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Motormouth From Ipoh

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

A Ball of A Time? (Chung Wah Chicken Rice Ball @ Melaka)

Melaka is synonymous with heritage, the Baba's & Nyonya's, and of course, food. What types of food you ask? Ever heard of the (in)famous Chicken Rice Balls?! (Nope, NOT Chicken Balls Rice, pls try not to get the wrong idea .... =P)


One of the oldest, yet most popular around .... Chop Chung Wah attracts tourists from all corners

If you're a Malaysian, and have yet to visit Melaka, or heard about Jonker Street, well .... you're probably one of the minorities. Jonker Street (or Jalan Hang Jebat) is THE most popular (read : tourist spot) street in Melaka, housing a good number of colonial buildings, souvenir shops, bakeries and confectioneries, as well as restaurants and coffee shops.

When it comes to good ol' chicken rice balls, 3 names came to mind. Famosa, Hoe Kee and Chung Wah. Each has its own legion of fans, a 3 corner fight of sorts, much akin to Ipoh's dimsum brawl, or Nga Choy Kai (tauge ayam) free-for-all.


Perfectly shaped balls, scoring in terms of aesthetic values, and flavours .... 30cents each
All of the chicken rice balls outlets are opened from morning onwards. Yup, you can have chicken rice balls for breakfast even. And highly recommended as well, if you wanna beat the crowd. Come lunch hour, and brace yourself for the wait over at Chung Wah.
On a side note, on that day we went for breakfast at Chung Wah, we passed by Famosa and Hoe Kee as well, as all 3 are located within walking distance from each other, on Jonker Street. Surprisingly, the batallion of gluttons chose Chung Wah over the other two, in a dominating manner. If only Chung Wah occupies a space larger than the rivals, as after we were done, the crowd swelled to an intimidating number, queuing OUTSIDE of the slightly congested shoplot.
Steamed Chicken with Soy Sauce
On to the food .... simple enough menu. No distractions, no starters or side dishes to dizzy that mind. Eating here = Order fast, Eat fast, Leave fast. Steamed chicken ONLY, so don't act smart and ask for fried or roasted varieties.
The rice is shaped into a lump of ball. Given the structure of the balls (=P), you'd think that the rice would be lumpy, sticky and yucky, so that it can stick together, and not creating a mess, or rather, become a plate of the usual chicken rice. But no, one bite into the ball revealed soft, fluffy, and fragrant rice with a light hint of ginger (thankfully not overwhelming), and perfectly complemented by the accompanying chilli with vinegar sauce. Yup, the chilli sauce goes well not only with the chicken, but with the rice as well. Five balls per portion, but not too worry you diet freak-cum-carbo haters, as I downed one ball in one mouthful (not exactly the size of a tennis ball, rest assured!)

Reasonably-priced .... more or less RM5-8 per person.
As for the steamed chicken, I found it tougher than I'd preferred. Not as smooth as Ipoh's Tauge Ayam's versions though. And without the usual garnishing of chopped spring onions, the plate of chicken looked rather .... normal.
The shop at the junction of Jonker Street and Jalan Tun Tan Cheng Lock
Overall, this was WAY better than the chicken rice balls I had many years ago. At some place in a mall if I recall correctly. Recommended, for the authenticity and the rice balls, but not really something you can stomach day in and day out, given the limited menu. :)
Location : KEDAI KOPI CHUNG WAH @ 18, Jalan Hang Jebat, 75200 Melaka.
Got MAP !!! It's at the junction after the bridge connecting The Stadhuys (red buildings) to Jonker Street. The shop is opposite OCBC Bank.

25 comments:

Selba said...

Nice rice balls...

I'm wondering why here in Indonesia, none of the restaurants sell rice balls.... hmmmm....

HarbX said...

The rice balls look very tantalizing indeed.

Have heard about this place before but never been there yet - really looks like it's worth a visit!

Nic (KHKL) said...

the chicken rice at jonker! the queues are spectacular..haha!

well, i came, i saw, i left...hehe...

it's an interesting coming from you as ipoh is also famous for its bak charm kai (steamed chicken). so, which one u like best? hehehehe...

Precious Pea said...

I never know how to appreciate chicken rice ball though. Maybe because it is soft and lumpy when you break it open. I like my rice satu biji satu biji.

"Joe" who is constantly craving said...

this was closed when i last went to jonker st.. yeah they r rather simple..its how many ppl portion of chicken n riceballs..thats all u need to say..

PureGlutton said...

This is one place i never miss whenever we go to melaka. Simple fare but the crowds r quite scary! I agree, the chicken is nothin much to shout about - it's more of the rice balls and chilli sauce (but the chilli sauce also not so spectacular, come to think of it) ... or maybe some khong-thau somewhere...

SimpleGirl said...

Haven't check this out b4, but tried one at Jln Munshi Abdullah called Heong Kong, very crowded as well....anyway, in terms of chicken, don't you think Ipoh is better?

thenomadGourmand said...

oh the balls aint sticky n lumpy? wahh.then how it stayed in shape? chef kungfu la ini..

genuiness said...

Don't know what the big deal about rice balls is. They just roll the rice into balls. And the chicken is krap too...

J2Kfm said...

