Johor Kaki Travels for Food

Singapore blog of true stories by johorkaki@gmail about best food, people & places around the world

Sunday, 9 September 2018

Niniq Javanese Cuisine in Taman Molek Johor Bahru

Visited Niniq Javanese Cuisine in Taman Molek, JB this morning. I enjoyed the wide range of Javanese dishes and learnt a lot about Javanese food from Niniq co-owner Jennifer.

Niniq Javanese Cuisine spans two spacious shop lots. This is the "semi al fresco" section which is open on two sides. This airy space is great for mornings and evenings, and on cooler days like today.

The air conditioned section is great for hot days. Niniq uses a lot of hard wood and earth tones in its decor which give it a tropical, warm, close to nature feel while dining in air con comfort. The family oriented restaurant also has a contemporary cafe feel.

Over kerupuk and kopi tubruk, Niniq co-owner Jennifer shared with me that her maternal grandmother Suzanna Hartono from Surabaya was the inspiration for Niniq Javanese Cuisine.

The Niniq is a family owned brand started as a bakery in Taman Pelangi by Jennifer's sister Angela who is a passionate baker. Niniq Bakery expanded to two shops, one in Pelangi and another in Setia Tropika. Niniq Bakery gradually included dishes from Java where Jennifer and Angela grew up. Five years ago, the family decided to consolidate Niniq into one location spanning two shop lots. This allowed Niniq to expand their Javanese menu as well as their bakery, and growing catering business (Cuizine Gourmet Catering).

Grandpa, grandma Suzanna Hartono and the grand children

The dishes at Niniq Javanese Cuisine are prepared according to the recipes of Jennifer's grandmother. The dishes have the taste, flavours, aroma and feel of Jennifer's childhood. Jennifer reminisced about how the dishes would transport her in an instant back to her Surabaya childhood.

Jennifer let me taste so many dishes. I share with you whatever comes to mind first, so pardon me if it seemed a bit random.

First thing that came to mind from the whole session was Ayam Goreng Bakar, Javanese style grilled chicken. I like this better than trendy Korean fried chicken and popular har cheong kai (fried chicken marinated with prawn paste) 😱 The Javanese version was marinated with a savoury sweet kicap manis based sauce. It was grilled till the outside was crisp with a dark caramelised glaze. The inside was tender and juicy. The chicken tasted sweet savoury. It was wonderful when eaten with sharp sambal chili and plain white rice.

Like this.

Complete with crunchy blanched greens (kang kong) smothered with nutty spiced gado gado sauce, crispy kerupuk and stinging sambal chili. 

At RM21, it's a nice complete, balanced meal for a work day lunch.

Rawon Daging (price RM20). 

Chunks of beef boiled in a soup with buah keluak and spices, hence the dark, almost black colour. The dark soup had complex robust savoury earthy flavours unique to buah keluak with underlying subtle hints of heat from spices.

The beef chunks were tender and juicy, most of its natural beefiness surrendered to the soup and its soft fibres infused with buah keluak and spice flavour. Only the fat held back some of its beefy sweetness which we can taste.

Ate our Rawon Daging with Nasi Liwet (price RM4). It's rice done the traditional Javanese way. White rice cooked with coconut milk, chicken broth and spices. Served with steamed fried anchovies and chili which we folded into the rice before eating.

Nasi Liwet has a slight crust below so besides the interesting blend of savoury sweet flavours, it has a mix of soft and gritty crunchy textures (like Cantonese clay pot rice 砂锅饭 in that way).

Eating nasi liwet with rawon daging was so super appetising. You know..., I was wondering how anyone who has acquired a taste for rawon daging with nasi liwet can go without it for very long. What misery 😅 I am afraid that I might already be in that predicament too 😂

Sate Ayam (price RM21).

The long chain of chicken meat marinated with sweet savoury sauce and spices was skewered on a bamboo stick and grilled till the outside was slightly glazed. The grilled meat was tender and juicy - its natural sweetness complemented by the sweet savouriness of the marinade. This differs from the Malaysian version where there is a bit of heat and spiciness in the meat.

The peanuts in the satay sauce were grounded finer than the Malaysian version. The flavour was mostly nutty sweet savoury with a bit of aromatic spice (whereas the Malaysian version has more spices, some heat and less grounded peanut which is also coarser).

Udang Kare Java or Javanese style curry prawns (price RM36).

