Monday, 3 August 2015

Johor Bahru-Pontian-Pengerang Food Tour | 2 Days 1 Night with 8 Days Boutique Hotel JK1203

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We just enjoyed an exciting 2 Days 1 Night Johor food trail from JB to Pontian and Pengerang. We made up the itinerary as we go - it was a trail of exploration and discovery.

There are many good street food stalls in Johor, so there are infinite numbers of possible combinations of food trails. It all depends on personal taste buds and preferences. We had a basic plan but it was free and easy, and we were ready to switch plans anytime something else caught our fancy.

Anything goes as long as we enjoy delicious food and most importantly, strengthen our friendships and have plenty of fun.

Day 1

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Tua Thow off Jalan Tun Abdul Razak GPS: 1.484281,103.751953

After clearing immigration at the Johor Bahru CIQ, our first stop was at Tua Thow kopitiam. It's a popular breakfast pit stop for locals with a decades old kway teow soup stall and a mixed rice stall serving Teochew dishes like braised duck, tofu and also sio bak (roast pork belly with crispy skin).

This is a convenient place to get our kopi and teh, and get ourselves organised for the day ahead. (Driving tip: Slow down on Jalan Tun Abdul Razak, filter left once you pass the Esso station, otherwise you cannot enter the side lane).

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Guang Xing Long kopitiam in Bukit Indah GPS: 1.484699, 103.646758

Our second stop was 鼎记牛腩粉 Din Kee Beef Noodles inside Guang Xin Long kopitiam in Bukit Indah as Uncle Martin said he wants to must try the beef noodles.

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The delicious Hainanese style beef noodles with thick strips of tender beefy savoury sweet beef. We all love that beefy savoury sweet gravy smothering the noodles.

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Din Kee also serves Chinese herbal mutton soup which is delicious too.

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Fred doesn't take beef or mutton, so he had this hand made spinach noodles at the same kopitiam. So easy, there is always something for everyone :-D

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Restoran Tong at Taman Skudai Baru GPS: 1.502524,103.638818

Third stop was at Restoran Tong for Uncle Martin's favourite kampung chicken.

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Restoran Tong's chicken once brought tears to my good Hainanese friend's eyes ......  my classmate hasn't tasted this flavour since his childhood.

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Restaron Tong's popular Hainanese Eight Treasures 海南八寶菜 is available only on Sundays. Almost every table ordered this signature Hainanese dish and also the kampung chicken.

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With founder Ah Tong and second generation owner Kenny.

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After a whole morning of eating, we stopped by nearby Sutera Mall for some shopping and more importantly, to walk off some calories.

After the short break, we set off for the seaside town of Pontian via Pekan Nanas.

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On the way to Pekan Nanas, we pulled over for cendol at Mak Siti stall.

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I didn't fancy it that the "green pandan worms" and boiled red beans were quite sparse, and the ice were in large hard pieces - but the fresh rich coconut milk sweetened with gula Melaka and balanced with a sprinkle of salt was simply brilliantly addictive. Don't think of this as a dessert but as a cold drink, and it will be perfect. I doubt that I will ever be able to resist pulling over for this addictive drink whenever I pass by this spot again along the way to Pekan Nanas.

We drove pass Pekan Nanas and arrived at Pontian town about 45 minutes later.

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Another street side cendol stall, this time with traditional hand shaved ice by the seaside in Pontian. This stall was started by the stall holder's grandfather over fifty years ago.

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Zu Qiu Seafood Corner, Jalan Delima 3, Pontian GPS: 1.477491, 103.390166

Dinner in Pontian was at Zu Qiu Seafood Corner which is by the sea. We enjoyed every dish we had here.

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Dragon Green Vegetable 青龙菜 with bean sprouts.

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Fried kai lan greens with crispy tofu skin.

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Fried sotong.

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Salted egg yolk crab.

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Tao Yuan kopitiam at Jalan Sawah, Pekan Nanas GPS: 1.509694, 103.511188

Our last food stop for day 1 was the ikan bakar stall at Tao Yuan kopitiam in Pekan Nanas (which opens for dinner only).

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We ordered a 1 kilo plus grouper and had it cooked two ways. This is the "Teochew steamed 潮州蒸" half.

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The other half was cooked asam pedas style.

Both the steamed and asam pedas dishes were brilliant. The uber freshness of the grouper was discernible in both dishes.

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Tao Yuan's claim to fame is their grilled stingray with sambal chili but the stingrays were all sold out when we arrived at 6:30pm. Marked it down for a revisit ;-D

After the long day, we returned to Johor Bahru.

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8 Days Boutique Hotel at Jalan Impian Emas 5/2, GPS: 1.544003,103.684638

We stayed 1 night at 8 Days Boutique Hotel in Taman Impian Emas. 8 Days Boutique Hotel also has branches in Mount Austin and Permas Jaya.

