The last leg of our walking tour, prior to our return to our tourist bus waiting for us at the Tamil Methodist Church, was all shopping at the narrow but busy Jonker Street (Jalan Hang Jebat). From Stadthuys, we crossed a bridge over the Melaka River to get there. The Melaka River is now canalized to resemble an Amsterdam (Netherlands) canal, with a popular river cruise service running along the river.
Once the rich man’s street, Jonker Street is famous for its more than 15 antique shops (antique furniture, Chinese porcelain, brassware, cast iron beds, lamps, etc.). Also along this street are cafes (Hai Nan coffee, Nyonya cuisine, beer, etc.), several art galleries, mini-markets and souvenir shops among others. Souvenirs sold here include items made in Melaka, China and other Asian countries (Thai puppets, Balinese masks, etc).
Local food stalls sell local delicacies such as cendol (a cold mixture of coconut milk, brown syrup made from the local gula melaka, and shaved ice), laksa (spicy noodle soup), durian puffs, grapes-dipped in chocolate, caramel encrusted kiwis. kaya (a spread made from coconut) filled waffles, etc. The festively-decorated Restoran Famosa, occupying a century-old former goldsmith shop, specializes in dishes served with unique chicken rice balls, actually Hainanese Chicken Rice in the form of golf ball-sized, sticky rice balls cooked in butter and ginger.
Pedestrians here share the same road with passing vehicles and trishaws during daytime but, during weekend night markets (6 PM-12 midnight, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays), the road is closed to traffic and its atmosphere turns carnival-like.
A living proof of Melaka’s rich Baba-Nyonya heritage, its buildings are immaculately constructed with elaborate carvings on its pillars and walls. Also along this street is the Hokkien Huay Kuan, a well-preserved clan house. Its front porch has a pair of symmetrical pillars with dragon relief. Beyond it are a striking set of door and wall panels with intricate carvings and bold colors. Two rows of Chinese characters frame the entrance door.
Restoran Famosa Chicken Rice Ball: No. 28-30, Jalan Hang Kasturi, off Jonker Street, 75200 Melaka, Malaysia. Tel: 06-286 0120. Website: www.chickenriceball.com