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

Knowing its history makes food more delicious 🇸🇬 johorkaki@gmail

Pecel Lele @ Kak Long Tomyam in Meldrum Walk, Johor Bahru

Pecel Lele

I needed a quick dinner one evening and as I was in Old Downtown JB, I walked briskly over to Meldrum Walk for a quick bite.

Pecel Lele

Decided to go for Kak Long’s pecel lele or Indonesian style fried catfish with rice.

I was pleasantly surprised that for a reasonable RM6, the chef actually took a large fresh catfish, gutted and cleaned it on the spot, only after I had made my order.

The catfish was then marinated with sauces and curry powder, and deep fried till golden brown.

What would be “normal”, would be pre-cooked catfish – which was what had I expected. So this fresh fish was beyond my expectations J

This is the set of freshly fried catfish smothered with crispy crackles on a banana leaf, and it comes with a generous heap of steamed white rice, tempeh, tofu, vegetables, sambal and a clear soup.

I enjoyed this catfish, as I always do. The tender flesh was sweet and doesn’t have any of that “muddy” taste normally associated with catfish.

The sambal was mild and unremarkable - personally, I much prefer mine to be more robust and extra spicy hot.

If you like pecel lele, Kak Long’s is definitely a very good choice.

Restaurant name: Kak Long Tomyam
Address: Stall in Meldrum Walk in downtown Johor Bahru
GPS: 1.460045,103.764673
Hours: to

Date visited: 29 May 2012

Johor Kaki's 7 Favourite Photos of Johor

HostelBookers initiated a meme for bloggers to submit their "7 Super Shots" according to 7 interesting themes set by them. Here are Johor Kaki's 7 responses to HostelBookers' 7 themes:

1. A photo that takes my breath away


Sorry to disappoint you, if you were expecting a picture of majestic high mountains or thundering waters leaving you breathless. Instead, my choice is a serene scene of a random night in Muar, Johor that calms the breath. This could be anywhere in Malaysia, at night. Hawkers take over the sidewalks when businesses close for the day at nightfall. No name push cart stalls with unheralded street hawkers serve delicious meals that most folks could afford easily. Enjoying bonding time with family and friends over a hot meal in peace and where time seemed to stand still, is a type of bliss, too often taken for granted.

2. A photo that makes me laugh/ smile


In Johor, we often see heartwarming scenes of three generation families dining together in the very same restaurant that the grandparents had grown old with. Caught this sight of two small boys, bright curious eyes peeling out from under the table while their parents and grandparents dine in the grand dame of Segamat restaurants, Shi Wei Fu

3. A photo that makes me dream


This is the place where the people of Johor Bahru come to dream - Hutan Bandar is a sanctuary in the rumbling, hustle and bustle of downtown JB. The old trees that ring the nature park are like old friends, always there to steadfastly shield us from noisy distractions, and give us the peace and tranquillity we need, to converse with our soul by escaping into our daydreams.

4. A photo that makes me think


See that slightly charred bits of fried bee hoon (rice vermicelli)? This is trade mark of Johor Bahru San Lou dry bee hoon - a style invented in JB in the 1970s. After the bee hoon is fried the normal way, it is pressed against a red hot wok to caramelise the outside and sear in the frying juices. It sets me thinking about the environment needed to spark such a deliciously creative twist, be accepted and allowed to flourish. Could it be the laissez faire, anything goes melting pot diversity that is Johor?

5. A photo that makes my mouth water


Just a simple picture of my favourite custard egg tart at a popular tim sum shop in Johor Bahru. The fragrant custard was so soft that it jiggled when we gingerly lifted the tart by pinching the crust together. The crust was so flaky it felt as though it would fall apart, if we stared at it too hard.

6. A photo that tells a story


Everybody has his/her own story and has something we can learn from. Notice the Penang registration on the moped? This mobile rojak buah (cut fruit salad) stall on a moped travelled more than 700 kilometres from the island of Penang all the way to Johor Bahru (JB) in search of customers. Nearly 20 years later, this street hawker settled down in JB, and built up a loyal following of fans who follow his mobile stall and trusty moped everywhere. Rojak man knew almost nothing about JB when he set off 20 years ago. All he knew was that he had something good to offer, and that he had the will to succeed. Makes me wonder how strong is my own self belief and willpower.

