Restaurant Peranakan, Aunty Koh Cendol, and the Melaka road trip

peranakan restaurant melaka

Restaurant Peranakan is the aptly named place known for it’s Peranakan cuisine. It’s often been cited as the #1 place to go for Nyonya food in Melaka. Peranakan (or Straits Chinese) is a distinctive racial group in Melaka – it comes from Chinese settlers marrying locals and is an entire culture unto itself, the hotbed of which lies in Melaka.

peranakan restaurant

Nyonya food is conglomeration of Chinese and Malay food, but there are some really unique dishes they call their own. I had lunch here while on a road trip to Melaka.

restaurant peranakan

Peranakan Restaurant has a really nice décor which reflects the heydays of the Baba Nyonya clan.

Ayam Buah Keluak

ayam buah keluak

This is perhaps the most well known Nyonya dish. It’s chicken cooked with kepayang tree nuts. Buah keluak is actually poisonous before being prepared for cooking. It prompted a lot of Googling when I mentioned that coz someone ate the inside of the nut.


I like this dish – it’s a very rich and flavorful one due to the buah keluak. I ate some of the insides of the nuts too – it’s sourish and contributes to the flavor of the chicken. Peranakan Restaurant makes the best ayam buah keluak I’ve had.

Ayam Pongteh

ayam pongteh

I’ve had this at Donald & Lily’s Authentic Nyonya Food too but that pales in comparison with Peranakan Restaurant’s version.

Ikan Tenggiri Asam Pedas

ikan tenggiri asam pedas

This is a really good and spicy fish dish that I found worthy of mention – it’s cooked with brinjals, tomatos, and ladyfingers and has a sweet, spicy and sour (more towards the latter) gravy that goes very well with rice.

Udang Lemak Nanas

vivid prawns

This is a very rich dish of shrimp cooked with pineapples and lots of oil. I set the camera to Vivid and it almost hurts my eye to look at it.

udang lemak nanas

Here’s one that’s easier on the ocular devices. ;) It’s also one of the dishes I’ll recommend at Peranakan Restaurant.

Nyonya Chap Choy

nyonya chap choy

It’s mixed vegetables, nothing special here.

Kangkung Belacan

kangkung belacan

This dish has strayed into mainstream Chinese cooking that a lot of people forget it’s Nyonya origins. If you want the most authentic version, I guess here’s where you go.

Taufo Peranakan

taufo peranakan

I’m not a huge fan of tofu but it disappeared pretty quickly so I’ll hazard a guess and say it’s pretty good if you like the stuff. ;)

Fo Yong Tan

fo yong tan

I think this is the egg omelet unless I’ve completely messed up my bearings. Forgettable.

Sambal Bendih

sambal bendih

Okra with a splash of sambal on top. Simple, but good.

peranakan restaurant food

I spent the whole time piling my plate with all the different stuff so I could take a photo. Their flagship dishes are really good, while some are mediocre, but IMHO, Peranakan Restaurant is the place to go for authentic Nyonya food if you’re in Melaka.

nissan almera

I was there on a the Eat, Play, Drive road trip with a bunch of other bloggers. We drove down on several Nissan Alameras. I had the opportunity to drive the IMPUL tuned one (which is my main ride, with a very auspicious plate too – WXN 6330). Simon, Joshua and Kelly (another group) was kind enough to let me drive the stock Nissan Alamara for a stretch.

nissan almera eat play drive

I prefered the Nissan Alamera tuned by IMPUL that was issued to my group – there’s keyless ignition and the specs are pretty decent. I found the acceleration to be a bit lacking, but as they say, it’s not a sports car, but a sedan that’s surprisingly affordable for its class. I was quite impressed by the price of the car for it’s specs.

nissan almera impul

Thanks for the invite Hui Ping! :)

auntie koh cendol

This was also where I had the famous Klebang Original Coconut Shake and while we were driving there, we also stopped by Aunty Koh’s Cendol. This place churns out really good cendol – perfect for a hot day!

auntie koh

It’s primarily manned by a single woman – the aforementioned Aunty Koh. Cendol is a shaved ice dessert with squiggly green jelly and kidney beans (we use red beans in Sarawak).

aunty koh cendol

Gula Melaka (caramelized palm sugar) gives it that distinctive sugary sweet taste, which is tempered by santan (coconut milk).

melaka cendol

You’ll be amazed by how many people come here for the RM 3.50 (large) cendol.

aunty koh

I was tempted to have two (and I think I did have two) but I also heard that this place is famous for it’s taibak (RM 1.50) – which is a very simple shaved ice dessert made with red and white flour squiggles. I found the taste very similar to something we have in Sibu called “wu wei tang” (5 taste soup) which is another shaved ice dessert that has dried apples and other misc ingredients among it.


