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

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

Uber Taxi in Johor Bahru

Uber Taxi is now in Johor Bahru. 

(While Uber Taxi is just a month old in Johor Bahru, it is already well established in Singapore, Kuala Lumpur and many major cities around the world.)

As I have been asked many times by Johor Kaki readers how to go food hunting in Johor Bahru by public transport, I was glad to try out Uber Taxi to see if it is a good option for foodies visiting Johor Bahru.

So, my buddy David Wang and I went on a Uber Taxi food trail to try out the taxi service personally. I wanted to check if the idea of taking public bus to Johor Bahru and then using Uber Taxi to go for food trail and shopping is workable.

Uber-Taxi-Johor-Bahru

We boarded the public bus at Woodlands Bus Interchange. Just any public bus that takes you across the Causeway will do e.g. SMRT 160, 170, 950, 911 etc.

Uber-Taxi-Johor-Bahru

Once across the Causeway and cleared immigration, we went to the regular taxi stand area and requested for an Uber Taxi using the mobile Uber Taxi App.

The Uber Taxi App can be downloaded on our mobile for free and it is very easy to use. (Once downloaded the App can be used worldwide.)

I like it that once we requested for a taxi, the Uber Taxi App will show us the driver's photo, rating by customers, the type car and licence plate number of the car, the current location of the car, and it's expected arrival time down to the minute. Once our taxi request is accepted, the driver and us can even call or message each other to ensure smooth pick up.

The Uber Taxi App even shows us the real time, moment by moment movement of the taxi (which is a private car) as it approaches our location.

When the taxi arrives we can match the driver's face with the person at the steering wheel. I like this safety feature :D

Uber-Taxi-Johor-Bahru

Our Uber Taxi driver was Ainur who was rated 4.9 out of 5 stars by passengers. 

To ensure passenger safety, Uber Taxi conducts background and driving licence checks on all drivers under the programme.

Oh..., the driver also rates the passenger so other Uber drivers know whether we are good customers or not :D

I like it that Uber Taxi rides are cashless. There is no negotiation or haggling with the taxi driver. Everything is automatically calculated based on GPS and time, and billed directly to our credit card registered with Uber during signup (no need to swipe card in taxi).

At the end of the ride, the Uber Taxi App sends me a very detailed email receipt instantly.

Very clear, simple, no cash transactions, no card swiping and no fuss at all :D

Uber-Taxi-Johor-Bahru

We went to Just Want Coffee, The Factory 30 outlet which is located in an industrial area of Taman Mount Austin. It is rather inaccessible by public transport but with Uber Taxi it was a breeze.

As all Uber Taxis are equipped with an iPhone, the drivers are able to easily go to our destinations using GPS (co-ordinates are available in Johor Kaki blog). In any case, most of the drivers are Johoreans who are familiar with Johor Bahru.

Uber-Taxi-Johor-Bahru

Here's me requesting another Uber Taxi after our tea at The Glasshouse Tearoom.

Glasshouse Tearoom is another of those really cool chill out places in Jay Bee that is accessible only by private car or taxi.

Uber-Taxi-Johor-Bahru

As I could see the progress of the Uber taxi down to the last minute, I could stay in the comfort of the restaurant till the taxi just arrived. 

Uber-Taxi-Johor-Bahru

It's Ainur again :D

He was so thoughtful. As it was drizzling, he came to get me with an umbrella :D



Oh, Ainur fetched me in a Toyota Camry. All Uber taxis are private cars. I have ridden with three drivers so far - the cars were Toyota Camry, Honda City and Toyota Vios. All the cars I rode were young (about 3 years old or less) and very clean. There was no stale cigarette smell at all.



Dropped off at Hong Kong Boy kopitiam in Taman Johor Jaya.

Uber-Taxi-Johor-Bahru

Taman Johor Jaya is a hive of activity in the evening and at night.

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Our last food stop was at Meldrum Walk, the back alley of delicious food behind Jalan Wong Ah Fook. (But, nowadays some of the stalls appeared to be closed.)

