Written by Veyroniqa
Co-written by Denise Tan
Travelling to Johor Bahru this weekend and tired of seafood?
We know that Malaysia is brimming with mouthwatering grub that has managed to satisfy the tastebuds of both Malaysians and Singaporeans (no easy feat because truth be told, we like different things sometimes).
From the latest (and biggest) night market, unique themed cafes to hidden speakeasy bars, JB is a haven for hipsters (check out this Taiwanese-inspired town and trendy new megamall) and foodies alike.
While it isn’t Ipoh or Penang, JB also has its own flavours of authentic cuisine and traditional meals that are great for not just breakfasts but dinner and supper too!
Here’s an introduction to the various areas of JB and what you can expect to find in each area. Ready for a food-hunting weekend? 😉
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Located directly beside Woodlands checkpoint, this shopping mall boasts plenty of stores and restaurants, with many more cool dining spots in its vicinity.
1. With over 80 years of experience — Restoran Woon Kiang
If you’re wondering how kuey teow tasted like 80 years ago, you’ve come to the right place. Perfected over the ages, you won’t be forgetting this meal any time soon.
They’ve also perfected the art of cleaning pork intestines, so you will be able to enjoy it without biting into a smelly batch (who doesn’t hate that?) and you cannot miss the smaller-than-usual kuey teow. Paired with herbal soup, it’ll feel like heaven in your mouth.
With so many choices, the only way to try them all at once is to invite your friends to an eating party!2. The best chicken chop you’ll find in JB — IT Roo Cafe
It’s not a marketing ploy – they were actually awarded this title in 2003, but this shop was established way back in 1961!
With both fried chicken chop and BBQ chicken chop, you can take your pick and opt for the homemade sauce or eat it as it is. Both are good either way!
While they might be famous for their chicken chop, their tom yam soup and fried rice are pretty good too.
Popular with younger travellers and shopaholics, you will find the largest mall in Johor – Paradigm Mall, and also a newly opened outlet of Malaysia’s version of Daiso, NINSO, where everything goes for RM 2.10! It’s also a hotspot for Chinese food.
3. A match made in heaven? Chee cheong fun paired with yong tau fu — G. Cheong Fun Restaurant
There must be a story here, because only in Peninsular Malaysia will you find chee cheong fun and yong tau fu being sold side by side. We have previously eaten another version at ICC Pudu in Kuala Lumpur too and it tasted great!
G. Cheong Fun Restaurant has been serving springy chee cheong fun since 1999 and you’ll have the option of the traditional chee cheong fun which is more similar to kuey teow (the fat rice noodle rolls we’re familiar with today). You can drizzle curry, soy sauce or red sauce (or any combination of these) on top for that extra burst of flavour!
Be sure to order their pork skin curry because not only is it sinfully delicious, it’s an uncommon dish which you won’t be able to find easily elsewhere (the only other time we came across this is at a Nasi Lemak stall at ICC Pudu!).
4. Nyonya kuehs, Chinese pastries and Malay food all under one roof — Restoran Min Corner
What do you do when you and your friends are craving for a variety of different kuehs, puffs, desserts and mains?
Why, you head to the crowd pleaser, Min Corner (established in 1977)! You’ll find yourself spoilt for choice with selections like mee rebus, nasi lemak, bubur cha cha, char kuey teow along with other local delights. Having been in operation since 1977, you’ll be sure to sample nothing less but the most authentic tastes.
The best part is, everything is moderately priced and is known for serving food that has great value for money!
5. Deep fried durians, Chinese rice cakes and cempedak — Restoran Wah Cai 3 In 1 Chinese Cake
What’s crunchy on the outside and sweet molten goodness on the inside? Deep fried durian! Words fail to truly encapsulate how addictive these culinary delights are but these deep fried slices of heaven are truly something you cannot leave JB without trying!
Having established in 2000 and hailed as the first fried durian in Johor, you’ll find their fried fritters both satisfying and comforting. If you’re not a fan of durian, try their cempedak (cousin of the jackfruit) or their 3-in-1 yam and sweet potato fritters.
For those who are not as adventurous, you can give their deep fried nian gao (sticky Chinese rice cakes) or curry puffs a go as they are said to be quite unforgettable.
6. You won’t go wrong if you follow the wafting fragrance of… — Kedai Roti Dan Kek Siang Yong
Kaya puffs, bean paste pastries, mooncakes and other Chinese delights! Regulars love their baked char siew buns and kaya puffs, the highlights which keep people coming back.
If you reach early, you’ll be able to taste those that are freshly out the oven! But even if you bring them home, they stay fresh and crunchy.
The original shop was established in 1988, but if you head to this branch which is a 10-minute drive away, you’ll find three other pastry shops along the same street! So why not drop by for some delicious souvenirs instead of always only going to the famed Hiap Joo Bakery?
7. Braised duck and pork — Teochew Braise Duck
The only way to eat braised meat is to have it melt in your mouth, and that’s exactly how this place serves their braised duck. Super tender and smooth, with none of that gamey aftertaste.
Having been established in1972, this Teochew braised duck restaurant has always been a local favourite. Their braised pork leg is a must try, especially when paired with silky kueh tiao but make sure you call ahead to reserve if you must have the pork. They serve a variety of braised tofu, braised beancurd skin and pickled vegetables as sides to go with your duck and pork too.
