Melaka Weekend — Cafe Hopping

BATU PAHAT

This is the first time we’ve been to Batu Pahat since our December 2019 trip. What’s new is that a few cafes have sprung up.

We first visit Niqiu Cafe, which started in 2021. As it was a hot day, and the air-con here wasn’t strong, and also because the staff told us we had to keep our volume low, we decided to go elsewhere.


Actually, the cafe is just one part of a space that is a two-storey building. There is also an antique store, a vintage boutique vendor, a handcraft vendor, and a restaurant, all sharing the same space. This space is called Niqiu Space.

It felt like a very niche space (hence the name), and we didn’t feel like we fit into it. As we walked in the same row of shops, there was a modern looking shop of some kind called Film Never Die. But we didn’t go in to take a look.

On the way back to the car, we saw a back alley with some interesting ribbon banners above. We went closer to investigate, and found some framed black-and-white photographs on the wall of the back alley. They led to the back entrance of a shop selling vintage film cameras.


The shop is called Sanren Studio. We talked a bit to the staff and found that the studio, Film Never Die, Niqiu Cafe and Niqiu Space are all part of the same business.

Our next stop was Wooden Box, a four-storey cafe and bookstore, inside a two-storey shophouse, which in itself is quite amazing. The bookstore, called 亣亣書冊 Dada Reading Space, is located at what is normally the attic, or just under the roof, of the shophouse.


While waiting for our food, we went up to browse through the books. That’s when we confirmed that this cafe, together with the businesses we came across earlier, are started by, and targeted at, the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender) community.

It reminded us of the late 2000s, when cafes were starting to pop up around Singapore, and were also started by the LGBT community. They have very good taste in decor and interior design.


Food-wise, however, we all agreed that it was standard cafe food and prices. Wooden Box has only one main dish, and that’s Japanese soya sauce noodles. You can have it with crispy fish or chicken, but they were out of chicken today.


Their drinks are quite nice, and so were their cakes. I guess people don’t really come here to eat, but to chill with some drinks and desserts.

MELAKA

Cafes are popping up in all the major towns in Malaysia. We visited one called The Stolen Cup in Melaka. It’s located along the touristy stretch of road called Jonker Street.


There doesn’t actually seem to be a road called Jonker, and is actually Jalan Hang Jebat. But if you say Jonker Street to anyone who’s been there, they will know what road you’re talking about.

Jonker Street has a night market on Fri, Sat, and Sunday. During the day time, the shops are open, and you can drive or park along the road. But once 5pm comes, you need to clear your vehicle or you’re going to be stuck there till midnight. The night market starts and the roads are filled with the typical night market vendors and a sea of people.

Day or night, there are many people on this street, and seems to be the main tourist attraction now. Pre-Covid, when we visited this town, the night market stretched far and wide past Jalan Hang Jebat, and even to the area around Makhota Parade, a nearby shopping mall.

But the pandemic seems to have run Melaka town into the ground. Besides Jonker Street, everywhere else seems subdued and quiet, as though something has gone missing.


The Stolen Cup is a nice cafe, with strong air-con, which is great because it was also a hot day when we came here. We had some drinks, and ordered a couple of croissants. They were made from sourdough, and didn’t taste as good as we’d expected croissants to taste. They’re supposed to light, airy and buttery, but these were flat and heavy.


MUAR

Our last cafe was in Muar, another town where we see many cafes popping up. This one is called Cafe 1988, after the birth year of the couple who started it. They have another cafe in Kuala Lumpur called V88.


Here the air-con was too strong. The design is a minimalist Japanese style, and they served Japanese curry with Japanese rice. The food was good, and the drinks, refreshing!


It’s literally a road-side cafe. There’s no space outside to park, so we had to park outside a food court on the opposite side of the road.

Unlike the other cafes we went to, there were few customers in this one, so we could talk as loudly as we wanted. 😂


We actually wanted to do more cafe hopping, but because we did so many other things this trip, we had time to visit only these 3 cafes, in 3 different towns.


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