Johor Kaki Travels for Food

Tony Boey johorkaki@gmail ๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡ฌ Singapore active senior food, travel & lifestyle diary

History of Hainanese in Singapore Cuisine & Hawker Culture. Their Biggest Influence is Non Hainanese ๐Ÿค”


The Hainanese make up only 6% of Singapore's Chinese population, yet their influence on Singapore hawker culture is far bigger than their numbers suggest. Indeed, Hainanese influence on Singapore food is actually bigger than most people realise as there is more than what meets the eye ๐Ÿค”

Tragic History of Nutmeg. Forgotten Spice Once Worth More than Gold. Forgotten Island Exchanged for New York City

Between the 1300s - 1600s, Europe was ravaged by a series of deadly plagues (pandemics). Doctors at that time believed that wearing a pendant with a nutmeg inside would ward off infection.

Everybody wanted nutmeg but the fruit came from only a few tiny islands in today's Indonesia, on the other side of the globe from Europe. A round trip between these islands and Europe took nearly two years. At that time, nutmeg was worth more than its weight in gold.

A History of Pepper ⚫ The King of Spice

The pepper we take for granted today was once worth its weight in gold. It was so valuable that European countries invested fortunes in armadas and raced each other on risky expeditions in search of the proverbial Black Gold.

Shawan Water Buffalo Milk Banquet & Other Fascinating Dishes of Guangzhou China ๆฒ™ๆนพ็‰›ๅฅถๅฎด.ๆฒ™ๆนพๅค้•‡

Shawan Ancient Town ๆฒ™ๆนพๅค้•‡ is located within the Panyu district of Guangzhou city. Shawan is famed for their water buffalo milk dishes and unique cuisine. The ancient town founded during the Southern Song dynasty is a Must Visit on any foodie trip to Guangzhou.

Note: Images are screengrabs from CCTV video  ๆฒ™ๆนพ:้ฃŸไธๅŽŒ็ฒพ.

History of Nasi Lemak. Trinity of Rice, Coconut Milk & Sambal


Nasi Lemak is a popular dish of rice boiled in coconut milk and stalks of pandan leaf. In its most basic form, it is eaten with a dollop of sambal (spicy sauce) of chili, onion and often whitebait / anchovy.

History of Pandan Leaf. Amazing, Mighty, Unsung Food Hero

The pandan leaf (known in the West as screw pine) is so pervasive in Southeast Asian cuisine that it is like an unsung hero - always there, dependable but seldom in the limelight, somewhat taken for granted. Nicknamed the "vanilla of the East", pandan costs only a mere fraction but delivers just as much fragrance.

History of Biryani. How a Persian Import Unites India & Become the Global Indian Food Icon


Biryani came to Singapore and Malaysia from India but the dish originated in Persia (today's Iran).The hearty, flavour and aroma packed meat and rice dish is one of the favourites in Malaysia and Singapore cuisine.

The word biryani is derived from two Persian words. Birinj is the Persian word for "rice". The Persian word Birian means "to fry before cooking" which succinctly sums up the basic method of cooking biryani.

I Had Triple Heart Bypass on 5 Jul 2021 ❤️ On the Road to Full Recovery & New Lease of Life


I just had my triple heart bypass surgery after angiography revealed that I have three severely blocked arteries - one 100% blocked, one 90% blocked and one 70%. Not dead man walking but I was a walking time bomb.

Picky Eater's Guide to Best Teochew Fish Soup in Singapore ๆฝฎๅทž้ฑผ็‰‡ๆฑค


Most hawker centres in Singapore have at least one Teochew fish soup stall and it often attracts long queues. The dish is delicious and growing in popularity as it is perceived as a "healthier choice". Still, Teochew fish soup has a lower profile than other dishes like chicken rice, laksa, char kway teow, bak chor mee, etc.

Fa Ji Minced Meat Fishball Noodle. Kovan People's Favourite Bak Chor Mee ๅ‘่ฎฐ่‚‰่„ž้ฑผๅœ†้ข


Whenever I stalk Kovan 209 Market & Food Centre, there's always a queue at Fa Ji Minced Meat Fishball Noodle. So, I joined the locals to find out what draws them to Fa Ji. It's 
soft al dente noodles enveloped in robust, old school savoury, spicy, lardy, tangy slick. No gimmicks, it builds a loyal following with comforting, familiar pleasure, yeah...., like an old habit or affordable addiction.