Uber-Taxi-Johor-Bahru

I have ridden with three different Uber Taxi drivers so far and I have given all three a 5 stars out of 5 rating as they were all polite, friendly and safe.

For Singapore foodies, Uber Taxis is an good option to beat the revised Causeway tolls for private cars :D

Get a few kakis, signup and check out Uber Taxi for yourself. The Uber Taxi App can be used worldwide. The signup bonus will help pay for your first trip, so there is really no excuse not to try :D

Video and photo credit: David Wang

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Liang Kee Teochew Restaurant in Singapore 亮记餐馆

My first visit to Liang Kee Teochew Restaurant 亮记餐馆 and I was pretty impressed with the food at this unassuming and somewhat low key eating house.

Personally, Liang Kee is one of the better old school Teochew restaurants that I have tried in Singapore so far. All the ingredients were fresh and the tasty dishes were well executed in the old way. 



I feel the quality of the dishes at Liang Kee was consistent because the boss Chef Ng Siang Lin and this younger brother personally cook in the kitchen. From my observation, at the more famous Teochew restaurants there are usually crushing crowds and the boss is often out mingling with VIP regulars, leaving the cooking to a platoon of employees. The result is often similar to what I call the "banquet syndrome" - one good signature dish at the front and one near the end (usually the dessert), and the dishes in between are often average fillers.

The food quality at Liang Kee was consistently good though I liked some dishes more than others. 

Liang-Kee-Teochew-Restaurant-Singapore-亮记餐馆

Sambal Crayfish.

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Meaty and bouncy flesh but the very slight natural flavour of the crayfish was overpowered by the sambal. The sambal was mostly salty/ savoury with very mild spiciness.

Not my preferred way of cooking crayfish.

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The mixed platter of traditional Teochew braised meats and toufu. 

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Liang-Kee-Teochew-Restaurant-Singapore-亮记餐馆

The herbal braising sauce was mildly flavoured, light bodied and tea coloured. The braising tenderised the belly pork and duck, and the sauce highlighted the meat's natural flavours. The good knife work 刀工 accentuated the flavours and presented the meat's best textures too. 

I like Liang Kee's braised dishes.

Liang-Kee-Teochew-Restaurant-Singapore-亮记餐馆

Classic Teochew Pork Trotter Jelly (ter kar tan or Pork Aspic) 猪脚冻.

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Love the tender diced fat and lean meat held together with gelatin melted and chilled into a jelly. Lovely mix of tender textures and layers of savouriness. 

A fine example of the finesse of Teochew traditional dishes.

Liang-Kee-Teochew-Restaurant-Singapore-亮记餐馆

The dish that stole the limelight our hearts was the Teochew Double Shell Cold Crab.

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The steamed crab meat was firm, meaty, juicy, sweet and very slightly briny like the taste of the sea.

Super like.

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The roe and creamy parts were rich, savoury and sweet.

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But, the ultimate coup de grace was the second soft shell under the hard outside shell of the moulting crab. The soft shell had the dense texture of cooked salted egg white but tasted just slightly savoury with natural sweet notes.

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Leather Jacket Fish (Ti Kia) with Bean Sauce. The Leather Jacket fish's firm white meat doesn't have much flavour and relied on the savoury bean sauce for taste. This dish is a Liang Kee house specialty and quite popular, probably because it is a Teochew comfort dish.

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Chai Poh Kway Teow. Very well executed with good wok hei, just the right amount of oil and nice layers of savouriness from the cai poh and soy based sauce. The greens and bean sprouts were juicy and crunchy.

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We rounded up our lunch with orh nee 潮式芋泥 which is almost a cliché of Teochew desserts.

I like Liang Kee's version which is house made with grainy yam paste, gingko nut and sweet potato. The orh nee felt suitably rich though the lady boss confirmed that no lard was used.

Liang-Kee-Teochew-Restaurant-Singapore-亮记餐馆

Liang Kee is one Teochew restaurant in Singapore that I look forward to going back to.

If you are looking for a simple, accessible (just steps from Boon Keng MRT), family friendly restaurant with good food minus all the frills, give Liang Kee a try.

