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

Travel, people & food storyteller with 63 million+ reads since 2012 🇸🇬 johorkaki@gmail

Top 10 Most Popular Everyday Food in Johor 2014 Edition

Top-10-Most-Popular-Food-Johor-2014

This Top 10 Most Popular Everyday Food list is created with the suggestions from fans of Johor Kaki Facebook page, Johor Yummy group and Johor Sedap (Halal) food group. This list of most popular daily staples is also based on my personal observations during blogging and interactions with Johor residents.

1. Nasi Lemak

Top-10-Most-Popular-Food-Johor-2014

Nasi lemak is a basic staple that is a perennial on any Malaysia Top 10 food list. Comes in various forms. Personally, I like those that come pre-packed with coconut flavoured rice, sambal chili, a small fried fish, slice of egg, a few fried peanuts and cucumber slices wrapped in banana leaves and paper. The flavours and aroma from all these humble ingredients and banana leaf blend together to create an affordable, tasty meal that is, I dare say, loved by nearly all. Other forms of nasi lemak come with lots of side dishes like rendang, fried chicken, sambal sotong and more.

2. Ayam Penyet

Top-10-Most-Popular-Food-Johor-2014

Ayam penyet originally from Indonesia is much loved here in Johor. The chicken thigh or breast is precooked in mildly spicy broth and left to cool. When an order is received, the piece of chicken is fried till crispy and golden brown. The piping hot chicken is given a smack of the mallet, or more often, the flat of a chopper before serving. Eaten with plain or oily rice and tempe, tofu and greens. I love ayam penyet which are crispy outside while juicy and tender inside. The spicy sambal is key to good ayam penyet. It has to be pulpy and made with several types of chilis with different levels of spiciness so that our tongue gets the evil sting that comes in alternating waves of pain and pleasure.

3. Roti Canai

Top-10-Most-Popular-Food-Johor-2014

Roti canai (or roti prata in Singapore) is an Indian staple deeply woven into the lives of Johoreans. Eaten from breakfast through lunch to supper, many Johoreans start or end their day with crispy roti canai and a spicy curry dip. In Malaysia, a dollop of spicy sambal chili is often added to the curry for those who want more kick on the taste buds. My favourite roti canai is "kosong" (plain) but the breads come with many fillings including cheese, banana and even strawberries. The traditional fillings are eggs, onions, mutton or chicken.

4. Mee Rebus

Top-10-Most-Popular-Food-Johor-2014

Mee rebus is a simple dish of boiled yellow noodles and  bean sprouts smothered in gooey savoury and sweet gravy. Mee rebus is common in Malaysia and Singapore, but Johor Bahru mee rebus is considered the best by their fans. There is no one type of Johor Bahru mee rebus, but variations by popular brands like Haji Wahid, Stulang, and ZZ mee rebus tulang. But, a common trait of popular mee rebus is a good heavy bodied, turmeric coloured gravy which is savoury, slightly sweet , mildly spicy and smells of lovely spice fragrance. In JB, many stalls will add in a lamb shank bone, complete with a drinking straw to suck up the savoury, fatty, smooth bone marrow, at additional cost.

5. Satay

Top-10-Most-Popular-Food-Johor-2014

Satay is one of the most loved dishes in Southeast Asia and Johor is no exception. The best satay is made with juicy, succulent pieces of meat well marinated with aromatic spices. It is expertly grilled over charcoal fire which sears in the rich flavours with a slightly charred, caramelised outer layer while the inside is still moist with sweet meat juices and spicy marinade. The best satay is eaten with a slightly coarse crushed peanuts and spicy sambal dip, and fragrant rice cakes wrapped and boiled in coconut leaves. Uniquely in Johor, satay is eaten all day in Muar and Batu Pahat, including as breakfast. 