It’s simple but refreshing.

cendol melaka

However, I still prefered the cendol at Aunty Koh Cendol. They claim to be Melaka’s best cendol and I’m inclined to agree. I’ve had cendol in lots of places from Penang to Kuantan (click on the tag cendol) and this is among the top ones I’ve had the pleasure of eating. :D

Ril’s Steakhouse and the fabled Gemas Gold steak

gemas gold

I was dragged to this place at Jalan Tun HS Lee at the promise of some really good meat one night. Yeah, I know how that came out. Heh. It’s located in a quite secluded area of KL – Ril’s Steakhouse is at one of those 100 year-old buildings in town, complete with a chic art gallery called thewarehouse (complete with chic font) at the bottom.

rils steakhouse gallery

It’s actually one unit and there are a couple of paintings there but only two other groups of diners – a bunch that looks like a lawyer and another that looks like a tourist family from some country which has oil as its prime export (and loads of it).

rils steakhouse

On to the food, I was told by the waiter (and my dining companion, who has been here previously) that they serve either Australian Angus Steaks or a type of Malaysian-reared breed called Gemas Gold.

thewarehouse cafe art

They also serve a good platter of warm bread with a variety of spreads that I really liked before your meal. However, there were only one small bun for each diner, and no one going around for refills which I thought was a bit off for a place like this.

thai bloody mary
Thai Bloody Mary (RM 28)
Vodka, tomato, chilli, fish sauce, coriander

I think this is the best part of the meal – the cocktails. It’s like an East-meets-West cocktail with gnarly ingredients thrown in just for the heck of it. It’s like something I would do as my projects! I loved it. The bird’s eye chilli (cili padi) is enough to make your eyes water and clear your sinus right up! They have others in a similar vein too.

truffled egg
KC’s Truffled Egg & Asparagus Soldiers (RM 28)
Soft boiled egg caramelized with a sweet chilli glaze and served with crunchy breaded asparagus solders and a spicy salt dip.

This is an amazing appetizer that was recommended by the waiter and it comes highly recommended from me too. It was much better than the steak I had – the breaded asparagus is supposed to be dipped first into the salt you see on the cracked shell at the side and then into the egg. Lovely stuff, and immaculate plating.

Classic Fish Pie (RM 48)

classic fish pie

This is described as a mouthwatering selection of fresh fish and seafood, cooked with creamy leeks and onions in a dill and mustard white sauce, baked with a buttery, crispy golden mashed potato topping. My dining companion had this for the mains. It was serviceable but I wasn’t too impressed by it. There was nothing in it that stood out.

Australian Augus Rib-eye (RM 128)

rils steak

I went for this 300 gram steak because my dining companion does not eat beef. I thought that was rather ironic, bringing me here, but she knows I love the stuff. I ordered it extra-rare, basically a blue steak and it turned out wonderfully. This place knows how to cook their steaks, that’s for sure – just slightly cooked on the outside, with a wonderful cold center. However, it wasn’t as fresh as I was hoping for.

I should have gone with the local Gemas Gold Rib-Eye 700 gram monster for just RM 10 more and tried to finish that. Heh.

roasted garlic bulbs

They also have sides ranging from chunky skin-on steak fries (RM 14) to whole roasted garlic heads (RM 10), the latter of which I ordered. I liked it, it was done perfectly. It doesn’t do your breath much good but it tastes wonderful.

rils steakhouse kl

I was really unimpressed by the Australian Angus steak that I ordered and steaks are supposed to be the forte of the place. It wasn’t fresh enough to be cooked extra rare. I’ll like to go again just to try the Malaysian-bread Gemas Gold though – it’s local, with lower food miles and bound to be better. It comes in a huge 700 gram rib-eye at just RM 132 and I saw the tourist family eating it.

extra rare bluesteak

I’ll need to be especially hungry to tackle it on my own though – but it was beautifully presented and I’ll love to taste this Gemas Gold that I haven’t heard of before.

