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

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World Street Food Congress WSFC 2015 - Come and Eat at Bugis MRT Station, Singapore 8 - 12 Apr 2015

I attended the press conference for the World Street Food Congress WSFC 2015 today. The biennial Congress held from 8 - 12 Apr at the doorstep of Bugis MRT station in Singapore, has dialogue sessions and an awards ceremony, but what caught my attention most is the Jamboree ;-p


Organised by Makansutra, the Jamboree is just Kf Seetoh's atas term for food fair or makan party lah...


The venue for the makan party cannot be anymore convenient.

It is right next to the Bugis MRT station. Just step out of the subway station and you are there - go straight into the food stalls and party! ;-D

What are we expecting?

Some familiar and many new taste experiences from far away, all around the globe. Makansutra has done all the hard work, so we can just come and makan (eat) lah.

There are 23 stalls representing some of the best street food from 12 cities around the world. All personally selected by Kf Seetoh.

Here is a sneak preview of some of the goodies ;-p

(Can't reveal all, so you must come lah ;-p ).


Soto Ayam from Indonesia (HALAL).

Not your ordinary soto ayam. Pak Sadi's soto has milk fish and seafood stock in his chicken broth. He also laced it with fried shallots and powdered keropok.

Power right?


Gudeg yu nap from Bandung, Java, Indonesia. HALAL.

Green jackfruit sambal eaten with grilled chicken and cow skin crackers (huh?).

I have never tried this dish before.

I am sure gonna try this at the WSFC Jamboree.


Ayam Taliwang from Lombok, Indonesia. (HALAL).

Reputedly the spiciest chicken dish on earth. Really that hot meh? Shall we put that audacious claim to a taste test?


Kupat tauhu from West Indonesia. (HALAL).

Fried bean curd served with rice cakes, noodles, bean sprouts and nuts bathed in coconut milk and peanut sauce.


Razor thin, ultra crispy apom from Penang, Malaysia.


Satay bee hoon is a Teochew dish rarely found outside Singapore. Even in Singapore, this dish is fast disappearing. Alhambra Padang Satay is presenting a HALAL version of this vanishing Singapore dish at the WSFC Jamboree.


American food truck grub with Philippines origins.

Chicken inasal taco is charcoal grilled marinated chicken served in a taco cup dressed with fried chicken skin.

Filipino with Tex-Mex and Southern influence? 

Interesting or not?!


Truffle paella lechon from the Philippines.

Suckling pig stuffed with rice greased with truffle oil and herbs roasted in an open charcoal pit. You imagine the outcome.


Come and try it.

For sure, worth your calories.


Hoy Tord or Thai style oyster and seafood omelette.

This one, I eat before hehehe.

Fresh oysters and eggs, how not to like?


From Germany, what else but currywurst and bratwurst.

German traditional pork sausages (bratwurst) and the modern interpretation blended with masala (currywurst), now considered Germany's national street food.


Black satay or orh bak char 黑肉炒 from Penang.

Never heard of this very interesting sounding Nyonya dish.

Add another one to my Must Try list ;-p


Vietnamese style charcoal grilled seafood pancakes.


Soft shell crabs seafood combo with 3 local sauces by Keng Eng Kee or KEK, one of Singapore's best known old school zhi char 煮炒 (boil and fry) restaurants.


Prawn paste chicken burger by Hong Kong Street Chun Kee restaurant. The prawn paste chicken burger is a modern interpretation of the old classic har cheong kai 蝦醬雞. What exactly is this burger? 

Come and try it ;-D


Anticuchos are meat skewers with potatoes from Bolivia, South America.

South America is one of those places I hope to visit, but so far only have the chance to view them on Discovery Channel or in National Geographic magazine.

Thanks to WSFC Jamboree, I have the chance to try Bolivian anticuchos in Singapore.

This Bolivian style kebab is definitely on my Must Try list at the Jamboree.


These are just some of the world street food brought to us by Makansutra to the Jamboree (food fair). There will also be mee kuah which is yellow noodles in masala and mutton broth (HALAL), Bon Chovie fried anchovies (what?), traditional fried carrot cakes, more, more, more .....

Food prices range from SGD4 to SGD10 per serving. Payment is convenient. We can pay by coupons available for purchase on site, Singapore cash card (i.e. NETS etc), or by VISA and Mastercard.

I am sure gonna be there.

