Saturday, December 3, 2016

Day Trip on a Weekend to Johor Bahru

Getting to Johor Bahru By Public Transport (requires patience aplenty)

Great if you drive, but if you don't then there's lots of public transport going in. We went via bus #950 from Woodlands Temporary Bus Interchange. This will bring us to Woodlands CIQ (Checkpoint) where passengers will disembark and go through the Singapore Customs. Yes, there was a traffic jam on the way in and that stole about half an hour away. Upon clearing the immigration, proceed to take original bus or whichever bus that you fancy to bring you across the Causeway. (ps: the queue for the bus was really really long...)

Then, we paid another $1 (cash) to board the smiley bus (yellow) CW1 which will then bring us across the causeway to Johor CIQ. Again, there was alot of people going into JB that day and we spent another 40 minutes to await our turn to get through the Malaysian customs.

Please note that there's no toilet at the Johor CIQ after you've cleared the customs. Nearest washroom would be at City Square mall. There's money changer and you could also get local data SIM card there too. Digi is offering 1GB of data and able to make local calls at RM10. Adequate for 5 hours of usage and kept us connected during our day trip there. Just remember to restart your phone after the installing the SIM card.

bus ticket issued to travel to JB Customs

All in all, allocate about 2 to 2.5 hours to travel from Singapore to Johor Bahru inclusive of clearing the customs on a Saturday morning.

After which, just follow the link bridge to City Square Mall to start shopping or to hop onto a cab to bring you to your next destinations.

1st Stop: Tai Chiang Coffee Shop Saleng (沙令大眾茶餐廳)

Address: 7 Jalan Jelawat, Taman Saleng Jaya, Senai, Johor, Malaysia

What is it

An old school coffeeshop that serves up eggs and toast nanyang-style (think soft-boiled eggs and charcoal grilled toast), good ol-kopi, hainan chicken rice, fried kway teow and yong tao fu.

kampong chicken soft-boiled eggs (RM1 per egg)
looking good
kopi @RM1.80 and kaya butter toast @RM1 per piece
fried kway teow (干炒河粉)@RM5

There were a lot of uncles and aunties enjoying their weekend breakfast there. Wanted to order char kway teow (those with seahums) but ended up with a plate of fried hor fun. Haha! But it turned out to be quite good. Enjoyed our breakfast there especially those who ordered the organic kampong chicken eggs.

The chicken rice looked promising with its chunky 'white' chicken but a customer whispered to our ears and said that the chicken was a tad rough for that day so we ended up not ordering any.

Was supposed to try wild boar meat on our next stop but unfortunately, it wasn't open at the time that we wanted to go. Plus, it was drizzling so decided on bak kut teh for lunch instead.

2nd Stop: Shoon Huat Bak Kut Teh 顺发肉骨茶

Address: No. 11, Jalan Sutera 1, Taman Sentosa, Johor Bahru 80150

What is it

It's a curious place. It looks like it has a cafe-front that also sells local products like heong peah (biscuits), chinese new year cookies and coffee packs. It even has cold-press fruit juice! But the back of this shop, is where one could order the bak kut teh.

One pax pot is priced at RM14 while a 4-pax pot is priced at RM56. We took the 4-pax pot and added everything on their menu except kidney since we ordered a pot each of kidney and chicken in ginger and wine sauce.

bak kut teh @RM86

chicken in ginger wine sauce @RM15

The bak kut teh here is leaning towards the peppery variant instead of the herbal variant. The soup was pleasantly mild. Loved the ginger wine claypot chicken. Such tender bouncy meat and a slightly sweetish sauce with a tinge of chinese wine taste. Great sauce to go with the steamed rice.

3rd Stop: 7 Oaks Bakery Cafe

Address: 134, Jalan Serampang, Taman Tebrau Jaya, 80400 Johor Bahru, Johor, Malaysia


What is it

A rather opulent looking bakery-cafe with interesting facade and decoration. It sure has very pretty looking cakes. The dining area is at Level 2 and it has its own lift too. The view at the balcony is pretty nice too but unfortunately, that's also the smoking area.


One chooses the cakes either from Level 1 or 2, make payment and the staff will serve them when you are seated. All the tiny pretty looking cakes were retailing for RM14.70. P&P, pricey and pretty.

D'Or @RM14.70++
Mango Charlotte and Lavender @RM14.70++ each

Taste wise, we enjoyed the gelee like skin of the D'Or and Lavender. The Mango Charlotte was ruined by the mango toppings which had a flavour that wasn't agreeable to us.