Kepala Ikan Asam Pedas Botak

botak asam fish head

Botak assam fish head is one of the more popular fish head places in JB. It’s different from the famous Kam Leong fish head at Jalan Wong Ah Fook – Botak asam fish head is spicy and sour, while Kam Leong’s is cooked in a more traditional Chinese style curry.

Botak asam fish head is their signature dish, but a lot of people order the deep fried fish head too.

botak johor

The proper name for the place is actually Kedai Makanan Jadi Baru (Botak). I heard that the name originates from the proprietor’s hairstyle – he’s bald. Thus, people started calling the place Botak (bald) asam fish head. It occupies two shop lots side by side and prior to their expansion, the queue for it is legendary too. In fact, it’s still very full when we went – almost all the tables are occupied!

botak restaurant

Behold! This is the huge claypot of asam fish head that we had for lunch. This portion is for five (5) people and it has okra, tofu and other miscellaneous vegetables. We opted for the fish slices instead of the fish head – I reckon the fish head will taste even better.

botak lunch

I noticed that they make a pretty good omelet too and one of the things that you must not miss is their otak-otak.

botak otak otak

The otak-otak from Botak (rhymes, doesn’t it) is simply delicious! It comes wrapped in banana leaves and when you open it up, a waft of steam rises, accompanied by the aroma of fresh fish and spices. This chunk of otak-otak is STUFFED with fresh fish flakes. It’s one of the most amazing otak-otak I’ve ever had – it’s spiced just right and 80% of the jellied contents is made of fish! Delectable.

botak asam fish

I wouldn’t compare Botak asam fish head and Kam Leong fish head side by side – it’s two different dishes. I like the spiciness of the asam fish in Botak – it leaves a nice sour aftertaste, and you can practically see the chili flakes on the fish. It’s amazing. I love asam and I can see why the perfect combination of spiciness and sour notes has people flocking in droves to Botak asam fish head.

Keropok lekor and cendol pulut in Kuantan


Now what says East Coast better than keropok lekor and cendol pulut, the mainstays of traditional food when you think about Kuantan? :)


I just came back from a weekend there and tasted some of the best keropok lekor I’ve had. Kuantan faces the sea and there is seafood in abundance. This makes fish and the likes very cheap.


Keropok lekor is made with fish and sago before being stuffed into a casing – it’s like a fish sausage of sorts. The keropok lekor is then sliced and deep fried. There are two version that we had but the definitive Kuantan keropok lekor seems to be the chewy type as opposed to the crispier Terengganu keropok lekor.


This cup of keropok lekor sliced into bite sized pieces just cost us RM 1.


It’s eaten with a type of chilli sauce that’s black in color and sweet in taste. The chilli sauce is homemade – that’s the trick that makes it taste so good. The stalls in Kuantan all have their different recipes for the chilli sauce. This particular keropok lekor is chewy and tastes like a sausage made with fish.

keropok lekor

There’s also another version of keropok lekor which goes for RM 1 for 8 pieces.

keropok lekor authentic

This is the crunchy type and is the more traditional version. It’s also really good and you can really taste the fish in these crackers – it’s almost made entirely out of fish!


However, the best thing that I’ve had the pleasure of introducing to my taste buds in Kuantan is cendol pulut. We have cendol pulut over here, but most of them consists of a meager piece of pulut placed into cendol. The one we had in Kuantan has HALF of the cup filled with pulut.


It’s very filling and it tastes awesome – the gula melaka (palm sugar) used in the cendol basically seeps though the pulut (a type of glutenous rice) and the sheer quantity of it makes it an authentic Kuantan style cendol pulut. I think people eat it to get full – it’s like a meal in itself. -_-

Garlic stuffed ikan bulus (silver whiting)


Bulus is a fish that has become a staple in our kitchen. It’s commonly called silver whiting (sillago sihama) and it’s a wee little fish. The largest ones are not much bigger than a sausage. It’s easy to cook (always a plus point) but relatively expensive at RM 19.90 per kg.

