Johor Bahru: Food Trip
“Are we there yet?”
This is my sisters’ favorite thing to say (and annoy me) while we were driving down south to Johor Bahru for her interview with one of the companies there. It took us around 4 hours to get there only because there were a few stops along the way and traffic getting into this large state was at its’ peak hour. The only reason I agreed to accompanying her to the south was to explore good food in the city and to self proclaim it as a food trip was pretty much a plus point.
Johor is home to the well known laksa Johor, otak-otak as well as nasi Ujang but there are still plenty of other delicious food that one can explore in its’ bustling city. Even for a quick 2 days trip we were able to go on a food hunt based on recommendations from friends living in this state and of course from Johor Kaki’s popular food blog. The interview turned out well for my sister and here are the places which you can check out when you’re in Johor.
1. IT Roo Cafe – The Best Chicken Chop in Town.
The sign outside its’ shop said “The Best Chicken Chop In Town” and for one to confidently shout this to the public, meant we had to check it out for ourselves. My friend Laichee had recommended us this place too and we ordered the popular chicken chop that came with black pepper sauce, coleslaw, potato wedges and cucumber-tomato slices. I loved how the plate had rooster motifs on it and that the portion was a really good size for 1 person (not too much and not too little). We had also ordered the root beer floats which came in tall glasses (just like the ones they served in an A&W restaurant). Besides chicken chop, IT Roo also has other ala carte items on their menu. The place is often packed during lunch time and since their restaurant is quite small, it’s best you get in before the peak hour.
Address: IT Roo Cafe, 17, Jalan Dhoby, 8000 Johor Bahru.
2. The Best Banana Cake in Town.
I am a girl who truly loves banana cakes and I remembered when we were in school, our mum would buy them for us to bring for lunch and even baked them on the weekends. With so many fond memories it’s no wonder that we found this place to be nostalgic. Bart searched for this place online and when we got there, we could already smell the biscuits and banana cake from outside. A long queue was already forming and we quickly got in line. It’s better to already know beforehand what you want and how many of them is needed. If you’re not sure what to get you can always ask the guy sitting out front. The banana cake was really good and I wished we had some here right now!
Address: Hiap Joo Bakery & Biscuit Factory, 13, Jalan Tan Hiok Nee, 8000 Johor Bahru.
3. Chaiwalla – Have an honest tea.
We were looking for the banana cake shop when we saw this container cafe in the middle of town which was just about to open that morning. Since it was a hot day, we decided to have some bubble tea at Chaiwalla and check out their cool place. The cafe was very minimalist with one long counter area with a few seats in front. A blue awning protected us from the heat of the day. The cafe was set up by two young men who went to school together and later on decided to venture into this business. Their menu is quite extensive with flavors ranging from fruity to milky such as mango, Vietnamese coffee, Thai milk and chrysanthemum tea. Once we chose the drink, we then chose our topping which was pudding for Bart & I and bubble jelly for my sister. You could also choose the sweetness level based on your liking. They also serve desserts when we were there and we took the sliced brownie which was not bad. In case you need a sweet fix in the hot afternoon, you can visit Chaiwalla for a dose of honest tea.
Address: Chaiwalla & Co., Jalan Tan Hiok Nee, 8000 Johor Bahru.
4. Seafood by the sea.
We’re always joking that we’re on a seafood diet which in other words meant “When I see food, I eat”. For dinner we went to a seafood stall area at Tepian Tebrau which had a row of stalls selling local food and desserts. It was near the Thistle Hotel therefore easy to locate from the bright stall signage. We chose the one at the end ‘Gerai Minuman Yong Yong’ which is popular for its’ jelly and cooling desserts. The stall also sells grilled fish, calamari and baby crabs which we ordered most immediately. We ate these with rice and nasi lemak followed by delicious icy dessert. We even had the baby crabs packed up for snack time at the hotel (my sisters’ idea).
Address: Tepian Tebrau, Pantai Lido, 8000 Johor Bahru.
5. Steamboat Lok Lok
On a rainy night, steamboat is the best thing to eat as it keeps the tummy warm especially at night. However it wasn’t raining that night and we decided to visit the steamboat van area near the riverfront in Johor Bahru. After parking our car, we walked to a square area where vans were lined up and opened for steamboat business. In the middle of it were rows of tables and chairs for customers. We walked for awhile before choosing this particular van which had all the chicken balls, hot dogs and other meats on sticks as well as bakso, tofu sumbat and sotong kangkung. To place an order just go to the van, grab a plate and take the items that you want, pass it to the seller where he will boiled the meats before mixing it with some sauce and pepper. Look out for the price of those sticks though because it varies in colour (eg: Red stick for RM1 a piece, Blue stick for RM1.50 a piece). If you’re looking for something light to eat for dinner, then perhaps you could visit the stalls here and try a stick or two for the night.
Address: Medan Steamboat Luton Van, Dataran Bandaraya, 8000 Johor Bahru.
About Yafieda Jamil
A Malaysian girl currently working abroad in Phnom Penh city. I love a good road trip, hot cappuccinos, spicy food and staring at old buildings. My mission is to inspire people to see the world differently before we all get any older. Oh and giraffes are the most beautiful creatures on earth.