Johor Kaki Travels for Food

Singapore based personal blog of true stories by johorkaki@gmail about best food, people & places around the world

Saturday, 7 July 2018

Meldrum Walk 2018. Johor Bahru's Back Alley of Disappearing Hidden Gems

If you are in City Square Mall in Johor Bahru in the evening and feel a little adventurous to try something other than mall food, you might want to check out some authentic back lane dining in Meldrum Walk. It's a nice way to wrap up a day trip to JB with an authentic local street food experience.

Despite its atas (pretentious) sounding name, Meldrum Walk is really not a walk in the park nor some postcard worthy promenade but it is picturesque in its own way (to me lah... ).

That tall grey building looming in the background is one of the towers of City Square Johor Bahru. Meldrum Walk is a back lane between buildings just off the eastern side of Jalan Wong Ah Fook (the "Orchard Road of JB").

Stalls open only in the evening. The suggested time to come here is from 6pm onwards.

Meldrum Walk stretches north to south for about 300 metres. The section closer to City Square are Halal food stalls, and the non Halal stalls are to the south (in the direction of Singapore). There are about 30+ stalls now (dwindled from perhaps a 100 in its heydays).

Many of the stalls were formerly operating at Pasar Kia 巴沙仔 off Jalan Wong Ah Fook - a carpark food centre much like Singapore's Orchard Road carpark food centre. Both made way for urban redevelopment. The hundred or so Pasar Kia stalls moved into this back lane nearly two decades ago.

Over the years, the stalls have become more sparse as some hawkers retired while others moved out.

Fortunately, there are still some old school gems here (but not sure for how long more).

This is the undisputed best orh luark (oyster omelette) in Johor (and, some say Singapore as well).

Lots of eggs fried in a blend of lard and vegetable oil. A splash of watery tapioca batter, a handful of succulent fresh oysters and a dash of savoury sauce completes the delectable dish. (This is similar to the oyster omelette at Singapore's Jalan Berseh food centre, if you ask them for the "wet one".)

To me, this vintage stall alone is worth a trip to Meldrum Walk.

So nice to bump into Johor Kaki reader Miranda enjoying her favourite kway teow kia. ✋ Hi Miranda! She has been their fan since Pasar Kia days. I must try this kway teow kia stall next time 😄

Kia teow kia is braised pork offal, pork belly etc eaten with slender kway teow (rice ribbon noodles).

If you are a sup kambing (Indian style mutton soup) lover, Meldrum Walk is probably the best place in JB for it. There are 4 or 5 sup kambing stalls here. Each stall have their loyal fans - all of them serve rich aromatic spicy soups.

We can add lamb shank, ribs, tongue, stomach, tendon etc to our mutton soup.

Love it.

There are a few ikan bakar (grilled fish) stalls here, both in the Halal and non Halal sections.

Borrowed another customer's ikan bakar for this picture. It's stingray laid on banana leaf, slathered with sambal chili and grilled on a greasy flat iron griddle. Each stall have their own secret recipe sambal chili which sends out choking spicy fumes when the seafood is grilled. (The freshness of supplies vary, so do be sure to pick the stall where the seafood on display is fresh.)

I haven't tried any ikan bakar at Meldrum Walk for a long time. Do you have any recommendation?

Chicken rice, fried chicken and roast meat stall.

Their golden brown sio bak (roast pork belly) does look quite enticing. Shall try it next time.

Auntie Annie's 30 year old charcoal grilled chicken stall - now most of the grilling is done by her son who had worked with Auntie Annie since he was a teen.

Spotted this bishop's noses grilling over the red hot charcoal. I immediately thought of a few friends who would kill for this. I asked Auntie Annie if they have a bad smell. "No, the gland is already cut out. It tastes like fatty char siew" she said. I heard the magic words "fatty char siew". So, I bought 7 pieces for RM1.50 from her.

There used to be at least 4 or 5 char kway teow stalls at Meldrum Walk. Now, there are only 3 left. Lady boss has been frying Teochew style siham kway teow (with blood cockles) since she was a 12 year old. The lane near her CKT stall was filled with the aroma of caramelised savoury sauce and garlic.

Before it got too dark for food pictures, I stopped for char kway teow. Threw in some grilled bishop's noses since Auntie Annie said they are like "fatty char siew". Char kway teow and grilled bishop's noses together - a most evil combination hehehe.... 😝

The char kway teow was the drier type. Quite well fried with a little bit of wok hei. But, the savoury sauce was a little on the mild side for my liking (when eating any type of noodles, I like it to have strong robust flavours).

The shape and colour of this gleaming well browned bishop nose reminded me of Hershey's Kiss butt chocolate 😄

Though tender, the texture is not really like fatty char siew because of the tender tail bone inside 😄 Flavour is close, though. Recommended for bishop's nose lovers. You know who you are 😄

One of JB's best Teochew kueh stalls is here at Meldrum Walk. They will lightly pan sear the kueh with grease for you on request, if you are eating here. They have both the savoury and sweet types which are all house made. (Their branch outlet at Sri Tebrau market.)

