You think you know somewhere.
You walk around enough of the town, you see enough of the people, you spend enough time there to think you have the measure of somewhere. And then surprise, surprise! You stumble upon something totally unexpected and yet totally welcoming. That was our experience of Limau-Limau Cafe, which we chanced upon during our day trip to Melacca, in southern Malaysia.Tucked away down a side road branching off from a road of shops and art galleries which was close to the centre of town, but certainly not spitting distance from the city's main hub of activity. The internal appearance of Limau-Limau Cafe isn't dissimilar from a twee vintage inspired coffee shop, the likes of which are now common in European cities. Yet it is a rare sight in Malaysia where Western-influenced restaurants or cafes tend to be more modern US hospitality complete with neutral colour schemes and sharp lined, slick furniture and service. Limau-Limau is none of these things, thank goodness.We found refuge there in the hottest hour of a blazing sunny Sunday part way through our wander around the city. Due to our overwhelming hunger we delighted in an appealing looking Western menu (shame on us) though were equally thrilled by the long, long list of fresh fruit juices, milkshakes and lassis on offer. Between us we demolished a vegetarian lasagne (heaven for cheese lovers - real mozzarella and cheddar!), two chicken foccacias (they didn't last long) and a tuna and hummus pitta bread. It all tasted fresh, it all looked and smelt great and it revived our blood sugar levels with gusto. A couple of us ordered coffees to follow and our friends who have been living in Malaysia for over a year now commented on how good the coffee was compared to the "British Rail standard fare" available at most Malaysian coffee shops.The service was prompt and polite if a little shy (in a heart breaking way - I still find my chest tightening a bit when I think about the awkwardly sweet guy who served us and managed the steep chairs impressively well). We felt welcome enough up on the daintily decorated mezzanine level to hang around a little longer after lunch reading back copies of Readers' Digest and taking advantage of the free wifi. Next to us a young Malaysian couple played Monopoly and I agreed with them that this was the perfect place to pass away hours of board games. I couldn't help but notice they gave up halfway through a marathon game; somethings are the same on both sides of the world, I suppose.
Should you happen to be in Melacca one day, make sure that you also happen to stumble upon Limau-Limau to enjoy a menu that is not normally delivered so well in southeast Asia, yet it is still served with charm found only in southeast Asia.
Frances M. Thompson
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