Sunday, August 16, 2009

Baba Charlie's - Malacca, Malaysia

Lesser Men Just Use Their Garage to Store Their Cars
Day two of our Malacca food tour we headed to an out of the way spot for some Nyonya Kueh, which can best described as bite-size treats. I mean "out-of-the-way" literally, as in down a dusty side street in a residential area, far from town.

We were searching for Baba Charlie but none of us had been there so we weren't sure what to look for.

When we finally found it and I realized it was a garage-based business I immediately liked it, without even going in. There's something cool about a man in his garage, door up, churning out snacks and desserts, with his two cars parked there still. By the time we arrived at 11am, the crowd was already thick.

The truck on the left held some uncooked curry puffs waiting for the oven - unfortunately they weren't any ready to eat. This is the very food that inspired the name for this blog so I was dissapointed not to be tearing into some of these.

Deeper into the garage there was a crew at work. I'd underestimated the Baba Charlie production and output - there were at least 6-7 people working. One was off to the left surrounded by 8 stove burners. Another was hand-rolling Ondeh-Ondeh, a coconut covered dessert. Others were sitting at a table putting together various treats. There appeared to be 3-4 generations working. The man himself was nowhere to be found - perhaps he was updating his blog?

The remaining staff were manning a room just off the garage where they were encouraging Pingle's relatives to go off the deep end - not that their food shopping requires any encouragement. By the time I got there many already had loaded shopping bags hanging from their forearms and were gesturing with free hands towards a large table, ordering more treats.

I can't say I blame them. Everything looked fresh and appealing. On the right is something called Apam Balik, a sweet pancake that contains some kind of sweet-bean filling.

On the shelves were all manner of goodies. There were bottles of pickles stacked up on top of each other. On this particular shelf - mango pickles, salted fish pickles and salted fish roe pickles.

There were also bottles of cookies that got my attention. On the left are Kuih Koya - green bean cookie. (Thank goodness for Wikipedia - nobody had any time to explain what I was seeing or what it was - they had stuff to buy!)

Pingle told me that Ondeh Ondeh were one of her favorite desserts growing up, so I focused on the making of them. It's a ball of rice flour, greened with Pandan leaf with a palm sugar center and a shredded coconut coating.

These must be very popular because back in the garage the lady making them was working non-stop. She made it look pretty easy.

The final product gets a small palm leaf carrying case. I liked the flavor but I think you have to grow up on these to like the consistency - they're a tad gelatinous for my liking.

72, Jalan Tengkera Pantai 2
Malacca, Malaysia

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  1. I have to say the kuehs were not out of this world - perhaps authentic but not yummilicious. The ondeh ondeh was my favorite... always been my fav but we can get similar or not better versions in Singapore.

    Will I go back again? Maybe... if I am going with my shopping/buying-crazy family again :)

  2. That was a great trip. I've never seen people who can eat all day long and then go shop for food!