On our first day in Melaka, Malaysia, we went to a nearby Tesco to stock up on the necessities. Below I have some photos of the store, along with coordinates, so that you can find it. To get to the store, we took a Grab taxi from our apartment in Putra Heights (a Grab taxi will cost $1-$2USD depending on where you start your journey).
Tesco is fairly average supermarket, as you can see in this picture. It has all the basics, from fruits and veggies all the way to olive oil and vinegar, while also supplying bottled water (likely something you’ll need in Melaka), a small selection of healthy snack foods, and a wide variety of spices from Southeast Asia and beyond.
I wouldn’t call the fruit and vegetable section of Tesco “affordable”, but in comparing it to other places in the world, it’s cheap enough. But besides costs, I wasn’t at all unhappy with the fruit and veggie choices available; the Tesco in Melaka has a pretty wide variety of produce to choose from, including both familiar staples (potatoes and pears, for example) and exotic produce from Southeast Asia (dragonfruit and daikon, as more examples). Shopping for produce in a foreign country is one of my favorite parts of traveling! In Peru, I remember that there was almost an entire aisle at a grocery store in Lima that was dedicated to all different kinds of potatoes. Here in Melaka, there are a wide variety of mushrooms (pictured above). And, of course, in Southeast Asia there’s no shortage of flamboyant and foreign-looking fruits and veggies hanging around!
The spice/dried fruit section at the Tesco in Melaka was extensive. Common spices like cinnamon and thyme were in good supply, while other more unique spice mixes were also available. There were a fair number of curries and other Indian seasonings, along with some Southeast Asian sauces for cooking. In this aisle I was also able to find some nuts and dried fruits, although it should be noted that there wasn’t the best selection of these items available at the Tesco in Melaka and that what was available there was pretty expensive.
The Tesco in Melaka doesn’t have any sugar-free non-dairy milks. However, the non-dairy milks that it does have were pretty interesting (as were some of the other drinks), so I decided to include them for interested readers. I don’t have it pictured, but some black soymilk was also for sale at Tesco; unfortunately, it had sugar, otherwise I would’ve totally brought it home to try it d(I’ve never had black soymilk). In the same aisle with the non-dairy milks, large water jugs and carbonated water are available. If you decide to get carbonated water, be careful, because there’s a soda brand here in Malaysia that sells a clear, ice cream flavored soda that looks suspiciously like straight-up carbonated water. When I was at this Tesco in December, 2018, there was only one brand of carbonated water, which was called “Spritzer Sparkling” and came in a tall green bottle.
So, my final assessment of Tesco is this: It’s fine for getting started if you happen to live close by to it, but in terms of diversity and health food options, it’s not a spectacular grocery destination. All of the absolute basics are available, but if you’re looking for anything snack-like (or just something to use to make snacks), consider a different place to shop.
Here in Melaka, Malaysia there aren’t an abundance of fruit and vegetable stores. In most cities and towns in Mexico, every other block there’s a small fruit and veggie stand that sells fresh produce and some other basics to customers in the neighborhood. However, Malaysia so far hasn’t been that kind of place. Malaysia is what I would call a “car culture”; the locals (and expats and tourists) get in their cars and go someplace (like a grocery store), get out of their cars to go into the place, then reemerge from the place only to get right back into their cars to go on to their next destination. So, the need for a walk-by fruit stand doesn’t exist, since there’s no one walking around in the streets. For people coming from destinations like Mexico, this is an important point to note. Be prepared to be getting Grab taxis to get to groceries and other destinations. Although it is possible to walk in Melaka, depending on where you’re located it may or may not be all that pleasant (the walk will more than likely involve a jaunt along a multi-lane freeway). And you’ll probably either take a cab there or back, if not both ways. Just a heads up. I would’ve liked to have known this little fact about Malaysia before I visited.
But, don’t fret, since although Tesco isn’t a health-food stop in Melaka, there are some other grocery stores in the area that offer a wider variety of foods for the health-conscious traveler. Stay tuned for a post about the Aeon store in Melaka, which has a better supply of health foods!