6. Goreng Goreng

Top-10-Most-Popular-Food-Johor-2014

Goreng goreng or fried foods have a special place in Johor. From Malay outlets pisang goreng (fried bananas), sweet potatoes, yam, mushrooms, and tofu are popular. Uniquely in Johor, Malay style goreng goreng is eaten with kicap pedas, a spicy hot thick soy sauce and cut chili blended dip. I love eating crispy fried bananas with kicap pedas dip making it savoury, sweet and spicy hot. The Chinese outlets offer old school fried dough like yau cha kwai 油炸粿 and ham chim peng 咸煎餅. Other popular fried items are new year cakes and chempedak. Raising fast in popularity are fried durians.

7. Teochew Kway Teow Soup

Top-10-Most-Popular-Food-Johor-2014-Edition

Teochew kway teow thng 潮州粿条汤 is found in many places in Johor Bahru as the main Chinese dialect here is Teochew. (JB is often referred to as "Little Swatow".) The emphasis is on the freshest fish, prawns, oyster, pork and innards such as liver and kidneys in savoury pork bone broth. Canned abalone is a common ingredient. The broth and ingredients are served with kway teow either inside the broth itself ("soup" version) or tossed in an aromatic blend of lard, shallot oil, chili paste and soy sauce ("dry" version.)

8. Bak Kut Teh

Top-10-Most-Popular-Food-Johor-2014-Edition

Bak kut teh 肉骨茶 is a popular dish with locals and also with Singaporeans who cross the Causeway for a different style of Johor Bahru BKT. There is really no one style of JB BKT but different renditions by popular outlets like Soon Huat, Ah Soon, Bak Cheng, Hwa Mei and Sze Wah, each with their own loyal fans. In it's most basic form, BKT is just pork ribs cooked in a savoury herbal broth served together with hot Chinese black tea. The outlets have various variations adding belly pork, innards, mushrooms, fried tofu and herbs into the broth.

9. Kway Teow Kia

Top-10-Most-Popular-Food-Johor-2014

Kia Teow Kia 粿條仔 which is enjoyed like a minor luxury now has it's roots in leaner times where every piece of meat is treasured and appreciated. Kia teow kia is made with pork innards, head and skin, the lowest grade part of the animal. It has to be thoroughly cleaned to rid it of any odour and braised with herbs and spices to bring out the natural flavours of the meat. Nowadays, pricier belly pork is eaten together with the more humble cuts of meat. The name kway teow kia which literary means "small rice noodles" refers to the slurpingly smooth, narrow rice noodles served in braising sauce.

10. Wanton Mee

Top-10-Most-Popular-Food-Johor-2014

Wanton mee stalls are found in most kopitiams in Johor Bahru. The best wanton mee are made by owners who use only eggs and flour to create el dente noodles that are springy and crunchy. Some wanton noodles are made with duck eggs which are preferred for their more assertive flavour. The noodles are tossed in various variations of sauces. Some are mainly lard and soy sauce, some add chili into the lard and soy sauce, and yet others such as the Pontian style, further add in oyster sauce and tomato ketchup. The noodles are garnished with thin slices of char siew. In this aspect, Johor char siew is less appealing to me than the chunky slightly charred and heavily caramelised variety in KL. Wanton mee (of course) comes with a bowl of wantons in a clear soup with strips of chye sim (greens).

Back to home page.

ONE63 European Bistro and Bar New Year's Eve Dinner 2013 in Johor Bahru

ONE63-European-Bistro-Bar-Johor-Bahru

Adelyn from ONE63 European Bistro and Bar invited me to preview their New Year's Eve Menu. The 7 course dinner comes with free flow of Italian house wines and bubblies costs RM388++ per person.

ONE63-European-Bistro-Bar-Johor-Bahru

This special menu is the creation of Executive Chef Kelvin Lee. Kelvin is a passionate chef with the vision to share European fine dining with Johoreans. Read more about Kevin in my post about my earlier visit to ONE63 European Bistro.

ONE63-European-Bistro-Bar-Johor-Bahru

French dinners are whole night long affairs, taking time to appreciate the food and enjoy the company with free flowing wine and good music.

