Tuesday, 24 December 2013
Top 10 Unique Johor Foods which Visitors Must Try - 2014
This post is dedicated mainly to guests of Johor. I asked friends of Johor Kaki Blog, Johor Sedap group, and Johor Yummy group for suggestions. Many friends responded with many interesting suggestions.
After many rounds of discussions, these 10 foods are chosen for their uniqueness to Johor. These are the types of food which visitors who have not tried them before leaving Johor will regret when they got home :P
1. Laksa Johor
Laksa Johor is truly a unique dish found nowhere else. The gravy is thick, almost like a paste, made with a blend of herbs, spices and ground fish like ikan parang or ikan tenggiri. The uniqueness of Laksa Johor is that instead of the usual noodles or bee hoon, spaghetti is used. (Yes, the Italian pasta.) This unique East-West fusion was created by Sultan Abu Bakar of Johor who during his visit to Italy over a 100 years ago fell in love with spaghetti and ordered his palacce chef to make laksa with it. Get Laksa Johor here.
2. Mee Rebus
Mee rebus can be found outside of Johor but the Hj Wahid and tulang style of mee rebus originate in Johor. The gravy is the soul of mee rebus as the noodles are just ordinary yellow mee. Hj Wahid's gravy is thick and heavy yet not starchy. It is savoury, peanutty, slightly sweet and mildly spicy from the curry spices. The mee rebus is given a dash of kicap (dark soy sauce) and vinegar before serving. The tulang version comes with a lamb shank bone. Mee rebus tulang gravy has the gaminess of lamb which mutton fans love. Fans of shank bone mee rebus will suck up the warm savoury bone marrow with a drinking straw. Get Johor mee rebus here.
3. Mee Bandung Muar
Mee bandung Muar has nothing to do with the Indonesian city of Bandung, but is a Muar original. The popular dish consists of yellow noodles smothered in a thick grainy, robustly flavoured gravy of dried shrimps, fresh shrimps, beef, squid, eggs, chili and curry spices. The Malay word "bandung" in this case means "paired or mixed". MBM can be found all over Malaysia and Singapore, but the best are said to be in it's birth place, Muar. Get mee bandung Muar here.
4. Otak Otak Muar
Otak otak is common in Malaysia and Singapore, but the Muar version is highly sought after because it is solidly packed with fresh mackerel fish flavoured with chili, curry spices and rich coconut milk. The flaky bits of fish meat have a good bouncy bite. While in other places, otak otak is made with narrow strips of coconut leaves, otak otak Muar comes in thick slabs wrapped in banana leaves. Get otak otak Muar here.
5. Kway Teow Kia
Kway teow kia refers to the small, flat kway teow rice noodles served mainly with braised pork innards. In Johor, the mainly Teochew style braising sauce is light-medium bodied, mildly herbal and delightfully savoury from cooking the innards till they are tender. The innards like intestines are often served together with braised belly pork, skin, ears, blood curd, and tongue. Some kway teow kia stalls also sell braised duck, chicken feet, tofu and eggs along with braised pork. Get kway teow kia here.
6. Sungai Rengit Lobsters
Spiny lobsters thrive along the rocky shorelines of Pengerang and spawned many seafood restaurants in Sungai Rengit town (near Desaru), also known as Lobster Town. Spiny lobsters have a unique refreshing flavour and a firm springy mouth feel. Sungai Rengit restaurants cook the lobsters in a variety of ways - the most popular being bathed with "superior broth" or coated with buttery batter and deep fried. We can also have the lobsters shashimi style. Get Johor lobsters here.
7. Pontian Wanton Mee
The Pontian style of wanton mee has spawned franchises all over Malaysia and Singapore. Meanwhile, the original Pontian wanton mee stalls (which have no links with the franchises that bear it's name) plod on in Pontian, the way they have always been for the past decades. In most aspects, Pontian wanton mee is similar to their cousins elsewhere except for its unique sauce. The blend of tomato ketchup, chili paste, oyster sauce, dark soy sauce and lard produces a tangy, spicy, savoury sauce that some will die for while others are indifferent to. Love it or hate it, Pontian wanton mee is uniquely Johor. Get Pontian wanton mee here.
8. San Lou Bee Hoon
San Lou bee hoon 三楼炒米粉 is a unique dish invented in Johor Bahru. It is really a variation of the ordinary fried bee hoon executed with mastery of wok fire 鑊氣 that makes it special. San Lou bee hoon is presented flattened and the outer caramelised layer of the bee hoon is slightly charred. Overall, the bee hoon is dry but not stringy. San Lou bee hoon tastes savoury as it is fried in seafood broth with small pieces of shrimps, squid, lean pork, eggs and choy sum (green vegetable). The inner bee hoon strands retain a little moistness from the seafood broth it is fried in. Get San Lou bee hoon here.
9. Cathay Laksa
Cathay laksa is a well known version of laksa originated in Johor. The broth is based on stock made by boiling anchovies and soy bean. In the early days (1920s), the pioneering Cathay laksa hawkers went to the Indian spice shops along Jalan Trus to buy their Indian curry spices for laksa. The same spices are used to this day. Cathay laksa is served with fried fish balls made with ikan parang, freshly shelled cockles, and fried freshly made tofu, and fried tofu skin. Cathay curry laksa broth is savoury, light (as it uses coconut milk moderately) and mildy spicy. Get Cathay laksa here.
10. Johor Home Grown Coffee
Johor long has a thriving coffee culture with it's own character and flavours. Today, old school Nanyang kopitiams (coffee shops) co-exist with trendy espresso bar cafés. Of note, several Johor coffee shops are fully integrated, meaning, they have their own plantations growing their own coffee beans, processing facilities, through to cafés all in Johor. Examples of fully integrated Johor coffee shops are My Liberica, Kopi 434, Rengit Coffee, and others. Enjoy a cuppa of Johor's home grown flavours be it in an old school kopitiam or a trendy café. Get Johor coffee here. My hipster cafe hopping guide in Jay Bee here.
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