Hoe Kee Chicken Rice Ball, Melaka

Hoe Kee Chicken Rice Balls

I just came back from a Melaka trip with 11 other people. It was great fun and just before we came back, a detour to eat chicken rice balls in Jonker Street was made. The most established chicken rice ball shop in Melaka is Chung Wah. I was there last year and it was good.

Hoe Kee Chicken Rice Ball

This time we headed to a different outlet – Hoe Kee Chicken Rice. We were there for lunch just now and the unique selling point of this chicken rice ball establishment is their Asam Fish Head.

Hoe Kee Chicken Rice Ball stall

The aroma of the Asam Fish Head wafted out to Jonker Street and it was pleasing to my olfactory senses.

Hoe Kee Chicken Rice Ball Asam Fish Head scoop

Wah, got accolades from Astro AEC some more:

Hoe Kee Chicken Rice Ball Astro

Anyway, like most other chicken rice ball establishments in Melaka, they have a disclaimer saying that loose chicken rice will be served together with rice balls on weekends and public holidays due to demand exceeding supply.

Hoe Kee Chicken Rice Ball interior

However, one amazing thing about this outlet is the sheer speed at which they process your order. We had a room to ourselves due to our large party of 12. We initially ordered 1 whole chicken and 1 Asam Fish Head with two big plates of loose chicken rice and two of chicken rice balls (we added on another plate of chicken rice and 1/2 a chicken after that).

Hoe Kee Chicken Rice Ball chicken

As soon as we ordered, I was about to walk out of the room when the dishes started coming in – all at once! It’s as if they’ve already read your mind and prepared the food before you step into the restaurant. Jesus, if McDonald’s/KFC/Burger King is considered fast service restaurants, I don’t know what to call this.

Hoe Kee Chicken Rice Ball Asam Fish Head

The chicken wasn’t anything to write home about. I’ve noticed something about Melaka chicken rice ball outlets – it’s not their chicken that’s good but the glutinous chicken rice balls that makes everything taste awesome. However, it is pretty decent, it’s just that the chicken is a bit anorexic (with a thin layer of skin) compared to the hormone boosted chicken-on-steroids I’m used to having here.

Hoe Kee Chicken Rice Ball hit

However, the Asam Fish Head really takes the cake. Everyone loved it and we even considered ordering a second helping. The gravy is thick and flavorful, without being overtly spicy, and the hints of spices tempered with the okra is a lesson in perfection. The fish does not have any pesky bones and is tender and juicy. The sauce was a big hit!

Hoe Kee Chicken Rice Ball eat

I would recommend Chung Wah if you want an authentic taste of one of the oldest chicken rice ball shops in Melaka but if you’re looking for something beyond the ordinary, check out Hoe Kee Chicken Rice – it has that zing/oomph/whatever-you-call-it factor due to their house specialty – the Asam Fish Head.

Hoe Kee Chicken Rice Ball Asam Fish Head dish

Hoe Kee Hainam Chicken Rice is located at Jonker Street in Melaka. Lunch for 12 of us, inclusive of drinks, came up to RM 151.50, which is pretty reasonable.

Melaka

“Who goes to Melaka to eat chicken satay?”

christ church

I headed down to Melaka last weekend with Jennifer and Michael. Jennifer is from Melaka and kindly offered to bring me around the place so I picked her and Mike up from Ampang and drove down really early on Saturday.

farmosa

Melaka is not very far from KL actually, it takes about 2 hours if you maintain a decent cruising speed. You might be able to reach there in an hour if you have very little regard for life and limb though. ;)

coconut

We headed straight for the old market to grab a cold glass of coconut juice as soon as we got there (the heat is oppressive in Melaka)…

durian

…and indulge in some durians (from a roadside stall). It just tastes better that way. :)

lunch

It was around lunchtime by the time we were done so we headed to Jenn’s favorite place for Melaka style char siew rice. I like this place – the patrons come in and either sit on makeshift tables and chairs, or place their plates down on an empty stall nearby and start eating. It’s a very unpretentious and homely environment.

