Having explored quite a fair bit of the areas nearer to Johor Bahru (JB) customs for a while already, I first ventured further up north of JB customs last October with 2 friends, to Taman Mount Austin. Why this place of so many other places in JB you may ask? Well, being a cafe-hopper, I had been reading a lot about the many cool cafes in Taman Mount Austin, or Austin Heights for short. I have been to the area thrice so far, but the list of “been-to” cafes & restaurants isn’t that long yet. 😛 Nonetheless, I think it’s time to write about them before the info gets rusty haha…
Just some basic navigation, Austin Heights is accessible even for those who do not drive. On my first trip there, we actually took bus BET6 from JB Sentral (the bus terminal 1 level down as you get out of JB customs). The ride takes about 30-40 min & you can alert driver to prompt you where to alight. As a rough gauge, look out for the bus stop after the bus passes Aeon Tebrau City (a big shopping mall with a hypermarket) & Austin Heights Water Adventure Park. Can’t remember the exact bus fare but it was between 3-3.50 MYR per pax (S$1-1.10). Returning to JB customs may be a little bit tricky as it may be hard to know exactly where the bus stop is on the opposite side of the huge road. What we did was we took Grabcar back. In fact, I took Grabcar to & fro for my subsequent visits. Each trip should cost around 20 MYR (S$6.50) or more if it’s peak hour.
Without further ado, here’s my compilation of the dining spots in the food haven of Austin Heights for your reference!
1. The Workshop Cafe & Bar By Gran Fiesta
Out of the cafes I’m going to write here, The Workshop Cafe & Bar By Gran Fiesta can be considered my favourite. 🙂 This was recommended by a staff from Atlas Coffee Embassy, where we had our 1st meal of the day in the most recent visit. Housed in an all-black building, The Workshop stands out amongst other shophouses in the area, so it’s hard to miss. As seen in photo above, the yellowish-green shophouse on the left is Thai Spa, seems to be quite popular (but I shall not digress haha).
As we entered The Workshop, its interior was also of a dark theme, probably typical of a bar. It was pretty spacious though. There are 2 floors & we sat on the ground floor near the door.
What we ordered: Prawn Paste Chicken Wings 3 pcs (14+ MYR/ S$4.60+), Sotong Leg (18+ MYR / S$5.90+), Mixed Fruit Waffle (18.90+ MYR/ S$6.10+), hot Peppermint Tea (14.90+ MYR/ S$4.80+), iced Ocean Romance (9.80+ MYR/ S$3.20+) & iced Peach Soda (7.80+ MYR/ S$2.50+).
Verdict: Everything was delicious here, especially the Mixed Fruit Waffle! All of us loved the crispiness of the waffle & the generous serving of this dessert. In fact we had problem trying to cut the waffle up as there were too many cut fruits on the plate. 😛 This was a really satisfying meal. Check in to The Workshop’s official FB page & get a 10% off your bill. 🙂
Address: 31, Jln Austin Height 8/8, Taman Mount Austin, 81100 Johor Bahru
Open: 12 pm to 1 am daily.
Social media: Facebook
2. Atlas Coffee Embassy
Read a lot of positive reviews about Atlas Coffee Embassy‘s coffee & food, so I deliberately made it our 1st stop on the most recent visit. Fortunately the Grabcar driver was able to find the cafe quite smoothly after giving him the exact address. Unlike The Workshop, Atlas doesn’t have an outstanding entrance. It is painted in white with the cafe name in black. But pass through the clean & neat door, & you’d find the cafe’s simple white-washed walls & wooden furniture evoke a cosy feel. The bright lights do add a welcoming touch, but guess we arrived at the wrong time. It was scorching hot outside & the cafe felt like a sauna as well, despite having a few air-conditioners. 😦 The heat worsened after we had our coffee & food, & we couldn’t wait to leave. Oops…
What we ordered: Atlas Specialty Breakfast – choice of any 3 items, so we picked sausage, scrambled eggs & mushrooms to go with white toast (20.90 MYR/ S$6.80), Volcano Rice – essentially omelette rice (26.90 MYR/ S$8.70), 1 Mocha (14.90 MYR/ S$4.80) & 2 White – in “layman’s terms”, Cafe Latte haha (12.90 MYR/ S44.20).
