So, here’s the story about The Baboon House.
Chinatown Located at the west of the Melaka River is a few rows of old shops that make up Chinatown. This is one of the best Chinatowns in Malaysia. It is mainly located on 3 roads. The first is Jalan Tun Tan Cheng Lock(formerly Heeren St.,& Holland St to the Chinese). It was also nicknamed Millionaires’ Row as most of the Chinese millionaires of the pioneering period lived on this street. The second road is Jalan Hang Jebat(formerly Jonkers St.) and Jalan Tokong(Temple Street). Shop houses date back to the 19th century, with many occupied now by antique shops, restaurants and hotels. Many of them have an opening or a courtyard in the middle of the rather long shops to allow light in and rain water to be collected in a well. http://www.malaysia-trulyasia.com/state_melaka.html We were in an art gallery near The Baboon House and did see a well in one of the rooms that was open to the sky. I could easily live in one of these buildings because of the light and space.
George Town , Singapore and Phuket also have lovely areas called “Chinatown” and all have the same style shophouse but the blurb at the top of the page is a Malaysian website so has a slightly biased perspective.
The Baboon House is located on Heeren Street.
The menu included a wonderful salad or bruschetta so we went in. We chose The Baboon House based on its menu but were captivated by the building itself, a renovated shophouse.
Only while writing this email did I think of the questions I should have asked while we were there. Why the name? What’s the building’s history? I guess for us at the time, it just didn’t matter. It’s why you have to go back to a place a second time to answer all the questions. But we’re not going back so I hunted the web and one site said the café was named for the dog of one of the owners but not the dog actually in the place while we were there. All of the blogs raved about the café. “You have to go for ice tea in a cafe called the Baboon house, its a delapodated building that some mature art students purchased and tarted up, its the coolest place I have ever been for a drink!” That was by someone named Mark H and is a pretty accurate description (misspellings and all) though we found places in Bali, Tibet, Nepal and, of course, Singapore that were pretty similar and were a nice change of pace from the spicer SE Asian food.
It was a lovely building; the food was great and we thought reasonably priced; it was quiet; you could read: what more could anyone want! Oh and there was even a golden retriever you could pat on its lovely friendly head.
Lots of natural light in the small dining area.
You can see it’s not a huge place.
Houses were built narrow but long and tall because they were taxed by width just as in the Netherlands and Melaka was ruled by the Dutch who defeated the Portuguese. This was actually the middle room on the bottom floor.
That’s 4,999 ringgits I’m guessing but that’s still over $1,500 US.
The first room of the building was a small gift shop with jewelry and artwork for sale. No one was about so we called hello and someone from the restaurant came and showed us where to go. They were all very friendly trusting guys since so one seemed to keep an eye on the shop out front. Probably not good for business because not everyone would have made the effort to find the restaurant in the next room. Actually, the lovely restaurant where Suza and I ate in Phuket was designed the same way. I guess that keeps the noise out front and the dining area quiet and maybe you’ll buy something on your way to lunch.
The garden area was the next room along after the restaurant room which I found on my way to “the ladies.”
This small area was next which was used as a work area.
At the back of the garden and the end of the property was the “toilet.”
There I am.
Walking back towards the restaurant.
This room was open to the sky to create an inside courtyard.
The swinging glass doors lead back into the restaurant.
You can eat "western food" like this all over the world, just not all over the world where we usually are so it was a lovely change for us. Of course if every street was filled with Baboon House clones we’d miss our usual E & Y Restaurant in Gelang Patah with it’s wonderful buffet of sauteed veggies, fragrant yellow rice , fried chicken and other dishes we just speculate about and I taste every now and then. It’s just sometimes we miss "American bistro food" so The Baboon House was a great treat.