Pork porridge stall. I haven't tried this stall before.

There is satay, of course - those small pieces of meat like chicken and mutton, marinaded with spices, skewered with a skinny bamboo stick and grilled over red hot charcoal on order. Eaten with a peanut based sweet spicy sauce.

Forget sugary canned drinks. Treat yourself to fresh young coconut juice.

The traditional fried snacks (keropok) stall.

Frying keropok lekor - a snack from Kelantan/ Terengganu made by blending sago flour and fish paste. Eaten fried or steamed.

Ayam penyet stall - a staple from Indonesia, ayam penyet is boiled rice eaten with a piece of fried chicken which is smacked flat before serving, hence the name ayam penyet which means "flatten chicken" in Indonesia.

No street food bazaar in Malaysia can pass muster without a Ramly street burger stand. (There's also a Roti John stand but it was not open today.)

👉 Twenty years since moving here from Pasar Kia, Meldrum Walk is probably in its final last tired legs now. Every time I am back, one or two more of the original stalls were gone - either the hawkers retired or their successors moved the stall elsewhere.

If you like to check out some of JB's heritage street food stalls, drop by Meldrum Walk. It's open air, night time alleyway dining in a narrow dingy back lane, so it may not be is not for everyone. Be prepared to see paddles of water here and there, maybe even scurrying rodents but I have so far not spotted any during my trips. If you are a heritage street food enthusiast, do visit before the best stalls are gone from here.

My previous posts on Meldrum Walk (note that they are rather old posts) 👉

🍴Meldrum Walk in 2012 👈 click
🍴Daud Sup Kambing (closed during this visit) 👈 click
🍴Oyster Omelette stall  👈 click
🍴Oyster Omelette stall (first post) 👈 click
🍴Kak Long Tomyam (different people now)  👈 click
🍴A Jabar Sup Kambing (different people now) 👈 click
🍴Tandoori Chicken & Naan (closed) 👈 click
🍴Kak Long Tamyam (first post) (different people now) 👈 click
🍴Chicken BBQ stall 👈 click

Meldrum Walk
Address: Back lane between Jalan Wong Ah Fook and Jalan Meldrum, Johor Bahru (less than 5 minutes walk from City Square Mall)
GPS: 1.460045, 103.764673 
Hours: 5:00pm to midnight 

Non Halal and Halal sections available

Date visited: 6 Jul 2018

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  1. Kc Ng Palmer said on Johor Kaki FB "try Fendi Ikan Bakar on the extreme north end. and one of the CKT stalls (cant remember the name, always has a queue) on the southern side."

    1. The best char kway tiao stall next to the ikan bakar stall has moved to Cedar Food Court behind Paragon Hotel. There are many good hawker stalls there including two Oyster Omellete stalls and famous Tampoi pork satay! Huge airy space with lots of tables and big car park!!

  2. Alex Kee said on Johor Kaki FB "Very unhygenic backlane kinda place.

    Better be forwarned knowing foreigners' expectations."

  3. Kwek Lee Low said on Johor Kaki FB "Historically from Pasar Kia Jalan Ungku Puan @ 1960s and some from morning push carts stalls operators ( living at Lumba Kuda flats ) alley of Jalan Meldrum of mid 60s"

  4. Ront Ogawa said on Johor Kaki FB "not so gem..not so clean."

  5. Tony, you should try the porridge stall. Me and my family have been eating pork porridge there since the 80s in Pasar Kia. In fact, we tracked the stall down to Meldrum Walk just so we can taste it again! Must add an egg for it to be extra tasty!

  6. By the way, the lady you showed selling fried kuay teow used to follow her father to help out at the stall. There used to be long lines to buy her father's kuay teow in the 60s. My grandfather and father used to buy from the lady's father, now I'm buying from the daughter! I admire such 2nd/3rd generation hawkers.

    1. Thank you for the insight :-D I love heritage hawkers too.

    2. By the way, this lady speaks English well. Agree that the CKT needs a bit of dark sweet soya sauce to bring out the flavour.

  7. Viviene Barrese said on Johor Kaki FB: "Both Joe & I like the kueh teow kia stall, Tony. Chili sauce also nice. His daughter runs a stall at Cedar Point. But the dads stall is better."

  8. Dayung Kumang Dk said on Johor Kaki FB: "Aiyo better dnt go ther dirty n just imagine u eat behind of shop lot n rats everywhere"

  9. Loke See Wah said on Johor Kaki FB: "The oyster omelette was delicious, the CT not bad, still, once it's enough. There was no running water, washing up was done using pails of water, v unhygienic. Smell of sewage v unpleasant too."

  10. Alex Kee said on Johor Kaki FB: "These refugee hawkers originally from the demolished JB Town and JB in general, deserves better.

    Hopefully the new gomen can do better."

  11. The Chinese ikan bakar at the end is nice.



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