char siew rice

We checked into the hotel after that – we actually went to several hotels before finding one which is not fully booked. Our first choice was Baba House, an authentic Baba/Nyonya (Peranakan) hotel which is set in a converted shop house that harks back to the days where they roamed the streets.

eat us

Melaka is the Peranakan capital of Malaysia, due to some convoluted history of intermarriage between Chinese traders (from China) and local Malays. Unfortunately, Melaka seems to attract a lot of Singaporeans over the weekends so it was full.

cannon

Actually, on hindsight (only saw this later that evening), if you’re just heading there for an overnight stay and you want to try something different, check out the Maritime Museum. There’s an activity packed tour (river cruise, night hiking etc) and you get to spend a night on board the ship for just RM 95. I’m so going for this option on my next trip.

us

Anyway, after checking in and dumping our bags, we headed out to try the pork satay in Melaka.

pork satay

This place is called Ming Sate Hut and it serves satay and satay only. They have pork satay, intestine satay and liver satay (as well as the usual fare, but like Jenn said, who goes to Melaka to eat chicken satay?). The strange thing (strange to me ok :p) is that you order what you want and they serve it up. You eat the amount you want (you don’t have to finish everything) and they just count the sticks when you’re done.

view

The leftovers are probably reheated and served again. ;)

baba

I also went for a crash course in Peranakan culture at Baba Nyonya Heritage Museum. The tour was fascinating, mostly coz I’ve forgotten most things I learned about Malaysian history in high school. Heh! Apparently Straits Chinese eat with their hands, so they have small soup bowls with individual soup spoons for the obligatory soup dish at meals (coz you can’t very well drink soup with your hands).

cc me

We headed to Christ Church after that. It’s affectionately dubbed the Red Church due to its fire engine red façade and is probably the most photographed structure in Melaka after A Farmosa.

red square

Christ Church, Melaka is actually a still functional place of worship (of the Anglican denomination) and comes with a beautiful square (not the shape, the place people gather) complete with an antique clock circa 1886. The Red Square was teeming with tourists when I was there, which contributes to the gaiety-charged atmosphere. It looked like almost every other person was lugging a dSLR around!

journey

Next stop: St. Paul’s Church!

st paul

The pilgrimage to the top…

paul

St. Paul’s Church is not a cathedral per se, but rather grim looking ruins used as a burial ground for the Dutch. There are a lot of tombstones, so if you’re into stuff like that, you’ll feel right at home!

tomb

The path we went through is actually a walk that brings you to the Big 3 in Melaka – Christ Church, St. Paul and Fort A Farmosa. Our journey ends right at A Farmosa, which is not as impressive as I had imagined…

a farmosa

Fort A Farmosa looks exactly like what a fort built in 1511 should look like – crumbly and worn. It’s nice to stand beside this ½ millennia structure though…and you can’t say you’ve been to Melaka until you’ve been to A Farmosa.

squat

Come to think of it, you’ve probably seen A Farmosa in Melaka…but you’ve never experienced it until you’ve done the Ah Beng squat in front of A Farmosa! ;)

excavation

You can opt to take a scenic stroll to the many excavation sites after that…there’s a huge excavation going on around the city to unearth the old fortress walls around Melaka. Take a peek.

Other not-to-be-missed stuff:

jonker

Jonker Street. Jonker Walk is only open on the weekends and it’s like a huge pasar malam (bazaar) on the streets. It’s festive, it’s crowded, and it’s a lot of fun!
 

satay celup

Satay celup

rice balls

Chicken rice balls

portuguese

Portuguese settlement

menara

Menara Taming Sari

gyro

This gyro tower ride is much better than the overrated Eye On Malaysia. Enjoy the 360 degree view of Melaka from 80 meters up for just RM 10.

dodol

The Tan Kim Hock dodol shop – just so you can get some souvenirs home. ;)

Master Ho's Finger of Doom

master ho

I caught this successful attempt to get into the Guinness Book of World Records at Jonker Street, Melaka. Master Ho, among other things, is renowned for having the fastest finger this side of town. His famous fingers have jabbed more coconuts than you can shake a stick (or finger) at.

coconut piercing

Ho Swee Poh (the self dubbed Master Ho) and his merciless index finger managed to pierce 4 coconuts within a minute, thereby securing a spot in the book of records.

