Even the lift lobby - geometric clean-lined black iron grills matched with ornate side tables - and tunnel-long corridors are so artfully fashioned we couldn’t resist snapping photos of them.
The 54sq.m, 2-bedroom family suite we stayed in follows a similar ID trait; a compact integration of old-world Baba Nyonya charm adorns the cosy TV lounge whilst the bedrooms are packed with modern amenities. Standard creature comforts include coffee/tea-making facilities, in-room WiFi, pristine linen-clad beds and ensuite shower cum bathroom.
Breakfast buffet as well as Peranakan dishes available a la carte and in set meals for lunch and dinner are served at Makan Nyonya – a cheerful all-day dining restaurant. Awash in shades of gray and linear lines, the simple interior serves as an ideal backdrop to show off beguiling decorative accents drawn from Melaka’s rich cultural heritage (we went gaga over the display of colourful tiffin carriers). More seating is tucked away at the long but well-shaded patio.
Dinner – graciously hosted by the Estadia by Hatten team – was served hidang-style i.e. communal sharing portions similar to family meals. Munching on Nyonya Ikan Bilis tidbits, the resident chefs pulled out the stops with a soup, three mains and a vegetable dish to complement plates of white and yellow rice.
The light and clear Fish Maw Soup with Chicken Meatball featured freshly boiled chicken soup amped up with minced chicken meatballs and spongy fish maw. A fave with kids and soup fans for sure.
Conversation briefly stopped at our table as we relished the tantalising flavours of Spicy Chicken Tomato, Nyonya Fish Head Curry, Sambal Petai Prawns and Sambal Bendi.
Cooked with spicy, chunky tomato sauce and vegetable, the chicken was similar to the Malay dish of ayam masak merah. We enjoyed the bright, robust accents from the hearty offering which was best with rice.
The palate-awakening tanginess of tamarind lent a different twist to the Nyonya Fish Head Curry. It was an appetite-whetting serving which caused the carb lovers to overdose on more rice laced with curry gravy while working their jaws over chunks of red snapper head.
Stink beans or petai stir-fried with succulent prawns in the chef’s sambal sauce was a classic speciality that most Nyonya households would serve at home. Also known as twisted cluster beans, the long beans with pods of edible green seeds might be an acquired taste for some but I have learned to love it. Despite their pungency, the beans are known for many health benefits including lowering blood pressure, countering depression and stress, boosting brain power and a panacea for heartburn and morning sickness.
Blanched lady’s fingers served with a piquant sambal sauce topping helped to add a touch of green to our meal. This is another perennial vegetable dish that appeared regularly on many Baba Nyonya family tables.
To douse the heat from our main meal, we had icy cool treat of Nyonya Cendol washed down with the restaurant’s signature Settlement Mango Mix.
You can also enjoy a drink or two at the welcoming Baba's Lounge or go shopping at the adjacent Dataran Pahlawan Melaka Megamall. We found some interesting outlets there like this whimsical teddy bear-themed cafe.
Estadia by Hatten Bandar Hilir, Jalan Merdeka, Melaka, 75000 Melaka, Malaysia. For reservations, call tel: 06-227 9600