Catch you there! ;-D

Don't later say bojio ok? ;-p

Venue: Right the doorstep of Bugis MRT station
Address: Junction of Rochor Road and North Bridge Road, Singapore
Hours: 8 - 9 Apr (Weds - Thurs) 5:00pm to 10:30pm | 10 Apr (Fri) 4:00pm to 10:30pm | 11 - 12 Apr (Sat - Sun) 1:00pm to 10:30pm

Halal & Non Halal

Dates: 8 - 12 Apr 2015

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FAQs about Johor Kaki (Frequently Asked Questions)

I just received questions from a few different media and decided to answer them all together in this FAQ.

Are you Malaysian?

I am Singaporean.

Johor Kaki

Why do you blog about Johor food?

When I retired in end 2011, I wanted to spend my time meaningfully by contributing to a public good. But, I have very little means, except time and energy.

Around this time, it struck me that unlike in Singapore, there was almost no online record of the street hawkers of Johor. Many hawkers worked their entire lifetimes and retired with no record of their service to the community. So, I decided that I could help fill this gap.

I love to eat, travel, meet people, take photos and write short narratives, so food and travel blogging brings all these interests together naturally for me.

I chose Johor food also because it is within my limited means. I intend to pay for all my meals and Johor hawker food is still within my affordability as a retiree blogger.

The short answer is, there is a need which I can help fill with my limited resources.

Johor Kaki

What are the skills needed to be a successful blogger?

Blogging is a multi skill activity. A blogger wears many hats, so flexibility and resourcefulness are important.

The ability to write simply and clearly is essential.

Taking good photographs is important. A food blogger is a food, portrait and street photographer, all rolled into one.

A basic understanding of the workings of blogs and social media platforms is necessary. This know-how has to be constantly updated as social media changes everyday.

Empathy (I know this is more a personality trait than a skill), the willingness to listen, understand and feel for the people we write about is helpful. Appreciate also the needs of our audience so that our posts are helpful to them too.

When I first started, I knew next to nothing about Johor food and social media. My photography is also poor. My knowledge improved over time, so don't be discouraged by the multiple skills required. Anyone can improve when we put our minds to it.

Just do it, and improve along the way.

Johor Kaki

What is the greatest satisfaction you have gotten from blogging?

I get a lot of satisfaction making a positive difference for people whom I write about (hawkers), and write for (audience).

The smile in the eyes of the uncle or auntie who have been making and serving food for the past 30, sometimes 50 years, when I asked them about their story.

The messages from Johoreans overseas who told me that they reconnected with their hometown because of the food they saw in Johor Kaki blog. Food which they used to enjoy as children.

People also told me that Johor Kaki blog opened their eyes to rediscover their own hometown. They didn't know that their hometown have such delicious food and interesting people. They say they have newfound pride about their hometown.

All these feedback gives me great satisfaction.

Some of these people I got to know personally later but most I do not know.

Johor Kaki

What should your visitors be expecting while researching your blog?

I write from the perspective of a man in the street. I am no chef, food critic nor food connoisseur at all.

I am just an ordinary food lover who pens my experiences in a blog.

I try my best to describe the food in detail and as accurately as possible. I express my opinions about the food based on my personal preferences but the detailed descriptions also allow the visitors to decide for themselves if the food is for them or not.

I pen down my observations about the people and places connected to the food, to give the visitor a deeper idea about the food.

As they say, "a picture paints a thousand words" and since I also love photography, visitors will find too many photographs in my blog posts.

Johor Kaki

What is your definition of an ideal/perfect meal?

To me, an ideal meal is any meal that is lovingly prepared.

It doesn't need to be Michelin Starred or have a 1-year waiting list. It doesn't have to accord me bragging rights.

It could be mum's or pop's cooking. A quick and easy meal I cooked for myself. A partner's cooking. A friend's cooking. A hawker's cooking.

Old style chwee kway (rice cakes) from the old hawker at the street corner. The all-in-one-mouthful 飯 nasi lemak wrapped in banana leaf and old newspaper from the friendly makcik at the dusty street side stall.

Just any food prepared lovingly is a perfect meal for me.

Because, it's a gift.

Johor Kaki

Food from which Asian country do you like the most?

I like Singapore and Malaysia food the most because of it's diversity.

Say, if I am in Thailand and visit a bustling food street. There are many stalls but almost all are selling Thai food. If I go to Hong Kong, a food street will mostly sell HK Chinese food. In Singapore / Malaysia, on the same street, I can get Chinese, Indian and Malay food all together at once. 

That's why they are more special to me.

Johor Kaki

What advice would you give to other bloggers who just started their own food blog?

If you are getting into food blogging for the long haul, understand clearly why you are getting it.

There are many reasons for getting into food blogging and equally many reasons for getting out or giving up.

It's essential to have a true love or passion for food. Only when one has passion can one endure and overcome the many ups and downs that invariably come during one's food blogging journey.

