Nowadays, I travel overseas so often, such that my passport seems to be getting more stamps than before haha. But well, before you think I’ve “struck it rich”, no! Because of the strong Singapore $ versus Malaysia Ringgit this past 1 year + I stay relatively near to the Woodlands Checkpoint, Johor Bahru (JB) has become my new “town area”, where I can shop & dine like a “queen”!
As you may already know, I don’t drive, so JB City Square & Komtar JBCC, the 2 shopping malls just across the causeway are places I frequent for my JB day trips. There’s a variety of food options to choose from, even if you don’t wish to venture out of the area by cab/bus etc. Here’s a list of the worthy dining spots in these 2 shopping malls, & I promise they won’t burn big holes in your wallet!
Address: Lot 202C, Komtar JBCC, Jalan Wong Ah Fook, Johor Bahru City Centre, 80000 Johor Bahru, Malaysia
Phone: +60 7-300 5038
Open: 1000 – 2200 hrs daily
After clearing the JB customs, you will take the overhead bridge to get to JB City Square & Komtar JBCC is just on its right side. Get into the mall through the entrance on the right of Starbucks Coffee & take the escalator up 1 level. You will see Azuma Japanese restaurant shortly upon reaching level 2.
I have not tried the typical Japanese food like sashimi, udon etc in this restaurant. Instead it was a friend who recommended me to try the Azuma Thousand Layer Mini Sushi Hamburger (MYR30++/ S$10++, bottom left of above pic) as well as the Azuma Pizza (MYR37.50++/ S$12.50++, bottom right of above pic). I love the tasty & unique Mini Sushi Hamburger – deep fried sushi rice layered with assorted raw fish & special sauce, at least this is a dish that’s hard to find elsewhere! The pizza is also interesting, using handmade sushi rice cracker as the pizza base with a spicy sauce, & topped with salmon, eel & shrimp roe. Check them out at Azuma for some tasty fusion Japanese-Western cuisine the next time you go shopping in JB!
Address: Lot 215 & 216, Level 2, Komtar JBCC, Johor Bahru City Centre, 80000 Johor Bahru, Malaysia
Phone: +60 7-300 5058
Open: 1000 – 2200 hrs daily
Arashi Shabu Shabu is a modern concept Japanese hotpot restaurant that has 6 outlets in JB & 1 outlet in Penang. I have been to the outlets at KSL City & Komtar JBCC, & there is also 1 in JB City Square level 1 (but I haven’t been there). Vegetarians will be pleased to know that the restaurant has a vegetarian shabu shabu menu as well.
There are 10 types of soup broth you can choose from, including tomyam, miso, milk broth etc. You can also have either rice, noodles or rice vermicelli to go with your shabu shabu. In addition, there is a wide variety of special sauces you can choose from, available free flow at the sauce buffet table. Personally, I like the Arashi special sauce that is a little spicy, adding more kick to your meal. Guess the price of this delectable meal? Price ranges from MYR26.90++ (S$9++) to MYR32.90++ (S$11++) for 1 hotpot. Definitely gives you a bang for your buck!
JB City Square
3. Paik’s Pan Sizzling Korean Chicken 백철판
Address: MF-08 & 09, Level 3, 106 – 108 Jalan Wong Ah Fook, 80000 Johor Bahru, Malaysia
Open: 1100 – 2100 hrs daily
So much for Japanese food, let’s move to JB City Square for some other cuisines, starting with yummy Korean chicken on a sizzling hot pan – dakgalbi (닭갈비)! This restaurant, only opened since Dec 2015, is located on the other end of level 3 (the level you first arrive if you are walking over from the JB customs) from Uniqlo/ Old Town White Coffee.
Korean dakgalbi is one of my favourite Korean dishes but it’s impossible to eat this alone because a minimum of 2 servings per order is required. So I finally had a chance to tuck into this mouth-watering dish at Paik’s Pan only after my Korea spring holidays. While the dakgalbi here cannot match the exact standards of that in Korea (which I’m prepared for), it’s still a yummy dish to tuck into, & value for $ too compared to the price you pay in Singapore! We ordered a portion each of the spicy dakgalbi (MYR30.80++/S$10.30++) + the spicy dakgalbi with cheese (MYR38.80++/S$12.90++) & as you can see from the pic above, it’s a large portion that 2 of us struggled to finish. The final bill after taxes was MYR79.70 (S$26.60) for 2 pax. At such price, you probably only get 1 person’s serving (& definitely not as generous portion as this)! 😉
Address: Lot M3-04, Level 3, 106 – 108 Jalan Wong Ah Fook, 80000 Johor Bahru, Malaysia
Phone: +60 7-362 1561
Open: 1000 – 2200 hrs daily
If you know the JB cafe scene well, you would have heard of Mount Austin where many cafe hoppers flock to. Oleg by gCafe is the brainchild of gCafe Mount Austin. Located somewhere in the middle of level 3 next to Seoul Garden, this 2-month old cafe opened since May 2016 specialises in charcoal burgers, and one of its signature sauces to go with the burger is the curry sauce.