Verdict: We thought the 2 food dishes were just average, nothing really wow to make us so happy about. A bit disappointed in fact, wonder why so many bloggers were raving about their brunch items? But the coffee was really strong, guess coffee addicts would love the brew here. They use coffee beans from Common Man Coffee Roasters, so that explains the quality 😉
Address: 32 Jalan Austin Heights 8/7, Taman Mount Austin, 81100 Johor Bahru
Open: 8.30 am to 7 pm daily.
3. 22 Korean Fried Chicken Factory
22 (pronounced as “Dul Dul” in Korean) Korean Fried Chicken Factory is a short walk down the road from Austin Heights Water Adventure Park. We visited last Oct when exploring the area for the 1st time. Look out for the small restaurant which also doubles up as a mini-mart. We missed it & had to turn back after realizing something was not right from the unit numbers. 22 functions like a self-service fast food restaurant where you order & pay at the cashier then wait to pick up your food at the collection counter when your buzzer beeps.
What we ordered: Chicken Wings 6 pcs set (soy sauce 간장 flavour) (14.90 MYR/ S$4.80), & yes! The restaurant sells the famous Chun Cui He beverage range that was so hard to grab in SG last year. So we ordered the Green Milk Tea & Earl Grey Milk Tea (bundle promo @15 MYR/ S$4.80) to try. Slightly cheaper than SG’s S$2.80 per bottle.
Verdict: While the fried chicken skin was very crispy & tasty, I thought the meat was pretty bland. But OK for the price I guess. Wouldn’t purposely make my way there again, but if you are in the vicinity & craving for KFC, why not?
Address: 51 Jalan Austin Heights 8/1, Taman Mount Austin, 81100 Johor Bahru
Open: 12 pm to 11 pm daily.
Social media: Facebook
4. Thank U Mom (땡큐 맘 치킨)
Yet another Korean chicken restaurant, Thank U Mom is an authentic Korean restaurant all the way from Kimchi-land, which only opened last December in Austin Heights. When we visited on a weekday night in Jan, the spacious restaurant with a lovely country homely feel was almost full house. Unlike other Korean chicken joints where the meat would be fried, Thank U Mom uses 100% fresh chicken meat and bakes them in the oven, which means it is healthier. The fats & bones are removed by hand, before coating the chicken meat with Korean rice & putting them into the oven. As its brand story claims, it is “delicious chicken with health of children in mind”.
What we ordered: Honey Cheese Powder Boneless Chicken (56+ MYR/ S$18.10+)
Verdict: The portion was huge for 2 pax. Surprisingly, oven-baked chicken was crispy enough. But halfway into the dish, we felt quite bloated & couldn’t really take it anymore. Guess the heavy (“jerlat”) combination of honey + cheese was too much to bear, & it became drier as we ate more of the dish. Think it would be better if you come in with more people so that you can share & try other flavours (Original, Hot Spicy Sauce, Blackbean Sauce & Garlic Sauce) as well.
Address: 15-G, 15-01 & 15-02, Jalan Austin Heights 8/4, Taman Mount Austin, 81100 Johor Bahru
Open: 12 pm to 11 pm (Mon-Thu), 12 pm to 12 am (Fri), 11 am to 12 am (Sat), & 11 am to 11 pm (Sun).
Social media: Facebook
5. Creamery Boutique Ice Creams JB
So much for the filling main courses, it’s time for some desserts at Austin Heights! The lava cake is a dessert commonly found in many cafes, but mention lava cookie, & not many have it. I personally like Creamery Boutique Ice Creams JB in Austin Heights, where this ice cream cafe serves yummy ice cream on cool lava cookies. The cafe interior is painted in cheery yellow & clean white, & it looks spacious with inviting grey sofa & long wooden benches. I have been here twice & wouldn’t mind hopping in again next time. 😉
What we ordered:
1st visit – Guinness Stout ice cream + Chocolate lava cookie & Mixed Berry ice cream + Red Velvet lava cookie (16.90 MYR/ S$5.40 each);
2nd visit – Guinness Stout ice cream + Matcha lava cookie (same price as above).
