December 4, 2016

Seven Oaks, Johor Bahru…JB’s most out-there place to while away an afternoon

The humble Johor Bahru cafe is rarely just that anymore. At just a few months old, Seven Oaks is already proving to be JB’s most stylish cafe. Nothing in JB can yet match the beyond library-themed chic interior drugged with palace opulence facade.

JB’s not a city that’s short of a good bakery or cake shop, but separating the outstanding from the ordinary can take a fair bit of munching. I’ve kindly gone and done that for you. The ground floor at Seven Oaks is a bakery with scrumptious looking cakes and pastries that cry: eat me! Their salted egg lava croissant is of course their fame and fortune. The upper levels serves as a cafe.

Sure, these expensive go-tos might set you back a bit, but they’re worth every cent. It is worth the visit for the décor alone. This is JB’s most out-there place to while away an afternoon. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…



May 21, 2016

Restoran Eastern Dragon, Johor Bahru…tragic fall from grace

Here are some words to describe the food: “rubbery,” “flavorless,” “mushy,” “gluey,” “swampy,” “limp,” and “dispiriting.” I hate everything. Everything, including the service, got two thumbs down and luckily for the restaruarant, I ran out of thumbs at that point.

This is not any old restaurant. This is Eastern Dragon, where, since the 1990s, has been hailed by several publications as one of the finest restaurants in Johor Bahru. Their famous roast duck and char siew were the talk of the town.

Has there ever been a more drastic fall from grace than that? The answer is no. There has not. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

eastern dragon jb

May 1, 2016

Restoran Shoon Huat, Johor Bahru…sink into a blissful BKT coma

Malaysia is awash with great Bak Kut Teh (BKT), and carnivores won’t be dismayed with Restoran Shoon Huat in Johor Bahru. This place is incredibly simple but the bak kut teh is also one of the best things you’ll ever eat in JB.

Bak Kut Teh isn’t a homogeneous food type. The clear broth is a lot less herbal than the ones in KL and significantly less peppery than the Singapore versions.This soup is is comforting in its simplicity enough to be eaten with a bowl of steamed white rice for a complete meal. There’s a tinge of sweetness and that perfectly balance the savouriness of the pork ribs.

These are the worst ribs. I ate them all just so nobody else would have to deal with them. Just kidding. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

bkt jb2

bkt jb1

April 23, 2016

Bangkok Village Thai Restaurant, Johor Bahru…love the vibe and look

There are many things I am not good at; secrets is one of them. I do what I do out of a compulsion to find out stuff and then bellow annoyingly about it. So if I do find one I’m hardly likely to keep quiet about it.

Bangkok Village Thai Restaurant is a startlingly good Thai eatery in JB. The menu is extensive, reasonably priced and packed with flavour. The Thai Lemon Steamed Siakap arrives in a savoury sauce that makes you open your eyes wider. Although not every dish live up to my wildest expectations – let’s be honest – I’m paying for the atmosphere.

The place has a glorious garden setting, so spacious and beautiful. Absolutely love the vibe and look of this restaurant.

Bangkok Village Thai Restaurant is hidden 30 minutes away from the JB CIQ, but it well repays the effort and taxi fare to get there.This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

bkk village jb2

December 19, 2015

Hidden Maze Escape Room, Johor Bahru…far and away – the worst experience I have ever had at a room escape

Over the past year, I have been become involved in the growing fad of Escape Games. Escape Rooms’ one-hour games will confront you with plenty of exciting effects to keep you all on your toes. Secret compartments suddenly reveal themselves, locked doors spring into action… and that’s all on top of the riddles, puzzles, codes and clues you have to find and solve to complete your mission.

Hidden Maze in JB was certainly different than any other room escape I had been to in Singapore and Kuala Lumpur. I never really felt any emotions or excitement in the Trick or Treat room. The puzzles were tedious and illogical and none of them was satisfying, Usually, when a hard challenge is completed, you get a sense of satisfaction and excitement, but Trick or Treat’s uninspired puzzles left us disappointed and let-down. The whole experience felt like someone threw a whole bunch of puzzles and locks in there for you to kill time and a quick profit. The entire place feels very rough, unpolished and unprofessional.

This is far and away – the worst experience I have ever had at a room escape. Please save yourself the money and time by going to another room escape. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

hidden maze escape room jb1

hidden maze escape room jb2

June 27, 2015

Storia Café, Johor Baru…The otak-otak (otah) here satisfy both the expert and the greedy.