Damn, I’m starting to sound domesticated aren’t I? Prices of fish indeed…

ikan bulus

Anyway, I say relatively because there are a lot of other species of fish like catfish, kerisi, gelama etc which comes in under the RM 10 price point and this is double that. It comes up to about RM 1 per (small) fish. However, what bulus (silver whiting) has in its favor is that most of its weight is fish meat – there’s no large head or bones to take up excess weight.

silver whiting

The flesh of ikan bulus is also sweet and has an almost silky texture so it’s worth the price premium. :)


Silver whiting is best served marinated and deep fried with corn flour. It’s also wise to ask the hypermarket people to descale and gut the fish so you don’t have to do it yourself.

Our marinate sauce:
Light soy sauce
McCormick Season-All salt
Heinz brown sauce

bulus marinate

Just marinate the bulus using the ingredients above (or change it depending on what you have in your kitchen cabinet) and sprinkle some finely chopped raw garlic on top. Leave this for about 30 minutes.

Anyway, have you noticed that all the garlic has disappeared in the photo below? No, we didn’t discard it, there’s a trick here that we use to make it taste better.

bulus corn flour

Stuff the raw chopped garlic into the (gutted) fish’s stomach right before you spoon the corn flour over the silver whiting. It’s a simple but neat touch that gives you a tasty surprise when you bite into it. :)

We use Brown & Polson corn flour (the ones that come in a rusty hued can) to coat the bulus. This is a product that goes back ages. I remember seeing cans of this in my grandma’s kitchen. Heh!

frying fish

Slide the garlic stuffed fish into hot boiling oil and flip it once in a while. It only takes 3 minutes to cook due to the size and with that amount of cooking time, it’ll be crunchy enough to eat whole – bones, head and tail.

garlic stuffed ikan bulus

It’s delicious!

Pangkor Curry Fish Head Restaurant

Pangkor Curry Fish Head Restaurant

Pangkor Curry Fish Head Restaurant is not located in Pangkor but it sure seems like it. It’s nestled somewhere deep within the recesses of Subang and is Aud‘s regular stomping grounds. The proprietor there even knows her coz her family eats there so often.

Pangkor Curry Fish Head Restaurant interior

I am told this eating establishment offers extremely good curry fish head. The place is full of patrons digging into dinner and the four of us managed to find a table in the restaurant. There is an al freso area and an indoor dining section and most of the tables can be seen with the flagship curry fish head.

Pangkor Curry Fish Head Restaurant Spinach with Garlic

This is Spinach with Garlic – which I tried to eat more of, considering I’m not exactly the embodiment of healthy living. It’s RM 8 for a small dish and RM 10 for a large one. I can’t comment much about vegetables, since I never clicked on the Like button on this particular food group ever since I was a kid.

Pangkor Curry Fish Head Restaurant Honey Soy Chicken

Moving on to the meat of the post, this is the Honey Soy Chicken (RM 15, 20, 25 for S, M, L). It is endorsed by Ho Chiak as the sticker on the menu proclaims loudly (if words can talk that is). I found this rather good – the taste and texture is spot on. Sorry I stole all the good bits of the chicken. smirk

Pangkor Curry Fish Head Restaurant Fried Homemade Beancurd with Minced Chicken

The next dish is the Fried Homemade Beancurd with Minced Chicken (RM 10 for small, RM 15 for large). Beancurd to me belongs to the tofu group which I am not particularly fond of either. However, this dish surprised me with the exquisitely tender beancurn contrasted with the lean chicken meat. The gravy does the dish much justice too. I used Gourmet Mode on my Sony Cyber-shot TX-5 to take all the photos in this post.

Pangkor Curry Fish Head dish

Now this is the highlight of the meal – Curry Grouper Fish Head! It’s also bears the prominent lips, teeth and tongue logo of Ho Chiak and I stand here as witness that this is really good curry fish head.

There is no santan (coconut milk) added to the curry fish head – it’s cooked the Proper Way (TM). The price ranges from RM 28 – RM 75 depending on the portion. I liked the tender and succulent fish but the best part about this tai chow place’s signature dish is the curry sauce.