For example, if "glamour" was the motivation, it's hard to continue when there is no "glamour". But, if you truly love food, the motivation is always there.

What do you wish to see more or less of the food blogging community?

Restaurants or their appointed Public Relations agencies are actively inviting food bloggers to tastings for marketing purposes. It is entirely possible to build a food blog based only on invited tastings and press releases.

I feel it is important to balance invited tastings with "discovery tastings" i.e. go food hunting and discover good food stalls, especially those that do not have the money and savvy to market themselves.

(Photo credit: I have taken the liberty to use photos of me taken by Sam Han, Uncle Bob, David Wang, 陈秐汐, Philip Lim and Benny Ng because who ask you to tag me? they tagged me on Facebook hehehe... ;-p  Thank you, my friends ;-D ).

Date: 30 Mar 2015

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Singapore Halal Food Ambeng Cafe by Ummi Abdullah

After reading favourable reviews of the nasi ambang at Ambeng Cafe by Ummi Abdullah, we quickly set a date to drop by at the newly opened restaurant at East Village mall in Singapore (near Simpang Bedok).

I am a big fan of nasi ambang as I like it's riot of colours, aromas, flavours and textures. It reminds me a child's kaleidoscope - always full of delights and surprises.


Nasi ambang is fascinating and to me it reflects harmony in diversity.

Ambeng Cafe menu

Don't be intimidated by the multiple side dishes as ordering at nasi ambang shops is usually made very easy. The dishes are often already pre-arranged.

At Ambeng Cafe by Ummi Abdullah, it comes in 4 pre-determined sets. As there were 3 of us together and we wanted to taste as many sides as possible, we opted for the "Ambeng Classic Trio Set D" at SGD48 nett.


Ambeng Cafe is quite small inside and very popular. Decor is basic and seating is rather close together. We have to be careful not to knock the neighbour's table or chair.

Ordering protocol is simple and efficient.


Just make your order and pay at the counter (no credit cards accepted). Return to your seat and your order will be served at your table.


Our glorious nasi ambang like a colourful bouquet on a large banana leaf arrived within 10 minutes despite the crowd.

We took our time to explore and savour the 13 individual dishes.


The begedel (fried potato cutlet) that crowned the mound of plain white rice was grainy tender and sweet with a slight crisp outside without being overly greasy.


Ayam Kalio or chicken in spicy gravy was served in a separate steel bowl. The chicken had little flavour as the gravy did not penetrate the meat but the spicy soupy gravy was tasty and went well when splashed onto the white rice.


The beef rendang was well infused with aromatic and flavourful spices.


The lean meat was, however, fibrous, stiff and quite chewy like a flavourful mildly spicy beef jerky.


The paru or fried beef lungs spiced with a bit of cumin were dry, coarse, rubbery, and quite hard.


I like this sambal sotong with it's strong spice flavours and the savoury sweet cuttlefish taste. I also enjoyed the gummy soft crunchy texture of the cuttlefish.


Ikan Sambal Bali or Spanish Mackerel (Tenggiri) fish with Bali style spicy sauce. The fish was fried till a bit stiff though still slightly moist. The fish flavour was weak.


Terung garam asam or eggplant with spicy sauce. The well cooked juicy eggplant still had a slight crunch to the bite. Personally, I prefer eggplant cooked till the pulp is a soft sweet juicy mash.


Sambal goreng or bean curd cubes fried with vegetables and sambal chili sauce. Tasty comfort staple dish.


Sambal Kacang Ikan Bilis or peanut and anchovies fried in spicy sauce. Another tasty staple that goes well with plain white rice. Crunchy peanuts and fried anchovies in a spicy sweet savoury chili sauce.


Telur Belado is hard boiled egg deep fried and then cooked with spicy chili sauce.


Ikan Kering or thin slices of hard, dry salted fish eaten with plain white rice.


Serunding and Sambal Balacan is fried grated coconut served with spicy savoury chili sauce made with chili and pungent fermented shrimp paste.

As you can see, we had a sumptuous and scrumptious meal ;-D However, I missed the mee goreng (spicy fried yellow noodles) which I often find in nasi ambang served in Johor.


I like it that at Ambeng Cafe by Ummi Abdullah, every side dish has it's own blend of sambal chili sauce. All the different sambal chili were delicious and have their own unique flavour.


The service staff were friendly and efficient.

As we couldn't finish the food, I requested for the leftovers to be bagged. I was pleasantly surprised that each dish was bagged separately in a different plastic bag (at no charge). The staff can also box the leftovers for you at additional SGD1, which I feel is very reasonable.


