Within 10 min walking distance from Johor Bahru’s City Square (JBCS), is the vibrant city centre with lots of old shophouses boasting hip cafes, traditional eateries and shops. There are 2 eateries here, barely 100m apart, with 1 claiming to serve the “Original Hainanese Chicken Chop in Town”, and the other claiming to be the “Best Chicken Chop in Town”. So who shall we believe? I “volunteered” myself to try both recently. Read on for my verdict… :)
Hua Mui Restoran 华美茶餐室 (Halal certified)
Address: 131 Jalan Trus, 80000 Johor Bahru
Opens: 8.00 am to 6.00 pm daily
Claim: Original Hainanese Chicken Chop in Town
If you are walking down from JBCS, you will reach Hua Mui Restoran first on the left, as it is a straight road down the oldest street in JB – Jalan Trus (behind Public Bank Berhad opposite JBCS). The old 2-storey coffeeshop makes you feel like you have gone back in time to the 1950s, as if time has stopped after Hua Mui started their business then. :D
I had the Hainanese Chicken Chop (RM14.90+/ S$4.80+) with a glass of Iced Milk Tea the Nanyang “Teh-Peng” style (RM2.60+/S$0.85+). Oh boy, the fried chicken chop was really good, tender and succulent meat and the skin crisp to perfection! Neither was it too oily nor excessive flour batter for the crispy chop. The accompanying sauce (tasted like mushroom) blended very well with the chicken chop and it was neither too thick nor thin. Good that the potato wedges weren’t soggy even with the sauce dripped all over. As I write this article, the taste of this flavourful Hainanese Chicken Chop still lingers in my mind lol.
Sidetrack, the “Teh Peng” was quite aromatic & worth it, especially good for after a walk under the hot sun to get to this coffee shop! ;)
IT Roo Cafe (Halal certified)
Address: 17 Jalan Dhoby, 80000 Johor Bahru
Opens: 12.00 pm to 9.30 pm daily
Claim: The Best Chicken Chop in Town
About 1 min away from Hua Mui down the little alley is IT Roo Cafe. I remember searching online for its opening hours and it was stated that they open from 10am, BUT when we reached there around 10.30am, a shop assistant told us through the closed door that they’ll only open from 12pm. Thought we could beat the lunch crowd & enjoy a more peaceful lunch but ended up we had to squeeze with the lunch crowd at 12+pm… -_-“
Anyway, over at IT Roo, they had both the fried chicken and grilled chicken option, so I chose the seemingly healthier option of Grilled Chicken Chop with Mushroom Sauce (RM15+/ S$4.85+). You can also choose from 2 sauces, either mushroom sauce or black pepper sauce. When the dish was served, I was quite disappointed even before I tasted it, because: (1) the piece of chicken definitely looked smaller than Hua Mui’s, (2) the chicken meat looked limp & flat, (3) no sauce on the potato wedges but why did they look like they were “half dead” too?
OK, leave the aesthetics alone, let’s judge by its taste. Sorry, but I really don’t understand how this can be the “best chicken chop in town” when the mushroom sauce was so salty & the meat didn’t taste fresh or piping hot. My friend thought the saltiness became manageable as she ate more of the meat, though I thought otherwise. Probably the only good thing was coleslaw was served as a side, so I could eat the veggie to neutralize the saltiness in my mouth. :P
For both visits, I went on a Friday, with IT Roo around 12+pm and Hua Mui around 2pm. Both waiting times for the dish to be served after ordering were about the same, around 10-15 min. It was full house at IT Roo whereas for Hua Mui the coffee shop was about half-filled since it was after the usual lunchtime.
I think it’s very clear which chicken chop I prefer, although it may not have been an apple-to-apple comparison (given that one was fried chicken & the other grilled chicken haha). Regardless, I was quite put off by the meal at IT Roo so don’t think I will go back again to give its fried version a chance. :P That being said, it’s my personal opinion, so go ahead to check them out yourself (map below for your easy navigation) & let me know your opinions after that! :D
NB: Both eateries are GST-registered hence the “+” sign behind each price.