Johor Jaunts To Makan

Johor Jaunts To Makan

When I take a short road trip across the causeway, I strategise carefully to maximise the non-stop eating opportunities.
Veronica Phua
Veronica Phua

If you crave roasted meats when you are in Johor, @kangbeehong_1993 is worth checking out. They have a few branches around so just use google map to find which is the closest to wherever you are.
I am a fan of “siew yoke” (roasted pork belly), so it’s a no-brainer that theirs is what I like the most but their deep red coloured, charcoal-roasted, smoky “char siew” is very popular too. You should definitely ask for the half-fat-half-lean cut for maximum enjoyment.
What I also like about this Malaysian casual restaurant brand is the myriad of ways which you can enjoy their different meats (by the way, they also have chicken and duck). For example, you can choose to have it on your preferred noodles (I had mine on curry “horfun”) or with rice. And for the latter, there is plain or chicken rice-style to select. On top of that, you can also order wanton or “shui gao” soups, stirfried vegetables (the tapioca leaves we had that day was enormously flavourful!) and other items.

This stall has probably the widest variety of Malaysian-style Nasi Lemak I have ever come across. Initially, the elderly lady seller eyed me with suspicion when I was shooting my video but warmed up the moment I started ordering from her. Honestly, I wanted to tell to pack for me one of every permutation she sold: Petai (stinky bean), Otak-otak, Udang (prawn) Ikan (fish), Telor (egg), Ayam (chicken), Chicken Meat Loaf (which I think is similar to chicken luncheon meat) and a couple of others I didn’t catch the details of. But I managed to rein in my greed and sensibly settled for just the Petai and the Ikan. Couldn’t resist unwrapping the former on the spot to dig in. Although it was at room temperature, the Nasi Lemak was every bit as tasty as I’d hoped. The loose grains of rice were fragrant and moist, while the sambal was spicy and savoury with a hint of sweet. Of course the succulent crunch of the fat slivers of “stinky beans” added a lot to my enjoyment too.

Where the crowds are, there is a high chance the food is going to be good. We applied this logic when we happen to walk past “Grandma Ong” in Bukit Indah, Johor, and were very pleased with the noodles we had.
My order was a small bowl of the hand-torn “mee hoon kueh” prepared dry-style. The pieces of al dente noodles were tossed in a dark sauce and came with plenty of “gao kee chye” (wolfberry leaves), handmade minced pork balls, springy fishballs and beef balls, crispy “ikan bilis” (dried anchovies) and fried shallots. What elevated this dish from tasty to ridiculously tasty was the super spicy “sambal belachan”. Laced with fresh lime, its refreshing brightness works remarkably well with the noodles. Furthermore, the eatery has another condiment I can never get enough of - the local variety of small green aromatic chillies that I seem to come across only in Malaysia nowadays. You can bet I spammed my bowl with those too.
My set meal which included a drink and a side dish of “ngor hiang” (five-spice fried meat roll) cost me just RM11.50 (about SG$3.80).
Here’s some info about Grandma Ong. According to the signs on display around the eatery, they have been around since 1999. One of the staff also shared with us that they have several outlets around Johor. So if you happen to spot one when you are in Malaysia, I recommend dropping in to try their food.

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I can’t say last night’s meal at Restoran Chua Kee in Gelang Patah, wow-ed me the way it has on previous occasions but in all honesty, and sorry if it sounds harsh but it still beat many of the generic “zi char” stalls scattered around Singapore.
The “wok hei” in the White Seafood Beehoon was less “parfum” and more “eau de toilette” but I was placated by the fluffily-fried noodle strands and generosity of prawns and egg.
My favourites were the XXL Black Pepper Crab in a strangely addictive tar-like sauce and the Clam Soup which clearly, nurtured a meaningful relationship with a bunch of aromatics.
The bill of the above spread for 7 of us, including the Clam Soup and Cereal Prawns that arrived a few minutes after I took the photo, came to slightly under SGD$20 each.