Kelvin has created a menu of French and Italian specialities with a creative local twist at the end :D Each course was a delight and left me eagerly anticipating the next. At the end, my stomach was full but left me craving and hungry to come back again to enjoy Kelvin's artistry.

Follow me in reliving my fine dining experience at ONE63. Warning: Bear with me, this post will be long and self indulgent as a good European dinner on New Year's eve should be :D

ONE63-European-Bistro-Bar-New-Year's-Eve-Dinner-Johor-Bahru
ONE63-European-Bistro-Bar-Johor-Bahru

While waiting for the first course, we nibbled at this old school buttery Yorkshire pudding. Humble, basic and yet, it's the first signal that tonight's dinner will be an experience to remember.

ONE63-European-Bistro-Bar-Johor-Bahru

We started with this large and succulent fresh American oyster with escargot caviar and sun dried tomatoes. It sounds cliché but it really did felt like I could "taste the sea". I love the flavour and the creamy tender mouth feel of top grade oysters. The escargot caviar and dried tomatoes made it even more interesting.

ONE63-European-Bistro-Bar-Johor-Bahru

Second course, duck egg bon-bon. The poached duck egg is enjoyed with duck consommé (broth). Lovely duck egg flavour. The execution of this seemingly simple dish and the beautiful plating left me in awe of Kevin's obsessive artistry. 

ONE63-European-Bistro-Bar-New-Year's-Eve-Dinner-Johor-Bahru
ONE63-European-Bistro-Bar-Johor-Bahru

Third course. Kevin's risotto is the best that I have ever tasted.

Hey, don't take my word for it. Kevin's risotto was voted the best risotto in Southeast Asia by HungryGoWhere readers in 2010. 

The thick sauce was robustly savoury and the rice grains had a nice nutty bite. I want to come back to ONE63 for this, definitely. 

ONE63-European-Bistro-Bar-Johor-Bahru

The risotto was served with a deep sea Spanish Carbinaros prawn. The Spanish Carbinaros prawn with capsicum caviar was creamy, savoury and refreshing in the mouth. Just one, so I took my time to savour it :D

ONE63-European-Bistro-and-Bar-Johor-Bahru
ONE63-European-Bistro-Bar-Johor-Bahru
ONE63-European-Bistro-Bar-Johor-Bahru

What is this strange but crunchy looking red alien? Not an alien, but the taste was indeed, out of this world. It's the Carbinaros prawn's head. Can you see it's brain?

ONE63-European-Bistro-Bar-Johor-Bahru
ONE63-European-Bistro-Bar-Johor-Bahru

Course four, grilled ox tongue with asparagus, tomato fondue and truffle jus.

ONE63-European-Bistro-Johor-Bahru

The thin slice of grilled ox tongue was wrapped around a stalk of boiled American asparagus. The tongue was soft but chewy. I like the slight beefy flavour and the tongue's leathery yet tender texture. 

ONE63-European-Bistro-Bar-Johor-Bahru

Fifth course was a large chunk of roasted cod fish with green pea puree and vegetable à la grecque. It looks beautifully black because it was coated with charcoal butter.

ONE63-European-Bistro-Bar-Johor-Bahru

The thick chunk of snowy cod was tender and juicy with a refreshing natural sweetness. The outer butter charcoal layer gives it a subtle savouriness. 

ONE63-European-Bistro-Bar-Johor-Bahru

Sixth course, the roasted lamb loin served with wine leaves, filo pastry, caramelised beetroot, eggplant caviar and natural jus.

Done medium rare, the lamb was juicy and tender with a mild lamb flavour which I like. 

ONE63-European-Bistro-Bar-Johor-Bahru

The eggplant caviar was a blend of egg plant pulp and caviar.

ONE63-European-Bistro-Bar-Johor-Bahru

The final course, pineapple ravioli dessert. It's an original Kevin Lee creation which is a fusion of Southeast Asian and European.

ONE63-European-Bistro-Bar-Johor-Bahru

The ravioli is a "pineapple tart filling" in the middle, wrapped with two thin slices of pineapple. The ravioli were topped with pineapple sauce and Campari Espuma.

