Tuesday, 19 June 2018

Johor Bahru is World Top 4 Food Destination according to Booking.com Research

Just like unfancied Iceland is rocking the world of soccer now, unheralded Johor Bahru food is finally recognised on the culinary world stage.

Johor Bahru is ranked 4th in the world (congratulations to Ipoh, Kaohsiung, and Nagoya in the top 3) as the best place in the world to visit for local food, according to Booking.com survey of over 56,000 global travelers (probably the largest such study ever done). The Booking.com results are based on global traveler surveys so they differ from lists published by media, which are chosen by reporters or editors.

The Booking.com survey revealed that street food is increasingly at the top of the mind of more travelers. More and more travelers want an authentic local experience and street food is at the heart of it 👉

✅ Six in ten global travelers (61%) say they pick a destination for its great food or drink.

✅ One third (34%) of global travelers (rising to 40% of millennials) plan to take a dedicated food trip sometime in 2018.

✅ Half (49%) of global travelers (rising to 60% of millennials) are looking to be more adventurous with the type of cuisine they eat while traveling.

✅ Half of travelers (54%) want to experience more unique dining experiences when traveling.

✅ Two thirds (64%) of global travelers say they will try to eat more local food in 2018.

✅ Half of global travelers (51%) say they are likely to explore local street food markets.

Going by these survey criterion, JB do indeed have a lot to offer to travelling foodies. Here are some unique food to eat when you visit Johor Bahru.

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 (Wolf Herring) or Ikan Tenggiri (Mackerel). Laksa Johor is unique in 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 palace chef to make laksa with it. However, street and restaurant versions don't compare well with homemade ones as making Laksa Johor is very tedious, so it is hard to make a good one commercially.

Kacang Pool - The unique Johor version of this ubiquitous Middle Eastern staple developed by Haji Mak Pol Saimon consists of a stew dip made with mashed broad beans (known also as fava beans or ful medames), minced beef, and spices topped with a sunny side up egg. The stew dip is garnished with chopped onions, green chilies and a wedge or half a fresh calamansi lime. Uniquely in JB, the stew dip is eaten with inch thick white bread which is slathered with margarine and fried on a greased, flat iron griddle till golden brown.

Kway Teow Kia 粿條仔 - Enjoyed today like a minor luxury, KTK has its roots in leaner times where every piece of meat was treasured and appreciated. Kway 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 stock which accompanies the braised offal.

Johor Bahru 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 BKT. In its most basic form, JB BKT is meaty bones cooked in a light savoury herbal broth served together with hot Chinese black tea. (It differs from the peppery pork rib soup of Singapore and the pork leg with herbal braising stock of Klang.) There is really no one style of JB BKT but slightly different renditions by popular outlets like Soon Huat, Bak Cheng, Hwa Mei, Kiang Kee and Sze Wah, each with their own loyal fans. The outlets have various variations adding belly pork, innards, mushrooms, fried tofu and herbs into the broth.

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 (rice vermicelli) 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 wiry. 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. Good renditions of San Lou bee boon are rare nowadays as the art of frying this dish well is almost lost. 

Get Laksa Johor here 👈 click
Get Kacang Pool here 👈 click
Get Johor Bak Kut Teh here 👈 click
Get Kway Teow Kia here 👈 click
Get San Lou Bee Hoon here 👈 click

Besides these examples of unique to Johor dishes, the eateries of Johor do very good renditions of cuisines from around the world as Johor Bahru has for centuries been the meeting place for world cultures and civilisations.

My personal project from five years ago 👈 click

Foreword to Find Dining with Johor Kaki 👈 click

100 Best Street Food in JB (2016/2017) 👈 click [Update in progress]

Customer research by Booking.com 👈 click

Date: 19 Jun 2018

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