Update 23 Jul 2019. You can use this simple walking guide to explore the interesting food stalls, restaurants and cafes that are within walking distance from Johor Bahru immigration checkpoint.
Just follow this simple sketch - the food & foot trail starts from JB immigration, through Johor Bahru's culture and food streets back to KOMTAR JBCC/ City Square Mall can be covered in half a day with eating and shopping stops.
After clearing immigration, when you reach level 1 of the CIQ building above Jalan Tun Abdul Razak, cross the bridge here to City Square Mall, if it is already open (at 10am). If City Square Mall is closed, take the escalator down to the street level of Jalan Tun Abdul Razak.
At the street level of Jalan Tun Abdul Razak are the taxi stand and pick up point. There is a big open concourse here, so this is a good meeting point and launching point for the JB city food walk. The POINT kiosk can be a landmark.
On Jalan Tun Abdul Razak, turn to your left - you will be looking south, in the direction of Singapore. Straight ahead is Merlin Tower (tall brown building) and City Square Mall (large grey building).
We need to cross Jalan Tun Abdul Razak. This is a very busy road. The best way to get across is the link bridge linking the CIQ building and City Square Mall (but the mall opens only at 10am).
If you are early, you have to use the pedestrian bridge in this picture. The bridge is a bit dingy and may not be well cleaned in the early morning but it is still safer than jaywalking across busy Jalan Tun Abdul Razak.
Once across Jalan Tun Abdul Razak, turn right at the intersection with Jalan Station.
Jalan Station is a very short road - within a minute you will come to this traffic light at the intersection with Jalan Wong Ah Fook.
Turn left and cross Jalan Station, heading south. Be careful as the traffic light is sometimes non operational.
Keep walking south and in about 5 minutes, you will be at the intersection with Jalan Siu Chin.
A few more steps and you will see the long queue at Kam Long Ah Zai fish head curry. Locals often say that only Singaporeans queue here. But, actually Kam Long have many local fans too and is in many Johorean's list of the best fish head curry shops in JB. In any case, Kam Long is the only top fish head curry shop within walking distance from the CIQ, so if you are a fish head curry lover, this should be your first stop.
After Kam Long fish head curry, continue south along Jalan Wong Fook until the intersection with Jalan Siu Nam.
From here, you see the Tokio Marine Life building on your right. Cross Jalan Wong Ah Fook over to Jalan Segget on the other side.
The historic Sungai Segget is now a canal running parallel to Jalan Wong Ah Fook. Looking north from the small foot bridge, we can see the Public Bank building straight ahead and City Square Mall on the right.
Jalan Segget with shophouses on both sides.
The row of shophouses on the north side of Jalan Segget. The two shops of interest here are Restoran Sekee and Restoran Ya Wang.
Restoran Sekee is one of the oldest and most popular Johor style Teochew kway teow soup shops in Johor Bahru. They have a strong loyal following that goes back generations.
Restoran Sekee still cook their soup by simmering stock bones over slow charcoal fire. As the group of elderly folks slowly made their way into the crowded shop, I heard one of them said to the lady boss "Auntie from from Canada come back to visit you".
A couple of doors from Sekee is Restoran Ya Wang, the famous herbal roast duck shop. Ya Wang's roast ducks don't have crispy skin - their unique selling point is their dangui herbal flavour. Ya Wang is reputedly the creator of herbal roast ducks (the type we get at the Dian Siow Er chain in Singapore).
After Ya Wang roast duck, head for Jalan Pasar, a short connecting road linking Jalan Segget and Jalan Trus.
On Jalan Pasar is Kok Yow Yong, a famous herbal tea stall. They have something bitter or sweet for all ailments, just fatigue or heat. There are many similar herbal tea stands outside Chinese medical shops here in JB. I will just down a glass of bitter herbal tea at RM1 each at any random tea stand to rehydrate and cool down during the food walk. Everyone knows the heat in our area can be draining, so do stay hydrated.
Looking south from the intersection of Jalan Pasar and Jalan Trus. We head south from here (in the direction of Singapore).
A short walk takes us to the busy intersection of Jalan Trus and Jalan Dhoby.