Pangkor Curry Fish Head

You can practically eat a plate of steamed rice with the curry alone – the medley of spices produces an opus of epicurean delight on your taste buds!

Pangkor Curry Fish Head Restaurant can be a little hard to find so I’m going to list down the GPS coordinates:

N 03º 04′ 40.5″
E 101º 35′ 18.8″

I saved it so I can come here to eat the curry fish head again. You know the best thing about Pangkor Curry Fish Head Restaurant? It’s not only fucking good but it’s halal to boot!

Kenko Reflexology & Fish Spa

kenko fish spa

Kenko Reflexology & Fish Spa is a relatively new concept spa and reflexology center offering the unique doctor fish treatment for your feet. Doctor fish spas have sprung into popularity last year and a lot of people have been to Kenko Fish Spa, which has outlets throughout the Klang Valley.

kenko reception

I went to the Kenko Fish Spa in Pavilion, KL to experience the doctor fish spa. It costs RM 38 per person for a 30 minute session inside the doctor fish spa pool. I’ve been keen to check out the doctor fish ever since I’ve read about it on several blogs – it sounds interesting.

kenko tag

You are given a tag to clock in the Kenko Fish Spa area, and an attendant will direct you to the pre-treatment area. The tag initiates the start of your timing block, and allows you access to the general doctor fish spa pool. There are also private rooms if you’re more inclined to enjoy the fish treatment in seclusion.

kenko fish wash

Kenko Reflexology & Fish Spa starts the doctor fish spa session by requesting users to wash their feet first. This is not just for hygiene purposes – chemicals from body lotion and creams can contaminate the pool water and probably cause the doctor fish to float belly up. Body lotion is not exactly sauce to complement the dead flesh the fish eats from your feet. ;)

kenko fish spa pool

The fish spa at Kenko in Pavilion, Kuala Lumpur features a central pool with larger species of the doctor fish and a trench bordering the perimeter with smaller versions of the Garra rufa and Cyprinion macrostomus.

kenko fish spa large

I went into the central pool first and the doctor fish swarmed around my feet and started nibbling away at the dead flesh. It felt a little ticklish at first, but after a while, the sensation is actually quite pleasant.

My girlfriend however, nearly screamed when she put her feet inside and quickly jumped out. The attendant kindly told her that the trench surrounding the area has smaller versions of the doctor fish and would probably be suited for the more squeamish ones amongst us.

kenko fish spa small

I joined her at the trench area after feeding the bigger doctor fish in the central pool. I figured it would work better to let the larger doctor fish feast on the larger and hardened chunks of dead flesh on my feet before letting the smaller ones take care of the rest.

The interesting thing about the doctor fish is that it not only feasts on the dead skin and flesh on your feet, but also on your legs. There are signs that warn against putting your hand inside the water, but I did just that and the doctor fish swarmed around it too and started nibbling away at the dead skin. :)


Kenko Reflexology & Fish Spa @ Pavilion, KL offers a nice view of the city from the glass panel windows while the doctor fish takes care of the dead skin and flesh from your feet. It’s very relaxing and my feet was noticeably smoother after the treatment.

kenko sibu

Due to the popularity of the doctor fish spas, even Sibu has started its very own treatment center…in an inflatable pool right in the middle of a shopping mall. Instead of luxurious wood paneling, you get plastic chairs to sit on.

kenko sibu fish spa

It’s called “Love Bite Fish Spa Happy Feet” and some enterprising soul charges RM 15 for a 30-minute session inside the stagnant inflatable pool containing a handful of doctor fish. I don’t know about you, but I’m not exactly falling over myself to sit down on a plastic chair and put my feet in an inflatable pool in the middle of the mall.

kenko fish spa me

Give me Kenko Reflexology & Fish Spa any day. ;) Guide to Eating Umai

umai stall

Umai is a raw fish dish prepared by the Melanau tribe in Mukah. It’s a must try dish if you ever go to Mukah. It’s the Malaysian version of the sashimi and is traditionally the working lunch for Melanau fishermen.