Selba : hmm, basically any sticky rice can be rolled in balls though. :)

Harbx : yeah! think this may be the better choice amongst all three. though Hoe Kee has more publicity.

Nic : if comparing the chicken, of course Ipoh lah .... no bias. but the last time I went to Lou Wong, the experience was not that good. the chicken was smooth, but to the point of being too raw. it was literally ... bleeding love. =P

Precious pea : I admit I like my chicken rice to be fluffy, and each grain separately. but this one at CHung Wah though lumpy abit, was not to the point of being a 'kuih' of sorts.

Joe : yup, much like Ipoh Nga Choi Kai. sit down say how many ppl, thats it. no frills.

Pureglutton : khong tau or not, I dunno lah. :) I wasnt expecting much initially, having bad exp from previous trips with chicken rice balls, but surprisingly, Chung Wah's rice was good.

Simple Girl : of course, Ipoh's chickens WAY better! :) so where u go for chicken rice normally? Pak Kong? Rasa Sayang?

thenomadGourmand : not to say, NOT lumpy. they've to stick to each other, but not as sticky as I'd imagined.

genuiness : for the .... authentic values? or maybe aesthetic. but still, yeah. the chicken's nothing to shout about.

jasmine said...

actually, i find it overhyped. lol. but it sure beats the ones at Famosa. and yes, i prefer Ipoh's chicken too :P

iamthewitch said...

I can't believe that I still have not tasted chicken rice balls til this day! I wonder how come there are not melakans who venture their business in other states such as KL or Penang? It's too far for me to go down there! :(

sc said...

i do find the standard of the rice balls dropped actually..always come for a meal everytime i visit melaka since i was a teenager. not impressive anymore..

Tummythoz said...

Now I make it a point not to have this. Me no likey at all.

fatboybakes said...

heh heh, ya, wonder what the fascination is with rice balls...i also prefer fluffy rice... i guess from the slew of less than positive comments, i shant bother queueing la hor, when i go...

jason said...

Actually hor, I don't know what's the hype about chicken rice ball. The rice ball might need certain skill to shape and doesn't get clumpy but that's all... and for RM0.30 per biji, I don't think 5 biji of that will be enough for me. Such marketing trick :P

mimid3vils said...

they closed when my last visit so when to Hoe Kee~~

J2Kfm said...

jasmine : agreed! chicken in ipoh nicer. hehe ...

iamthewitch : yeah, makes me wonder too why there's a lack of Malaccan food elsewhere.

sc : hmm, maybe so. but I find the rice not bad, really. maybe comparing to my previous exp yrs ago, in another outlet.

Tummythoz : ppl say go Melaka must eat few things : satay celup (horrible, really!), chicken rice balls, nyonya food, and pineapple tarts. pick ur poisons?

FBB : erm, go earlier, for breakfast. then judge loh. since 30 cents per ball only, dont need balls of steel to muster that courage anyway. hehe ...

jason : hahaha! eh really lah ..i downed the 5 biji in no time. fortunately breakfast only, then supplemented with Jonker cendol.

mimid3vils : Hoe Kee was good?

genuiness said...

I don't know - maybe its just me but if you do something with the food it has to be for a reason, it should ADD something to the dish. Take rice for example, you can boil your rice in a rice cooker but a lot of the high end restaurants steam their rice - it preserves the flavour and the starch of the rice. For me, the whole rolling the rice into a ball is just pointless. Doesn't add anything - tell me honestly do you think a rice ball looks better than a plate of rice? And plus, this is street food la, not haute cuisine. Cynical me says, you roll the rice into the ball you can charge more. One plate of chicken rice = RM3.50? RM4? One plate of rice contains maybe as much rice as 5 balls.. ie RM1.50 more.

SCAM!

Food For Tots said...

I had tried this rice ball in Melaka many many years ago. I personally feel that it is just the shape that is unique. Other than that, just taste like the usual chicken rice.

CUMI & CIKI said...

i know ppl say that this place has 'jatuh standard' and that the chicken sometimes looks smashed up instead of chopped, but i still like it because i grew up eating this la.. nostalgic (see how old i am?! haha)

J2Kfm said...

genuiness : erm probably they're rolling them into balls, to please (deceive) the eyes before one puts the whole ball into mouth? beats me. or maybe they comparing the 'art' of rolling stuff. :)

Food for Tots : yeah, the novelty lies in the shape, but i personally feel the rice is good at CHung Wah. personal preference I guess.

Cumi & Ciki : you're Malaccan ah? nyonya! hahah ...

backStreetGluttons said...

People outside Malacca never had any feelings about the rice balls as we have seen many such attempts opening then closing rapidly. Some say its unpalatable coz the balls were made by squeezing hard which hurt

J2Kfm said...

BSG : ahem. none of those metaphors, pls. hahaha ... squeeze or no squeeze, the balls of rice looks cool though

Anonymous said...

Please do some research before posting on blogs. Obviously the original two shops were Chung Wah and Hoe Kee. Famosa and the rest are all newer, non authentic shops relying entirely on the fame created by the original shops for their business. And a little trickery here and there of course, like putting faces of famous personalities at their premise. And please don't suggest putting chop onions or whatever else on the chicken. Chung Wah is famouos as it is and please do not give baseless opinions on something which is much older than yourself.