While wandering around Melaka with my mother we stopped off at a typical Malaysian Chinese lunch restaurant — chap fan, or “mixed rice.”
On my plate I have stir fried cabbage, achar achar (Malaysian mixed vegetable pickle), curry chicken, assam curry, tofu with pork, and a little bit of fish.
The Chinese equivalent of a pay-as-you-eat buffet, it gives day workers access to a fast lunch, picky eaters a good variety of options, and makes a hungry Lin happy.
You can see that this restaurant follows the same format as many other commercial enterprises in Malaysia — a building with one wall fully open to the outside. When the restaurant shuts down, sliding metal doors (like garage doors) close off the inside.
Once you’ve made your selections, take it to the cash register where you pay for what you’ve taken. Although I’m sure some restaurants may be more scientific with their charging system, this restaurant just had a fierce looking lady who sized up the food on my plate (asking if I had taken any meat) then barked out a price.
Many chap fan stalls also offer tea and soup (a simple broth with chicken bones, potatoes, and carrots) in with the total price, so together you have delicious, fast meal!