Verdict: I prefer the desserts we had for the 1st visit. Guinness Stout ice cream probably matches better with chocolate lava cookie I guess. The lava cookies during the 1st visit seemed to be a bit more flowy compared to the matcha lava cookie as well.
FYI, in case you are wondering, Creamery Boutique Ice Creams originated from Bangkok, Thailand & has opened shop in Kuala Lumpur, JB & finally Singapore just a few months ago.
Address: 33 Jalan Austin Heights 8/3, Taman Mount Austin, 81100 Johor Bahru
Open: 2 pm to 10 pm daily except closed on Wed.
Social media: Facebook
6. Patisserie De Charme
Just a quick walk from Thank U Mom, Patisserie De Charme is a cosy little cafe serving homemade French pastries, bread, sandwiches etc. We came here right after the heavy Korean-style baked chicken dinner for some artisan sweet treat, & weren’t disappointed. 🙂 It was around the CNY festive season so the cafe also had CNY decorations, as well as CNY cookies for sale.
What we ordered: Le Royale, which is the cafe’s signature chocolate pastry dessert (15.80+ MYR/ S$5.10+), Fraiser, essentially some strawberry short cake (15.80+ MYR/ S$5.10+), & 2 fruity drinks but I can’t remember what fruits they were (14.50+ MYR/ S$4.70+).
Verdict: Despite feeling bloated from the chicken dinner, it was literally a piece of cake to finish the 2 delightful pastries. Le Royale was a dark chocolate based pastry, which I like. The Fraiser was light & fluffy too. Drinks were refreshing though I can’t remember the exact taste. 😛
Address: 41 Jalan Austin Heights 8/5, Taman Mount Austin, 81100 Johor Bahru
Open: 1 pm to 11 pm (Sun-Wed), 1 pm to 12 am (Fri & Sat). Closed on Thu.
Social media: Facebook
*SPECIAL* Hoki Cake Bakery (福氣本鋪)
Over at Jalan Tan Hiok Nee near JB City Square, there’s the famous Hiap Joo Bakery & Biscuit Factory that frequently sees long queues. At Taman Mount Austin, Hoki Cake Bakery (福氣本鋪) is probably the equivalent of Hiap Joo. Recently opened in JB on 7 April 2017, Hoki claims to be an old established cake shop from Taiwan’s Tamsui (淡水老街). However, I tried to google but didn’t find any cake shop by this name in Taiwan. Instead, I could only find 1 called 源味本鋪.
Anyway, we were attracted to the shop because of the fragrant smell of its cakes baking in the oven when passing by. There was a long queue outside the shop. So we became really curious & decided to join the queue, since we were quite full to go for the next cafe round + couldn’t get any massage slots. 😦
What we ordered: There are only 2 types of cakes you can buy here, either the original flavour (15 MYR/ S$4.90) or the double cheese flavour (20 MYR/ S$6.50). We all bought the original flavour. Each customer is limited to 2 boxes per purchase.
Verdict: I put it in the fridge upon returning home that night & only took it out to eat the next morning. We were advised that the cake is best consumed within 48 hours & to be kept in fridge if not consumed within a day. My parents & I love the aromatic eggy taste, & its soft & fluffy texture. Just like what the shop claimed, it was simple, but there’s something about the flavour that brings back some nostalgia (古早味). Be prepared to wait in the queue if you wanna lay your hands on one of these traditional cakes though. We waited in the scorching weather for about 30 min!
Address: 67 Jalan Austin Heights 8/5, Taman Mount Austin, 81100 Johor Bahru
Open: 12 pm to 9 pm (Tue-Sun). Last batch of cakes baked around 7.30 pm. Closed on Mon.
Social media: Facebook
NB: "+" for prices = either additional 6% GST or 10% service charge.
There are certainly many more noteworthy cafes & restaurants in Austin Heights waiting for us to explore. Highly recommend to go in a group of up to 4 or so, so that you can share a cab/ Grabcar to enjoy economies of scale + enjoy a better variety of food. Otherwise how to stuff so much good food into your stomach? 😉 For your easy navigation, here’s a Google map I created with the above-mentioned cafes & bakery.
Hope you will enjoy Taman Mount Austin, the food haven, as much as I do!
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