Sunday, 4 August 2013
Johor Seafood at Restoran Todak in Telok Jawa, Masai, Johor Bahru
Restoran Todak is one of the most popular seafood places in Johor Bahru. At Restoran Todak, the crowd starts to stream in and fill out the tables fast from about 6:30pm onwards.
Restoran Todak has a pretty sea view, nice sea breeze, and quite charming ambiance. Those cranes in the background are from the shipyard in Sembawang, Singapore.
Restoran Todak was full house as usual during our visit on a Saturday evening. Fortunately, the steady, cooling sea breeze kept the atmosphere very comfortable.
Late comers have to stand and wait for other customers to finish their dinner - like any popular food centre in Singapore!
Besides the charming experience of eating on a wooden platform on stilts over the lapping waves, one of the main draws of Todak restaurant is that all their seafood are sold live.
A too-beautiful-to-eat lobster destined for the wok in a few moments.
Most people come to Todak for their crabs. Uncle weighing the crabs. Those stacks of Styrofoam boxes in the background are filled with crabs.
OK, let's get down to dinner.
Our dinner got off to a great start with Todak's clams (RM10). I like this simple dish.
Fresh juicy clams tossed in savoury sauce. Best to eat this hot as the sauce tasted quite salty once it cooled down.
The curry prawns (RM24) was likable and the favourite of one of our kakis. The live prawns were cooked in sambal gravy thickened with evaporated milk. If you like pungent, robust flavours you will like this curry.
Plump, juicy, firm, sweet prawns. Perfect.
The crayfish looked dry and were like an untidy pile of lumpy brown stones. Not an appetising sight and I smelled no aroma while it was lying there on the table. (RM70 per kilo.)
The crayfish flesh was quite dry and more or less flavourless.
Todak's chili crab was the winner of the day for all of us. Not the best chili crab gravy that I've tasted but still pretty good. A little heavy handed on salt and just mildly spicy.
The local crabs are caught right here in the mangroves of Masai. The homegrown crabs are not very big - mostly 300 to 350 grams, and rarely 500 grams each. But, they are usually meaty and their firm, bouncy flesh is naturally sweet. At RM38 per kilo, they are really value for money.
I like these mantous (buns) because they are not oily at all. Slightly firm and dense but they do a decent job of picking up the chili crab gravy.
Our large crabs from Sabah at RM90 per kilo, cooked with salted egg yolk. Not quite enough salted egg yolk was used to create that savoury, caramel-like sauce of good salt egg yolk crabs.
The impressive looking pincer of Mr. BIG.
The Sabah crabs were not as meaty as their size suggests. Next time, we shall take a little more care in choosing our crabs. There are signs of meaty crabs e.g. harder shells, firmer bellies, more worn pincers, and heavier etc.
Remember to ask for this contraption for breaking open the crab pincers. It works really well. This is the pincer of a local crab - so, the local boys are not underweight midgets by any means :)
The coconut at RM4.50. Refreshing and the lucky ones among us got coconuts with delicious soft meat.
Our bill. There were 5 of us, so it worked out to RM60 per person.
Overall, Todak was a positive experience.
Service is surely not fine dining but it was actually good. The service staff will help you locate an empty table in the full house restaurant. Our orders came pretty fast, with everything in within 30 minutes, which is a minor miracle if you saw how packed the restaurant was. Peeking through the kitchen window, it looked like a battlefield inside. Frenetic movements, sudden flashes of light and fire, sounds of clanking iron, barking orders - hope I get a chance to be inside that kitchen one day :)
For me, one visit is definitely not enough to really know this fascinating restaurant. I will be back many more times to have a deeper understanding of one of the most popular seafood restaurants in Johor.
We left at nearly 9:00pm and Todak restaurant was still packing in customers.
As we get back into the car, we were discussing a crab degustation feast of the RM38 per kilo local crabs cooked in all the different styles at Todak. Highly recommended :)
Restaurant name: Restoran Todak
Address: 1, Kampung Orang Asli, Telok Jawa, Masai, Johor Baru
Hours: 11:30am to 11:30pm
Parking: In vacant plot in front of restaurant. Parking can be very tight during peak hours.
No pork, no lard, no Halal cert
Date visited: 3 Aug 2013