When it comes to navigating the food spots near the customs, many Singaporeans are already experts and know where to stretch their dollar. So we decided to do something different and venture further inwards JB. A RM25 (~S$8.30) Grab ride brought us to JB Mount Austin, an unexplored food gem of the city. This spot is noted for its surprisingly hip cafes and rustic hawker fare. Here are some lesser known places in Johor Bahru worth gaining calories for.
Top on my JB cafe hopping list is Tropique Café & Restaurant, a Wes Anderson-inspired cafe which stood out against the rest. Find refuge amongst their lush plants and vintage dark green walls with pastel pink accents. Along with ivory white lounge chairs and rattan furniture, everything comes together to give you the best backdrop for your Instagram pictures.
Instead of typical cookie-cutter cafe food, Tropique Café & Restaurant boasts a menu to match their beautiful ambience. Boasting pretty hues of dark purple, green, and white, the savoury Butter Fish (RM32++/~S$10.63++) is delicate and aromatic, with the oil in the fish carrying all the flavour.
The B&B French Toast (RM24.90++/~S$8.27++) is a must-order. Slab on a generous serving of smooth butter and crunchy honeycomb bits onto the brûléed toast and banana for maximum foodgasm.
Address: Lot D, Jalan Ekoflora 1, Taman Ekoflora, 81100 Johor Bahru, Johor, Malaysia
Opening hours: Mon-Fri 11am to 10pm, Sat-Sun 10am to 10pm
Tel: +60 12-547 7886
Tropique Café & Restaurant is not a halal-certified eatery, but their food contains no pork or lard.
Just as how most drivers top up a full tank of petrol before returning to Singapore, you should fuel up at Myeong Dong BBQ Buffet before heading back home. Opened by a Korean couple, this eatery offers a RM24/~S$7.97 Korean BBQ meat buffet with no time limit! Even though beef is not part of the selection, you will be spoilt for choice with over 15 flavours of marinated chicken and pork.
Myeong Dong BBQ Buffet could be a great money-saving hack during your JB trip, but keep your dining expectations in check. While the place is air-conditioned, it does get hot when dinner time rolls around. Here’s a tip: sit along the opened windows for a much-needed breeze. Service is also minimal and don’t expect the staff to cook for you.
Address: 58-1, Jalan Austin Heights 8/7, Taman Mount Austin, 81100 Johor Bahru, Johor, Malaysia
Opening hours: Mon-Thur 5:30pm to 11pm, Fri-Sun 12pm to 11pm
Tel: +60 13-351 6748
Myeong Dong BBQ Buffet is not a halal eatery.
The Sugar Pantry drew us in with their XXL macaron dessert tower. Choose between two flavours: Berry Macaron Queen (RM32+/~S$10.63+) and Durian Macaron King (RM32+/~S$10.63+). As huge as an open palm, it features 10cm macaron shells sandwiching a frozen cheesecake, topped with fried mochi balls, strawberries, and whipped cream. You will also find a raspberry sorbet surprise centre!
Similar to Paris Baguette in Korea, The Sugar Pastry also offers a plethora of unique baked goodies on top of tarts, cakes, and pastries. Prices are reasonable, and the clean and quiet ambience makes for a great place to have an afternoon fika.
Start off with something light like the Sea Salt Rosemary (RM3.50+/~S$1.16+) bread, or just go straight to something heavier such as the Potato Yogurt Bun (RM4.50+/~S$1.49+) and Soft Boiled Egg Bun (RM3.50+/~S$1.16+). The latter smells and tastes just like a takoyaki, filled with a deliciously salty hanjuku lava egg.
Address: 47, Jalan Molek 1/9, Taman Molek, 81100 Johor Bahru, Johor, Malaysia
Opening hours: Daily 10am to 10pm
Tel: +60 7-364 3910
The Sugar Pantry is not a halal eatery.