Restaurant name: Liang Kee Teochew Restaurant 亮记餐馆
Address: Blk 34, Whampoa West, #01-27 Singapore 
Maphttp://goo.gl/maps/t2GKq
GPS: 1.320484,103.862686
Hours11.30am to 2pm, 6pm to 10pm (Open daily)
Tel: (+65) 62977789
Non Halal




Date visited: 27 Sep 2014

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Pek Sin Choon Tea Merchants Singapore 白新春 - Heritage Heroes Series

Pek Sin Choon 白新春 is one of the oldest tea merchants in Singapore. Established in 1925 by the grandfather of Kenry Peh, the third generation owner.

I am privileged to know Kenry personally.



Kenry is a consummate story teller and a gracious gentleman. 

Pek-Sin-Choon-Tea-Merchants-Singapore-白新春

At every visit, Kenry would regale us with captivating and charming stories about Chinese tea, tea appreciation and tea culture in Singapore. I am in awe with the depth of Kenry's knowledge about Chinese tea and admire his patience in sharing it passionately with novices like me. 

Be warned.

Kenry infects people with tea love :p

Pek-Sin-Choon-Tea-Merchants-Singapore-白新春

Kenry has a special way of making people drool over delicious stories and historical details which are actually as dry as tea leaves. (bro Kenry, please pardon the pun, cannot resist :P  )

Kenry's mastery of the tea trade and culture did not come easy. He had to start at the bottom of his grandfather's shop, learning the ropes the hard way with one of the company's loyal, old tea masters. Kenry shared that, sometimes in the middle of tea processing and blending, the tea master would suddenly excuse himself and left the young Kenry to manage the crucial procedures alone. The master would reappear only when the process was complete.



Years later, the old master told Kenry that he wanted to make sure that Kenry truly had the passion and commitment towards tea culture and tea trade. He didn't want Kenry to be in charge of Pek Sin Choon just because he was the founder's family.

Kenry passed the test with flying colours. 

Actually, I have never seen anyone live and breathe tea like Kenry.



In the old days, it was customary for customers to drink Chinese tea with bak kut teh 肉骨茶 "to wash away" the greasiness in the meaty, hearty pork broth.

Kenry's grandfather pioneered premium tea appreciation and social bonding with eating bak kut teh. Initially, the bak kut teh bosses were skeptical about the coupling but customer response proved that it was a brilliant idea, the ultimate pairing 绝配.

Pek-Sin-Choon-Tea-Merchants-Singapore-白新春

Today, almost all the major bak kut teh restaurants in Singapore use Pek Sin Choon's premium teas - the most famous of which is 不知香 or "Unknown Fragrance".

不知香 is a blend of Wuyi Oolong and Anxi tea with a pleasant gentle piquant aftertaste.

Lau-Ah-Tee-Bak-Kut-Teh-Sinagpore-老亚弟肉骨茶

Till this day, Kenry still champions the heritage of pairing tea appreciation and enjoying bak kut teh. I had the good fortune to be part of Kenry's tea and bak kut teh sessions occasionally. This was our session at Lau Ah Tee bak kut teh 老亚弟肉骨茶 which I enjoyed very much. 

Delicious food, lovely tea and great company.

What more could anyone ask for?



At Pek Sin Choon, the teas are still lovingly packed by hand in the old way 包, in traditional pink paper packaging. 

Kenry could easily automate this part of the process and save money with an off-the-shelf packaging machine but he remains committed to heritage and the human touch in his teas. 



Though Kenry is gracious and generous with his precious time, time flies when I am with Kenry, the true tea master.

I am always left thirsting for another tea session.

(The Heritage Heroes Series celebrates the new generation who have our shared heritage at heart, and in whose hands our collective heritage is safe and will continue to thrive.)

