The Regional Managing Director for Italian jeweller Damiani in Southeast Asia, shares her tips for Malacca and Milan
What do you love most about this city?
It’s still the best place to go for food! The simplest rojak hawker stall or chicken rice restaurant that I used to visit with my grandparents are all still in business today.
What is your favourite local dish from here and where can we find it?
There are two dishes that I will never fail to eat when I return home. The famous chicken rice balls near Christ Church (the corner restaurant next to Hard Rock Café). Still a family-run business with their recipe handed down from generation to generation. Be forewarned though that this chicken rice restaurant has a long queue every day. The other favourite dish is the famous satay celup at Ong Kim Wee. You cannot find this anywhere else in Malaysia. Again, a family-run business, and their sauce is not commercially sold.
Where would you take a first-timer to in this city?
Definitely food places such as local restaurants that only locals would go to. For sightseeing, I will take them to the Nyonya Museum, or walk down Jonker Street for good reasonably priced antiques or take a boat ride to get a historical lesson of Melaka.
What is the one thing that the first-timer must do in this city?
Trishaw rides! Trishaw rides can be quite entertaining as individual trishaw owners have souped-up their trishaws with unique decorations such disco lights and even, music. But what is most important is that these trishaw pullers, who are usually in their late 50s, are the best tour guides.
The best place to have dinner with:
a. family – home with all the ladies in the family cooking a meal together. It’s a dying trend nowadays. My family and I still ensure we keep this tradition alive by cooking or having a meal together every month despite our busy schedules and my frequent travels.
b. friends – new places. We are a crazy bunch. We can drive 2-3 hours if there was a worthy place to eat!
c. colleagues – at one of our favourite spots.
The best thing about the locals.
Friendly and helpful.
Name one souvenir to bring home.
Local delicacies like coconut candy and the local roasted coffee.
Five words that sum up this city.
Charming, full of character, life, love, and history.
Where might we find you at 1.00 am in this city?
At a mamak stall having teh tarik and roti canai or hot nasi lemak with my son.
One thing about the locals.
Milaneses are very fashionable no matter how old they are. They put a lot of effort into their dressing.
What do you find most refreshing about this city?
The air of romance, and the smell of espresso coffee almost everywhere.
Name the café/restaurant where you had the best:
a. coffee – Cova Montenapoleone
b. lunch – The Small at Via Niccolo Paganini
c. dinner – La Vecchia Lira
The best thing you can do here for free
Joining Italian families and colleagues for their festa every night.
What was the best experience in this city for you?
Seeing the Italian way of bonding through food and wines with their family and friends.
Your favorite memory of the city?
Going to Lake Como and spending “me time” by the lake. It has the most amazing view.
The one thing you would do again if you went back.
Eat all my favourite pastas and pizzas!
A lesson learnt from this city.
Italians are a very close-knit lot, and they treasure the time they have with the family. You see them spending lots of time together every evening. It has thought me that no matter how much work we have or how much we travel, finding time to spend with the family is very important.
What was the best piece of souvenir you took home from here?
Salami and Burrata cheese!
Name something they have here that you wished you had at home.
A market where they sell fresh homemade pasta, buffalo cheese, Mediterranean fish, and a vineyard where we can sip wines!
Photo credit: Marianne Liow