No trip to JB is complete without a dim sum breakfast. A 20-minute drive from the customs is Restoran Gim Cheng, which serves more than 60 kinds of dim sum. They are closed on Wednesdays, and I highly recommend coming down on weekends, as even more dishes are available then.
They make good har gow (RM5.80/~S$1.92) and steamed spare ribs (RM6.30/~S$2.09), but their stellar dishes include phoenix dumpling (RM7.50/~S$2.49), which is like a har gow but zhnged-up with real salted egg yolk, and fish maw fish balls (RM7.50/~S$2.49), which were sweet and juicy at every bite.
Address: 2, Jalan Sagu 36, Taman Daya, 81100 Johor Bahru, Johor, Malaysia
Opening hours: Thur-Tue 7am to 1pm
Tel: +60 16-712 1257
Restoran Gim Cheng is not a halal eatery.
People & Places Cafe is a new garden-themed cafe that screams hipster. Inspired by those in Melbourne, the people behind this cafe have gone way beyond simple snaps of food and flatlays. Besides colourfully plated food, the entire place is also a playground of aesthetic backgrounds to up your Insta-game.
Nothing revives an Instafeed like food that is plated beautifully. People & Places Cafe offers that extra dose of fancy with Mess of Plants (RM 20.50++/~$6.80++), a vegetarian dish which comes served in a kaleidoscope of colours, shapes, and textures. The Quesadilla Brekkie (RM 25++/~$8.29++) is another stunning dish boasting flavours of tom yum, creamy eggs, and piquant sriracha aioli.
Address: 6 Jalan Kencana Emas 2/3, Kawasan Perindustrian Tebrau 3, Johor Bahru 81100
Opening hours: Mon-Thur 10am to 6pm, Fri-Sun 10am to 9pm
Tel: +60 7-351 5303
People & Places Cafe is not a halal-certified eatery, but their food contains no pork or lard.
Do not panic when you find yourself being driven to an ulu part of the city. Hidden amongst real factories and warehouses, JWC The Factory 30 is one out of four cafes opened by Just Want Coffee. You might be greeted with a “Welcome home!” when you’re at JWC Homies, but here at Factory 30 there is a cool, industrial chic vibe going on.
Cafe-hoppers can enjoy their extensive menu of hot food and desserts. The Tiramisu (RM15.90++/~S$5.28++) contains house-brewed coffee, which stood out with its deep fragrance against creamy mascarpone cream. Enjoy a mini fire show during the preparation when you order an Irish Coffee (RM28++/~S$9.30++). The drink and theatrics will not disappoint.
Address: 30, Jalan Mutiara Emas 5/3, Taman Mount Austin, 81100 Johor Bahru, Johor, Malaysia
Opening hours: Daily 12pm to 11:45pm
Tel: +60 7-350 7508
JWC The Factory 30 is not a halal-certified eatery, but their food contains no pork or lard.
Some love has to go out to the delicious and affordable zi char fare in JB. Restoran Uncle Pou Wok is a popular zi char haunt amongst Singaporeans, and you can find one out of the only two outlets here at Mount Austin. There are both outdoor and indoor seatings, but opt for the former to fully experience dining on car park lots, the local way.
A dish not to miss is their KL Hokkien Mee (RM8+/~S$2.66+). It features thick, udon-like noodles stir-fried with prawns, slices of fish cake, cuttlefish, and lap cheong. Every slurp of the dark noodle was smoky, as they have been touched by the ‘breath of the wok’. Kids and adults alike would also enjoy their Sweet & Sour Pork (RM15+/~S$4.99+), which stays crunchy despite being coated in a sticky, tangy sauce.
Address: 113, Jalan Mutiara Emas 10/19, Taman Mount Austin, 81100 Johor Bahru, Johor, Malaysia
Opening hours: Daily 11:30am to 2:30pm, 5:30pm to 9:30pm
Tel: +60 7-361 6890
Restoran Uncle Pou Wok is not a halal eatery.
Diet can wait. Make plans for a short but food-filling 2D1N stay in JB with this list of the best Mount Austin food spots without hurting your wallet!
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