If you like Pek Sin Choon tea delivered to you free of charge with $50 purchase, you can ☎ 6323 3238 ✆ 8426 6280 📧 order@peksinchoon.com

Pek Sin Choon Tea Merchants 白新春
Address: 36 Mosque Street, Singapore (5 minutes' walk from Chinatown MRT station)
GPS: 1.283667,103.845187
Hours: 8:00am to 7:00pm (Closed Sunday and Public Holidays)
Tel: (+65) 6323 3238



No pork, no lard, no Halal cert

Dates visited: Numerous occasions since 2013

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Johor Kaki Interview with SuperMag 超大誌

Johor Kaki was interviewed by SuperMag 超大誌, a prominent bilingual lifestyle magazine on living, learning, playing and investing in the fast growing Iskandar Development Region in Johor.

Johor-Kaki-Interview-SuperMag-超大誌

请你说说当初为什么会想到来新山品尝美食并上载到你的部落格呢?

What made you started blogging, and in particular about Johor food?

Living in Singapore, we have always enjoyed Johor food. At first, I just wanted a place where I can keep simple notes on the delicious food that I came across in Johor. A blog is a good place to start since I can post photos, videos and stories on the World Wide Web at an affordable cost.

Not long after I started blogging about the food I tasted in Johor, I began getting feedback from readers who found Johor Kaki blog useful. As I got more into blogging, I also realised that there are many good hawkers whose interesting stories and their food are not recorded anywhere.

So with readers' encouragement and a personal mission to tell the stories of hawkers and share about their food, I blogged more and more, and hasn't stopped since.

你是不是特别钟爱古早味的美食呢?原因是? 

You seemed to have a preference for local heritage food, is that true?

Actually, I enjoy all delicious food. It doesn't matter whether they are traditional, modern, local or foreign.

But, if it is a traditional dish like mee rebus, wanton mee, curry laksa or nasi bryani, it is sometimes difficult to taste again the flavours and smell the aromas we enjoyed during our childhood days. Many of our memories of people and places are tied to these old flavours, aromas, tastes, looks and feel of traditional food.

Many of my friends feel the same nostalgia, so I think this sentiment is quite common, especially among the older generations.

So, I keep a look out for shops that still do things the old way, serve food that tastes, smells, looks and feels like those we enjoyed long ago. Whenever I come across such shops, I will definitely share it in Johor Kaki blog.

The strong response from readers to Johor Kaki stories on heritage food and shops, is very encouraging. 

在短短的时间内,你的美食部落格深受欢迎并且荣获多次部落格大奖,和我们说说你的感想。 

How do you feel about your recent awards and new-found fame?

I am grateful for the support of Johor Kaki readers for their votes and encouragement. My heartfelt thanks also to the hawkers because it is really their food and stories that won the judges' hearts.

I am very happy that with the awards more people in Malaysia and Singapore are aware that Johor has many delicious food that is unique to Johor. I am also glad to see more bloggers in Johor and more bloggers are blogging about Johor food.

One day, we may see Johor food become famous like Penang food, Ipoh food and Malacca food.

你吃遍大大小小的美食摊位,有没有哪些摊位是令你难忘的?

Any "food-worthy" recommendations and heart wrenching stories?

I am most heartened when I see those old stalls and shops where the new generations are willing to carry on their parents' and grandparents' business. Especially when the new generation stays faithful to the original recipes and methods yet apply relevant modern management principles to help the business thrive and reach further, and into future markets.

Examples are Hiap Joo bakery in old downtown Johor Bahru, and Hui Mian Zhi Jia noodle house in Pontian. 

未来的你有什么计划去经营你的部落格呢?

What are your future plans for Johor Kaki?

Johor will be the focus of Johor Kaki blog and from there I will also be exploring and sharing about the food from other places in Singapore, Malaysia and places that I have the opportunity to travel to.

I will continue to do what I am doing for as long as I can.

Hopefully one day, Johor food will become famous like Penang food, Ipoh food and Malacca food.

Tony

27 Sep 2014

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Carbon Market in Cebu - More Fun in the Philippines

Carbon Market is the oldest and largest farmers' market in Cebu City, in The Philippines.

Why the quaint name Carbon Market? This over 100 year old market was where coal was unloaded from trains and stored here in huge open heaps in the old days. Coal is not found here anymore but the charming name Carbon Market remained.

