Calanthe Art Cafe & Kaya-Kaya @ Malacca
August 29, 2015
The current boom in Malacca's cafÃ© business emerged in 2014, but the trickle of tourists has steadily swelled ever since UNESCO declared the state capital a World Heritage Site in 2008, according to the founders of Calanthe Art CafÃ©.
Calanthe is a hugely respected pioneering cafÃ©, having recently marked its 10th anniversary. Opened by a band of close-knit friends who went to school together, Calanthe remains one of Malacca's warmest and most welcoming hangouts, specialising in different types of coffee roasted in each of Malaysia's 13 states.
â€œOur main objective is to promote an appreciation for our own Malaysian coffee,â€� Calanthe's Joseph Chia says, noting that some Malaysian states have unique blends of coffee mixed with margarine, salt or even wheat flour. Calanthe is also the ideal stop to refuel with a lunch of deliciously hearty local recipes like turmeric-tinged nasi lemak (coconut milk rice with a yellow hue) and laksa, a bowl of thin noodles in a mildly spicy coconut milk gravy with tofu puffs, fishcakes and beansprouts.
The story of a much newer venue, Kaya-Kaya CafÃ©, is a tribute to Malacca's allure. Kuala Lumpur resident K.C. Choong had long been a frequent visitor to Malacca when he stayed last year at a Jonker Walk guesthouse whose owners had a vacant space nearby. K.C. found out and decided to collaborate with them to create Kaya-Kaya, a cavernous cafÃ© where customers can relax on rattan chairs and recycled wood-and-metal furniture while marvelling at a two-storey-high mural of multilingual definitions for the word kaya.
Kaya means â€˜wealth' in Malay, and the cafÃ©'s name is meant to convey a feeling of richness in its patrons' lives, relationships and food. For a dose of decadence, Kaya-Kaya offers salmon-&-egg open sandwiches & a one-of-a-kind â€˜Malacca Elvis' â€“ a pancake stack that combines Elvis Presley's favourite ingredients of bananas and peanut butter with Malacca's kaya, a sugary jam thickened with coconut milk and egg yolks.
â€œWe want customers to come here for a getaway, to eat and drink and feel like they've escaped from the world outside for a few hours,â€� K.C. says.
This spotlight on Calanthe & Kaya-Kaya is an excerpt of a feature on six of Malacca's soulful new cafes; read the full feature in the August 2015 issue of Going Places, Malaysia Airlines' in-flight magazine.
Calanthe Art Cafe, Jalan Hang Kasturi, Melaka. Tel: 06-292-2960
Kaya-Kaya Cafe, 32, Jalan Tukang Besi, Melaka
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