Owner Chef Bengemen invited me to visit his Western food restaurant Break Tea 舞茶 at Taman Molek.
Break Tea is a simply furnished, compact restaurant which is neat and clean. It is bright and comfortable inside the air conditioned restaurant.
Chef Bengemen and business partner Arwind have been running Break Tea for three years now.
Bengemen's is a familiar story, I've heard a few times before. Different people, same story.
Johor boy goes to KL, Singapore or beyond. No paper qualifications. Started at the bottom. Cleaning, cutting, lifting. Knocked down, got up stronger. Worked hard, learned fast, earned the respect of superiors, rise up the ranks in established restaurants, saved enough money, and returned to Johor to start their own business.
During the years when he was working for others, Bengemen spent 10% of his pay on self learning (mostly buying books) and most of his off duty hours experimenting with recipes.
For years, Bengemen did the grueling daily motor bike commute between JB and Singapore. Rain or shine, Bengemen showed up for work. When he had saved enough money, Bengemen returned to his hometown and started Break Tea.
Bengemen worked in the kitchens of Legend Hotel in KL, Fullerton Hotel in Singapore, and was Head Chef of Brewerkz at Clarke Quay for nearly a decade before coming home.
So, now in JB we can enjoy the fruits of Bengemen's years of experience. Small restaurants like Break Tea set up with the life savings of the likes of Bengemen are usually very modestly and simply set up. Often, it's in unpretentious eateries like these that we stumble upon delightful food, and at affordable prices :-D
Bengemen started us off with their popular Break Tea Salad with Soba Noodle (RM13.80+).
The soft soba noodles and slices of tender chicken breast are dressed with gentle sweet, savoury flavours. The fresh leafy greens, cherry tomatoes and sprinkle of sesame seeds complete the dish.
I like this salad and think it appeals especially to
Diablo King Prawn (RM26.80+).
I like the bright red, thick sourish, sweet, spicy, aromatic sauce. It's so addictive that I scooped up and cleaned up the diabolical sauce - I did not even spare the last reddish smudge clinging to the bottom of the bowl.
The sauce makes the crispy bread slathered with fresh basil pesto paste tastes great.
Casadia Chicken with Salsa (RM18.80+).
Tortilla filled with a sweet savoury blend of melted cheddar and mozzarella cheese, and chicken breast. Eaten with spritely, zesty sweet spicy fresh salsa of pulpy tomatoes and jalapenos (which gave the salsa a gentle lingering spicy sting).
Grilled Salmon with Cashew Nut (RM24.80+).
Break Tea's grilled salmon is served with a creamy sweet, nutty house blended sauce made with mayonnaise, sesame oil, sour cream, roasted crushed cashew nuts etc.
Break Tea Pork Knuckle with Sauerkraut (RM48.80+).
Break Tea's Pork Knuckle is made with pork imported from Germany. The meat and fat are cooked tender and juicy. The tender meat and fat taste sweet savoury, mainly a gentle sweetness. The skin is slightly crispy and mainly chewy. It also tastes slightly sweet.
Bengemen said his pork knuckle is tuned to the taste buds of his customers. It differs from the salty, slightly dryer meat and hard crackly skin usually served elsewhere. (Bengemen knows his pork knuckles - he was Head Chef of Singapore's Brewerkz.)
->> Break Tea is a humble eatery serving quality Western style dishes prepared by experienced, passionate chefs at reasonable prices.
(Chef Bengemen invited us back to try his Hainanese chicken rice balls which are available only for lunch on Thurs :-D Bengemen is Hainanese and his grandparents used to run a kopi stall in Larkin.)
Disclosure: Please note that this is an invited tasting.
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Restaurant name: Break Tea 舞茶
Address: Jalan Molek 1/5C, Taman Molek, 81100 Johor Bahru, Johor, Malaysia
GPS: 1.531092, 103.791869
Hours: Monday to Saturday 11:30am to 11:00pm / Sunday 11:30am to 6:00pm
Date visited: 17 Jan 2016
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