Saturday, 28 May 2016
Hiap Joo Banana Cake - the Grand Old Lady of Johor Bakeries 协裕面包西果厂 JK1498
Hiap Joo Bakery in Johor Bahru's Tan Hiok Nee street cultural district needs no introduction. It's one of a handful of bakeries in Malaysia that still uses wood fire in it's almost 100 year old brick oven. Hiap Joo's banana cake is the best that I have tasted anywhere.
Hiap Joo's buns with various fillings like curried potatoes, otak otak, red bean paste, spicy anchovies (ikan bilis) and shredded coconut are also extremely popular.
There is always a queue outside Hiap Joo waiting for the freshly baked banana cakes and buns. (Don't worry. Once the cakes are out of the oven, the queue clears very fast as all customers are take-and-go.)
The dancing wood fire that gives Hiap Joo's pastries a smokey flavour that cannot be easily replicated.
The wood used to fire the brick oven inside the century old bakery.
Getting the oven ready takes a lot of skill and elbow grease. It also takes the most time in the process of making the cakes.
While the oven is being prepared, the pastries are made with the whole family and extended family chipping in. Everything is still done by hand at Hiap Joo (except for a machine to knead the dough).
Joseph, the fourth generation of Hiap Joo.
Hiap Joo's oven was built by an Englishman in 1919, and was sold to Joseph's great grandfather in the 1930s before the Englishman returned to England.
Hiap Joo uses real bananas for their famed banana cakes (and none of that banana essence nonsense).
In goes the dough. The heat inside the oven is intense, reaching 800-1000 °C. In comparison, most of our electric home ovens reach only 250 °C maximum.
James, the fourth generation of Hiap Joo.
Once in, the pastries are ready in 5 minutes, so the pace of work is as intense as the heat from the oven.
The steamy hot pastries are immediately packed for waiting customers.
Hiap Joo's banana cake is spongy, light and slightly moist. Every bite releases a gently sweet banana flavour and aroma onto our taste buds and our nose. The dark brown outer layer has a nice smokey taste which makes Hiap Joo's banana cake so special.
Hiap Joo's banana cake tastes great hot off the oven but I found that it tastes even sweeter when left overnight and eaten the next day. However, as no preservative is used, the banana cake should be eaten by the third day of baking. That is really a redundant precaution, as Hiap Joo's banana cake can never last more than a day before it is all eagerly snapped up :-D
Hiap Joo's buns have a sweet fluffy spongy skin and the fillings are generous. They are as popular as Hiap Joo's banana cakes.
->> Hiap Joo bakery is one of the defining shops of the Johor food scene. You must try their banana cakes at least once. Whether or not you join Hiap Joo's legion of fans who keep coming back, you will have at least experienced a piece of JB food heritage. A most delicious food icon, to boot.
Hiap Joo is located right at the entrance of Johor Bahru's cultural district at the junction of Jalan Tan Hiok Nee and Jalan Trus.
Name: Hiap Joo Bakery and Biscuit Factory 协裕面包西果厂
Address: 13, Jalan Tan Hiok Nee, 80000 Johor Bahru
GPS: 1.456781, 103.764404 / 1°27'24.4"N 103°45'51.9"E
Hours: Daily 7:30am to 5:30pm (Closed on Sunday)
Dates visited: Numerous times since stumbling on Hiap Joo on 1 Jan 2012
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