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The simple room has a good spring mattress bed and all the essentials for a good night's rest for the next day's foodie adventures ;-D

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Seng Huat kopitiam at Jalan Gereja in Ulu Tiram GPS 1.599043,103.819706

Day 2

Our first stop on Day 2 was Seng Huat kopitiam in Ulu Tiram for wild boar soup which is available only on Sunday mornings.

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The large pieces of wild boar meat with bones were cooked in a mildly peppery broth (similar to that used in pork stomach soup). The soup has a thicker body due to melted collagen from the wild boar skin. The broth was not overly greasy and it was highly drinkable - I drank it up to the last drop.

The meat was cooked till tender but the skin still had a nice bouncy spring. It's not that different in taste and flavour from domesticated farm raised pigs but it has the nice novelty appeal of game meat.

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Kiang Kee bak kut teh, near Kota Tinggi (on highway to Mersing) GPS: 1.827987 103.958637

Our second stop on Sunday is the famed Kiang Kee bak kut teh. It's slightly over an hour's drive from Ulu Tiram towards Mersing.

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It was full house when we arrived here at around 10:00am on Sunday morning.

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The bak kut teh broth was gently savoury sweet with slight herbal notes all in good balance. The fresh pork with fats attached were tender and juicy with nice porcine flavours. Well worth the Sunday morning drive for a change of pace and scenery, culminating in a delicious hearty reasonably priced brunch. Obviously many hundreds are here with exactly the same idea ;-p

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Sungai Rengit town square GPS: 1.350000, 104.221865

After our sumptuous bak kut teh brunch at Kiang Kee, we took an over hour long drive to Sungai Rengit, Johor's famous lobster town in Pengerang.

Sungai Rengit is a tiny town on Johor's south eastern shore famous for the spiny lobsters that live just off it's coast.

We roamed around the streets (there are only two) of quaint little Sungai Rengit town looking for street food.

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Stumbled upon uncle selling durians off the back of his Cub Cai (Honda Cub motorbike) along the tiny short main street Jalan Besar, in Sungai Rengit town. They were "kampung" durians from the two trees at uncle's own home.

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This was no Mao Shan Wang by any means (nor did it for even one moment pretended to be). But, it's authenticity brings it's own priceless kind of fun and pleasure, and that is all that matters.

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It was a scorching hot day, so we stopped for cold dessert at every opportunity.

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I love the spontaneity and warmness of Malaysia small town folk.

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Simple, delicious crispy fried prawn cakes with pumpkin and fresh shrimps. Available only on Sunday, along Jalan Besar.

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Live lobsters delivered kicking and screaming (if we could hear them), straight from the trappers to the kitchen. This is a scene we may soon be seeing less due to offshore petrochemical developments near Pengerang.

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Dropped by to visit my friend Stanley whom I first met 3 years ago. His restaurant Straits View is restructured - it doesn't specialise in seafood anymore but deals in mixed home style dishes and catering at the moment. Stanley obligingly cooked two live lobsters for us as a friendly gesture (we paid RM180 per kilo for them).

After eating the obligatory lobsters at Sungai Rengit, we proceeded back to Johor Bahru via the Senai-Desaru Expressway (E22).

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Ship (FPSO Opportunity) in Sungai Johor, now a "landmark" of sorts whenever I pass this spot using the imposing Sungai Johor Bridge on E22 :-D

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Our final shopping stop for this trip was at JUSCO Tebrau City, which is the largest shopping mall in Johor Bahru.

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Restoran Sing in Permas Jaya GPS: 1.496931,103.813451

Our last food stop was at Restoran Sing in Permas Jaya for lok lok.

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There are nearly 100 different types of food such as innards, chicken, pork, seafood, and vegetables on skinny wooden (satay type) skewers.

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Take your pick and hand over the plate with your pile of food to the staff who will cook it for you and deliver it to your table. The grilled, deep fried or boiled food is eaten with 4 different types of dipping sauces, from sweet to ultra spicy.

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The clay pot dishes at Restoran Sing are also delicious. We were all wowed by the robust yet well balanced flavours of the soupy gravy used to cook the sea fresh and well cleaned la la (clams). None of us detected any sand at all - just sweetness, slight ginger spiciness, ocean brininess and a hint of Chinese cooking wine, all in exquisite harmony.

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Thumbs up.

It was a quite tiring two days of travelling and eating, but all of us enjoyed ourselves every much. We were already discussing plans for the next trip before this tour had even ended.

After our delicious lok lok dinner the group returned to Singapore.

Bulb

Idea: If you are celebrating a birthday, anniversary, graduation etc why not celebrate it with an interesting food trail adventure together? Parties are passé, no? How about corporate team building with a short getaway and bond over good food together? If you are interested in an innovative food trail adventure for your event, discuss it with William. He is contactable at email williamyap@8dayshotel.com.

More information about the places we visited in the itinerary:


Restoran Tua Thow <- click

Din Kee Beef Noodles <- click
Restoran Tong <- click
Zu Qiu Seafood Corner <- click
Kiang Kee bak kut teh <- click
Restoran Sing <- click
8 Days Boutique Hotel <- click.

Dates visited: 1 and 2 Aug 2015


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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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