Salted Egg Croissant
salted egg lava @RM6.90++

"It didn't flow." We were saddened.

That was the reaction and we thought it was because the lava had hardened when the pastry had cooled down. So, off it went for a reheat and it turned out the same. Nevertheless, the croissant was adequately flaky and buttery with the salted egg yolk fillings having a custard-like texture.

Sparkling water "Rossa" @RM9.50++

4th Stop: Lavender (Flagship Store)

Address: 64/66/68, Jalan Serampang, Taman Pelangi, 80400 Johor Bahru, Johor, Malaysia
Contact: +6 07 335 9966, +6 07 339 1333 
Business Hours: 9am-10pm daily

What is it

As this place is nearby 7 Oaks, plus it has the much raved about cheesecake by Tiara and Ivan, hence, it became a must-visit place with a mission to purchase the cheesy goodies.

The flagship store is huge! There was a nice guard who opened the door and welcomed the guests with a smile. Wow!

inside the shop
The shop has counters to display the cakes, tarts and also the usual shelves to display the daily bakes. So many variety and one getst that feeling needing to buy this, that and well, almost everything! Interesting much!

cheese tarts

For tourists, you may want to purchase individual items and try it at their cafe with a cup of coffee before deciding what to buy back. We tried the hanjuku cheese cake, cheese tart and also the nama chocolate cake.

Nama Chocolate Cake @RM16.90

Made a mistake of taking a big big bite of the Nama Chocolate cake. As its namesake suggests, the texture of nama chocolate which in a way had sort of a dense texture once it gets into your throat. Hence, savour this cake/chocolate slowly. Velvety smooth and not too sweet. One cake is shareable by 4 to 6 pax.

Hanjuku Cheesecake @RM3.80 per piece
If you think about it, RM3.80 for a tiny weeny piece of cheesecake that can be finished in 2-small bites is really expensive. After conversion, this is about SGD1.25 apiece. But, it was really good. So soft, so cheesy, so enjoyably sweet. You can purchase this in a box of 4 or 6 pieces and can be kept for up to 5-days in the fridge.

Even more exhorbitant pricing, was the Hanjuku Cheese Tart at RM6 per piece! Smaller than Prima Deli's cheese tart, I think. This version has a crisp crust and the same cheese as the cheesecake but a tad firmer. Amongst the group, some prefer this over the cheesecake.

Hanjuku Cheese Tart @RM6

5th Stop: Chua Kee Seafood Restaurant 蔡記海鮮樓

Address:Jalan Kacang Panjang, Gelang Patah, 81550 Gelang Patah, Johor, Malaysia
Contact: +60 12-761 0529
Business Hours: 11:30am to 11:00pm (closed on alternate Weds)

What is it

Seafood restaurant! Yay. This was what we needed as a finale for our day-trip to JB. And, the address amuses me. Jalan Kacang Panjang? Why, that's Long Bean Road! Hahahaha.

The restaurant has its own parking space which is at the opposite road. It was raining that evening and the parking lot road could get quite muddy. With nary a care to the price, we ordered away.

There's 6 of us and we ordered 8 dishes. Yup, that's our style!  As first-timers there, we ordered their signature dishes.

our dinner

We had a complete meal which had soup, vegetable, egg, meats, seafood and carbs.

Lala (Clams) Soup @RM18

The soup was an interesting milky coloured ginger clams soup with some wolfberries and lettuce in it. Comforting bowl to start off our dinner in the cold weather.

The butter chicken cubes were really tiny tiny deep-fried flour coated chicken with sweet savoury spicy sauce. Addictive like a crispy sweet-sticky popcorn chicken. 

Butter Chicken Cubes @RM18
Seafood Hor Fun @RM20

The seafood horfun has an interesting visual. Loaded with clams, some lean pork, fish cakes and prawns. The hor fun had good wok-hei, and you can't help but to scoop up some more after you've tasted this. Or, was it because we were hungry? Can't be, 'coz this was our fifth stop of that day!

Black Pepper Crab @RM132

The must-must order is really the seafood. The crab. We had two good sized crabs done in black pepper sauce style. Has a spicy kick and so shioks. The meat was fresh and sweet and not too firm. Lovely! Will come back for this.

it was a good meal

Thoroughly enjoyed the day with fellow foodies. My spend on that day was about SGD50 for a taste of the above.