Johor Baru happens to the birthplace of two of Asia’s undisputed cultural treasures: otak otak and the author of this blog.

Otah (or otak-otak in Malay) is essentially mashed fish and spices, which is steamed then flame grilled in banana leaves to attain that smokey yet moist aroma. The otah (or otak)  name is almost weird – “brains” in Malay language. It can be eaten on its own – straight down the hatch, with rice (particularly nasi lemak) or noodles (especially mee rebus) or slathered onto bread for a savoury lunch or breakfast. Simply thinking about it is often all it takes to get my mouth watering.

These soft, savoury but not too chewy fish cakes at Storia Café are very addictive. Yes, 3 is never enough! The spice is mild and I can taste the freshness of the fish. It meets all the criteria except that it’s not too generous in portion.

The otak-otak here satisfy both the expert and the greedy. This is the true truth as  say it as it is…

storia cafe, jb

February 28, 2015

Permas Go-Kart Circuit, Johor Bahru…The karts are a little beaten up

If you have the need for speed and are looking for a way to get the whole family’s or department’s motor running, then go-karting may be just the sport. Put that sibling rivalry to rest or promote healthy competition with a ten-minute race around the track.

Also known as Johor circuit or Plentong circuit, Permas Go-Kart Circuit is not the biggest track in the world but serves it’s purpose. The karts are a little beaten up, but most are mechanically sound. Some are slower than the rest and a couple are best avoided because you lose control when you jam on the brakes. Place needs to be re hauled, brought up to code, wiped down, cleaned up and then maybe it will be worth it.

If you’re looking for some speed and adrenaline, I recommend looking for a better track. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

permas go kart jb

February 6, 2015

Hock Heng Pandan Beef Ball, Johor Bahru…Goodness gracious, great balls y’all!

As someone who loves meatballs but is also super-picky about meatballs, I was either going to love to or hate this place. The original Hock Heng opened in Kampung Pandan more than sixty years ago by the founder, hence the famous name, Pandan beef ball noodles. When I was a young lad, my grandpa would occasionally drive me there for a bowl of noodle. This Hock Heng place still maintains its mojo — but it’s just missing a bit of extra oomph.

Having had gazillions beef balls since my childhood sojourns to Kampung Pandan, I was, therefore, expecting some kind of badass beef noodle — after all, good first impressions stick with you for life. This branch at Taman Sri Tebrau was quiet mostly deserted. The signature beef balls are pretty good – meaty, firm, springy (I’d swear they could bounce on the floor if I’d dropped them) and crunchy – not too over-the-top.

Though not the lip-smacking great, I am happy to report that this is Johor Bahru’s best! Keep on ballin’ Hock Heng! This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

JB Beef ball

November 1, 2014

Restoran Sing Lok Lok Steamboat, Johor Baru…Food fondue Malaysian style

Lok in Cantonese means to be scalded or getting burnt in hot water and hence the name lok lok.  Lok Lok is an assortment of cooked and uncooked food items dunked in hot boiling broth. As with a fondue, you and your friends huddle around and communally dip these slivers of meat and vegetables until cooked.

True to tradition, the lok lok at Restoran Sing is served out of a van similar to truck food. The workers in blue will help us cook the food by boiling the  raw food prepared on skewers in soup. If you like variety, there is quite a selection with cuttlefish, prawns, crabstick, baby clams, pork slices, pig intestines and assorted balls. Restoran Sing offers 4 types of sauces to dip our lok lok in, from sweet to satay to chili sauce. Alongside its steamboats, Restoran Sing offers a full a la carte menu. To go with our lok lok, we also had the ultra expensive and underwhelming frog legs. Best avoided.

Try it to experience a different food culture. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

lok lok permas jaya

July 28, 2014

Shik Gaek Korea Family Restaurant, Johor Baru…Not bad, but nothing really special

Decent spot. The food is okay; not as great as what you should be able to scrounge up in Singapore.

Lovely food cooked right in front of you. Extremely helpful and friendly staff who make the experience easier and more enjoyable. Taste wise I think it’s pretty decent and at a good pricepoint. We found that as a rule, the marinated meats for the barbecue were much tastier than those without the marinade. Sure, I suppose your mom can make it better, but if you want your mom’s cooking you should just live at home.

Having the food cooked on your table gives an added bonus – you leave smelling of delicious meats. In any case, it’s a decent spot in a jiffy, but I think there are better place to find. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

korea family restaurant jb

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