Richard’s Warong is a popular spot for local Malaccans to have their street food fix, away from the touristy town centre, especially the exasperating visitor-clogged Jonker Walk.
We came here to meet some old Malaccan friends - we used to belong to the same Straits-born Chinese association during my 6-year work stint in Kuala Lumpur. Whilst I moved up north to Penang back in 2017, quite a few of my Malaccan pals here have decided to move back to their hometown - Malacca’s just a couple of hours’ drive south of Kuala Lumpur.
Despite Malacca and Penang’s shared, common history (together with Singapore) as components of the British Straits Settlements in the 19th- and early 20th-century, there are distinct cultural, linguistic, and even culinary variances between Malacca and Penang.
So, we pretty much relied upon our Malaccan friends to show us the ropes where Malaccan street food is concerned. They gladly obliged, and brought us to Richard’s Warong, their personal favourite spot.
What we sampled:
Hee kiaw noodles - this is a firm street food favourite of every true-blue Malaccan: wheat noodles, garnished with a selection fish-cakes, fish-balls and other forms of fish force-meat. The version here is one of the classic renditions of the dish, and also included wafer-thin slices of “char siew” (Chinese BBQ pork).
A Malaccan friend who ordered the dish for me opted for flat rice noodles (“koay teow”) instead of the yellow wheat noodles. It was a good choice as the flat noodles captured the sauce (a blend of fish sauce, soy sauce, pork lard and other condiments) beautifully, then topped with chopped scallions and a confetti of golden-brown shallot crisps.
We were advised to spike our noodles with a generous squeeze of spicy chili sauce from the condiment bottle provided on the side. An accompanying bowl of soup had three bouncy Teochew-style fish balls floating in consomme, topped with chopped scallions.
The noodles were delicious - we’d not seen anything like this in Penang, despite our own rich selection of various noodle dishes from different Chinese regions.
Stingray asam pedas and cencaru (torpedo scad) sumbat sambal - two fish-based Malaccan classics.
Stingray asam pedas is quite similar to what we have in Penang, but the Malaccan version is more diluted, whereas Penang renditions tend to be very assertive and robust. It came with a cut of ultra-fresh stingray fin and some cut batons of okra.
The cencaru sumbat sambal - a whole torpedo scad would be slit lengthwise on both sides, then stuffed with the “rempah” (spice mix) of chilis- onions and other condiments, then pan-fried. Very spicy version here, though I noticed it’s served with a dollop of very spicy sambal dip, and a whole calamansi lime, to be squeezed over the fish.
Duck noodles - this was probably the most popular kiosk at the food court, and I found out that it was a “famous” one, previously located at Soon Yen coffeeshop down the road.
Generous slivers of duck-meat, in an unctuous, brown dressing which also coated the yellow wheat noodles and crunchy beansprouts.
Char koay teow - whereas the famous Penang-style char koay teow is normally cooked with a light touch, the Malaccan-style char koay teow is quite similar to the Singapore one: sweet, dark, gluggy, and thick with condiments.
A bottle of caramel-soy sauce was provided on the side - and local Malaccans would drizzle the sauce on their noodles, the way people pour maple syrup over their noodles.
For comparison’s sake - this is a plate of Penang-style char koay teow which I had for breakfast this morning, back in George Town, Penang. Penang-style char koay teow is never sweet, and a Penangite will probably regurgitate any sweet noodles he encounters.
Thai-style braised pig’s trotters (kaa muu) - this dish is a firm favourite among Malaccans since it was first introduced back in the 2000s. The version here was authentically Thai - not adjusted to suit Malaccan tastes - and was the only dish which me and my Penangite friends found to be familiar, and which we were comfortable with.
The dish came with very flavoursome, well-marinated pig’s trotters, braised slowly over low heat till fall-off-the-bone tender. The dish also included soy-braised hard tofu, and hard-boiled eggs. Delish.
There was no dessert kiosk at the food court, but a friend brought along a selection of traditional steamed “Nyonya kueh” or Nyonya sweet-meats from Dapur Cho Cho, Malacca’s leading purveyor of Nyonya kuehs.
A special shout-out to Dapur Cho Cho’s onde-onde - pandan-scented little mochi balls filled with rich, smokey liquid palm sugar (Gula Melaka) and coated with freshly-grated coconut.
Taman Pandan Indah, 75250 Malacca
Tel: +6012-660 0143
Operating hours: 7.30am to 2pm daily, except Fridays (closed)