Johor Bahru is the second most popular city in Malaysia. It is often forgotten that one of the most important factors for JB's economic growth is tourism. Due to its proximity to Singapore, this city receives almost 50% of the country's foreign tourists via its road bridges linking to Singapore.
One of the big attractions here is the cuisine. It is a fact that often the same dish, served on this side of the border, is half the price in comparison to its Singaporean neighbour.
So, where to go for this for good food at half price?
Also known as Pusat Penjaja, these are an area of food trucks, pushcarts, stall vendors selling food and drinks.
Tepian Tebrau, located at the intersection of Jl Mohammad Amin and Jalan Sungai Chat (about 500 m southwest of the Thistle Hotel and 3.5 km west of the Causeway).This strip of stall vendors is famous for its seafood, especially ikan bakar (grilled fish).
Medan Steamboat Luton Van Dataran Bandaraya, Jalan Abdul Samad. It is located just beside the Dataran Bandaraya - the building with the distinctive yellow clock tower. This open-air hawker specializes in steamboat or hot pot.
Medan Selera Meldrum Walk, (along Meldrum Walk, a pedestrianised street between Jl Siu Koon and Jl Stesyen). 90 food and drinks pushcart stalls to choose from, all serving Malaysian cuisine.
Pusat Penjaja Jalan Perang Taman Pelangi, (at the junction of Jl Perang and Jl Sri Pelangi, just opposite a big mosque - Masjid Jamek Taqwa Taman Pelangi - with a golden, onion-shaped dome). You can get satay sticks and clay pot chicken rice here.
These hawker centres generally open in the afternoon until late.
If you can get up early, there are two types of roti canai that are native to Johor, these are a must try. Roti can be likened to a Malaysian naan, however, the texture is a little softer and chewier.
One of these roti can be found near Kim Teng Park. This version is very thick and extra crispy and the chili paste that comes with it, is to die for. The best way to get there is by car. Ask your hotel in Johor Bahru for the directions.
The other 'roti canai' is located at Century Garden near the Honda showroom in front of the MAA building. These ones are smaller, lighter and fluffier versions of the original 'roti canai' and they come with a small bowl of sardine-mixture.
Restoran Bamboo, (1 Jl Sutera 1, Taman Sentosa). This is a non halal Chinese restaurant, well-known for its "emperor's paper wrapped chicken"-a whole, spring chicken wrapped in both aluminum foil (outside) and paper (inside), baked in the oven for hours, then served, largely immersed in a Chinese style gravy.
Master Yong Abalone, (39, Jl Molek 2/1, Taman Molek) is the first and only restaurant in Malaysia to serve whole abalones with 'kuay teow' (a type of noodle) soup dishes. One of the well known dishes is 'Abalone Cube Medley in Volcano Stone Pot'.
Restoran Sing Kee, (124-126, Jl Cengai, Taman Melodies, at the junction of this road and Jl Meranti, 3.5 km north of the CIQ). This place has been serving its signature dish - the curried fish head, for 20 years.
Restoran Yi Bao, (5 Jl Maju, across the street from Plaza Pelangi). 'Mee hoon kueh' is the only dish served here, it is a popular Chinese delicacy where pieces of flour cake, meatballs, mincemeat, vegetables, fragrantly deep-fried anchovies and eggs are cooked in a thick soup. Expect a bit of a line and a large crowd.
Dann's Cafe at Taman Daya. A popular place for good Johor laksa, Hyderabad biryani rice and mee siam Kuah.
Hiap Joo Bakery and Biscuit Factory, (13 Jalan Tan Hiok Nee at the junction of Jalan Tan Hiok Nee and Jalan Trus). This traditional bakery located in the heart of the city is more than 80 years old. The bread has been baked the same way since it was founded in 1928, in a firewood oven which dominates the little shop. The business is now run by the founder's children and grandchildren.
W.W. Laksa House, (36A and 36A1, Jalan Kolam Ayer). As the name suggests, it specializes in laksa. It also serves 'dry mee' and 'mee soup'.
Due to the high number of foreign tourists entering JB there are many hotels in Johor Bahru, so for a short visit across the border you should have no problem finding somewhere to stay!
Are there any other delectable places we may have missed out? Where is your favourite place to dine when in Johor Bahru?
Thistle hotels are part of Guoman Hotel Management (UK) Limited operating a number of hotels throughout the UK and Malaysia. The guest experience is everything; wireless internet access in every area of the hotels and personal service delivered in a warm, efficient and straightforward manner. With 32 hotels UK wide and 2 hotels in the exotic peninsula of Malaysia, the name may be the same, but they’re showing the world a very different face.
P: 0477 661 114