Tony Johor Kaki Travels for Food · Heritage · Culture · History

Adventurous Culinary Traveler's Blog with 64 million+ reads 📧

Terengganu Fish Curry Mee @ Restoran Triple One in Taman Ungku Tun Aminah, Skudai, Johor Bahru 丁加奴面


Food spotting is a hazardous pastime. Every so often we ate at a place that made us feel that we had wasted our precious calorie and cholesterol quota. Other times, we stumbled upon something so good that we felt like we were at the top of the world. Today is one such time for me.

Mee Hoon Kueh @ Restoran Sing Ting in Taman Ungku Tun Aminah 新天


I was food spotting in Taman Ungku Tun Aminah (TUTA) when I stumbled upon Restoran Sing Ting 新天 which was filled with customers. As I was curious, I went in to check and saw many people eating mee hoon kueh. Their happy faces tell me that I may have made another good food find.

Heritage Curry Laksa @ Lee Kee in Taman Sri Tebrau, Johor Bahru 李记柔佛辣沙


Lee Kee Johore Laksa has been around since 1946 when Madam Lee, the present owner's mother founded the business. Lee Kee began life as a mobile street peddler stall where its laksa was sold from place to place carried in two baskets slung across Madam Lee's shoulders.

Lor Mee @ Allisan Coffee Shop in Taman Century 亚存槟城卤面


Today, I am reminded once again that food spotting is a hit or miss thing and that taste in food is, to put it mildly, a highly subjective thing.

Fried Fish Bee Hoon Soup @ Famous Dart Fei Biao Noodle House | Taman Sutera Utama, Johor Bahru 飞镖

I was food spotting in Taman Sutera Utama when I stumbled upon this scene. The sign board says fish and soup and since I wasn't hungry, I thought this would do just fine for a quick lunch.

Tim Sum @ Restoran Haw Yi 好谊 in Taman Skudai Baru, Johor Bahru


During food spotting this morning at Taman Skudai Baru, I stumbled upon this scene of customers spilling onto the road outside Restoran Haw Yi 好谊. Thrilled by the possibility of another good food find, I took a closer look.

Curry Mutton @ Kerala Restaurant in Johor Bahru


Kerala Restaurant is a well established name in Johor Bahru well loved for its fish, chicken and mutton curries. Each time I was there, I saw heart warming scenes of three generation families - grandparents, parents and children - enjoying their curries together.

Nasi Lemak Breakfast in Johor Bahru @ Warung Madmoodiah


In case anyone wonders how I find my good eats in Johor, one of my favourite methods is to observe where people vote with their stomachs and pockets i.e. where there is a crowd, I will investigate as to what is drawing them in. Sometimes, I am rewarded with a lucky find. Today is another such time.

Curry Chicken @ Kerala Restaurant along Jalan Storey, Johor Bahru

Kerala Restaurant which began business in 1949 is one of the oldest established Indian restaurants in Johor Bahru. Kerala has a loyal clientele who have been dining here for generations. Kerala offers traditional Indian meals such as curry fish, chicken and mutton as well as thosai in a comfortable air conditioned setting, at competitive prices.

Curry chicken set for RM8.50
The curry chicken set served on a banana leaf comes with a large piece of chicken, curried cabbages, long beans, potatoes and egg plant on a bed of boiled white rice.

The rice is the long grained variety. It is clear and fresh tasting, and absorbs the curry and its flavours very well.

Fragrant, freshly fried poppadoms are served with the set meal.

The creamy chicken curry is aromatic, spicy but mild - it is not hot. Coupled with all the fresh ingredients, the natural sweetness of the chicken and vegetables becomes the dominant flavour.

Although I am used to and am expecting hot and even fiery curries, I found myself enjoying the mild and naturally sweet flavours at Kerala Restaurant.

Besides enjoying the chicken curry myself, Kerala is an ideal place to bring guests who are uninitiated to the pleasures of curry to start them off with a mild variety.

Restaurant name: Kerala Restaurant
Address: 77, Jalan Storey, Kim Teng Park, Johor Bahru
Hours: 6:30am to 7:00pm (closed on Sundays)

Date visited: 26 Jan 2012, 27 Jan 2012

Pontian Wanton Mee (in Taman Century, JB not in Pontian) Near KSL Mall, Johor Bahru, Malaysia

I am seriously not a fan of those American fast food chains but I did fall for their colourful and attractive shop fronts. Once in the US, I was so thrilled by the beautiful shop fronts of the different fast food chains that I was led to believe that I was in some sort of foodie's paradise. So I tried out the different fast foods on offer. After just 2 days of fast food for my daily 3 meals, the salt, sugar, trans fat, preservatives and unknown chemicals made me feel that my heart was about to stop at anytime.

Since that time, fast food chains with loud, colourful shop fronts are an automatic turn off for me.

