As I’ve mentioned before, prior to our trip to Asia, I made a list of all the places and foods that I wanted to try out while I was there. Included in my list were chicken rice balls, a Melakan specialty. Chicken rice balls are basically a variant of the popular SE dish, Hainanese chicken rice except the rice is rolled into little balls rather than the customary bowl of rice. There are several legends and stories as to why this was the case but the most popular story I ran into was that an industrious woman rolled the rice into balls to sell to dock workers who needed to eat their lunch with only one free hand while they were on duty. This was during the times when Melaka was a thriving port in the early days of the British Empire.
Regardless of whether or not this story is true, one of the most popular places to try chicken rice balls in Melaka was definitely Chung Wah restaurant, located right in Melaka’s Old Town. I was encouraged when Jenkins’ cousin saw I had Chung Wah on my list and promptly gave me the thumbs up sign. I was further encouraged when she dropped Jenkins and I off near the restaurant and we discovered a huge line-up for lunch. Despite the line, Jenkins and I only had to wait for 15 minutes or so before we were shown to a table.
Chung Wah is so busy that they will bring everyone the same thing unless you tell them beforehand what you want to order. First came the chicken rice balls, five per person.
Shortly after, the Hainanese chicken came. We were served enough for two people and it also came with some freshly sliced cucumbers.
We were also presented with some freshly made chili sauce which we added copiously to our chicken rice. The rice balls themselves were slightly on the mushy side. We suspected that this was due to the rice requiring some extra moisture so that they would stay in their ball forms. Personally, I prefer the regular rice in a bowl because I like the firmer texture of rice when it’s made the regular way rather than in its balled form. The chicken itself was also quite flavourful but I also preferred the Singapore version of the Hainanese chicken mostly due to the fact that the Singapore version of the chicken that we tried was silkier in texture. Again, it’s all personal preference but Jenkins and I both agreed that we liked the Singapore version better.
Due to our short stay, we did not get a chance to try any other chicken rice ball establishments but I was told by Jenkins’ cousin that this was one of the better places. Jenkins and I were glad that we had a chance to try it out though as Hainanese chicken rice balls are a uniquely Melakan dish. Our meal for two ended up costing about $6 CAD, including drinks.
Kedai Kopi Chung Wah
18 Jalan Hang Jebat, Melaka