Sunday, March 21, 2010

Heeren Street and Jonker Street Malacca

Jonker Street is also known as Jalan Hang Jebat. This street used to be an affluent street during the Dutch colonial period. Today, Jonker Street is a very popular street in Melacca for its antiques. Visitors can see rows of antique shops holding a variety of antique pieces. These beautiful authentic artifacts and relics attract many antique hunters and collectors from all over the world. Some to the antique shops have collections of antiques which date back as far as 300 years, each with its own history and mystery.
Buildings along Jonker Street feature its unique building architectures design with elaborated carvings on the walls and pillars. These intricate adornments reflect the rich heritage and culture of the Babas, whom were called the Straits Chinese (or locally Peranakan) community. Their culture is derived from Traditional Chinese with Malay influence. They belong to their own unique community and Malacca is the original birthplace of this clan. These buildings along Jonker Street are of almost a century old and most of them are utilized as restaurants and antique shops.
Heeren Street which is also known as the ‘First Class Gentlemen Street’ or the ‘Millionaires Row’, is a road with double storey houses similar to that of the modern terrace houses, but much longer. The houses portray a rich and detailed mix of Chinese, European and Peranakan architecture. Till today, the Peranakans (Baba Nyonyas) do live in them, making this a living heritage, though there are also some being turned into galleries, cafes, hotels and eateries.

On the parallel street is Jonker Street, also known as the ‘Second Class Gentleman Street’. More commercial, this street used to house mainly traders and merchants. On weekends, thenight bazaar of Jonker Walk comes alive. Malacca’s artists come out in full force selling their art paintings and handicrafts beside other Nyonya related food items like the popular pineapple tarts and Nyonya kuihs.
On June 2000, the Melacca State Government had launched a tourist concept that turned Jonker Street to Jonker Walk by utilizing the heritage richness of the street. Through this concept, Jonker Street or Jonker Walk has turned itself to the most happening and busiest street in Melacca on every Friday and weekend starting from 6pm till 12pm midnight. During these hours, visitors will see Jonker Street or Jonker Walk transformed itself into a street market. Traders set up their stalls and line up along the pedestrian street selling variety of products like antiques, clothes, unique arts and crafts, handbags, wallets, watches, shoes, ornamental accessories, fabrics and souvenirs.
Apart from the unique building architecture designs and cultural attractions, Jonker Street or Jonker Walk is famous of its local and ethnic traditional food. Some of the Melacca’s popular delicacies are Baba Nyonya dishes such as Otak-Otak (spices fist meat, wrapped in banana leaves and grilled), Itik Tim (duck stew with salted vegetables) and Perut Ikan (preserved fish stomach in herbs); Chinese dish like Melacca Chicken Rice Balls; Malay dishes like Satay Celup (skewered seafood cooked in peanut sauce), cincaluk (fermented shrimp relish) and Cendol (cold dessert with coconut milk and palm sugar syrup); Portuguese food like pasu kaemadu (baked fish), garing garing fretu (fried whitebait with sliced shallots) and the fiery el diablo curry (devil curry).
The Geographer Café which is located at the middle of Jonker Street on Harmony Street is the foreign visitors’ favorite. It serves traditional local food and beverages including liquor with good ambience. Besides, there are live bands performance on every Friday and weekend nights.
Visitors who want to try Baba Nyonya cuisine can head to Jonker Dessert. This shop is well known for its Baba Nyonya delicacies and it is located just diagonally opposite the Geographer Café.
Adjacent to the Geographer Café is the Baba Nyonya House, which is located at Heeren Street (or locally Jalan Tun Tan Cheng Lock). The Baba Nyonya House is one of the most exquisite, displaying a blend of Dutch and Chinese influences.