Which is apt as this public market where locals do their marketing is indeed charming (it is not really suitable for the attractions and mall shopping type of tourists or for children).

It did charmed me and as I was writing this post, I hoped to revisit the fascinating Carbon Market soon.

Carbon-Market-Cebu-More-Fun-Philippines

The easiest way to get to Carbon Market, or for that matter almost anywhere in Cebu City, is by jeepney. They are plentiful, affordable and I found them fun to ride. The stall lined streets around Carbon Market are often congested with vehicles and people.

Carbon-Market-Cebu-More-Fun-Philippines

Carbon Market is just beside the large blue and white UJSR (University of San Jose- Recoleto) building. 

Carbon-Market-Cebu-More-Fun-Philippines

Locals get their vegetables, fish, poultry, meat and other daily necessities here. Carbon Market is also an attraction for adventurous, intrepid tourists prepared to walk the streets, go local and see Cebu City and it's people at the raw, street level.

Carbon-Market-Cebu-More-Fun-Philippines

The streets were lined with hawkers cooking and selling all kinds of food and snacks in makeshift kitchens under the blazing sun.  (I noticed the food stalls more, perhaps because I am food blogger :P  )

The flimsy umbrella barely kept the sun out and would be quite useless when it is raining or when strong winds blow.

Carbon-Market-Cebu-More-Fun-Philippines

The stall holders were friendly, always ready to give visitors and cameras their warm smiles.

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Live chicken on sale.

Carbon-Market-Cebu-More-Fun-Philippines Carbon-Market-Cebu-More-Fun-Philippines

There were many stalls making these pink looking sausages by the mile (these sausages are popular BBQ food in Cebu) .

Actually, after seeing how the sausages were made, I hesitate to eat too much of these. It's mostly skin and fat mince. The pink you see is not lean meat. It's red food dye. 

Carbon-Market-Cebu-More-Fun-Philippines

Heaps of chicken intestines. Something not seen in Singapore anymore. I love chicken intestines done the chewy, crunchy "glass" way 玻璃肠 at chicken rice stalls in Singapore (used to have) and Malaysia (still have).

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Balut sellers are common in Cebu. There were a few at Carbon Market. 

Balut-Carbon-Market-Cebu-More-Fun-Philippines

Balut is a duck egg with a foetus inside.

Balut-Carbon-Market-Cebu-More-Fun-Philippines

This was my first taste of this Philippines food icon.

Balut-Carbon-Market-Cebu-More-Fun-Philippines

It was not bad quite tasty actually. The foetus was very soft, so the texture was just like salted egg white. I could not feel the feathers, bones or beak. The taste too was similar to salted egg white.

But, I don't think I will eat it again :P



There were many small stalls selling fresh fish.

Not sure what these bright eyed cute looking fish were.

Carbon-Market-Cebu-More-Fun-Philippines

Don't know what these meaty shellfish were too. They were like seeham (cockles) but as big as a child's fist. All I can say is Cebu is truly blessed with wonderful seafood.

Carbon-Market-Cebu-More-Fun-Philippines

One of the larger fishmongers at Carbon Market. Big fish like Merlin and Tuna are common here.

Carbon-Market-Cebu-More-Fun-Philippines

A small mountain of sun dried fish.

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Taho-Carbon-Market-Cebu-More-Fun-Philippines

Taho which is actually bean curd (tau huay 豆花) over sweetened with brown sugar and evaporated milk.

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We shared some of our snacks with these curious boys.

We were earlier advised by local friends not to, but we relented.

Carbon-Market-Cebu-More-Fun-Philippines

Boys enjoying a basket game, unfazed by the scorching sun and the barren patch.

Filipinos have a resilient, happy spirit.

I am looking forward to experience the colours, buzz, heat, smells, and flavours of Carbon Market again :D

Address: Junction of M.C. Briones Street and F. Calderon Street
Maphttp://goo.gl/maps/VvXEZ
GPS: 10.291622,123.898111
Hours: Morning and night market

Date visited: 9 Mar 2014

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