7. A photo that I am most proud (aka my worthy of National Geographic shot)


It was 9:00am. The traditional bakery in old downtown Johor Bahru had just opened for business, as it always had since 1937. The doorway was only slightly ajar. Customers and rays of morning sun stream in and was greeted by a full spread of traditional breads and welcomed by Mr Salahuddin in the winsome way that he had been doing all these years. 

Written by Tony Boey on 27 May 2012

Return to Johor Kaki homepage.

Tang Yuan 汤圆 (Glutinous Rice Ball Dessert) in Batu Pahat, Johor

Tang yuan 汤圆 is one of my favourite homemade comfort foods, so naturally, when I stumbled upon this tang yuan stall in Batu Pahat, it stopped me in my tracks. I had never seen a hawker stall specialising in tang yuan before. I just had to try some - doesn't matter how filled my stomach already was, at that moment.

After just having a hefty bak kut teh lunch in Tangkak, I walked the streets of Batu Pahat to “digest” my lunch. While walking off the lunch, I spotted a popular push cart tang yuan stall just opposite the famous Swee Kee herbal soup restaurant along Jalan Abu Bakar. I couldn’t help but bought ourselves 10 rice balls just to “try”.
Yes, I said “try” because 10 rice balls turned out to be much too little, and we ordered ourselves another 10 immediately after finishing our first 10! It was that good! I just couldn't resist this hot bowl of homemade tang yuan!

The young Yeoh brothers run the tang yuan stall - the younger brother hand makes the tang yuan, while the older cooks and serves the customers with a winsome smile.

Each glutinous rice ball was made to the same size - it was fun watching the young man make these exquisite little tang yuan balls with deft hands.

The tang yuan were not too sweet, they felt smooth, soft and QQ-licious! Slips over your tongue and down your throat like not-too-sweet honey. 

RM2 for 6 or RM3 for 10 rice balls. They come in just 2 types of fillings, peanut or lotus paste – both delicious J And you even have the option of “spicy” or “not spicy”. This is what makes this tang yuan special, by having fresh ginger juice added to the soup, it brings a slight spiciness and perky freshness to the dessert.

Who would think that having a hot steaming dessert on a scorching, humid, tropical afternoon would be such a good idea? Well the steady stream of customers, and I found it one cool idea indeed! J

Restaurant name: No name tang yuan stall
Address: At the junction of Jalan Abu Bakar and Jalan Mohd Akil. Just outside a coffee shop and opposite the famous Swee Kee herbal soup restaurant
GPS: 1.852493,102.928526
Hours: until sold out (usually at ). Close on Friday.

Date visited: 23 May 2012

Min Chang Kueh 面煎馃 Apam Balik @ Nam Wee Coffee Shop in Batu Pahat, Johor, Malaysia


I was walking towards Batu Pahat's glutton street when I stumbled upon this humble looking Min Chang Kueh 面煎馃 stall at Nam Wee coffee shop at the junction of Jalan Abu Bakar and Jalan Soga.

As I hurried past, I caught with the corner of my eye, the boss MR Yaw as he tarik (pulled) the flour batter mix vigorously. I love that muffled "plop.. plop.. plop.." sound that apam balik hawkers make when they tarik the batter J

I stopped and watched fascinated as MR Yaw spread the batter mix onto the hot pan, controlling the thickness of the pancake with skill accumulated over 38 passionate years of making countless Min Chang Kueh 面煎馃.

First ingredient added is a tiny sprinkling of sugar.

Next came a generous layer of freshly ground, fried peanuts.

MR Yaw then added a couple of squeezes of his specially blended Planta margarine.

One quick flip and the hot fragrant Min Chang Kueh 面煎馃 is ready J


MR Yaw's Min Chang Kueh is thinner than the thick and soft Singapore variety. It's outer layer is crispy while it is tender inside. It is subtly sweet, crunchy, nutty and tastes slightly salty and greasy from the margarine - an interesting mix of flavours and taste sensations.

