Melaka’s balls of deliciousness

Melaka’s unique take on the ubiquitous Chicken Rice.

Among the many varieties of Chinese food that can be found in South-East Asia, the Hainanese chicken rice remains the most popular, being selected as the national dish of Singapore. Malaysia’s is the decadent nasi lemak.

In Malaysia, similar to the other local variations of Chinese food, chicken rice has undergone some tweaks to the original recipe, with subtle differences from state to state.

Only the variety with seasoned rice qualifies to be called Hainanese chicken rice, and comes in various forms and methods of cooking the chicken, including braising and roasting.

Balls of deliciousness

A peculiar variant of this very popular dish is the chicken rice ball famous in the southern states of Malaysia.

Unlike other types which come with rice served in a plate or bowl, the chicken rice balls come in the shape of – as one might easily guess – balls!

Although famous in Johor and to some extent Singapore, the chicken rice ball is most connected to Melaka where many chicken rice restaurants specialising in the balls have sprouted up, some having been around for generations.

A quick history lesson

Before heading to one of Melaka’s chicken rice ball restaurants, here’s a quick look into the background of the formation of these spherical rice balls.

History has it that the rice was shaped into balls to keep it warm from the time it was cooked earlier in the day to the time the meal is eaten.

Packed in wooden containers, the rice supposedly did not lose its warmth or taste when shaped into these balls.

There’s another theory that the shape of the balls made for easier transportation by labourers who brought the meal from home to eat at work.

Both these explanations do carry some weight on the chicken rice ball phenomenon.

Ee Ji Ban Chicken Rice Ball

Ee Ji Ban Chicken Rice Ball
The restaurant is always busy especially on the weekends.

Although the rice balls are now merely part of the dish’s culinary heritage, going to the right restaurant to get the authentic taste is important.

Ee Ji Ban Chicken Rice Ball is famous among tourists and locals alike, due to its delicious chicken rice offerings as well as its halal status.

Expect to wait for a long time to get a seat, especially during the weekends. Don’t just order the chicken rice balls as the other items on the menu are amazing too such as the kangkung belacan and prawn sambal with petai.

Ee Ji Ban Chicken Rice Ball

275, Jalan Melaka Raya 3

Taman Melaka Raya

75000 Melaka

Operating hours: 10am to 9.30pm daily, closed on Thursdays

This article first appeared in uppre.com