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Located in Tebrau area in Johor Bahru, this beef specialty stall is run by the 62-year-old boss, his wife and daughter. The business was set up by his dad when he was only 13.
We ordered the dry noodles with everything as recommended by my brother-in-law. The narrow ribbons of “kway teow” are tossed in a dark sauce and topped with plenty of crispy garlic and pork lard. Accompanying it is a big bowl with two kinds of their made-fresh-daily beef balls (one contains only beef while the other, both tripe and beef), braised chunks of beef and cow stomach (Price: 12 Ringgit). They do a good chilli dip too.
The version of beef noodles here is completely unlike the ones you find in Singapore but is worth trying as it is nice in its own way.
Admittedly, I am not a fan of beef balls in general so the meat and stomach were more suited to my taste. But truth be told, what left me with the deepest impression was the noodles.

Address: Tebrau No. 169, Jalan Keris 1 Taman Sri Tebrau, Johor, Taman Sri Tebrau 80050 Johor Bahru, Johor, Malaysia.

Lunched here based on a recommendation from a lady whose taste I trust and we were more than satisfied. The dishes weren’t too oily and the flavours were on point.
One of my must-orders when I’m at any “zi char” places in Johor is Curry Fish Head (RM33), and theirs had a fragrant, spicy gravy that wasn’t too thick, so I found it easy to slurp without guilt creeping in.
We also got a Bittergourd Omelette (RM8) and Stirfried “Qing Long Chye” (RM10) and they turned out to be cooked perfectly too.
Their Prawn Mee (RM18) was almost identical to Singapore’s Fried Hokkien Prawn Mee except it was of a wetter style. I liked that the gravy wasn’t too starchy or thick, and it was wonderfully saturated with the sweetness of pork and prawn stock. When the accompanying savoury sambal was stirred in, the rich-tasting noodles got a little kick of spicy oomph that made me gobble it down all the quicker.
Our total bill for the above including three plates of plain rice and a pot of “Pu Erh” tea came to just shy of RM80 (roughly SGD26). That’s dirt cheap if you compare it to what we usually pay in Singapore.

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While driving back from Johor Bahru to Singapore, we stopped by Bestari Terrace. Though not very big, this area is quite unique as the buildings are constructed from containers and house quite a few small F&B businesses.
@little_bear_dessert_shop was the one that caught our eye as it faces the road and has a huge cute bear on display. They happened to be also handing out free samples of their softserve. After trying the Thai Milk Tea flavour, we decided to get it in the adorable bear-shaped pastry cup (for that, we kept it simple by opting for the original version instead of matcha, chocolate or charcoal).
Freshly made to order, the bear cup was cake-like at its base where it’s thicker, and crunchy at the edges. It was fragrant in an eggy way and paired well with the intense Thai Milk Tea soft serve. Pretty good for 17 Ringgit.

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Returned for the umpteenth time to have their steamed pomfret because theirs always taste remarkably fresh regardless of the preparation style.
Admittedly though, the style with light soya sauce and an abundance of fried garlic slices and dried red chillies is what I gravitate to time and time again.

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This musical sounding dish is an Esarn (North Eastern Thai) style of spicy green papaya salad that contains salted crab and fermented Thai fish sauce.
Yes, it’s a little pungent but assuming you are like me and delight in potent umami flavours, you should find it highly appetite-whetting.

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A random pick of eateries led us to this gem specialising in Esarn (North Eastern Thai) cuisine.
We demolished this pile of “Fried Chicken Wings Marinated in Thai Herbs“ in no time.
They’re insanely aromatic and those curls of deepfried basil leaves were as addictive as the wings, if not more.

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We really liked the home-style cooking at this air-conditioned eatery in Bukit Indah, Johor. The three of us ordered a total of five dishes for our early lunch: pomfret steamed with dried chillies and garlic, stir-fried bittergourd with roasted pork belly, a preserved radish omelette, onions with anchovies plus a dish of braised tofu, "taupok" and egg. They all tasted fresh and delicious. Apart from the bittergourd, the rest seemed quite healthy without excessive oil or salt.
Needless to say, the favourable SGD-MYR exchange rate prompted the affordable pricing to be even more attractive. Our bill, inclusive of two bowls of rice and three drinks, came to MYR94 (about SGD30).

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Actually I wasn't craving for a Llao Llao but since a small serving plus one topping costs only RM10.90 (about SG$3.50, so it's $1.40 less than in Singapore), I thought I might as well get one.
And it was great! Unlike a couple of outlets in Singapore which seemed to have forgotten it's meant to be FROZEN yogurt, this was top notch. It didn't melt at the F1 speed that those did.
What's more, the Lotus Caramelised Biscuit sauce I chose to try for the first time today, was scrumptious!

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