We thoroughly enjoyed our snack with coffee and tea right there at the coffee shop. MR Yaw's Min Chang Kueh is best eaten within a couple of hours of cooking to enjoy the crispiness and nuttiness at its best. As no preservatives are used, it should also be eaten within a day.

MR Yaw will make this popular ultra thin version of Min Chang Kueh if you just ask for it - many customers do like it extra skinny.

Throughout the day, there was a constant stream of regular customers taking away MR Yaw's famous Min Chang Kueh. On weekends, MR Yaw will bring his trusty old trishaw which he and his wife had lovingly used when he first began selling Min Chang Kueh years ago. The old trishaw has an additional cooking pan to meet the demands of additional weekend customers.

There are Singaporeans who drive 2 hours to Batu Pahat to satisfy their craving for MR Yaw's Min Chang Kueh - highly recommended J

Restaurant name: No name Min Chang Kueh 面煎馃 stall
Address: Inside Nam Wee Coffee Shop at the junction of Jalan Abu Bakar and Jalan Soga
GPS: 1.852788,102.926906
Hours: 1:00pm until sold out (usually before 5:00pm)

Date visited: 23 May 2012

Chicken Rice @ Fong Yem Coffee Shop in Taman Johor Jaya, Johor Bahru

I was walking pass Fong Yem coffee shop when I saw this fascinating scene. Whole, fresh, plump, juicy chickens deep fried to golden brown on the spot. I couldn't resist snapping away with my camera 😄

Good News - No Need for White Immigration Cards at Malaysian Checkpoints from 1st Jun 2012

Secretary-general of Malaysia’s Home Ministry, Tan Sri Mahmood Adam, announced on 20 May 2012 that, with effect from 1st Jun 2012, foreigners entering Malaysia need not fill the white arrival cards to enter Malaysia.

This should mean quicker clearances at the immigration checkpoints for trips to Johor's famous makan places J

Big Pau @ MR Pau 包大人 in Taman Mount Austin, Johor Bahru

This is the first time that I have seen traditional Chinese buns or pau 包 made and sold right on the spot in a coffee shop. I was amazed and fascinated, watching the entire pau making process as I enjoyed eating my paus J

包大人 MR Pau is in the same Austin Food Zone coffee shop as 哥打泥鳅王, the King of catfish.

The dough is freshly kneaded and rolled at the coffee shop. 

Making braised pork pau 扣肉包 using big chunks of homemade braised pork.

Natural vegetable dye is used to mark the paus so that the different types of fillings can be easily identified.

This hot seller is a unique pau 臭豆包 that I have not seen any where else. The filling is made with belacan (spicy shrimp paste), ground anchovies and unions, and petai (stink beans) 臭豆.

The fillings for the chicken pau. Unlike the factory made varieties which use minced meat, MR Pau uses thick, well marinated fresh chicken slices.

枕头包 Chinese styled "Swiss rolls" - these come in many flavours including strawberry, chocolate, coffee, peanut, pandan, pumpkin, butter, lotus seeds, and mung beans.

Look at that tall steel steaming tower. The bamboo steaming trays with the raw paus are stacked one over another onto the drum of boiling water in the foreground. The tall stack of bamboo steaming trays are then covered over by the tall steel tower.   

This big pau 大包 with snowy white, airy, fluffy skin wraps a generous ball of tasty pork and mushroom fillings - this huge delicious pau costs a reasonable RM3.20 or SGD1.30.

The low mai kai 糯米鸡 was sweet and tasty.

Definitely a must try - good, delicious food, freshly made on the spot at very reasonable prices.

Restaurant name: 包大人 MR Pau
Address: 24, Jalan Mutiara Emas 5/20, Taman Mount Austin, Johor Bahru
GPS: 1.551393,103.769055
Hours: 7:30am to 7:00pm (closed on Sunday)
Non Halal

Date visited: 11 May 2012