8. All kinds of Malaysian cuisine under one roof — Restoran 777
Or rather, under the great big sky. With over 10 stalls serving all kinds of yummy dishes, in this open food court, you can find grilled fish, satay, Thai delicacies, oyster omelette, BBQ chicken rings, and even vegetarian food. Truly a place with something for everyone.
If you want to avoid the crowd, try to avoid coming here on Saturdays, as one of Johor’s largest Saturday night markets (Taman Ungku Tun Aminah Night Market) is in the vicinity. But if you love night markets, you will be thrilled to hear that it’s as large as those you’ll find in Taiwan or Thailand!
The go-to place for those looking for affordable hair styling/cuts. This mall is also near foodie hangouts, including an outdoor night market on Mondays (a.k.a KSL Monday Night Market)!
9. Creamy Nyonya curry fish head soup for spicy lovers — Restoran Sulam Kari Kepala Ikan Makanan Laut Taman Sentosa
Ink calligraphy and paintings line the walls at this restaurant, giving the whole place some old school vibes.
If you’re looking for some authentic Nyonya food, Restoran Sulam (established in 1989) is the place to be and we’ve got the perfect four-course meal: start with some homemade otak otak, followed with sambal petai with cuttlefish to go with your curry fish head and top it all off with a bowl of refreshing chendol.
You can find packaged halal food here too so you can buy some Muslim-friendly souvenirs back for your family and friends.
10. More than just bak kut teh — Bak Kut Teh Hin Hock
With 30 years of experience under their belt, you can’t miss the signature claypot bak kut teh at this joint.
The bak kut teh itself is a little on the sweet side due to the herbs used, so it might not be everyone’s cup of tea. You can order side dishes such as stir fried veggies, minced pork tofu and even pork leg.
They are also well-known for their steamed fish marinated with garlic (you can pick and choose from a selection of fresh fish!) and other Chinese dishes too.
11. The special sauce that keeps people coming back for more — Sin Huat Ikan Bakar
Grilled cuttlefish, squid and other kinds of fish can be found here. Aside from skills, what makes a good grilled fish dish is the sauce! Sin Huat adds bits of onion to theirs which perfectly complements the fish and brings out its sweetness.
The secret to this skill lies in their experience of over 25 years! You can also try their other seafood dishes, veggies and otak-otak. I think the most special dish has got to be their okra and petai with squid.
If you’re coming during the weekends, do note that it can get quite packed. But with so many hawker stalls nearby, you can munch on some snacks and dessert while waiting for your food.
12. The legendary local dessert – Larkin Bakar Putu Piring
You might be scratching your head over what putu piring is but it is a dessert that will stick with you for the years to come, especially if you like coconut. Sweet palm sugar is wedged in between soft turmeric skin, topped with a sprinkle of coconut flakes.
It’s hard to find authentic ones but Encik Bakar and his son have managed to preserve his recipe and theirs is touted by locals as the best in Johor, and his stall (established in 1971) is actually set up right outside his residence.
Some customers even make bulk buys of more than 30 pieces at once so the wait time might be a little long.
They also have other traditional kuehs at a reasonable price. If you see kueh kosui, make sure you snap that up too because it’s really good!
13. As scrumptious and comforting as Ah Ma’s cooking — Tua Thow restaurant
The kuey teow and soup filled with various ingredients including pig innards, lean meat, prawn, fish maw, etc.
You can pick and choose – just tell the ladyboss what you want. The dry version of kuey teow is topped with fried lard, while the soup version is so addictive, you’ll be slurping up every last drop.
The shop is usually packed and you might need to wait a while before you’re served, so don’t come here on a completely empty stomach!
You can also fill up on duck or roast pork at the restaurant and we hear that the tofu is also pretty good.
14. Straight from Arab and into a bowl of breakfast — Kacang Pool Haji
According to the ladyboss, their Arabian recipe has been adapted to suit local tastebuds. Since Malaysians are generally meat-lovers, they’ve added minced lamb and beef into their peanut sauce. It might sound weird but it actually goes well with the toast!
Besides their signature Kacang Pool Haji, they also serve classic Malay cuisine like rojak, mee rebus, nasi lemak, soto, and lontong. You can get fried rice and chicken rice set meals too!
They operate from morning till midnight so you can even drop by for supper. There’s another branch in Larkin near the fire station but we prefer this one as it’s more comfortable and spacious!
Be it shopping at the Aeon mall or enjoying local vibes along the smaller streets and restaurants in the area, this place is definitely a local favourite during weekends.
15. Another local fave chocked full of beefy goodness – Din Kee Beef Noodles
There is nothing that hits the spot more than a good bowl of beef brisket noodles on a rainy day or when you’re just craving for beef!
Aside from the brisket, your delicious bowl is covered with tendon, cubes of meat and a smattering of other ingredients such as preserved veggies and even a handful of peanuts. There’s so much meat that you can barely see the noodles below! You can also opt for either kuey teow, bee hoon or yellow noodles.
If you’re not a fan of beef, there’s also pork noodles, mutton noodles and Cantonese-style porridge.
16. You cannot miss this if you love dim sum — Restoran Jiah Xiang
Locals are completely in love with this place because they serve the best dim sum in JB.
Notable dishes are their big buns, vegetable buns, glutinous rice with chicken, salted egg yolk meat roll and century egg porridge.
If you come during weekends, you can also give their yam basket a try, but make sure you come early because it can get pretty packed during breakfast-time.
Come on, JB isn’t just about affordable shopping, massages and seafood! Don’t miss these local eats while you’re there! Tag your JB weekend buddies 😉