Hiap Joo 协裕 Bakery and Biscuit Factory in Johor Bahru Old Town - Heritage Trail Edition



Johor Bahru, 25 Jan 1966.  Today, I performed my weekly ritual of going to the famous Hiap Joo bakery in downtown JB to buy bread and cakes for the family.


I like to go there with my trusty motor bike as downtown JB is very congested and it is really difficult to find a parking space for a car. With my bike, I can just park it on the curb at Kin Wah coffee shop just across Hiap Joo. I dash into Hiap Joo, make a quick purchase and off I go - just like the way many of Hiap Joo's regular customers do.

This wood fired oven has been the centre piece at Hiap Joo since 1928


To do this with precision and to get the freshest cakes and pastries, I know exactly when Hiap Joo's confectioneries will be taken out of the oven each day. The earliest batch of cakes and pastries leave the oven at about 12:30pm and the last about 2:30pm.

This large golden brown slab of banana cake at 50 sens

Hiap Joo makes a wide range of confectioneries and I am a die hard fan of their soft and moist freshly baked banana cakes. I can never get enough of these soft, feathery, melt in your mouth, fluffy fragrant cakes made with real bananas and with no preservatives or artificial flavourings. I also like the subtle smokey flavour from the browned skin.


At Hiap Joo, the whole family chips in to make the confectioneries every day. It is a heartwarming scene, that is a joy to watch.


The slabs of banana cakes are cut into bite size pieces by hand with amazing precision. Each piece is exactly the same size, reflecting the quiet pride and dedication that Hiap Joo put into their products. This commitment is ultimately reflected in the quality and taste of Hiap Joo's cakes and pastries that we enjoy so much.

I am sure to be a life long customer of Hiap Joo's, and hopefully my future generations too.

After note: Hiap Joo has remained true to its tradition over all these years. Prices, however, has kept up with the times. The slab of banana cake now sells at RM8.

->> Enjoy tradition, heritage and delicious food all at once.

Name: Hiap Joo Bakery and Biscuit Factory
Address: 13, Jalan Tan Hiok Nee, 8000 Johor Bahru
GPS: 1.456701,103.764421
Hours: Daily 8:00am to 6:00pm (closed on Sunday)

Date visited: 25 Jan 1966 (imagine lah!)

Salahuddin Bakery in Johor Bahru Old Town - Heritage Trail Edition

Take a trip back in time with a visit to Salahuddin Bakery today.

Sang Heng 甡兴 Kway Teow Soup in Johor Bahru Old Town - Heritage Trail Edition

Johor Bahru, 23 Jan 1966.  I was downtown to do some business at the bank today. By the time I was done, it was already lunch time and I was starving.

Fortunately, on the same street as the bank along Jalan Tan Hiok Nee was Sang Heng 甡兴 kway teow soup shop.

As it was lunch time, the shop was really busy. As I didn't want to go searching for food while feeling famish, I took a seat and placed my order with the lady helper.

It was fascinating for me to watch the stall holder at work. He was really calm and steady despite the full house of hungry customers waiting - some rather impatiently. It took about 30 minutes before I finally got my bowl of kway teow soup.

I was so glad that I tried out Sang Heng's as his kway teow soup was really delicious. What's so good about it, you might ask.

First of all, I liked the soup. It was slightly cloudy because of the generous amount of shrimps used in the stock. It is not often that you'll find a kway teow soup that uses shrimps as it's stock base. Most shops used pork bones. I liked the flavour of shrimps, so this was a plus for me.

The hand made Ikan Parang fish balls were also great. They were fresh and had that slight spring. Didn't look perfectly round like a ping pong ball but it did felt like it could bounce like one.

The pork balls were good too. They were tender and very sweet as they were hand made using fresh pork.

The kway teow noodles though basic, were still good - clear and fresh. Not the oily and salty kind that we sometimes get.

It was a delicious lunch for 20 sens but not quite filling for a guy like me who is used to bigger portions. Next time, I shall make sure I order the 25 sens bowl that comes with more kway teow noodle and ingredients.

After note: Sang Heng hasn't changed much all these years except for the price. Prices start at RM5 today.

Restaurant name: Kedai Makanan Sang Heng 甡兴
Address: 7, Jalan Tan Hiok Nee, Johor Bahru (Next to OCBC JB branch)
GPS: 1.456829,103.764747
Hours: 7:00am to 1:00pm (closed on Saturdays)
Non Halal

Date visited: 23 Jan 1966

Ais Kacang ABC @ Joo Yee (Tan Kee Pelangi) in Taman Serene Hawker Centre, Johor Bahru. Update 2018 彩虹陈记

Ais Kacang ABC @ Joo Yee (Tan Kee Pelangi) in Taman Serene Hawker Centre, Johor Bahru. Update 2018

Johor Bahru has an iconic chocolate ice kacang by Joo Yee (Tan Kee Pelangi) stall at Taman Serene hawker centre (also known as Medan Selera Jalan Biru).