Other possible careers:
Cell phone QC tester
(if the phone doesn’t shatter when Master Ho dials a number, it has his seal of approval)

What others? ;)

The best popiah in Melaka!

popiah melaka

I stand here as a witness to the best popiah in Melaka, nay, the world! It’s a gem of a find since most people will dismiss the unassuming stall, but not the locals. This popiah stall at Jalan Bunga Raya has been in operation for since time immemorial and picked up a couple of awards during its reign too – including a seal of endorsement by the good people at Ho Chiak!

popiah bunga raya

There is no signage on the mobile stall but this stall is so popular that it doesn’t need one. It totally eschews the trappings of modern marketing and prefers to maintain its (relative) anonymity. The queue for the sublime popiah kinda gives it away though. Just look for the Popia Bunga Raya sticker hidden in the stall. :)

popiah stuff

The popiah in Melaka costs RM 2.50 (small) and RM 3 (big). The sign says it’s open till 9 pm but don’t let that fool you! It’s a trick, I tell you. A TRICK! The owner usually packs up by early afternoon coz all the popiah is sold out! We wanted to eat this on the very first day, but the stall was nowhere to be found. You really need to arrive early (and queue up) for this.

popiah roll

The secret ingredient which makes this popiah so great is the deep fried pork lard. I have always been highly skeptical of claims that there’s one ingredient that makes or breaks a dish, but here I stand corrected. The turnips, another important ingredient in popiah, are fresh and juicy too!

popiah cut

I had mine with chilli sauce and it was just BURSTING in flavor. I approve!

popiah me

Hail to the King (of popiah), baby!

P/S – Excuse my T-shirt. :p

Satay Celup

“It’s like lok-lok…but with peanut sauce!”

satay celup

Satay Celup originated in Melaka but like most other things it has migrated far and wide. I hear it’s even available at the mobile lok-lok trucks around here, but for the Real Deal (TM), nothing beats going to Melaka to eat satay celup!

ban lee siang

The place we went to is none other than Ban Lee Siang – one of the renowned satay celup establishments in Melaka. There are two other satay celup places flanking Ban Lee Siang and it’s very telling that Ban Lee Siang is the only one packed to the rafters, with people waiting for a free table while the other two are practically deserted.

satay celup sticks

Satay celup is a Malay word meaning “sticks of stuff” and “dip”. The skewers are kept refrigerated and you walk around with a tray to choose the items you want. There’s easily 50 different items on offer, ranging from clams to quail eggs and everything in between. The prawns are surprisingly fresh and sweet, and the balled up vegetables provides a nice, crunchy texture. The mushrooms and stuffed chillis are pretty good too.

satay celup sauce

Satay celup invariably comes with the same setup – there is a communal satay celup pot in a recessed pit in the middle of the table. The satay celup pot is constantly kept full by the staff, who roams from table to table to refill the sauce. The sauce is none other than satay sauce a.k.a. peanut sauce!

fill

This is what makes satay celup interesting. It’s like lok-lok (where you dunk food skewers into boiling hot water or broth) except you dip this into a simmering pot of peanut sauce. The sweet (albeit diluted) satay sauce tastes delicious with the meat, vegetables and seafood on sticks. It’s a great twist to a classic dish.

offerings

The satay celup system, for the uninitiated, is rather like a buffet. You pick the items you want from the bank of fridges and put it on a tray. Each stick is RM 0.50 except the red color coded ones, which goes for RM 0.60.

satay celup skewers

You’re free to eat as much as you want and by the end of the meal, a waiter comes over to count the number of sticks you’ve consumed and you pay accordingly. Easy!

bread

Satay celup in Melaka is served with bread. The bread is used to soak up the delicious peanut sauce.

jenn dad mike

I think the peanut sauce actually tastes better after a lot of people have eaten from the same communal pot. The satay sauce absorbs the taste of the ingredients dumped into it by previous diners since the pot is never emptied but refilled.

me satay celup

It’s the shiznit, yo.

