Update 22 Aug 2019. All over Malaysia, there are warung pokok ceri which literally means "food stall under the cherry tree". These food stalls provide affordable staples, usually breakfast, tea and lunch for workers nearby to enjoy under the shade of leafy trees - a necessity in Malaysia's stifling tropical heat. In downtown JB, there is a popular one opposite Puteri Pacific Hotel and Persada Johor Convention Centre, known as Warung Pokok Ceri Bandaraya.
It usually goes something like this. Where there are gatherings of people like near factories, offices, schools etc, hawkers set up mobile stalls nearby under big trees or scrubs - often cherry trees. As the stall thrives and prospers, it slowly transforms into a restaurant of sorts with concrete floor and zinc roof. Warung Pokok Ceri Bandaraya is one such quintessentially Malaysian stall. This morning a worker was harvesting mangoes at the stall and giving away to customers.
There really are pokok ceri (cherry trees) here. Who remembers those toy pistols we made out of cherry wood and rubber bands that shoot "bullets" of buah ceri - those hard green cherry from the pokok ceri? We played "police and thieves" and "combat" many afternoons after school. A hit from a buah ceri was quite painful, I remember 😂
Warung Pokok Ceri Bandaraya is a relatively well developed warung with a big space, cement floor, zinc roof, concrete tables etc. I was here at 11am before the lunch crowd descends.
Customers help ourselves from the pots, trays and pans of cooked dishes. As the owners are Kelantanese, the dishes have a Kelantan flavour e.g. the singgang ikan tongkol at the lower left side of the picture.
Various fiery looking chicken, fish and even pineapple curry.
There will always be fried chicken because everyone loves fried chicken 😄
My simple lunch today. Warung Pokok Ceri's signature charcoal grilled ikan kembung and two types of vegetables - long beans and a gourd. I splashed the rice with two types of curries flooding (banjir) the plate. A milky coconut heavy curry and a red spice heavy curry. Everything here for RM11.
Simple and nice, I like the crunchy chewy texture of the seed of the pulpy gourd a lot.
Fresh fish charcoal grilled to a slight char outside. Inside it was moist and tender. The characteristic taste and texture of ikan kembung are familiar and comforting. This is Warung Pokok Ceri Bandaraya's most popular dish.
No frills, no gimmicks. Just a satisfying, wholesome, tasty comforting meal at an affordable price.
Warung Pokok Ceri Bandaraya is directly across Jalan Abdullah Ibrahim from Persada Johor Convention Centre and Puteri Pacific Hotel.
Restaurant name: Warung Pokok Ceri Bandaraya
Address: Jalan Duke / Abdullah Ibrahim in downtown Johor Bahru (Across the road from Persada Johor [convention centre] and Puteri Pacific Hotel)
GPS: 1.460562,103.761706 🌐 1°27'38.0"N 103°45'42.1"E
Hours: 24 hours (No rest day)
Date visited: 22 Aug 2019
Archive post dated Jun 2014. I was first introduced to Warung Pokok Ceri by my JB friend Kumes.
Warung Pokok Ceri (literally "the stall under the Cherry Tree) is hidden under and behind the clump of short leafy trees and scrubs along Jalan Duke - it is easy to miss, unless one knows where to look.
Warung Pokok Ceri is right across the road from Persada Johor (convention centre) along Jalan Duke. So look out for this pretty building.
Warung Pokok Ceri is a popular lunch place for people working in the surrounding area.
Customers dine under the shade of colourful umbrella canopies and small leafy trees, but it can still get pretty hot here.
Warung Pokok Ceri serves a wide variety of different freshly cooked dishes neatly laid out in trays for customers. The best time to be here is slightly before noon, ahead of the lunch crowd.
The popular fried egg omelete, and there are plenty more of other traditional Malay dishes offered here.
Warung Pokok Ceri has an impressive ulam section. Ulam is a form of Malay salad using a variety of fresh local vegetables such as petai (my favourite stinky beans), cucumbers and egg plants. The crunchy local vegetables are eaten with spicy or savoury sambal dips.
There is something for everyone at Warung Pokok Ceri and the dish that I keep coming back for is their freshly grilled kembong fish (available during lunch time).
The fresh kembong fish, gutted and lightly marinated with curry spices, are grilled at the warung over red hot charcoal fire.
Fresh ikan kembong straight from the charcoal grill to the table.
My simple lunch of grilled kambong fish and boiled banana shoots with a bit of sambal and curry gravy.
My bowl of fish soup with a chunky mackerel steak. The soup was served lukewarm while I am more accustomed to hot soup. The mackerel was also cooked till it was quite hard.
The mackerel was cold, hard and fibrous. I decided to dunk it in savoury sambal to give it some flavour.
The grilled fish always works for me. Very slightly charred and crisp outside with moist and tender flesh inside.
For drinks I had a limau ais (lime juice with ice) which I found a bit too sugary for my liking.
My lunch of grilled kembong fish, mackerel fish soup, vegetable, rice and cold drink came to RM10.
Besides rice, meat, fish and vegetable dishes, Warung Pokok Ceri also serves various kinds of traditional cakes and sweet desserts.
If you work in the area or if you are a visitor who wants to eat local, you may want to give Warung Pokok Ceri a try.
->> Get a taste of Kelantan food here in Johor Bahru. Plenty of traditional dishes here from the Peninsula east coast states. My favourite is their fresh charcoal grilled fish.
Restaurant name: Warung Pokok Ceri
Address: Jalan Duke in downtown Johor Bahru (Across the road from Persada Johor [convention centre] and Puteri Pacific Hotel)
GPS: 1.460562,103.761706 / 1°27'38.0"N 103°45'42.1"E
Hours: 24 hours (No rest day)
Dates visited: 6 Nov 2013, 11 Jun 2014
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