5 Food Souvenirs to Buy in Melaka
When you visit Melaka, food is most definitely on your itinerary. No one leaves Melaka without trying the famous local Melaka food but what about popular food souvenirs? Yes, Melaka has some interesting take away food souvenirs so that many locals would search around for them. This has also resulted in food souvenir shops that are mushrooming throughout the city and even the outskirts and villages.
Melaka is blessed with the art of desserts where you can simply get ready made ones or even the raw cooking materials. The state is also well known for their unique Peranakan cuisine which can be found at selected restaurants. Yes, not all Peranakan or Baba Nyonya Restaurants are top notch therefore, you need to ask the locals for the right ones.
Anyway, this list is created in no order and recommended by Malaysia Asia as the top 5 food souvenirs to buy in Melaka. Malaysians would also call them oleh-oleh as translated in Bahasa Malaysia.
1. Dodol Melaka
Dodol is a type of sweet candy that is locally produced here in Melaka. The base of the candy is rice flour and palm sugar that is formed into cylinders, squares or diamonds wrapped in plastic. The popular Melaka dodol can be flavored in many ways, but by far the most popular here is the king of fruits, Durian. Other flavorings include mango, apple, pineapple, coconut and vanilla bean. This is one of the most popular food souvenirs to be bought by all walks of life.
You can find these at most souvenir or local food produce shops around the city and even more at Jonker Street. Prices vary in sizes while the taste is slightly different from each maker therefore there is no classification on the best dodol in Melaka.
2. Pineapple Tarts
Pineapple tarts refers to small, bite-size pastries filled with or topped with pineapple jam found around Melaka. The tart pastry consists of a large proportion of butter and egg yolk, besides using corn starch to give it a rich, buttery, tender and melt-in-the-mouth texture. In Melaka, you will also see green pineapple tarts which is actually coloring or Pandan flavor.
On who has the best Pineapple Tarts in Melaka, this is a very subjective question as each maker has their own specialty doing this. Prices vary from shop to shop but for me, the best are bought from the homemade ones compared to the factory produced ones. I usually buy mine from the small shop houses which put out a table and sell them.
Belacan or Belachan is made from shrimp krill. To make this, the krill would be steamed first and after that are mashed into a paste and stored for several months. The fermented shrimp is then prepared, fried and hard-pressed into cakes of various sizes. This is an essential ingredient in many Malaysian curries and sauces. Belacan is also known as geragau in Kristang or the Malaysian Portuguese name.
Again, there re many Belacan makers in Melaka where some are very potent and some are very rich which is the choice ones. Some people say that the ones made by the local villagers (kampungs) are one of the best around but again, this is very subjective.
Cincalok (or Chinchalok/Cencaluk) is a Malaccan food made of fermented small shrimps or krill. It is usually served as a condiment together with chilli's, shallots and lime juice. In Melaka, the shrimp is called udang geragau in Malay. The shrimp in the pinkish colored cincalok are readily identifiable and the taste is salty and usually acquired.
The best Cincalok in Melaka? Very subjective as there is no best, each maker has their own acquired taste an style. The Melaka Chinese make theirs slightly different from the Malays. End of the day, this is a very acquired taste and not everyone loves this.
5. Gula Melaka
Gula Melaka or palm sugar is made from the sap of the palm tree. Fresh palm sap is boiled down shortly after collection to make concentrated heavy palm syrup. This syrup is poured into bamboo sections to form cylindrical shapes, or into small shallow bowls to form shallow heme-spheres where it will come out as a dark brown color. The word Gula Melaka translates as Melaka Sugar in Malay too.
Popular places to find these would be along Jonker Street in Melaka and its surroundings. There are many shops, some small family run while others are huge businesses but for me, I prefer to get them from the smaller families as they are usually home made or sourced from the villages and not factory produced.
Melaka Local Food Products Shop
There are some other more obscure food souvenirs found here in Melaka where one of them is the Chili Boh Sauce or Chili Kentut as one of my friends calls it. You can only imagine why it is called that as Kentut means fart in Malay. This can be found at the local markets from small sundry suppliers but rarely at Jonker Street in Melaka.With the current tourism boom here, you can expect a lot more other things that are also not native to the state.
Recently, a Hard Rock Cafe Melaka was opened just by the river at the entrance to Jonker Walk here giving the place a more lively entertainment feel. Melaka has been very popular for overall tourism where there are things to do, places to see and also a lot of food to eat. Looking at a different perspective, I thought why not come out with this list of 5 Food Souvenirs to Buy in Melaka.