Good sized fresh prawns with shells on, served in a creamy rich curry with gentle spices with mild heat and slight sweetness. (The curry flavour is milder but more complex than the "Indonesian prawn" 印尼虾 dish served in Chinese restaurants in Malaysia.) 

Ikan Goreng Garuda (price RM56).

Deep fried sea bass fish presented in the dramatic Javanese style like an "eagle" with wings spread, topped with fried egg floss. The savoury sweet earthy tasting fried fish is eaten with sweet savoury spicy Chili Kicap Manis sauce (sweetened soy sauce with cut chili pepper).

Sambal Goreng Tempeh, Udang & Petai. Prawn, tofu and petai (stinky beans) stir fried in tangy spicy Javanese sambal (price RM24). Stinky bean is an acquired taste because it is literally stinky and I love it 😄

Terong Belado (price RM17). Moist spongy grilled egg plant topped with Niniq's own blend of savoury mildly spicy Belado sambal sauce.

Traditional Nasi Kuning (RM4 per serving) is available to eat with the spicy dishes. Rice cooked with turmeric and coconut milk. Quite a sweet rice with subtle aroma and spice flavour from turmeric.

Nasi Goreng Jempol (RM18) is a spicy fried rice - flavourful one dish meal with shelled prawns and chicken. Blend of sweet spicy savoury flavours smothering the tender nutty rice. Needless to say, it is best enjoyed with a bit of sharp sting from sambal chili (Javanese savoury dishes are like that).

Jennifer let me try a few of Niniq's Javanese style noodle dishes - Mie Bakso Sapi (RM18), Ayam Bumbur Rujak, and  Gule Ayam Mee.

The noodle part of Mie Bakso Sapi is quite similar to "original flavour" 原味 wanton mee. The same tender crunchy egg noodles with a bit of aromatic fried shallot oil. Mix in a bit of sambal chili on the side, if you like more heat in your noodles. The dish comes with a crispy wanton filled with a knob of tender minced beef.

I like Niniq's beef balls - tender, juicy, savoury, beefy, sweet. Bits of tendon added springy crunch to the tender beef balls.

I enjoyed this Mie Bakso Sapi. To me, it's a nice alternative to get my "original flavour" wanton mee fix with a different beefy twist.

Ayam Bumbur Rujak Mie. Egg noodles served with chicken cooked with quite robust spicy curry.

Gule Ayam Mee. Egg noodles served splashed with chicken stewed with an aromatic, sweeter and less spicy curry. (It's like the "dry curry mee" I saw up north in the Peninsula.)

Empek Empek (RM16). The Javanese style fried fish cake has chewy texture like keropok lekor and tastes like Chinese style fish cake (savoury but with less taste of fish). It is eaten with vinegar sauce, so it tastes savoury sweet tangy together.

Dar Dar Jagung (RM11.50). Savoury sweet crispy cracker embedded with chopped crunchy long beans, carrot, and corn.

Risole Javanese style (RM11.50), a croquette with Portuguese roots.

Soft pan fried egg roll with creamy savoury sweet stewed chicken filling. Eaten with sweet savoury tangy rich mayonnaise.

Es Dawet, the Javanese style of chendol (RM7.50).

Last but not least, I indulged in a Walnut Coffee cake at Niniq's patisserie section before calling it a day.

Indonesian Tea (price RM5). Smells and tastes exactly like the iconic Teh Botol (found everywhere in Indonesia) except that this was freshly brewed, hot and we can adjust the sugar level to our own liking.

👉 Thanks to Jennifer for the tasting and learning session about Javanese cuisine. It was delicious and very interesting. Niniq Javanese Cuisine has the most extensive menu of authentic Indonesian food in Johor. I will be back for my personal favourites like Beef Rawon with Nasi Liwet (and sambal chili!) and not forgetting Ayam Goreng Bakar. There's a lot more things I want to try 😄

Restaurant name: Niniq Javanese Cuisine
Address: 21, Jalan Molek 3/10, Taman Molek, Johor Bahru
GPS1°31'20.1"N 103°47'10.6"E | 1.522261, 103.786275
WazeNiniq Javanese Cuisine
Tel: 07 352 4800
Hours: 9:00am to 10:00pm (Sunday off)

No pork, no lard, no alcohol

Date visited: 7 Sept 2018

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