In Search of Johor's Best Beef Rendang

Beef rendang is a signature Minangkabau dish. The Minangkabau people come from western part of Sumatra Island in Indonesia.

It is not easy to find good authentic beef rendang in eateries.

The proper cooking process for beef rendang which takes about 4 hours is extremely tedious and requires plenty of skill, patience and dedication.

The first stage in cooking beef rendang is to use low heat to boil the thick beef chunks in coconut milk and curry spices. When most of the water has evaporated, the coconut milk and curry spices will turn into stew.

The second stage is to continue cooking the beef chunks in this stew by stirring and tossing the meat in a wok or deep pot with low heat. Continue until the stew turns into gravy.

When done, the unphotogenic beef chunks will look deep brown in colour on the outside due to the caramelised coconut milk. The cooking process saturates the meat with all the flavours from the coconut milk and curry spices, and seals it in with a caramelised coat. Good beef rendang is firm on the outside, and moist and tenderly soft on the inside.

Its fragrance is captivating. Each bite into the beef releases the flavour and fragrance sealed inside the meat during the long cooking process.

The labour intensive and time consuming cooking process make it hard to commercially produce beef rendang in the authentic way. Unfortunately, shortcuts or cutting corners will end up in inferior results. For example, too high heat or inattentiveness in stirring and tossing will result in over tough beef, ruining the dish.

Fortunately, my search for good beef rendang in Johor has turned up a few fine results which I share with you.

Restoran Azinur's rendang is saturated with the flavour of coconut and curry spices
Restoran Azinur in Taman Ungku Tun Aminah

Each bite of Restoran Kin Wah's rendang releases perfume like the squeeze of a perfume bottle
Nasi padang stall in Kin Wah coffee shop in JB old town

Restoran Mana Lagi's rendang is simply stunning in fragrance, flavour and texture

Restoran Mana Lagi in Taman Perling
I will continue my search for the best rendang in Johor and will post my favourite finds here. Any leads and tips are greatly appreciated J

Teochew Abalone Kway Teow Soup @ Yong Xin in Taman Ungku Tun Aminah


Yong Xin is a popular kway teow soup shop off Jalan Tun Aminah in Taman Ungku Tun Aminah (TUTA), Johor Baru.

Yong Xin’s fare is typical of traditional Teochew style kway teow soup. Teochews make up the majority of Chinese in Johor Bahru, so it is no surprise that kway teow soup shops selling this Teochew comfort food is ubiquitous here

Teochew Kway Teow Soup @ Sang Heng 甡兴 in Johor Bahru Old Town

To say that Sang Heng 甡兴 Teochew kway teow soup stall is an institution in Johor Bahru is neither a cliché nor an exaggeration.



Sang Heng has been here in this same old Jalan Tan Hiok Nee location for decades. Even the people here are the same. The elderly stall holder, his two lady helpers, and his regular customers are all from an earlier time. Sitting at a table, eating at Sang Heng and watching the goings on is like going back in time and reliving the history of old JB.



The elderly stall holder has the kind of knowing, quiet presence of someone who has witnessed the tremendous changes of Johor Bahru by looking out from the vantage point of his kway teow soup stall. And his regular customers interact with him with a kind of deference reserved only for someone who has seen it all - and holds his ground, in the quiet confidence of knowing what he stands for.


Sang Heng's mee pok 面薄干 noodles were well cooked and still had that slight crunchiness and spring. The bean sprouts were blanched just right. They were still crunchy, juicy and sweet. The sauce was spicy and tangy from the signature black vinegar. There was also that distinctive flavour of lard and lard crackles 猪油渣. 

RM5 bowl of kway teow and bee hoon mix, dry.
RM5 bowl of kway teow soup.
The shrimp based soup is slightly cloudy and infused with that distinctive shrimp flavour.
Fresh hand made fish ball. Sweet and slightly springy.
Fresh pork ball. Tender and sweet.
The taste and flavour of Sang Heng’s simple no frills, kway teow soup may not be the most compelling but it is authentic 古早味 and it is part of that tableau of an earlier time.

When eating at Sang Heng, the kway teow soup is only a prop in the overall experience of partaking in living history. For that, Sang Heng has no comparison among JB food stalls.

I suggest that eating at Sang Heng 甡兴 is worthy of experiencing at least once. Who knows the overall experience might convert you into one of Sang Heng’s new generation of fans.


->> Step back into old JB through it's traditional comfort dish.

Restaurant name: Kedai Makanan Sang Heng 甡兴
Address: 7 Jalan Tan Hiok Nee, Johor Bahru Town (next to OCBC JB branch)
GPS: 1.456829,103.764747
Hours: Daily (closed on Saturdays)
Non Halal

Dates visited: 12 Jan 2012, 19 Jan 2012, 21 Aug 2012

Back to Johor Kaki home page.