Malaysia Food Review: Jonker Dessert 88, Malacca
This is the place I will always remember as ‘that place on Jonker Walk that’s always crammed with Singaporean tourists’, which essentially what it is! It also had one of the best freakin’ nasi lemak I have ever had. And, that, ladies and gentlemen, is saying something.
If you backtrack a few posts, you may remember that I took a couple of road trips up to Malacca (known as Melaka in Malaysia) while living in Singapore and fell in love with the place. We stayed around the Heritage Area in converted old-style Chinese shophouses which were amazingly awesome.
We ate at Jonker Dessert 88 a lot. Two main reasons, it was within walking distance and no other local food place really opened for breakfast. We ended up having breakfast there almost everyday. The nasi lemak was absolutely awesome. For the uninitiated, nasi lemak is basically a Malaysian breakfast dish (uh huh, breakfast) which is rice cooked in coconut milk and all things nice. This nasi lemak can be served with anything but the popular choices im Malaysia usually include chicken or beef curry (rendang), crispy fried dried salted little fish (whoa 3 adj there) called ikan billis, peanuts, chilli sauce (sambal) and boiled egg. The mark of a good nasi lemak is the sambal must blow your head off!
(washed down with freshly squeeze orange juice – perfect breakfast!)
Let’s not talk about Singapore nasi lemak. Shudder. Very different. Me no likey. Anyway, the Jonker Dessert 88 nasi lemak was fantastic for the fact that the curry was absolutely delicious. The chicken fell apart and the curry itself was beautifully smooth. It was quite mild. The rice was perfectly cooked and the sambal definitely blew my head off. Loved it. Josh had it almost everyday. On the second trip, Pim had it as well and she thought it was the bee’s knees too.
(Laksa lemak – also known as curry laksa)
I tried two different types of laksa. The laksa lemak which was curry-ish, coconut milky noodles. It came with puffy tofu bits (essential for good laksa), boiled egg, prawn, some sort of fish that appeared to be canned tuna but I’m sure it’s just fish relating to the tuna boiled the hell out of in a bit of salt water (which is essentially canned tuna really). I have been flabberghasted of what it could possibly be as I never saw it before. It was also topped with crunchy cucumber and shallot. I thought it was all right. It definitely wasn’t as good as the nasi lemak and definitely not the best laksa (I tried them all). Nevertheless, it was opened when we needed breakfast.
I also tried the assam laksa which had no coconut milk but rather tamarind-y, fishy broth. Horror. I have never been a fan of the assam laksa (having also lived in Penang) but I figured I might take a liking to a Malaccan version. Fail. But I think that’s mostly my perogative. The orange juice though was rather nice. Until we saw that the ice they put in it is exactly the same ice that they used to cool things. We kept drinking it after (hey, when in Malaysia…) but the appeal lessened somewhat. Josh noted that Malaysian oranges tasted rather different to Australian ones. I guess I never noticed that because I spent my teenage years in Malaysia and those oranges were what I grew up with.
Sadly to say, I am of the opinion that the desserts there were overrated and very much overpriced. In fact, the desserts around there were very much comparable. So you might as well go next door where it wouldn’t be so crowded with pushy Singaporean tourists (haha!). I remember paying about 6 ringgit (steep by Malaysian standard) for a durian cendol and did not see a single piece of durian. I could smell it. But hello, the scent is not the durian’s most prized!
Some more shots on the inside, the restaurant sort of doubled as a ‘museum’. It seemed like everyone whose family had been in that area can turn their piles of inherited crap into a museum. But the tourists (me included) loved them, of course.
I would also like to note that there is no service. You just crowd around the front stalls (one side is dessert and another savouries) and try to get your orders in past the 30 Singaporean tourists there. They would take your money and give you a plate/bowl/whatever of food. You then walk into the shop and then fight another 100 tourists for a seat. But it’s all fun and something you should do when you visit Malacca.
Jonker Dessert 88*, Jalan Heng Jebat (Jonker Walk), Malacca
* Either the website is very old or my memory fails me but I particularly remember the food pricing to be much more expensive than what’s on the website.