Here we have the historic Restoran Hua Mui which is a Halal certified old style Hainanese kopitiam. The wide ranging menu covers everything from traditional kopi, kaya toast and eggs to mee goreng, hor fun, mee rebus, mee siam etc. The food generally tastes good here, so it is very popular with locals and tourists alike. Hua Mui reputedly have the best chicken chops in JB.
Diagonally across from Hua Mui kopitiam is a big brown/ maroon colour corner shop. It used to be The Roost cafe. Today, it is Restoran Tong Guan koiptiam.
Tong Guan is the typical Malaysian kopitiam with the full range of staples from coffee, tea to nasi lemak, mee rebus, laksa, mee hoon kueh etc.
Continuing along Jalan Trus, there's Shakespeare Milkshake specialist. The popular, trendy cafe stood the test of time, offering dainty crepes, milk tea, bubble tea, ice cream, churros, burgers, croissants, and of course, milkshakes.
Steps from Shakespeare, we are at the iconic intersection of Jalan Trus and Jalan Tan Hiok Nee.
At one corner is the popular Restoran Kin Wah kopitiam. They serve one of the best Nanyang kopi, kaya toast and half boiled eggs here (as they use kampung chicken eggs).
Directly across from Kin Wah kopitiam is Kang Bee Hong restaurant, a Chinese roasts, bakes, zhi char, dessert place. This space used to be Ehhe Art cafe.
The queue is for Hiap Joo Bakery's iconic banana cake baked with a wood fired oven. The big concrete oven was built in 1919, so this year is its 100th anniversary. Yeah, I didn't get the banana cake again today because of the queue - everyday is the same. (Pro tip: Their coconut buns are awesome too.)
Another relatively new kid on the block, but Toast & Coffee have a found a firm footing in this very competitive space.
Spacious and comfortable inside, Toast & Coffee is air conditioned. They have everything expected of Malaysian kopitiams - good kopi, toasts, eggs, noodles, rice, everything.
Toast & Coffee have a highly hyped French toast filled with salt egg yolk with curry leaf and chili padi. The combination of cloyingly savoury sweet flavours with aromatics and spicy kick is not really my cup tea. You should try it for yourself 😄
Further up along Jalan Tan Hiok Nee at the intersection with Jalan Pahang is Kedai Kopi Xuu Yau.
Xuu Yau has the best wanton mee this side of Johor Bahru. The char siew is okay, the old school sauce and wanton are good, but the best thing is their crunchy house made egg noodles - it will take a bit of effort to find a better noodle in JB.
Looking back east on Jalan Tan Hiok Nee in the direction of Jalan Trus.
Looking further up along Jalan Tan Hiok Nee towards Jalan Bukit Timbalan. The white building on the right used to be the iconic Red House, hence the eatery inside is named The Red House 红馆. It's a kopitiam type air conditioned cafe with full range of local delights. You would realise by now that kopitiam business is crazily competitive in this little part of Johor Bahru.
Keep walking up along Jalan Tan Hiok Nee.
Yong Lock Huang serving old school Hakka yong tau foo. Sleepy coffee shop under the social media radar with a loyal local clientele.
24 Drums cafe serving local delights like wanton mee, hor fun, laksa, yong tau foo etc.
Amphawa Boat Noodle serves glass noodles in different savoury spicy blends in small bowls. Popular dining concept from Thailand. Average adults need 3 of the small bowls to feel full.
The intersection of Jalan Tan Hiok Nee and Jalan Bukit Timablan, looking back towards Jalan Trus.
Now, head north on Jalan Bukit Timablan. A few steps up will take you to the intersection with Jalan Dhoby.
Turn right into Jalan Dhoby. You should be walking down slope.
Mamak shop Restoran Reaz Corner beside Masjid India (at intersection of Jalan Dhoby and Jalan Duke). Popular chill out spot for teh tarik, roti prata (roti canai), mee goreng and lots more.
A few steps down Jalan Dhoby, we come to Salahuddin Bakery. This is a vintage bakery like Hiap Joo - both use ancient wood fired ovens. Salahuddin bakes old school bread loaves, triangular karipap (flaky mutton & potato filled curry puff), suji cakes etc.
Across Jalan Dhoby from Salahuddin Bakery is IT Roo Cafe which is famous for their Hainanese chicken chops. IT Roo is one of the old stalwarts of old downtown JB. They are related to Restoran Hua Mui kopitiam.
