I've heard a lot about this tiny tze char (literally "cook and fry" in Hokkien) stall called Pelangi City 彩虹城 in Taman Serene food centre. Pelangi City may be a tiny tze char stall in a small food centre in a quieter part of JB, but it has a huge reputation. My Johor foodie friends raved about Pelangi City tze char and KF Seetoh of Makansutra featured it in his popular "Food Surprise" television series.
The owner MR Choong who is originally from Ipoh had been running tze char stalls for over twenty years. MR Choong is very warm and humble, and is genuinely interested in customer feedback, even though his tze char is already one of the best in JB. Even though he was very busy running the crammed kitchen alone, he observed and paid attention to how customers were receiving his food. With MR Choong's passion for continuous improvement, I am sure that Pelangi City's already very good tze char will be getting ever better all the time.
Pelangi City's clientele is an interesting mix. I saw many young workers who worked in Singapore, swinging by in their motorbikes to pick up their dinner on their way home after a long, tiring day. At the same time, there were customers who pulled over in their luxury German sedans and sat down on those cheap plastic stools at Taman Serene food centre to enjoy Pelangi City's tze char.
The menu board and price list at Pelangi City
There are many tze char dishes on Pelangi City's menu, including MR Choong's famous curry fish head. As I was alone, I requested for MR Choong's fried Hokkien mee.
MR Choong graciously allowed me to photograph him in action in the busy kitchen. The riotous action was fast, furious and super heated. There were leaping flames and tongues of fire - an impressive display of wok hei or literally wok breath in Cantonese. And, it wasn't a show put up for the camera. I was already in awe, watching the balls of fire and how MR Choong danced between the fiery woks and pots while I sat outside, and before uttering my first word to MR Choong.
This Hokkien mee was super piping hot. After I snapped my usual photographs, I took the first mouthful and it was still so hot that it burned the roof of my mouth! (My makan kakis know how I always took my time to make sure I got the best photos. Usually taking long enough for the food to turn cold, to their dismay.)
MR Choong's Hokkien mee was savoury and tasty, and also wetter and sweeter than the famed KL variety.
Simple ingredients - pork slices, shrimps, cabbage and noodles
MR Choong's which is the style of Hokkien mee found in JB, also does not have the thick lard and lard crackles found in the KL version. I liked both the JB and KL versions.
The gracious MR Choong made me this fried grass fish for me to try. The deep fried grass fish was partially buried under a heap of fried preserved vegetables (tong chai).
If you want to show your friends that you know your Johor food, and if you want to see how a small, one man operation in a tiny kitchen can churn out big restaurant quality dishes, come to Pelangi City.
I shall be back for the curry fish head recommended by KF Seetoh and the fried baby sotong that my friend Kumes keeps telling me that I must try.
Restaurant name: Gerai Makanan Pelangi City 彩虹城
Address: Stall no. 11, Taman Serene Food Centre, Jalan Biru (opposite the famous San Low seafood restaurant), Johor Bahru
Hours: 6:00pm to midnight
Date visited: 9 Oct 2012
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