Umai is made of thinly sliced slivers of raw fish and served with toasted sago pearls. The popularity of the dish for the fishermen is pragmatic – it doesn’t need to be cooked while deep sea fishing and the sago pearls provides the carbohydrates for a filling lunch.

me slicing fish

The fish has to be really fresh for umai to be prepared since it’s eaten raw. I tried my hand at slicing the raw fish and gave myself a nasty cut to the index finger.

umai segar

Umai is readily available in the markets of Mukah and it’s one of the flagship dishes that Mukah is known for (besides sago grubs). There are two different versions of umai – the traditional umai sambal campur and umai cecah jeb.

The Guide to Eating Umai

umai step 1

Step 1: Ensure that a reputable umai stall is patronized. The fish needs to be really fresh for raw consumption to avoid uncomfortable conditions like E.Coli and explosive diarrhea.

umai step 2

Step 2: Find a comfortable place to mix your own umai. The ingredients for making umai can all be purchased at the stall and most of the stuff is prepackaged and premixed to the right amounts.

umai step 3

Step 3: Receptacles for the mixing of umai is essential. You would require a plate and a bowl in addition to forks. Sago pearls are eaten using your hand. Empty the raw slivers of fish into the plate. You can opt to retain a small portion of the raw fish for the the other version of umai.

umai step 4

Step 4: Inspect the contents of your umai sambal campur package. It should contain a bag of premixed ingredients essential to the umai experience containing raw onions and chillies. Calamansi limes should also be in the package for the original umai as well as a small packet of salt and the crunchy peanut cookies.

umai step 5

Step 5: Open the packet of crumbly peanut cookies and put it on top of the raw fish slivers. This is the secret ingredient in all good umai dishes that provides the sweet and crunchy texture to the dish.

umai step 6

Step 6: Crush the peanut cookie into a finely grounded powder using the fork. You need the peanut cake to be evenly distributed throughout the dish.

umai step 7

Step 7: Pierce the calamansi limes using a fork to enable a reasonable flow of the juice into the umai. Do not attempt to squeeze the lime without penetrating it with a fork (or another sharp utensil) first. Splash damage is likely to occur.

umai step 8

Step 8: Squeeze the calamansi lime over the raw fish.

umai step 9

Step 9: You need all the calamansi lime juice provided since the acidic nature of the fruit “cooks” the raw fish. I’ll explain the scientific principles at the bottom of the guide.

umai step 10

Step 10: Open the small packet of salt and empty the contents into the umai. The salt offsets the sourness of the calamansi lime and makes it sweet.

umai step 11

Step 11: Open the plastic bag containing the thinly sliced onions and chillies and empty it into the plate of umai.

umai step 12

Step 12: Toss the umai with a fork as you would toss a salad. The motions are similar and so are the aims – to mix everything as evenly as possible. The traditional umai is now ready for consumption!

umai step 13

Step 13: The final step is to empty the sago pearls into a bowl for easier consumption. The sago pearls are eaten using your bare hands to go with the umai.

umai step 14

Step 14: Consume the umai with a handful of sago pearls. The umai should be eaten first and chased with the sago pearls for the authentic Melanau umai experience.

Guide to eating umai video


umai jeb

There is a new variant of umai called the umai cecah jeb which is dipped into a sambal (spicy paste) concoction.

umai jeb eat

You’re supposed to take a forkful of umai (raw fish) and then dip it into the special sambal sauce and eat it. It’s delicious! The sambal really got oomph! Very spicy. I like!

Guide to eating umai cecah jeb video


splash damage 2

Splash damage is likely to occur even with the proper piercing technique as can be seen on Clare’s top. Respect the calamansi lime and it shall respect you. ;)


difference is clear

The calamansi lime has acidic properties that “cooks” (cures would be a better word) the raw fish in the umai due to reasons beyond my understanding. It just works.
The left fork contains the raw fish before the calamansi lime treatment and the right fork contains the slightly “cooked” fish after being marinated in calamansi lime. You can see the difference in the coloration and texture of the fish.
The difference is clear (TM). ;)

RM 150 fish

expensive fish

This is a fresh water fish that sells for more than RM 13 per kilogram. It’s nearly in the same league as what the locals call empulau, the most expensive fish here, which will set you back about RM 2,000 for a fully grown fish.

expensive fish eye

(looks accusingly)
“I’m dead because of you!”

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