Flowers in the Window is a floral and garden theme cafe serving coffee and cakes that stood the test of time. Jalan Dhoby is a hot spot for ice cream parlours and coffee joints that come and go like mist in the morning. That Flowers in the Window is still flourishing attests to the quality of their offering.
The Replacement Lodge and Kitchen by the same folks behind Faculty of Caffeine and Tropique. Replacement Lodge (and sister cafes) serves good coffee with leading edge, trendy food and nice cakes.
Qin Garden is yet another old school Hainanese kopitiam. (They are related to Kin Wah kopitiam.) Good coffee, kaya toast and half boiled eggs, mee siam, nasi lemak, mee rebus etc - all the boxes ticked. They also have the popular nasi Padang stall which is a long established local favourite.
Continue down Jalan Dhoby and we are back again at the intersection with Jalan Trus where Restoran Hua Mui is located. Turn left now to head towards the north.
This short stretch of Jalan Trus is the Little India is JB town.
At the intersection of Jalan Trus and Jalan Ungku Puan - on the left is Galleria shopping centre and on the right is Arulmigu Rajamariamman Devasthanam Hindu temple. We walk straight ahead, staying on Jalan Trus.
Popular Indian sweet shop along Jalan Trus and opposite Galleria shopping centre.
Gurdwara Sahib Sikh temple along Jalan Trus.
Our final food stop for the walking trail, Faculty of Caffeine. The first hipster cafe in JB old town, still going strong, still relevant. Always refreshing its menu to delight customers with good quality, in trend, well thought out dishes.
Continue up Jalan Trus. You will see the historic old Chinese temple on your left with the massive Puteri Pacific Hotel looming behind. On the right of Jalan Trus is the Public Bank tower. Take the stairs and foot path down at the left side of Public Bank, which will take you directly to Jalan Wong Ah Fook with City Square Mall and KOMTAR JBCC shopping centre right across the road.
Cross the road carefully. Once across, you can indulge in shopping, massage, or more eating until you want to go home via the attached JB CIQ building.
Have a good trip!
This video was made in 2014 but I thought it captured the feel and vibes of the JB food walk well. Many, many things have changed but the walk still feels the same today. When shall we do that again?
Date of update: 23 Jul 2019
Date: 19 Jan 2017. I have many requests from Singapore readers for a guide to good food and cafes in JB near to the checkpoint as the old town is a haven for food lovers, cafe hoppers and street photographers. JB old town is alive with dynamism and energy - it is changing all the time with something new popping up regularly.
So, here is a simple guide and virtual tour of Johor Bahru old town - the part easily accessible on foot from the JB CIQ or City Square mall.
This is the sketch map of our route for the morning food and photo walk. This is only a rough sketch for general orientation. For precise navigation, please refer to Google map. We start at 8am and should complete the tour by early afternoon.
If you are a group, I suggest we meet here after clearing Johor immigration - at the Point kiosk and taxi stand opposite City Square mall along Jalan Tun Abdul Razak.
Waiting here, we won't be obstructing traffic and there are steps we could sit on, if we are tired or want to conserve energy 😄
When everyone has arrived, start our tour by turning to our left and walk along Jalan Tun Abdul Razak in the direction of Singapore. We will see the large City Square mall building on our right across the busy road.
We will cross Jalan Tun Abdul Razak using this pedestrian bridge. It will be tempting to simply dash across the busy road but I suggest using this bridge for safety sake.
The view from the overhead pedestrian bridge, looking south towards Singapore. On the left, the yellow building with the blue dome is the historic Johor Bahru railway station.
Back at street level, continue south until the junction of Jalan Tun Abdul Razak and Jalan Station. Turn right and walk along Jalan Station.
You will reach a signalised crossing at the junction of Jalan Station and Jalan Wong Ah Fook. Cross carefully here over to the Hong Leong bank side.
Walk along Jalan Wong Ah Fook, heading south towards Singapore. Cross the side road at Jalan Siu Chin.
Shortly, you will run into the long queue at Kam Long curry fish head - one of the most popular in JB. If you have plans for curry fish head and are early, I suggest you eat here first because the queue will only get longer. By lunch time, it will be very difficult to get seats, especially for large groups.
More on Kam Long curry fish head 👈 click
After Kam Long curry fish head, continue south along Jalan Wong Ah Fook till the intersection with Jalan Siu Nam.