Stall name: Fa Ji Minced Meat Fishball Noodle ๅ‘่ฎฐ่‚‰่„ž้ฑผๅœ†้ข

Address: 209 Hougang Street 21, stall #01-05, Singapore 530209 (Kovan 209 Market & Food Centre)

Nearest MRT: At the doorstep of Kovan station

Hours: 7:30am - 7:00pm (Weds off)

Sejarah Melayu Summary ๐Ÿ“— 10 Minute Introduction to the Malay Annals

The Sejarah Melayu or Malay Annals is a treasure trove of insights on medieval Malay history. It is a genealogy of Malay kings written in the 1500s. Its coverage range from Alexander the Great's invasion of India (327 BC) to the founding of Singapura (1299), the birth of Malacca sultanate (1400) till its fall to the Portuguese in 1511. 

*I am studying the Sejarah Melayu for insights into the roots of Malay cuisine. Follow-on articles will highlight food references embedded in the Malay Annals.

Second Portuguese Invasion & End of Malacca Sultanate 1511 ๐Ÿ“– Sejarah Melayu Chapter 30

Youtube screengrab from video Fall of Malacca

Chapter 30 is the final chapter of Sejarah Melayu while ended with the fall of Malacca to the Portuguese in 1511.

When the Portuguese returned in 1511, Malacca had a new king, Sultan Ahmad Shah (reign 1511 - 1513) and also a new bandahara (prime minister), datuk Paduca Tuan.

*I am studying the Malay Annals for insights into the roots of Malay cuisine.

Portuguese Arrives in Malacca 1509 ๐Ÿ“— Sejarah Melayu Chapter 29

Youtube screengrab from Fall of Malacca
Malacca was a thriving, prosperous kingdom when the Portuguese arrived in 1509. The Portuguese were well received by the locals who had never seen Europeans before. They called them "white Bengalis". 

In the Sejarah Melayu account, the Malaccans received the Portuguese kindly. The Malacca bandahara Sri Maha Raja even adopted the Portuguese captain as his son.

*I am studying the Malay Annals for insights into the roots of Malay cuisine.

Sultan Mahmud Shah of Malacca Murders his Brother Raja Zenel ๐Ÿ“– Sejarah Melayu Chapter 28

Youtube screengrab from 1961 movie Puteri Gunung Ledang

Sultan Mahmud Shah of Malacca (reign 1488 - 1511) had a younger brother Raja Zenel. The younger prince was extremely handsome and well loved by the public. Everywhere he went, he attracted crowds of admirers like a modern day celebrity. This made Sultan Mahmud Shah so jealous that he decided to murder his brother.

The jealous king entrusted the task to the palace gatekeeper with the promise of reward and favour. The assassin stabbed king's younger brother to death in his sleep. Sultan Mahmud Shah then promoted the palace gatekeeper to the rank of Sang Sura (a warrior).

*I am studying the Malay Annals for insights into the roots of Malay cuisine.

Sultan Mahmud Shah Humiliates Sultan Abdal Jamil of Pahang ๐Ÿ“— Sejarah Melayu Chapter 27

The Pahang Sultanate and Malacca Sultanate were from the same family, so there was naturally some sibling rivalry. The Pahang Sultanate was established for the exiled Sultan Muhammad Shah who was the crown prince of Malacca but lost favour as he killed the Malacca bandahara's son (over a ball game). When Sultan Muhammad Shah of Pahang died, he was succeed by his son 
Sultan Abdal Jamil. Chapter 27 of the Malay Annals records two incidents which the sultan of Malacca grievously humiliated Sultan Abdal Jamil, causing his resignation / early retirement.

*I am studying the Malay Annals for insights into the roots of Malay cuisine.

Kingdom of Indragiri & Hang Nadim's Mission to India to Purchase Chintz ๐Ÿ“— Sejarah Melayu Chapter 26

Youtube screengrab from 1959 movie Hang Tuah

Chapter 26 of Malay Annals contains accounts of the kingdom of Indragiri in Sumatra which was a vassal state of Malacca, and Hang Nadim's eventful mission to India to procure chintz (printed cloth).

*I am studying the Malay Annals for insights into the roots of Malay cuisine.

7 Conditions of Puteri Gunung Ledang for Sultan Mahmud Shah ⛰ Sejarah Melayu Chapter 25

Youtube still from 1961 movie Puteri Gunung Ledang

Chapter 25 of the Malay Annals relates the legend of Puteri Gunung Ledang (today's Mount Ophir in Johor). Sultan Mahmud Shah having heard about the princess' beauty, wished to marry her. Tun Mamed, the Sang Satia and laksamana Hang Tuah volunteered to be the sultan's emissaries to the princess. After much hardship in getting to the "mount from faraway" with many fantastic mystical encounters along the way, the princess' emissary conveyed seven impossible conditions for the king.

