Merah Kitchen & Bar in Johor Bahru is a retro-themed cafe with arcade game machines and IG-worthy neon decor, hidden behind a vending machine door

by Jesslyn Lye

There are countless new cafes and restaurants popping up in Johor Bahru, but if there’s one that’s a must-visit, it’s Merah Kitchen & Bar

Make your way to the restaurant, and you’ll immediately be transported back in time. The walls are plastered with vintage neon signs and old-timey posters, and you’ll find old-school toys, biscuit tins, and memorabilia on display. It’s like stepping onto the set of an 80s movie, so be prepared to go wild with the Instagram pictures.

merah kitchen & bar
Photos: @cyruss1016/instagram, Adrian Lunsong/google images

Once here, you’ll see no tables or chairs. Their social media pages tease that their doors open till late — but only if you can find the entrance. Well, here’s the secret. The stairs to the main dining area are hidden behind a bright red vending machine door in the corner. 

Head up the stairs, and you’ll be greeted by the actual restaurant space that also keeps to the retro theme, with old-fashioned arcade game machines and glass-topped mahjong dining tables. 

Photos: Adrian Lunsong/google images, @cherhui9914/instagram

Hungry and ready to eat? You can expect an interesting variety of creative fusion fare here. For a wholesome brunch classic with a refreshing twist, go for the Lychee Duck Quinoa (S$8.19, RM25.90) — a smoked duck quinoa bowl with lychee, edamame, and pineapple. 

Another popular item on the menu is the Mint Pesto Spaghetti (S$7.58, RM23.90). Topped with egg and juicy grilled chicken, the pasta is tossed in a unique homemade fresh mint pesto sauce.

merah kitchen & bar
Photos: @lu.fdiary, @cyruss1016/instagram

If you’re there with a big group, the restaurant also has a selection of tapas to choose from, including Mozzarella Cheese Sticks, Sesame Cauliflower, and Tandoori Chicken Skewers. You can either order them ala carte, or as part of a tapas platter. 

Plus, the restaurant also transforms into a bar at night, dishing out soju cocktails and affordable beers — perfect for a chill night out with friends. 

Photos: @merahkitchen, @betterfoodforlife/instagram

This hidden gem (literally) is conveniently located less than ten minutes from the causeway by car, so grab your friends and head over for some great food and equally great vibes.

Merah Kitchen & Bar
Facebook | Instagram | Website
📍 17, Jalan Ibrahim. Bandaraya, 80000 J.B.
🕒 12pm – 10pm (Tue to Thu, Sun), 12pm – 12am (Fri to Sat)

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