Land borders between Singapore and Johor Bahru (JB) have finally opened. Having spent the last two years reminiscing and fantasising about the food places in JB that I used to frequent as a child, I couldn’t be more excited.
JB is known to be a haven for good food, but it isn’t as small and easy to get around as Singapore. It would feel terrible to travel all the way to an eatery only to find the food subpar. With so many reviews and ratings online, it can be difficult to sift out which food places are good to go and which are not. So I thought, who knows the food in JB better than the locals themselves?
To help you satisfy all the cravings that have been manifesting since lockdown, here’s our list of 10 must-eat lesser known places in JB as recommended by the locals.
1. Xin Hao Yun Catfish King Johor Jaya (新好运泥鳅王)
You can find claypot fish head in most tzechar places in Singapore, but have you heard of claypot catfish? As you step into the eatery, you’ll find a steaming pot of claypot catfish on almost every table at Xin Hao Yun Catfish King. The dense and sweet flavour of catfish melds so perfectly with the fragrant and savoury black sauce that it’s no surprise to see customers downing more than one plate of rice with the dish.
📍 No.1 Jalan Dedap 6, Taman Johor Jaya, 81100 Johor Bahru, Johor, Malaysia
🕒 10.30am–9pm (Daily)
2. Cedar Point Food Centre No.54 Century Curry Fish Head (食得福美食中心54纪咖喱鱼头)
Cedar Point food centre’s No. 54 Century Curry Fish Head has over 30 years of history in their books. The curry fish head here hits the perfect spot between being flavourful yet not too overwhelming down to the accompanying lady’s fingers in the dish. Like the claypot catfish mentioned above, many customers also love how well it goes with rice. This food place may be lesser known to Singaporeans, but many local families in JB travel from all across town to dine here.
📍 10, Jalan Musang Bulan, Taman Abad, 80250 Johor Bahru, Johor, Malaysia
🕒 12pm–2pm, 5pm–10pm (Daily)
3. Restoran Soon Loy Bak Kut Teh (顺发肉骨茶)
Bak Kut Teh is one of the many beloved dishes that Singapore and Malaysia share that are, as the saying goes, same same but different. Majority of the bak kut teh served in Singapore consists of a ‘white’ peppery broth, while in Malaysia, the norm is a ‘black’ herbal broth. Having first tasted bak kut teh in Malaysia as a child, the latter is definitely closer to my heart. At Restoran Soon Loy, you will find tender fall-off-the-bone pork ribs stewed in a sweet and aromatic herbal broth. One of my favourite ways to eat this hearty dish is to steep youtiao (fried dough sticks) in the broth.
📍 263 Jalan Sutera, Johor Bahru, Johor, Malaysia
🕒 8.30am–5pm (Daily)
4. Bong Penang Assam Laksa (黄家槟城)
You don’t have to travel all the way to Penang just to have amazing penang fare. At Bong Penang Assam Laksa, you can find authentic assam laksa raved by JB locals as well as true blue Penangites who have relocated to the city. The smooth noodles coupled with tangy, fresh broth and a generous serving of fish is one that will definitely whet your appetite. It’s a pity that it’s not quite realistic to dabao this delicacy back to Singapore.
📍 No.9 Jalan Teratai 4, Taman Johor Jaya, 81100 Johor Bahru, Johor, Malaysia
🕒 10am–6pm (Tue to Sat, closed on Mon)
5. Taste Paradise Yellow Wine Mee Hoon Kueh (福佳閤)
Taste Paradise is a humble little eatery loved by many locals for having a good variety of quality local fare, but there is one stall that stands out evidently— the yellow wine mee hoon kueh. Usually, mee hoon kueh is served with a lighter-coloured broth so you’ll be surprised to see that the mee hoon kueh here is served with an orange-tinted dark broth. There’s no other way to describe it other than an explosion of umami in this hearty bowl of smooth mee hoon kueh that locals love so much.
📍 25 and 27 Jalan Kota ⅓, Taman Mega Ria, 81750, Johor Bahru, Johor, Malaysia
🕒 6am–12am (Daily)
6. Ah Sing Loklok (阿胜碌碌)
To me, nothing compares to sitting around a loklok truck late at night in JB. There are numerous loklok places strewn all around JB, but Ah Sing Loklok stands out as the crème de la crème thanks to its wide selection of skewers. It’s said that you must also order the claypot lala soup to go with skewers for the perfect loklok experience.
📍 6, Jalan Permas 10/6, Bandar Baru Permas Jaya, 81750 Masai, Johor, Malaysia
🕒 3pm–1am (Daily)
7. Ah Piaw Noodle House Wanton Noodles
Ah Piaw Noodle House is known to many locals for their slender and springy wanton noodles served with flavourful black sauce. Just the thought of mixing the noodles, sauce and pork lard and eating it together with their juicy wantons is enough to make anyone’s mouth start to water. Some even say that it’s the best wanton noodle in JB, but you can be the judge of that for yourself.
📍 20, 12, Jalan Kelewang, Taman Sri Tebrau, 80050 Johor Bahru, Johor, Malaysia
🕒 8pm–8pm (Mon to Sat, 24 hours on Sunday)
8. Taman Pelangi Hawker Chee Cheong Fun (彩虹花园小贩中心)
Like Taste Paradise, the Taman Pelangi Hawkers Centre is also a food place that’s highly-raved by locals for the myriad of local delicacies that you can find there. One of the more popular stalls is the chee cheong fun store, where you can order silky smooth chee cheong fun served with sweet and salty red sauce. The stall also sells yam cake served in the same fashion, and many locals love to order both to enjoy the different layers of flavours.
📍 1, Jalan Perang, Taman Pelangi, 80400 Johor Bahru, Johor, Malaysia
🕒 5pm–10pm (Daily)
9. RSX Fish Noodles (榕树下金目鲈淉条汤)
One of my go-to meals on a rainy day is a comforting bowl of fish noodle soup. At RSX Fish Noodles, you’ll find the perfect combination of sweet broth, fresh fish and lovingly handmade fish cakes that make up that unforgettable bowl of fish noodle soup.
📍 1, Jalan Kebun Teh Lama, Taman Abad, 80250 Johor Bahru, Johor, Malaysia
🕒 8am–5pm (Mon to Sat, closed on Sun)
10. Restoran Hi Wan Kuey Teow Kia (海皇淉条仔)
Restoran Hi Wan Kuey Teow Kia serves kuey teow kia that is similar to the kuey chap that we have in Singapore, except that instead of the broad sheets, the noodles are cut into thin and long strips. It might look unassuming, but served with the traditional braised delights like large intestines, this meal is definitely one you’ll keep thinking about even when you’re travelling across the causeway back to Singapore. Be sure to ask for more of their chilli as well, it’s the highlight for many locals.
📍 210, Jalan Sri Pelangi, Taman Pelangi, 80400 Johor Bahru, Johor, Malaysia
🕒 11am–1.30pm, 4.30pm–11.30pm (Daily)
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