips, we finished the dessert while watching a local coconut master entertaining the crowd juggling coconuts in the air. What a fun night at the market!

Daily budget for two

Transfer Kuala Lumpur - Melaka50 MYR
Capsule hotel64 MYR
Dinner at the market52 MYR
Total166 MYR (apx. 35 EUR)
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