Currently, there is a daily promotion set meal that started from 16 July 2016, with a daily favourite burger set meal (comes with fries and iced lemon tea) priced at MYR10.90+ (S$3.60+) only! I happened to be there on a Thursday & so ordered the chicken charcoal burger with curry sauce set meal for dinner takeaway because I had to catch the KTM Shuttle Tebrau home. Although it was almost 2 hours later before I ate the set meal, other than the slightly soggy bun, the burger still tasted great. My chicken patty was “soaked” in the flavourful spicy curry sauce, & it was a big burger that left me burping after finishing the meal. Try this the next time if you want yummy burgers injected with interesting local flavours!
5. Kimdo BBQ
Address: J3-19B, Level 3, 106 – 108 Jalan Wong Ah Fook, 80000 Johor Bahru, Malaysia
Phone: +60 1-2759 8838
Open: not sure of exact opening time, but it closes at 2200 hrs daily
Kimdo BBQ is just a few stores away from the escalator that connects JB City Square to JB Sentral/ Customs, on the left side of the path as you walk. As its name suggests, it specialises in all BBQ food items on skewers, & only barbecued upon customer order. Its signature BBQ item is the Single Bone BBQ Chicken Wings (MYR1.50/ S$0.50 per skewer). Besides BBQ food, it also serves fresh Bualonglong Juice mixed with Plum, which is supposed to lower your cholesterol & detox your body. But I never tried it before as I personally feel the Bualonglong has a weird taste. 😛 I’ve tried quite a few of their BBQ items on several occasions & so far I’ve not been disappointed. But don’t say I didn’t warn you, be prepared for long queues especially on weekends & public holidays!
Address: Lot J5-10, Level 5, 106 – 108 Jalan Wong Ah Fook, 80000 Johor Bahru, Malaysia
Open: 1000 hrs, not sure of closing time
Finally my wish to have more cool cafes within JB City Square has been answered! Opened in Dec 2015, this Miyakori Coffee outlet is its 2nd one after the success of its flagship cafe at Bukit Indah. Unlike the Bukit Indah outlet, this outlet doesn’t serve mains, only beverages & cakes are found here. I 1st passed by this brightly lit cafe with a cute bear logo on level 5 while going up to watch a movie at the cinema & was attracted by its decor.
Recently, I checked it out in the late morning where there were no customers yet. Attracted by the pretty Sakura theme menu, I ordered a Sakura Chiffon Cake (MYR11.50/ S$3.80) & a Sakura Hot Latte (MYR13.50/ S$4.50) as seen in above pic. While I was prepared for the use of Styrofoam cups for my beverage, I was still a bit disappointed when it was served, especially when there wasn’t even any cute latte art on my beverage. 😦 Fortunately the Sakura Hot Latte was quite fragrant, like rose milk. The Sakura Chiffon Cake was soft & fluffy, though a tad expensive just for a slice of chiffon cake by Malaysian standards. But still, this cafe is worth a visit for its sleek decor, & I heard their coffee is good too!
Address: J3-20, Level 3, 106 – 108 Jalan Wong Ah Fook, 80000 Johor Bahru, Malaysia
Phone: +60 7-2072 868
Open: 1000 to 2200 hrs daily
I think I visited this outlet a few years ago. Didn’t visit in the past 1 year not because it’s no good, but because there’s just too many food choices so I always ended up with no room for desserts here. Hui Lau Shan’s signature dessert gotta be its mango dessert items. If you are a mango lover & can’t be in Hong Kong for this highly acclaimed dessert for whatever reasons, satisfy your craving here! The prices are also quite affordable, from about MYR9 (S$3) for a bowl of sweet mango dessert!
Address: J6-05, Level 6, 106 – 108 Jalan Wong Ah Fook, 80000 Johor Bahru, Malaysia
Phone: +60 1-2635 8035
Open: 1200 to 2200 hrs daily
I had introduced this cafe 1 year ago in my Cafe-Hop series. It is a cafe specialising in cakes, opened since 2013, in particular mille crepe cakes. Price wise, a slice of cake costs MYR10.90 (S$3.60) & beverages start from MYR6.90 (S$2.30). You can chill at this cafe after a movie at the swanky cineplex on the same floor. 😉
Hope the list above provides you with some ideas on what you can stuff yourself with right after crossing the causeway to JB. Dining in shopping malls aren’t as boring & expensive as you think right? Enjoy!