Here, face right and cross Jalan Wong Ah Fook. That tall yellow and bluish building on your right is the Tokio Marine Life office.
We will be crossing Sungai Segget which looks like a canal now, but this is a historic river in Johor Bahru. This is the view, looking north. That tall silvery blue building is the Public Bank office.
Walking into Jalan Segget, this is the first restaurant you will see. It's on your left, Restoran Nur Tahara, a nasi Arab and nasi briyani shop. I haven't tried this new restaurant yet.
On the right along Jalan Segget which is a short side road is Restoran Sekee. Inside is Ah Hua teochew kway teow soup stall. This is one of the oldest kway teow soup stalls in JB and they still simmer their pork stock over a charcoal stove. Worth a try to appreciate old school Teochew kway teow soup which is a staple comfort food among JB folks.
Read more about Ah Hua kway teow soup 👈 click
Two doors from Sekee is Restoran Ya Wang which is famous for their herbal dang gui roast duck. Ya Wang is a consultant to the Dian Xiao Er chain of roast duck shops in Singapore shopping malls. Ya Wang's ducks are tender juicy and rich with pleasant dang gui flavour, but the browned skin is bathed with sauce making it wet and soft.
Read more about Ya Wang 👈 click
After Wa Wang, from the open car park, head towards the row of shop houses with the ORIENT watch signboard.
Two shops from the ORIENT watch shop is the Kok Yow Yong tea shop. The modernised shop front has taken away much of the charm of this century old tea shop but the old style herbal teas are still as cooling on sizzling Johor days.
Read more about Kok Yow Yong 👈 click
After herbal tea, at Jalan Trus, turn to your left i.e. heading south. This is a narrow, very busy and congested road leading to the heart of old JB.
At the end of the block along Jalan Trus is Restoran Hua Mui. This is an old school, iconic Hainanese kopitiam in JB old town. It serves a wide ranging menu of local favourites like nasi lemak, nasi goreng etc and Hainanese Western like their popular chicken chop and French toast. Their kopi is a must, needless to say.
Read more about Hua Mui 👈 click
Hua Mui is at the junction of Jalan Trus and Jalan Dhoby. Looking across is Roost Cafe, one of JB's oldest established hipster joints. Jalan Dhoby is JB's hipster central with the most number of cafes on a single street.
We stay on Jalan Trus for now, continuing south after Hua Mui you will see Qin Garden Kopitiam on the right side. It's a Hainanese coffee shop with old school coffee and kaya toast, and the most popular nasi padang stall in this part of town.
More about Qin Garden 👈 click
A couple of shops down from Qin Garden is Shakespeare Milkshakes. I haven't tried this yet 😀
Just beside Shakespeare is Restoran Kin Hua, a popular spot for Hainanese kopi, kaya toast and Must Try soft boiled kampung chicken eggs.
More on Kin Hua kopitiam 👈 click
Kin Hua kopitiam is right at the junction of Jalan Trus and Jalan Tan Hiok Nee, the "culture street" of JB old town.
From this junction, we turn to our left in the direction of the OCBC bank office. Here, we have the famous Teochew mee stall - Sang Heng kopitiam. Sang Heng kopitiam serves the Lao Tee style of Teochew mee which JB folks love. Sang Heng is one of only three stalls left that still serve this old style Teochew mee with handmade fish balls, robust prawn stock, blanched lean meat topping, lardy sauce etc. The well loved stall holder Ah Seng passed on in 2016 and the stall is now run by a relative.
More on Sang Heng Teochew mee 👈 click
Back from Sang Heng, heading back up Jalan Tan Hiok Nee, is Ehhe Art Cafe which is directly opposite Kin Hua kopitiam. Ehhe has an eclectic menu of local favourites and popular "Western" dishes like pastas. They are most famous for their kampung chicken rice set. I also like their Pontian style white coffee with it's distinctive taste and aroma.
More on Ehhe Art Cafe 👈 click
At the side of Ehhe Cafe, along Jalan Trus is a long stretch of wall art by Pauline, a passionate and talented local artist.
Read about Pauline 👈 click
Right next to Ehhe Cafe is the legendary Hiap Joo bakery famous for their banana cakes and coconut buns. Hiap Joo's bakes are special because they are baked with a century old wood fired oven which imparts a smokiness to the cakes - something which only a wood fired oven can do.
