Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Top 10 Most Popular Everyday Food in Johor 2014 Edition


This Top 10 Most Popular Everyday Food list is created with the suggestions from fans of Johor Kaki Facebook page, Johor Yummy group and Johor Sedap (Halal) food group. This list of most popular daily staples is also based on my personal observations during blogging and interactions with Johor residents.

1. Nasi Lemak


Nasi lemak is a basic staple that is a perennial on any Malaysia Top 10 food list. Comes in various forms. Personally, I like those that come pre-packed with coconut flavoured rice, sambal chili, a small fried fish, slice of egg, a few fried peanuts and cucumber slices wrapped in banana leaves and paper. The flavours and aroma from all these humble ingredients and banana leaf blend together to create an affordable, tasty meal that is, I dare say, loved by nearly all. Other forms of nasi lemak come with lots of side dishes like rendang, fried chicken, sambal sotong and more.

2. Ayam Penyet


Ayam penyet originally from Indonesia is much loved here in Johor. The chicken thigh or breast is precooked in mildly spicy broth and left to cool. When an order is received, the piece of chicken is fried till crispy and golden brown. The piping hot chicken is given a smack of the mallet, or more often, the flat of a chopper before serving. Eaten with plain or oily rice and tempe, tofu and greens. I love ayam penyet which are crispy outside while juicy and tender inside. The spicy sambal is key to good ayam penyet. It has to be pulpy and made with several types of chilis with different levels of spiciness so that our tongue gets the evil sting that comes in alternating waves of pain and pleasure.

3. Roti Canai


Roti canai (or roti prata in Singapore) is an Indian staple deeply woven into the lives of Johoreans. Eaten from breakfast through lunch to supper, many Johoreans start or end their day with crispy roti canai and a spicy curry dip. In Malaysia, a dollop of spicy sambal chili is often added to the curry for those who want more kick on the taste buds. My favourite roti canai is "kosong" (plain) but the breads come with many fillings including cheese, banana and even strawberries. The traditional fillings are eggs, onions, mutton or chicken.

4. Mee Rebus


Mee rebus is a simple dish of boiled yellow noodles and  bean sprouts smothered in gooey savoury and sweet gravy. Mee rebus is common in Malaysia and Singapore, but Johor Bahru mee rebus is considered the best by their fans. There is no one type of Johor Bahru mee rebus, but variations by popular brands like Haji Wahid, Stulang, and ZZ mee rebus tulang. But, a common trait of popular mee rebus is a good heavy bodied, turmeric coloured gravy which is savoury, slightly sweet , mildly spicy and smells of lovely spice fragrance. In JB, many stalls will add in a lamb shank bone, complete with a drinking straw to suck up the savoury, fatty, smooth bone marrow, at additional cost.

5. Satay


Satay is one of the most loved dishes in Southeast Asia and Johor is no exception. The best satay is made with juicy, succulent pieces of meat well marinated with aromatic spices. It is expertly grilled over charcoal fire which sears in the rich flavours with a slightly charred, caramelised outer layer while the inside is still moist with sweet meat juices and spicy marinade. The best satay is eaten with a slightly coarse crushed peanuts and spicy sambal dip, and fragrant rice cakes wrapped and boiled in coconut leaves. Uniquely in Johor, satay is eaten all day in Muar and Batu Pahat, including as breakfast. 

6. Goreng Goreng


Goreng goreng or fried foods have a special place in Johor. From Malay outlets pisang goreng (fried bananas), sweet potatoes, yam, mushrooms, and tofu are popular. Uniquely in Johor, Malay style goreng goreng is eaten with kicap pedas, a spicy hot thick soy sauce and cut chili blended dip. I love eating crispy fried bananas with kicap pedas dip making it savoury, sweet and spicy hot. The Chinese outlets offer old school fried dough like yau cha kwai 油炸粿 and ham chim peng 咸煎餅. Other popular fried items are new year cakes and chempedak. Raising fast in popularity are fried durians.

7. Teochew Kway Teow Soup


Teochew kway teow thng 潮州粿条汤 is found in many places in Johor Bahru as the main Chinese dialect here is Teochew. (JB is often referred to as "Little Swatow".) The emphasis is on the freshest fish, prawns, oyster, pork and innards such as liver and kidneys in savoury pork bone broth. Canned abalone is a common ingredient. The broth and ingredients are served with kway teow either inside the broth itself ("soup" version) or tossed in an aromatic blend of lard, shallot oil, chili paste and soy sauce ("dry" version.)

8. Bak Kut Teh


Bak kut teh 肉骨茶 is a popular dish with locals and also with Singaporeans who cross the Causeway for a different style of Johor Bahru BKT. There is really no one style of JB BKT but different renditions by popular outlets like Soon Huat, Ah Soon, Bak Cheng, Hwa Mei and Sze Wah, each with their own loyal fans. In it's most basic form, BKT is just pork ribs cooked in a savoury herbal broth served together with hot Chinese black tea. The outlets have various variations adding belly pork, innards, mushrooms, fried tofu and herbs into the broth.

9. Kway Teow Kia


Kia Teow Kia 粿條仔 which is enjoyed like a minor luxury now has it's roots in leaner times where every piece of meat is treasured and appreciated. Kia teow kia is made with pork innards, head and skin, the lowest grade part of the animal. It has to be thoroughly cleaned to rid it of any odour and braised with herbs and spices to bring out the natural flavours of the meat. Nowadays, pricier belly pork is eaten together with the more humble cuts of meat. The name kway teow kia which literary means "small rice noodles" refers to the slurpingly smooth, narrow rice noodles served in braising sauce.

10. Wanton Mee


Wanton mee stalls are found in most kopitiams in Johor Bahru. The best wanton mee are made by owners who use only eggs and flour to create el dente noodles that are springy and crunchy. Some wanton noodles are made with duck eggs which are preferred for their more assertive flavour. The noodles are tossed in various variations of sauces. Some are mainly lard and soy sauce, some add chili into the lard and soy sauce, and yet others such as the Pontian style, further add in oyster sauce and tomato ketchup. The noodles are garnished with thin slices of char siew. In this aspect, Johor char siew is less appealing to me than the chunky slightly charred and heavily caramelised variety in KL. Wanton mee (of course) comes with a bowl of wantons in a clear soup with strips of chye sim (greens).

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  1. Hi Tony, Happy New Year 2014

    1. Thank you Philip. Happy new year to you too.

  2. thank you for being so passionate and keep up with the great blog! ;)


I firmly believe that taste is subjective and so, warmly welcome differing viewpoints :-D But, I disapprove negative comments that are anonymous or hide behind fake identities. I feel that that is the same as speaking ill of others behind their backs. I look forward to all your comments :-D Thank you. (Date: 18 Dec 2015)

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