Ambeng Cafe by Ummi Abdullah is located at the newly opened East Village mall at Upper Changi Road in Singapore (near Simpang Bedok and Tanah Merah MRT station).

I also like the nasi ambang at Mamanda and Enak in Singapore and the nasi ambang in Johor Bahru.


Restaurant name: Ambeng Cafe By Ummi Abdullah

Address430 Upper Changi Rd, East Village #01-65 Spore 487048
Hours: Tuesday to Thursday: 11 am to 10 pm | Friday: 3pm to 10 pm | Saturday to Sunday: 11 am to 10 pm (Monday Closed)
Tel: +65 63840495


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My Last Respects @ Mr Lee Kuan Yew's Funeral @ Parliament House

Yesterday (27 Mar 2015), I went to pay my last respects to MM Lee Kuan Yew at the Parliament House in Singapore.

This blog post is dedicated to the organisers and volunteers who tirelessly helped us ordinary folks pay our last respects to MM Lee in a comfortable and dignified way.

This was the closest I ever got to MM Lee physically.

As there were many thousands of people paying their last respects at the same time, organising the public wake in such an orderly manner is no mean feat at all. Kudos to the Singapore Armed Forces, Singapore Police, volunteer organisations and everyone who made this possible.

Thank you.

8:00pm - Once we arrived at City Hall MRT station, there were clear signs and friendly ushers leading people to the Padang, which was the main holding area.


8:30pm - After the 20-minute walk from City Hall MRT station, queueing starts here just outside the Padang.


9:00pm: People filing into the holding tents on the Padang.


We waited at these tents from 9:00pm to 4:00am the next morning. Volunteers kept us well hydrated with water and handed out food regularly. 

SAF soldiers regularly updated us on the queue situation. Everybody understood and appreciated the efforts of the organisers and volunteers. (In the background is Singapore's Central Business District.)


View of the holding tents looking in the direction of Suntec City.

Thankfully the weather was great. Dry with a light cooling breeze. It did threaten to rain at one point but the drizzle fizzled out quickly.


Between the holding tents there were clear "green lanes" which were safety and service lanes.


Organisers and volunteers used these lanes to serve drinks and food as well as to take away rubbish. Volunteers and SAF soldiers also regularly came and engaged us in banter to help keep our spirits up.

People can also use the "green lanes" to leave the holding tents temporarily to use the toilets and rejoin their queue position afterwards.

Thank you organisers for being so thoughtful.


At one point, a soldier briefed us that we will be here for another 5 hours. My heart sank a little.

I can go without food and drink, or sleep, but at my age, my bladder and bowels ain't that resilient anymore. But, any thought of bugging out was quickly banished. In these old bones, there is still a bit of that gung-ho and stubbornness which Mr Lee instilled in many Singaporeans.

Don't know how am I going to make it, but never quit once my mind is made.


4:00am: We left the holding tents after 7 hours here and started our walk to the Parliament House. Another group of people will fill and hold at the tents.


5:00am - We arrived at the floating platform holding area.


5:30am - We turned around and head towards Parliament House along Singapore River on our left through Esplanade and Clark Quay.


5:45am - Walking past the theatre at The Esplanade.


6:00am - At Clark Quay. By this time, we had been in the queue for over 9 hours. People were tired, solemn and stoic yet good spirited. Everything was orderly and respectful. Strangers were looking out for each other as we made the journey together. Actually, we realised that we ain't strangers after all. Just fellow Singaporeans whom we haven't met.

In the background were Fullerton Hotel and Fullerton Bridge. Fullerton Hotel is previously our old General Post Office building where I spent a lot of time as a stamp collector during my childhood.


6:15am - Almost there. Final security checks before entering Parliament House. The checks were quick as there were over a dozen scanning machines.

Thank you Bob Lee for permission to share this photo of MM Lee

6:30am: Paid my last respects to MM Lee Kuan Yew. I wished I could stay a moment longer but am satisfied with a quick bow and a military salute as I filed along without stopping. My mind was also on the many thousands queueing behind me who were also here to pay their last respects.


6:45am: People leaving Parliament House after paying their respects. I felt good and at peace that my wish to pay my last respects to MM Lee was fulfilled. I believe the others here felt the same too.

Good bye, thank you, and Rest in Peace MM Lee Kuan Yew, Sir.

Thank you also to the organisers, volunteers and sponsors for helping us fulfil our last respects to MM Lee in a comfortable and dignified manner.

We are grateful.

(Afternote: When the public wake closed at 8:00pm on 28 Mar, 454,687 people had been through this same journey.) 

Date: 27 - 28 Mar 2015

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