Read more about Hiap Joo 👈 click
Right beside Hiap Joo is Maco Vintage which serves very good crepe cakes.
Read more about Maco Vintage 👈 click
On the side wall of Maco Vintage facing the open car park, there is a large wall mural also by Pauline. Car parking in this private lot is very limited and quite expensive.
Directly opposite Maco Vintage is Tasty Bay, a Halal food court serving local favourites like mee rebus, nasi campur and kuih muih Melayu (Malay savoury and sweet snacks).
Also at the car park is Chaiwalla, the pioneer container cafe here. They are popular for their chai lattes.
Further up along Jalan Tan Hiok Nee at the junction with Jalan Pahang is the "Red House". It's originally a large home and now used for events like small exhibitions, flea marts and pop up food stands.
On the walls facing Jalan Tan Hiok Nee, more of Pauline's inspired work.
Bev C is a fashion retail shop with a cafe two doors from the "Red House". It is popular for it's cream pies.
Further up along Jalan Tan Hiok Nee, a Chinese "economic rice" stall serving boiled rice with home style side dishes.
Across is Yong Lock Huang, a yong tau foo shop.
Drums Cafe along Jalan Tan Hiok Nee.
Amphawa Boat Noodle is right beside Drums Cafe along Jalan Tan Hiok Nee. This is their second outlet just opened in Nov 2016.
This arch where Jalan Tan Hiok Nee intersects Jalan Bukit Timbalan marks the western end of "culture street".
From Jalan Tan Hiok Nee, turn to your right to Jalan Bukit Timbalan, then at the junction with Jalan Dhoby turn right again and you are in JB's cafe alley 😃
First stop, Salahuddin Bakery, another gem of JB old town. Like Hiap Joo, Salahuddin sports a near century old wood fired oven. Must try is their karipap, those old flaky triangle curry puffs with mutton and curried potato fillings.
More about Salahuddin Bakery 👈 click
Across Jalan Dhoby from Salahuddin Bakery is IT Roo cafe which boasts "The Best Chicken Chops in Town" - an honour bestowed by The Star newspaper back in 2003.
IT Roo is not a hipster cafe but an old school Hainanese Western eatery established decades ago.
Read more about IT Roo cafe 👈 click
A few doors from Salahuddin is Koone, an ice cream parlour specialising in soft serves.
Read more about Koone 👈 click
Back across the street opposite Koone is Sangkaya, another ice cream shop but specialising in coconut and nut flavours with their signature coconut ice cream.
Interesting panel art just beside Sangkaya. JB old town is full of such interesting spots, just look out for it 😄
The understated whitewashed facade of The Replacement Cafe.
Garden themed Flowers in the Window cafe at Jalan Dhoby.
Further down along Jalan Dhoby, we are back at Roost Cafe, a 1960s Bohemian themed cafe. It reminds me of San Francisco boutique knick knack shops.
At the junction of Jalan Dhoby and Jalan Trus turn left heading north. We are now in JB's vibrant Little India.
There are several saree and jewellery shops along Jalan Trus.
Galleria @ Kotaraya mall at the junction of Jalan Trus and Jalan Ungku Puan. Here, we turn right and head back towards Jalan Wong Ah Fook across Sungai Segget.
Arulmigu Rajamariamman Devasthanam temple. There is a row of colourful flower shops leading to the temple.
Looking back at the old shop houses after crossing Sungai Segget from Jalan Ungku Puan.
The queue was still long at Kam Long after our tour of old JB town. Luckily, we had our curry fish head right at the start 😃
Take a nice walk along Sungai Segget in the direction of City Square mall.
Cross Jalan Wong Ah Fook at the junction with Jalan Station.
Back at Johor Bahru City Square mall (which is connected by bridges and covered walkways to the JB immigration checkpoint). Of course, we can do some last minute shopping here, if we still have time and energy 😄
Our food trail and photo walk (route 1) is complete 😄 This route covers only some shops and a small part of JB old town. There are other interesting sights and tastes in old JB town which I will cover in future walking trails.
Please give me your feedback on what must not be missed.
Enjoy your tour 😄
Thank you 😃
👆Click on photo for full 100 hawker list
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