Melaka Chicken Rice Balls

chop chung wah

Melaka is famous for chicken rice balls. It’s practically an institution over there, with shops dedicated to the golf sized morsels of delight every few meters (or so it seems). There are a lot of established chicken rice ball shops in Melaka, with each person having their favorite. Jennifer brought us to Chop Chung Wah at Jalan Hang Jebat, off Jonker Street.

melaka chicken rice ball

This place is arguably one of the best chicken rice ball shops in Melaka. The line snaking out of the shop is a testament to the popularity of the chicken rice balls. People actually wait under the hot Melaka sun just to eat the chicken rice balls here. Don’t play play, got queue one this place.

chopping chicken

The interior of Chop Chung Wah is basic, with seating arrangements that harks back to the 60’s. Think marble tables and stools. It only registered to me while writing this that I could very well have fallen off the stool coz I usually sit on chairs. There are articles from newspapers adorning the walls and an interesting anecdote here is that the place got on The Star in 2006…and Jenn was part of the entourage who went for that food review.

rolling rice balls

The chicken rice balls is hand rolled by an old lady, conveniently stacked five (5) to a plate in an endless stream to cater to the never-ending march of customers filing into the coffee shop. I’m amazed that they can cope with such demand at all – every single table is full, with people queuing up outside waiting to get in. It’s an exercise in efficiency, I tell you.

chilli sauce

The chicken chopping is done by the son of the owner (who can be rather grumpy sometimes ;)). The family operating this place is Hainanese, and word is, the son is so busy with this chicken rice ball shop that his wife was literally shipped in from Hainan, China to help with the business. It’s a true Hainanese place, they take the phrase “keeping it within the family” to new heights.

chicken rice ball

The chicken in Chop Chung Wah only comes in one variant – steamed chicken. It’s very authentic Hainanese chicken indeed. I found the meat juicy and tender, and you can even see the essence of chicken forming a bed for the steamed chicken. The key ingredient in chicken rice is the chilli, as most would tell you, and this place dishes up really good chilli sauce.

chicken

The chicken rice balls are actually flavored with chicken stock and have a slight glutinous texture to it. It goes down really well, and we ordered another plate coz five rice balls each is just not enough. Apparently, five rice balls is equivalent with a regular plate of chicken rice. It tastes delectable dipped in chilli sauce!

It’s definitely a must try if you haven’t eaten chicken rice balls in Melaka before. Just look for the awe-inspiring queue to find the place. :)

Melaka

teaser

I just got back from a weekend getaway in Melaka with Jenn and Michael. It was fantabulously fun! Melaka has changed a lot since the last time I was there (a good 20 odd years ago). It’s now super tourist-y and there’s HEAPS of Singaporeans there. Almost half the cars we saw had Singaporean plates (both regular and “weekend car plates”).

rice balls

Nevertheless, I enjoyed myself. I remember being there when I was 8, but the details escape me so it was good to take photos and experience Melaka all over again. It’s a UNESCO world heritage site now and a lot of effort has been put into historical sites, which was fun for me. I did the eating expedition thing too, full post up tomorrow coz I’m damn tired and sleep deprived.

vodka

Jennifer kindly contributed to the sixthseal.com alcohol cabinet by giving me a bottle of Wyborowa vodka (from Poland).

jenn

She also bought some Melaka stuff for you guys (er…not everyone la, that’s impossible with the size of the company – just the team I’m working with) so I’ll be coming to work tomorrow bearing gifts. :)

kiss

Don’t you just love girls in uniform? ;)

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