With this beautiful and unique dessert, the dinner ended on a sweet and refreshing note.

Personally, this scrumptious dinner made me very happy. Happy because since I started to blog about Johor food two years ago, I found the Johor food scene more interesting each year. With this dinner at ONE63, I am confidently optimistic that there will be more great things to come in the Johor food scene in 2014.

ONE63-European-Bistro-Bar-Johor-Bahru

We can have our New Year's eve dinner at the Liquid Room at the ground level.

ONE63-European-Bistro-Bar-Johor-Bahru

At the Dining Room upstairs.

ONE63-European-Bistro-Bar-Johor-Bahru

Or, the private room which seats 10 people comfortably.

ONE63-European-Bistro-Bar-Johor-Bahru

One63 European Bistro and Bar is located at the northern end of historic Jalan Trus. It is steps away from Tropical Inn hotel.

Customers can park their cars at the nearby Tropical Inn. After 8:00pm, parking is free at Tropical Inn :D

Johor Kaki takes this opportunity to wish readers, Happy New Year and a great year ahead in 2014.

ONE63-European-Bistro-Bar-Johor-Bahru

Restaurant name: ONE63 European Bistro & Bar
Address: 163, Jalan Ngee Heng, Johor Bahru (beside Tropical Inn)
Map: http://goo.gl/maps/lg22W
GPS: 1.465643,103.760075
Hours: 11:00am to 12:00 midnight daily
No pork, no lard, alcohol served

Date visited: 28 Jun 2013, 28 Dec 2013


Back to home page.

Top 10 Unique Johor Foods which Visitors Must Try - 2014



This post is dedicated mainly to guests of Johor. I asked friends of Johor Kaki Blog, Johor Sedap group, and Johor Yummy group for suggestions. Many friends responded with many interesting suggestions.

After many rounds of discussions, these 10 foods are chosen for their uniqueness to Johor. These are the types of food which visitors who have not tried them before leaving Johor will regret when they got home :P

1. Laksa Johor

Laksa-Johor


Laksa Johor is truly a unique dish found nowhere else. The gravy is thick, almost like a paste, made with a blend of herbs, spices and ground fish like ikan parang or ikan tenggiri. The uniqueness of Laksa Johor is that instead of the usual noodles or bee hoon, spaghetti is used. (Yes, the Italian pasta.) This unique East-West fusion was created by Sultan Abu Bakar of Johor who during his visit to Italy over a 100 years ago fell in love with spaghetti and ordered his palacce chef to make laksa with it. Get Laksa Johor here.

2. Mee Rebus

Mee-Rebus

Mee rebus can be found outside of Johor but the Hj Wahid and tulang style of mee rebus originate in Johor. The gravy is the soul of mee rebus as the noodles are just ordinary yellow mee. Hj Wahid's gravy is thick and heavy yet not starchy. It is savoury, peanutty, slightly sweet and mildly spicy from the curry spices. The mee rebus is given a dash of kicap (dark soy sauce) and vinegar before serving. The tulang version comes with a lamb shank bone. Mee rebus tulang gravy has the gaminess of lamb which mutton fans love. Fans of shank bone mee rebus will suck up the warm savoury bone marrow with a drinking straw. Get Johor mee rebus here.

3. Mee Bandung Muar

10-Unique-Johor-Food-Every-Visitor-Must-Try-2014

Mee bandung Muar has nothing to do with the Indonesian city of Bandung, but is a Muar original. The popular dish consists of yellow noodles smothered in a thick grainy, robustly flavoured gravy of dried shrimps, fresh shrimps, beef, squid, eggs, chili and curry spices. The Malay word "bandung" in this case means "paired or mixed". MBM can be found all over Malaysia and Singapore, but the best are said to be in it's birth place, Muar. Get mee bandung Muar here.

