Written by Candice Neo
Photos by Jasmine Neo for TripCanvas (unless otherwise credited)
There’s never a lack of excitement across the causeway in Johor Bahru – be it new hipster night markets, hidden speakeasy bars or the latest unique themed cafes. And the newest addition here is Toppen Shopping Centre in Tebrau, just 30 minutes’ drive from City Square in JB!
Integrated with IKEA Tebrau and AEON Tebrau to become a 1.1-million-square-feet mall (the size of 20 soccer fields!) with four storeys, Toppen (which means ‘awesome’ in Swedish) is set to be the largest megamall in JB, and we are here on its grand opening on 13th November 2019 to check out the latest buzz!
Highlights include a huge rooftop community hub with playground and waterpark, Taiwanese croissant patisserie Hazukido, gourmet supermarket B.I.G., gaming centre The Pantheon, Korean fried chicken and more!
Note: As most of these shops are very new, some of them do not have contact numbers or social media pages yet (one shop owner even offered to give me her personal mobile number as contact for now!). They will eventually be set up. So watch this space for our updates!
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1. Your kids will LOVE this rooftop community hub (The Topp) with IG-worthy garden, playground and waterpark!
Now we all know how tiring and crazy it is to bring bored and grumpy kiddos to the mall, where they would want to play and you just want to shop in peace.
Reward them by bringing them to the rooftop community hub (known as The Topp), where your little critters will squeal in delight at the new playground and waterpark – don’t all kids just love to play in water?! Just make sure to bring an extra change of clothes for them!
While they exhaust their never-ending energy running around, give yourself a break and chill at one of the outdoor seating areas right by the playground, so you can take a break, grab and snack and drink and keep an eye on the kiddos at the same time!
Sometimes, ad-hoc programmes are organised here for kids, such as this Kids Driving School where your little ones can get a feel of their version of cars and the road rules waaay in advance. So cute, no?
And all you young people out there who are budding social media influencers – yes you! Check out their super Instagrammable rooftop garden too. Here, you can take as many pictures as you want (until you annoy the next influencer-wannabe waiting next in line)!2. Taiwanese croissants with salted egg, brown sugar, apple and fancy fillings: Hazukido
I’m generally not a fan of bread, sandwiches and buns, unless they have something really unique to offer, so when I first heard of Hazukido, a Taiwanese patisserie that creates quality buttery croissants stuffed with delicious and trendy fillings from salted egg yolk to brown sugar, apple cubes and all, I was actually excited!
I took my first bites of their croissants in SS15, and I’m super excited to see that now, they have opened an outlet in Toppen too! I highly recommend their Salted Egg Yolk Croissant and Apple Croissant!!
Note: This outlet is currently not open yet, so photos used are from the SS15 outlet for illustration purposes only. Watch this space for our updates!
3. Bring that Korean-fashion-fanatic BFF here!!: 2AM
Now I know I’m being a bit dramatic here, but walking into this shop really reminded me of shopping in Korea. And I nearly embarked on a shopping spree close to what I did in Seoul if not for the sad fact that I was rushing for time (but I will be back!)
Not only are the fashion choices here super Korean and Japanese, but they are actually very affordable too!
I bought this coat (yes that’s me trying it on so excitedly) for only RM 59 (approximately SGD $19.35) and my sister bought a cute top for only RM 20 (approximately SGD $6.56) when these imported fashion would have cost twice as much in Singapore. Say whaaat?!
You know which of your BFFs are crazy over K-fashion. Show them this and that would be enough to get them excited about a JB shopping trip this weekend!
4. Famed Korean fried chicken (hormone/antibiotic-free chicken with no MSG, additives): Kyochon 1991
If like us you love Korean fried chicken, you must not miss Seoul’s iconic Kyochon 1991 that has stirred up so much excitement among fans in Malaysia.
Committing to only using chicken meat that’s free from antibiotics and hormones, which are freshly delivered daily from selected suppliers, fried with canola oil (which is beneficial to health) and 100% natural sauces which are MSG-free with no additives, Kyochon is where you can feel relatively less guilty while indulging in their much-loved soy garlic and red pepper chicken!