Thank you Hence for getting us around JB, Tiara and Jen for the bus-trip company from SG to JB, and Kris, Tracy, Ivan and Justin for the makan recommendations and queuing up at Hiap Joo Bakery.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Exploring Hong Lim Food Center @ Upper Cross Street

Best to come during non-peak hours as the queue starts to form around 20 minutes before noon. By 12pm, the lunch crowd are all in. Or, anytime just right after 10am would be good for a leisurely breakfast. Nearest MRT would be Chinatown station. Along with Kris (@msginginly) and Jen (@jellylovefats), we had decided to order our foods from selected stalls at Level 2. Each of us picked one stall to order from. Jen's choice was the Outram Park Fried Kway Teow Mee (#02-17), Kris selected the Mee Siam from Sungei Road Trishaw Laksa (#02-66) and mine were fromTuck Kee Ipoh Sar Hor Fun (#02-40) and Ah Heng Curry Chicken Bee Hoon Mee (#02-57/58).

Be prepared to queue for about 20 to 40 minutes, depending on the popularity of the stall. On the weekday of our visit, the fried kway teow stall had the longest queue.

Outram Park Fried Kway Teow @$4.50
Fruit Juice Mee Siam with Crayfish @$6.00
Crayfish and Prawns Ipoh Sar Hor Fun @$8.00 (additional $1 for chicken shreds)
Ah Heng Curry Chicken Bee Hoon Mee @$4.50

The char kway teow was moist and carried the distinct flavour of lard. The cockles were fresh albeit a tad tiny. As usual, the char kway teow has a sweetish hint and that delightful smokey flavour.The fruit juice mee siam was refreshing and has an undiscernible taste that made one wonders which fruit(s) was used.

The strands of sar hor fun was smooth and the broth was pleasantly mild in flavour. Liked that the seafood was of a good size. Added some chicken shreds as that matches really well with the hor fun. Also liked that this plate of hor fun had some greens in it. A more balanced meal.

Ah Heng Curry Chicken Bee Hoon Mee has a comforting broth that wasn't spicy. Lots of taupok (fried beancurd skin), few pieces of fishcake and chicken breast meat. Had expected more from this bowl.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Nabe Seizan 鍋 @ Japan Food Town Wisma Atria

Nabe Seizan is the offshoot of Seizan, a 2-Michelin star establishment in Tokyo. While Seizan is a kaiseki restaurant, Nabe Seizan 鍋 specializes in Japanese hotpot. Its prices are rather steep and the staff informed that their strength is in the dashi. Other than that, Seizan also offers mabushi during lunch time. What's a mabushi? It's a variant of hitsumabushi which is an eel rice dish enjoyed 3-ways. For mabushi, it is other protein (usually beef) enjoyed two-ways; as it is and with dashi and condiment.

Currently, they are having Agu Pork Mabushi during weekday lunch only. Decided to give it a try since I was around the area. The Ohmi Wagyu beef mabushi is available everyday during lunch hour.


Discovered that the restaurant is pretty smallish but liked that the tables are adequately apart. There was only another table occupied during that day of visit. Service staff (non-Japanese) were earnest and friendly.

complimentary tea

It was only a short wait before the food was served.Was informed that the dashi is refillable.

Agu Pork Mabushi Set @$25++

Agu Pork

Agu Pork is Okinawan pork and is similar to kurobuta. The slivers of meat was deliciously tender and flavourful. Enjoyable as it is.

There was a small dish of curious paste and it tasted like chicken rice chili paste. Asked the staff about it and she mentioned that usually the sauce would be provided during dinner time to enjoy with the hotpot as a dip. Queried on whether the chili paste was requested by local customers but the staff clarified that it was actually concoted by their Japanese chef, Mr Yamamoto. Perhaps Chef Yamamoto was inspired by our chicken rice?

Chef Yamamoto 'chicken rice' chili paste

Next, one could enjoy the rice with the dashi. The soup was clear and lightly flavoured. Pleasantly mild and the chili paste helped to give a different dimension to the taste.

Style 2 - eaten with dashi

Topped up the lunch set with a dessert. It was a pudding dessert called wasanbon. While wasanbon refers to the fine grained sugar, the pudding has milk and fruits in it and topped with chopped white wine jelly.

wasanbon 和三盆 @$5++

The pudding was very likeable. Soft like tofu with reasonable sweetness. The fruits were pear and peach and the white wine jelly was good. The white wine jelly matches with the pudding.


Expect the spend about $30 to $50 per pax during lunch time and double of that during dinner time.

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