4. Otak Otak Muar


10-Unique-Johor-Food-Every-Visitor-Must-Try-2014

Otak otak is common in Malaysia and Singapore, but the Muar version is highly sought after because it is solidly packed with fresh mackerel fish flavoured with chili, curry spices and rich coconut milk. The flaky bits of fish meat have a good bouncy bite. While in other places, otak otak is made with narrow strips of coconut leaves, otak otak Muar comes in thick slabs wrapped in banana leaves. Get otak otak Muar here.

5. Kway Teow Kia

Kway-Teow-Kia

Kway teow kia refers to the small, flat kway teow rice noodles served mainly with braised pork innards. In Johor, the mainly Teochew style braising sauce is light-medium bodied, mildly herbal and delightfully savoury from cooking the innards till they are tender. The innards like intestines are often served together with braised belly pork, skin, ears, blood curd, and tongue. Some kway teow kia stalls also sell braised duck, chicken feet, tofu and eggs along with braised pork. Get kway teow kia here.

6. Sungai Rengit Lobsters

10-Must-Try-Foods-Johor

Spiny lobsters thrive along the rocky shorelines of Pengerang and spawned many seafood restaurants in Sungai Rengit town (near Desaru), also known as Lobster Town. Spiny lobsters have a unique refreshing flavour and a firm springy mouth feel. Sungai Rengit restaurants cook the lobsters in a variety of ways - the most popular being bathed with "superior broth" or coated with buttery batter and deep fried. We can also have the lobsters shashimi style. Get Johor lobsters here.

7. Pontian Wanton Mee

10-Must-Try-Foods-Johor

The Pontian style of wanton mee has spawned franchises all over Malaysia and Singapore. Meanwhile, the original Pontian wanton mee stalls (which have no links with the franchises that bear it's name) plod on in Pontian, the way they have always been for the past decades. In most aspects, Pontian wanton mee is similar to their cousins elsewhere except for its unique sauce. The blend of tomato ketchup, chili paste, oyster sauce, dark soy sauce and lard produces a tangy, spicy, savoury sauce that some will die for while others are indifferent to. Love it or hate it, Pontian wanton mee is uniquely Johor. Get Pontian wanton mee here.

8. San Lou Bee Hoon

San-Low-Bee-Hoon

San Lou bee hoon 三楼炒米粉 is a unique dish invented in Johor Bahru. It is really a variation of the ordinary fried bee hoon executed with mastery of wok fire 鑊氣 that makes it special. San Lou bee hoon is presented flattened and the outer caramelised layer of the bee hoon is slightly charred. Overall, the bee hoon is dry but not stringy. San Lou bee hoon tastes savoury as it is fried in seafood broth with small pieces of shrimps, squid, lean pork, eggs and choy sum (green vegetable). The inner bee hoon strands retain a little moistness from the seafood broth it is fried in. Get San Lou bee hoon here.

9. Cathay Laksa

Cathay-Laksa

Cathay laksa is a well known version of laksa originated in Johor. The broth is based on stock made by boiling anchovies and soy bean. In the early days (1920s), the pioneering Cathay laksa hawkers went to the Indian spice shops along Jalan Trus to buy their Indian curry spices for laksa. The same spices are used to this day. Cathay laksa is served with fried fish balls made with ikan parang, freshly shelled cockles, and fried freshly made tofu, and fried tofu skin. Cathay curry laksa broth is savoury, light (as it uses coconut milk moderately) and mildy spicy. Get Cathay laksa here.

10. Johor Home Grown Coffee

10-Unique-Johor-Food-Every-Visitor-Must-Try

Johor long has a thriving coffee culture with it's own character and flavours. Today, old school Nanyang kopitiams (coffee shops) co-exist with trendy espresso bar cafés. Of note, several Johor coffee shops are fully integrated, meaning, they have their own plantations growing their own coffee beans, processing facilities, through to cafés all in Johor. Examples of fully integrated Johor coffee shops are My LibericaKopi 434, Rengit Coffee, and others. Enjoy a cuppa of Johor's home grown flavours be it in an old school kopitiam or a trendy café. Get Johor coffee here. My hipster cafe hopping guide in Jay Bee here.

Back to home page.