Cafe-Hop On a Shoestring Budget Near the JB Customs

Like it or not, cafe-hopping isn’t exactly a cheap hobby in Singapore.  So although I enjoy exploring new cafes, I cafe-hop in Singapore with caution so as not to burn a big hole in my pathetic wallet. 😛 With the S$ strengthening steadily against our neighbour Malaysia’s MYR (S$1 = MYR2.8 around mid-July), it’s a good time to try cafe-hopping in Johor Bahru (JB) where many hip indie cafes have sprouted in recent times.

Over the recent Hari Raya long weekend, I went to JB for a short getaway with my cousin as my birthday happened to fall during this period (the first time I encountered a public holiday so close to my birthday! LOL) so we thought we could take advantage of the strong S$ for a budget birthday holiday.  Within a leisurely 10-min walk from Johor Bahru City Square (JBCS – the shopping mall you will see upon leaving JB Customs), is a cafe-hopper’s heaven, especially for people like us who do not drive! 🙂

Upon arriving at JBCS level 3 (the level that is linked to JB Customs), go down 1 level to level 2 & head to the Jalan Wong Ah Fook overhead bridge near The Chicken Rice Shop:

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Cross the overhead bridge & walk along the covered pathway by the side of Public Bank Berhad building that you can see once you cross the bridge.  This area seems to be THE place for the Indian community, as both times I walked past, it was crowded with Indians, probably because there is a Hindu temple (Arulmigu Sri Raja Mariamman Devasthanam) just a few minutes down the road. You would have arrived at Jalan Trus – 1 of the city’s oldest streets, once you reach the end of this short covered pathway.  **Drum rolls** Get ready to cafe-hop on a shoestring budget right now! 🙂

1. Faculty of Caffeine (FOC)

Address: 106 Jalan Trus, Johor Bahru

Open: 9.00am to 6.00pm daily

An industrial concept cafe founded by a medical student & an interior designer who are both passionate in coffee, food and design, FOC is located just opposite the Johor Old Chinese Temple (柔佛古庙).

As it was our first stop of the day at 10+am, we decided not to stuff ourselves with the popular “Generous Breakfast” (RM17.50+, S$6.25+) but to leave room for food at other cafes later. 😉 The cafe is quite compact in size with simple industrial decor.  It was almost full house that morning so we had to take the 2 seats facing the door.

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The coffee here is supposed to be good, but it was so warm that day we decided to get a cold beverage each to quench our thirst. 😛 My Chilly Rose Peach Tea (RM9+, S$3.20+) was fragrant & refreshing while my cousin’s Iced Minty Chocolate (RM12+, S$4.30+) sweetness was just right with a refreshing taste of mint.  Seems like we both made the right choice here. 🙂

Total spent at FOC: RM23.10, S$8.25

(NB: The “+” sign behind each price is because the cafe adds a 10% service charge to the bill.)

2. Table For Two² (TFT²) [PERMANENTLY CLOSED IN LATE 2015]

Address: 25 Jalan Tan Hiok Nee, Johor Bahru

Open: Sun-Thu 1000-1800 hrs & Fri-Sat 1000-2200 hrs

After wandering around the area for a while, we finally decided on our second stop here as many cafes were still not open for business before noon.

Table For Two

Table For Two - menu

TFT² prices seem to be higher compared to FOC, but it also has more food options compared to the former so we took quite a while to decide on what to order.  Finally, here’s what we tried:

Table For Two order

Hee… we only ordered “Mr. Portabello” (RM15.90+, S$5.70+) to share plus a Purple Rain Ice Blended each (RM9.90+, S$3.50+).  This was like our second course for the day so that we could move on to another cafe for the main course! 😛 The portabello mushroom with homemade mushroom sauce & salad on the side was fresh & juicy.  Just a pity that the serving was a bit small & left us craving for more haha.  Purple Rain Ice Blended is actually a grape flavoured drink, perfect for such sunny weather. 😉

Total spent at TFT²: RM37.50, S$13.40

(NB: The “+” sign behind each price is because the cafe adds a 5% service charge to the bill.)