Check out the nutritional value of their menu here.
Truth be told, it’s one of the tastiest Korean fried chicken I’ve ever had too! Why aren’t they in Singapore yet?!
5. Join new battles at this new gaming centre: The Pantheon
Now you can drag your gamer friends/ boyfriend/ husband to a mall!
The Pantheon is the first e-sport arena in Malaysia with Platinum Geforce GTX iCafe certification, equipped with G-Sync monitors, so you can be sure of high quality gaming experiences. This is their second outlet in Malaysia (their first one being in Subang Jaya, KL).
Boyfriend wants to have another round of Dota 2 with his pal? Bring them here while you go shopping! And yes, they even have a VR Zone!
Note: As this outlet is not open yet, pictures are taken from The Pantheon’s outlet in Subang Jaya for illustration purposes only.
6. Kiap your favourite plushies at these super kawaii claw machines: Superstar
If your bae gets a kick out of competitions and The Pantheon is not enough for him, challenge him to catch you a cute plushie from these claw machines. They are so pink and girly that part of me even lit up for a bit (even when I’m long past that cutesy-pink-girly fluff age).
Gahhh.. You can even win a YSL lipstick!
7. For the gourmet supermarket shopaholics and foodies: Ben’s Independent Grocer (B.I.G)
I personally enjoy (window) shopping at Ben’s Independent Grocer (B.I.G) when in KL because there’s just so many varieties of international goods and brands you can find here. So happy to see them open another outlet here – their second one in JB!
Get your organic loaves, seafood, fresh groceries imported from Japan, Korea, and Europe here.
And you can find rows and rows of different brands of the same products, such as truffle oil and pasta – you’ll be so spoilt for choice that I guarantee, if you love shopping in supermarkets like me, you’ll be stuck here for hours!
8. Dig into Hainanese local and Western fusion cuisine: Hock Kee Kopitiam & Cafe
Craving for some comforting Hainanese breakfast toast and eggs with kopi? Head down to Hock Kee Kopitiam & Cafe, which has another outlet at Twin Galaxy along Jalan Dato Abdullah in JB.
Here, they serve local classics such as char kway teow, Western cuisine such as chicken chop with fries and big breakfasts, Peranakan cuisine such as Assam fish curry and even Thai mama mee!
Chill out in a super old school ambience, and wash down your flavourful meal with some brown sugar boba (yes, you read that right – how can a hipster kopitiam not have bubble tea?!)
9. Japanese convenience store where you can stock up on cute snacks: FamilyMart
If you are looking for a taste of Japan’s convenience stores, don’t miss FamilyMart, which has stores all over Malaysia and even one at JB’s City Square Mall!
The highlight of FamilyMart is their oden, which are basically a variety of fishcakes, lobster balls, radish, fishballs, Japanese marinated soft-boiled egg (atjisuke tamago), king crab chunk, seafood tofu fishcake and more, which would be served in a soup of your choice (you can choose from the original clear soup or the more flavourful tom yam soup). This is my favourite go-to snack station whenever in Malaysia.
This outlet here even features Whittaker’s Tip Top ice-cream (which I have not seen in any supermarket in Singapore so far)! As you know, Whittaker’s and Tip Top are both well-loved chocolate and ice-cream brands respectively in New Zealand, and this is a product of their collaboration! I tried the 62% Cocoa dark chocolate with salted caramel and pretzel and LOVED it – you’ll get a burst of sweetness in the mouth as you bite into the dark chocolate coat and the salted caramel flows out from the ice-cream!
You can also find soft serves here (with flavours ranging from green tea to even hojicha), onigiri, dessert sandwiches, cheesecake, bento boxes, ice-cream sandwiches, Taiwanese milk tea, Korean banana milk and even Betagen (the Thai version of Yakult that’s super yummy)! And check out these super cute unicorn lip gloss and DD cream in sample sizes (exactly like how you can find them in Thailand’s 7-Eleven stores)!
Apparently, FamilyMart in Malaysia is pretty similar to what you can find in their stores in Japan! See, even Malaysia has interesting convenience stores; when are they coming to Singapore?!
