When I posted about the excellent Nyonya food served at Unicorn Cafe (link –> HERE) a few months back, many readers and friends rejoiced, for they too have been searching high and low for a restaurant that serves good Nyonya food that is fairly priced.
Based on my observations, Nyonya restaurants that serves pork on the menu are lesser in number (correct me if I’m wrong) than those who steer clear of pork for business reasons.
Besides, Nyonya food/dishes are traditionally pork based (again, correct me if I’m wrong as I’m still learning) so I figured that if the restaurant serves pork, it is potentially “more authentic“.
Anyhow the happy discovery of Unicorn Cafe had lead to demand of a similar food establishment, but one suitable for the Muslim crowd.
Now, halal nyonya restaurant are non-existent in Melaka (perhaps only in Renaissance Hotel since they have a halal kitchen) but pork free ones are many.
Even some of the famous Nyonya restaurants like Donald & Lily Restaurant is pork-free. So a pork-free Nyonya restaurant isn’t elusive, but an excellent one is.
My search for the “best” Nyonya restaurant in Melaka continues. I have a few more in my list and I’m making regular trips to try them out.
Happily enough my perseverance has yielded some gems, one of which was the Bulldog Cafe on Jalan Bendahara,(just doors away from Majestic Hotel and Ramada Hotel).
All due credit should be awarded to my Melaka guide Choo (please contact her 017 – 944 4197 if you need a guide in Melaka as she is a certified one!) for her kind assistance.
Due to an earlier renovation work I was unable to visit in September, but now that Bulldog is operational again I wasted no time in arranging for a lunch session here.
The previous seating arrangement made use of older furniture (photo below from Bulldog Facebook Page) while the current furniture are modern and simple.
For me either one is fine, for I love the spacious area and the natural light.
Most of all, it is the food that matters to me.
Obviously I’ve been on the wrong trail, eating at almost 10 nyonya restaurants in Melaka & spending hundreds/thousands of RM on mediocre Nyonya dishes.
Excellent, pork-free, commercially available (not the “my mother/grandmother/aunty’s version is better”) nyonya food in Melaka is available at of all places, in an outlet known more as a pub than for food!
We begin lunch with their Nyonya Laksa (RM9).
This bowl offers all the prerequisite elements of an excellent laksa; rich, creamy with an abundance of flavours from the spices and good stock base.
The heat level is tolerable and the accompanying fragrant chilli paste is more than sufficient to add flavour to the broth if you need it.
I find it tasty enough without the need for the paste, though the excellent chilli is a potent mix of chillies (dry and fresh) with onions and candlenuts.
Some places skip the laksa leaf (Vietnamese mint), or daun kesom but not this bowl. It’s an aromatic herb that I find to be a prerequisite for the overall aroma and flavour.
BELOW: Bulldog Cafe’s Nyonya Laksa – 2 mid size prawns, cockles, fishcakes, shredded cucumber, julienned egg omelette and taupok (beancurd puffs).
A standard bowl (hawker version) of Nyonya laksa in the streets of Melaka is RM4.50 – RM5.50.
For RM9 it is undeniably double the usual price but the taste, the comforts of air conditioning dining as well as the abundance of ingredients is certainly worth it.
The same chilli paste made its appearance again on Bulldog’s fried fish and we love it.
The fish is adeptly fried; non- greasy with a crispy outer layer and moist, flaky flesh within.
Bulldog Cafe’s pongteh (chicken stewed in a dark, sweet and savoury soy bean sauce) is thicker and tastier than most of the places that I’ve been.
The sweetness of the gravy is from the caramelized palm sugar (gula melaka) so it wasn’t the cloying saccharine sweetness that one gets from the cheaper or ‘cheat versions” of pongteh.
The chicken was cooked to perfect tenderness and came in generous chunks. The accompanying sambal belacan is potent and deliciously fiery-hot.
Nyonya Ayam Limau Purut: RM8 (S) and RM16 (M).
(Chicken cooked with aromatic spices and kaffir leaves).
Can you see the thickness of the spices for the curry? It tasted as good as it looks; spicy, rich and aromatic. Definitely one of the best Nyonya Ayam Limau Purut I’ve tasted!
Bulldog Cafe is certainly a surprising but happy find.
Their pohpiah (RM4/roll) is decent; soft and supple skin and plump with filling. The chendol (RM4) is fresh, the ice fine and the gula melaka fragrant.
Small beans are used (I abhor the use of kidney beans) and cooked until soft to bite, just the way I like it.
Since the chendol is good, we ordered the Ais Kacang (RM4) as well.
It is of almost similar components but we find the chendol a lot more satisfying!
Choo recommended the Beef Lada Garam so we added an order for it though we were really stuffed.
This is alike black pepper beef though milder.
Bulldog Cafe is an excellent choice for those seeking pork-free nyonya food.
I enjoyed my meal here and I would confidently recommend this place to friends and my readers. I’ve already listed down my choices for my next visit and I’m thinking of dropping in for the live band in the evenings too.
Next on my list:
Nyonya Chicken Soup
For small groups, I would recommend their set lunches which are value for money.
145, Jalan Bendahara,
75100 Malacca City, Malaysia
Contact: +6016 303 3970 (Gene)
WAZE: “Bulldog Cafe Melaka” .
HOURS: Mon – Sat : 11.00 am to 2.00 pm. 6.30 to 10.00 pm.
**On Fri and Sat it is open til 12:00 midnight but only serving drinks after 10pm as there is a live band playing.
Signature: Classic Nyonya food, some western favourites.
Prices: RM4 for pohpiah and RM9 for a large bowl of laksa. (Prices are approximation, dependent on your actual order).
Coffee beans: Not focused on coffee.
Pork-free/Halal: Pork- free. Serves alcohol.
OOTD/Instagram friendly: The back portion of the cafe is full of nostalgic props!
Service: Warm, helpful, cheerful.
Your orders are served to you.
Ambience: Comfortable. Relaxed.
Outdoor seating: No.
Powerpoints for charging: NO.
Parking :Challenging. Roadside or around Ramada Hotel.
Payment: Eat first, then call for the bill to pay.