*I am studying the Malay Annals for insights into the roots of Malay cuisine.

Sultan Mahmud Shah During Malacca's Heyday ๐Ÿ“— Sejarah Melayu Chapter 24

Youtube screengrab from movie Puteri Gunung Ledang

Chapter 24 of the Malay Annals is a long, wide ranging chapter chronicling episodes from the life of Sultan Mahmud Shah who ruled the Malacca Sultanate from 1488 till it fell to the Portuguese in 1511. Sultan Mahmud Shah's reign was an eventful one from ruling Malacca during its heyday to fighting the Portuguese to recover his lost kingdom till his death in 1528.

*I am studying the Malay Annals for insights into the roots of Malay cuisine.

Hokkien Man Hokkien Mee Plus a Pro-tip to Instantly Boost its Umami Quotient ๐Ÿฆ


Buddy dropped by and dropped off Hokkien mee from Toa Payoh's Hokkien Man.

* First of all, a disclaimer: Those little dried shrimps sprinkled on top are not part of Hokkien Man's Hokkien mee. It's buddy's own way of eating this dish ๐Ÿคฆ But, it's a good idea worth trying as I shall explain ๐Ÿ˜‚

Stall name: Hokkien Man Hokkien Mee

Address: 19 Lor 7 Toa Payoh, Block 19, Singapore 310019

Tel: 8798 1525

Hours: 10:00am - 2:00pm (Weds off)

Sultan Muhammed Shah of Pahang Murdered Tun Talanai of Terengganu ๐Ÿ“— Sejarah Melayu Chapter 23

Chapter 23 of the Malay Annals contains the account of the murder of Tun Talani of Terengganu by Sultan Muhammed Shah of the Pahang sultanate.

Sultan Muhammed Shah and Sultan Alauddin Riayat Shah were brothers. Muhammed Shah was first in line to succeed their father Sultan Mansur Shah but was banished to Pahang after he killed the Malacca prime minister's son over a minor sepak raga (rattan ball game) dispute. 

*I am studying the Malay Annals for insights into the roots of Malay cuisine.

Kingdom of Aru - Malacca Sultanate War ๐Ÿ“— Sejarah Melayu Chapter 22

The kingdom of Aru (1225 - 1613) was located between the kingdom of Pasai and Malacca sultanate with Pasai to its north and Malacca across the straits to its south. During its heyday in the 15th century, Aru rivalled Pasai and Malacca in trade, seapower and influence. Chapter 22 of the Malay Annals contains the account of the war between Aru and Pasai which ended inconclusively as the neighbouring kingdoms were evenly matched. Aru attacked Malacca which was allied with Pasai during the reign of Alauddin Riayat Shah (1477 - 1488). This attack was repulsed by Malacca and ended in a truce.

*I am studying the Malay Annals for insights into the roots of Malay cuisine.

Law & Order in Malacca Sultanate ๐Ÿ“– Sejarah Melayu Chapter 21

The royals of Malacca sultanate took law and order in their kingdom very seriously. Prince Radin Galang, the favourite son of Sultan Mansur Shah was killed during one of his patrols, personally confronting a man who ran amok. Sultan Alauddin Riayat Shah who succeed Sultan Mansur Shah as the seventh sultan of Malacca continued the tradition, personally patrolling his realm and apprehending looters. The punishment for crimes was severe, e.g. chopping off a hand for stealing. 

*I am studying the Malay Annals for insights into the roots of Malay cuisine.

Samudra Pasai - Malacca War ๐Ÿ“— Sejarah Melayu Chapter 20

The Samudera Pasai sultanate and Malacca sultanate fought a short war. Sultan of Samudera Pasai Zainal Abidin III (reign 1468 - 1474) was usurped by his younger brother. Sultan 
Zainal Abidin III fled to Malacca, where he was warmly received by Sultan Mansur Shah (1459 - 1477).

Sultan Mansur Shah even sent his army to Samudera Pasai where they defeated the usurper's army and reinstated Sultan Zainal Abidin III. Unfortunately, Sultan Zainal Abidin III was unappreciative - he declined to thank Sultan Mansur Shah.

*I am studying the Malay Annals for insights into the roots of Malay cuisine.

Nasi Lemak by International Muslim Food Stall #01-03 is One of the Best @ Changi Village


In my previous life, I used to eat at Changi Village Hawker Centre regularly (since the 1980s). Like many, the famous nasi lemak stalls here were my favourites. But, I have forgotten which of the famous ones here was my top favourite. I only remember International Muslim Food, more famously known as International Nasi Lemak, as the name is easy to recall.