3. Coffee Valley (CV)

Address: 12 Jalan Trus, Johor Bahru

Open: Daily 1230-2200 hrs

Time for our main courses!  CV is a quaint little cafe above a very old coffee shop serving local hawker fare.  Take the flight of stairs up to level 2, at a corner of the coffee shop & what you shall see will be a stark contrast to the “hawker scene” right below. 😉

Coffee Valley

Waffles seemed to be the main attraction here based on the wide selection on the menu, so we decided to order 1 sweet waffles & 1 savoury waffles to try.

Tiramisu Waffle (left) & Pasta Brunch Platter (right)

Tiramisu Waffle (left) & Pasta Brunch Platter (right)

The savoury Pasta Brunch Platter (RM17+, S$6.10+) was served first as per our request.  Wow I must say this was one of the best waffles I have ever tasted so far, crispy on the outside, yet fluffy on the inside, & we could taste the fragrant cheese as we bite into the waffle.  The creamy chicken mushroom spaghetti was also quite well done.  This Pasta Brunch Platter was quite a generous serving so we were somewhat full after sharing haha.  Then came the sweet Tiramisu Waffle (RM14+, S$5+) that came with a nice creme brulee topping & a scoop of ice cream.  The waffle was also equally yummy like the savoury one.  We made the right choice again, wohoo!~  We didn’t order any drinks here, just asked for plain water to accompany our food.  I really enjoyed visiting this cafe, not only because of its great food, but also because of the comfortable & tranquil setting it provided, away from all the bustle outside.  In fact we were the only customers till we finished our first main course, so it was easy to roam around taking photos. 🙂 For those who can’t survive without internet connection, they provide free wifi too, the only cafe out of the 3 that we visited to do so. 😉

Total spent at CV: RM32.85, S$11.70

(NB: The “+” sign behind each price is because the cafe adds a 5% service charge to the bill.)

It was time to return to the hotel to check-in after a good 4 hours of cafe hopping.  Just to summarise the total amount spent for 2:

Café MYR SGD
Faculty of Caffeine    23.10      8.25
Table For Two2    37.50    13.40
Coffee Valley    32.85    11.70
Grand Total    93.45    33.35

Wohoo~ average spending per pax is <S$20, & it was a satisfying “3-course meal” leaving us bloated at the end of the experience! 😀 At this price, I probably can only get a beverage with a cake or sandwich in Singapore cafe haha.

*BONUS if you have a bit more $ to spare for some desserts* 😀

Humble Beginnings (HB)

Address: J6-05, Level 6, City Square, Johor Bahru

Open: Daily 1200-2200 hrs

We visited HB the following day before we departed JB.  HB is a cake shop specialising in mille crepes.  Apparently last time they used to deliver orders of whole cakes to Singapore but the service has stopped.  Since it is conveniently located in City Square level 6 & I love mille crepes, we ordered a slice of the best-selling French Vanilla Mille Crepe (RM10.90, S$2.90) to share, plus an iced soda (RM8.90, S$3.20) & an iced tea (RM9.90, S$3.50) each.

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Maybe I had pinned too high an expectation for the mille crepe after reading so many great reviews about it, I was a bit disappointed that there was too much cream in the 20 layers of crepe & the side of the cake felt a tad too hard.  I thought the recent mille crepe that I had at After You in Bangkok fared much better.

But well, to be fair, it was still quite a decent piece of cake for the price paid.  In fact I didn’t pay anything here as it was meant to be a birthday treat for me hehe.  Amount spent here was about RM30 (unsure if there is service charge or not) = S$11!

So if you don’t mind adding S$5-6 more to your cafe-hopping budget for a “4-course meal”, it’d still be much more wallet-friendly compared to if you were in Singapore!

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