10. For the cocoa addicts: Molten Chocolate
Chocolate lovers, be warned – this might make you even more addicted!
They have everything coated and drenched in chocolate here, from crepes to brownies, pancakes and lava cakes and (of course) chocolate drinks. We were so spoilt for choice because everything looks so good here!
We finally decided on their Brownies Crepe and Mallow Hot Chocolate (which is basically hot chocolate topped with many mini marshmallows – so sinful!!). The latter is not overly sweet nor thick, but the Brownies Crepe was the one that sent us to paradise and back. Coated with a thick layer of creamy chocolate, the crepe soaks up all the sugary cocoa goodness and every bite is a little mouthful of heaven!
11. Quench your thirst with green chendol boba!: Penang Chendul
I had been on a three-week brown-sugar-boba fast, until I saw the menu at this kiosk – brown sugar bubble tea with chendol boba. Yes, you are reading that right, your boba is green – green for chendol!
This is actually Penang Road Famous Teochew Chendul’s kiosk and it’s the only location that sells this new chendul/boba invention. I couldn’t resist – the brown sugar milk was naturally sweet (like all brown sugar bubble tea), but I was a little disappointed by the green boba, which was mainly jellylike and chewy but none of that wow factor unlike some big brands (I won’t tell you where my boba loyalties lie, because some of you might fight me ;)).
However, for the price you pay, this is worth a try if want something different from the usual!
12. Snap never-ending cute Instagrammable spots all over the mall for your social media feed!
Another reason why this mall is so unlike the regular malls in JB! No, none of that boring list of chain outlets, big fashion brands, high end luxury brands, fast fashion, fast food… you name it, why should we visit another mall in JB that reminds us of those in Singapore and KL?!
Besides all the interesting shops and features I’ve listed, you can find random spots in the mall where you can exercise your Insta-creativity!
There’s even a blackboard with coloured chalk available that you can use to doodle on the wall! How fun is that?! Your kids would absolutely love it – which child doesn’t enjoy drawing on the wall? Plus, this time, they won’t be yelled at but rather encouraged! 😉
13. Let your kids lose themselves in fun and games indoors!
I saw that kids were super excited when they saw this life-sized bus model where they can take turns ‘driving’ this huge bus! Right beside it, they can embark on a giant game of Snakes and Ladders with a corresponding huge dice. Not to mention a hopscotch spot!
Time to get them to put away their gadgets and have fun with one another in real life like how kids should!
Sometimes, kids-friendly events like this colouring programme would be organised in the park too!
14. Challenge yourself (and your kids) to rock climbing and skate park
Curious about rock climbing? Now you can try it out for free at Toppen (just deposit required for harness and shoes)! There’s even a mini version for kids!
Skater teens and youths would love the skate park here too, where they can challenge themselves with the various slopes. And when they are done, book one of these multipurpose courts for a ball game with them and their friends!
*Minimum age of 4 years old required for kids’ rock climbing
15. Watch affordable movies at TGV Cinemas!
Now how can we miss going to the cinema across the causeway when it’s much cheaper (even on weekends!)? Resist the urge to catch the latest premieres in Singapore and wait till you’re taking your much-needed JB day trip or weekend break!
TGV Cinemas at Toppen Shopping Centre comes with a new INDULGE Lounge where you can chill at while waiting for your movie too. We’re always on a hunt for good deals ourselves, so how can we say no to affordable luxury (which simply means making your money’s worth!)?
What I love about Toppen Shopping Centre is that not only does it house so much fun and entertainment, but it’s also very eco-friendly (and come on, we must admit that green malls are pretty uncommon in both Singapore and Malaysia)!
The mall aims to be more energy efficient, as compared to most others, by harnessing energy from the solar panels installed on the roofs. And with its open concept, it uses natural lighting as well, while adjusting lighting and power accordingly using their Intelligent Building Management System. Rainwater is even collected to be reused in the mall!
JB is so happening nowadays. Tag all your makan and shopping buddies for this weekend’s trip down!