Stall name: International Muslim Food Stall Nasi Lemak

Address: 2 Changi Village Road, #01-03, Singapore 500002 (Changi Village Hawker Centre)

Tel: 8400 6882

Hours: 7:00am - 2:00pm | 6:00pm - 12:00 midnight (Sun & Mon off)

The Lost Kingdom of Champa ๐Ÿ“— Sejarah Melayu Chapter 19

Eighth century Cham temple dedicated to Lord Shiva

Chapter 19 of the Malay Annals contains the genealogy of the kingdom of Champa which existed from 192 - 1823 in today's central and part of southern Vietnam. During the kingdom's heyday, the Chams were Hindus with close trade, cultural and familial ties with their contemporaries in southern India.

*I am studying the Malay Annals for insights into the roots of Malay cuisine.

Sultan Mansur Shah's Role in the Spread of Islam in the Malay World ๐Ÿ“— Sejarah Melayu Chapter 18

The Holy Koran
Sultan Mansur Shah's reign (1456 - 1477) was the golden age of the Malacca sultanate and he played a pivotal role in the spread of Islam in the Malay peninsular and archipelagoSultan Mansur Shah took a deep personal interest in Islam, especially the teachings and practice of Tasawwuf (Sufism). He was well known for encouraging and supporting scholarship in Islamic theology.

*I am studying the Malay Annals for insights into the roots of Malay cuisine.

Dinosaur Beef Rib for Father's Day from Decker Barbecue ๐Ÿ– Giant Ribs Always Makes Me Happy


For Father's Day, I was gifted the signature Dinosaur Beef Rib by Decker Barbecue ๐Ÿ– The huge rib is available only on Saturday and Sunday, and this year's Father's Day fell nicely on a Sunday.

Restaurant name: Decker Barbecue

Address: 60 Robertson Quay, #01-17, Singapore 238252

Tel: 6635 8565

Hours: 12:00 noon - 4:00pm | 5:00pm - 10:30pm (Mon off, dinner for Sat & Sun only)

Fruitless Rampage of Samaloco, Prince of Maluku ๐Ÿ“– Sejarah Melayu Chapter 17

Maluku warriors
Chapter 17 of Sejarah Melayu tells of the story of prince Samaloco of Macasar (modern day Maluku in Indonesia). He fell in love with his stepmother and was encouraged by his father, the king to look for a wife abroad. Samaloco rampaged through the region from Java through Sumatra (Pasai) to Siam bringing him head to head with Malacca. He was repelled by Sultan Mansur Shah's admiral.

*I am studying the Malay Annals for insights into the roots of Malay cuisine.

History & Where to Buy Betel Nut & Paan in Singapore ๆงŸๆฆ”

Gloria Lai posed the question on Facebook, "Name a dish that was once eaten in the 60s and 70s but has disappeared in the last generation or two". It attracted over 1,200 replies e.g. ice ball, malt candy, pickled papaya, etc. Then, I remembered something which was pervasive up to the 1970s and then more or less completely disappeared in Singapore and Malaysia - betel nut (known in Hindi as paan).

Duel with Hang Tuah & Death of Hang Casturi ๐Ÿ“– Sejarah Melayu Chapter 16

Hang Tuah. Youtube screengrab from 1955 movie Hang Tuah

During the reign of Sultan Mansur Shah (1459 to 1477) of Malacca, there were five famous warriors who were like brothers - Hang Tuah, Hang Kasturi, Hang Jebat, Hang Lekir, and Hang Lekiu. Chapter 16 contains the story of the duel of Hang Tuah and Hang Kasturi which ended in the death of the latter.

*I am studying the Malay Annals for insights into the roots of Malay cuisine.

Fen Xiang Char Kway Teow @ Eunos Crescent Hawker Centre ่Šฌ้ฆ™็‚’ๆžœๆก


For a month now, we are a dabao (takeaway food) nation. Someone asked, what hawker food tastes better dabao-ed as most cooked food don't travel very well.

Truth be told, I always felt that Singapore's beloved char kway teow tastes better wrapped in paper and eaten at home. Today's dabao is Fen Xiang Char Kway Teow ่Šฌ้ฆ™็‚’ๆžœๆก from Eunos Crescent Hawker Centre.

Stall name: Fen Xiang Fried Kway Teow ่Šฌ้ฆ™

Address: 4A Eunos Crescent, stall #01-24, Singapore 402004 (Eunos Crescent Market & Food Centre @ Eunos MRT station)

Hours: 8:00am - 12:00 noon (Mon off)