The capital city of Johor Bahru itself has its own list of food-worthy destinations such as herbal roast duck, traditional banana cakes and laksa Johor. But the numerous towns over the long stretch of Johor is no slouch either. If you are up for an epic makan road trip, check out these 18 Essential Local Food To Try In Every Major Town In Johor.
1) Batu Pahat
Batu Pahat’s version of dry wantan mee is different than your usual varieties found in the Klang Valley areas, which are commonly tossed in black soy sauce. What you will get here instead is a plate of dry wantan mee in lard-infused lighter sauce with a hint of sesame oil. Even the springy egg noodle itself is strictly homemade.
Where to eat: Chop See Kee, 2 Jalan Jenang Dalam, Kampung Pegawai, 83000 Batu Pahat, Johor.
There are two notable places that serve good ol’ cendol in the Batu Pahat town. This includes Akbar Cendol, which uses homemade cendol strands that has no artificial colour, served with a classic combination of coconut milk and Gula Melaka (palm sugar).
Next up is Pak ‘O’ Cendol a.k.a. B.P. Cendol, where they serve different types of cendols with delicious add-ons like ABC, kacang (red beans) and pulut (glutinous rice).
Where to eat: Akbar Cendol, 12, Jalan Engan, Kampung Pegawai, 83000 Batu Pahat, Johor. | Pak ‘O’ Cendol, 65-A, Jalan Rugayah, Kampung Pegawai, 83000 Batu Pahat, Johor.
Coffee & Toast
Looking for an authentic breakfast to start your day? Then, you shouldn’t give Kluang Rail Coffee a miss. This well-known kopitiam at the Kluang railway station is no stranger to every local and even tourists, given its illustrious history since the late 1930s. They are particularly renowned for their signature traditional coffee and roti bakar (toast) slathered with kaya and butter.
Where to eat: Kluang Rail Coffee, Kluang KTM Station, Jalan Station, 86000 Kluang, Johor.
While mooncakes are traditionally prepared and enjoyed during Mid-Autumn Festival, the elongated-shape Shanghai mooncakes sold in Yuen Fatt Biscuit Sdn Bhd are available all year round. Each of their mooncakes is traditionally handmade, with a buttery crust on the outside and delectable filling on the inside. Best of all, they are all freshly baked on a daily basis with no added preservatives whatsoever. Yuen Fatt’s Shanghai mooncakes basically have three flavours: lotus paste, red bean and pandan.
Where to eat: Yuen Fatt Biscuit Sdn Bhd, 39, Jalan Haji Manap Nordin, Kluang Baru, 86000 Kluang, Johor.
Choy Ban (Hakka Dumpling)
Ever tried a Hakka dumpling otherwise known as choy ban? It is one popular Hakka delicacy made handmade freshly on a daily basis. The dough skins are all generously wrapped with various stuffings such as yam bean, leek and turnip before steamed to flavourful perfection.
Where to eat: 满庭芳茶餐室, Lot 8098, Jalan 6, Kelapa Sawit, 81030 Kulaijaya, Johor.
Hainanese Beef Noodles
The Hainanese style of beef noodles typically consists of wide rice noodles topped with beef slices, beef trips and beef balls. The noodles are then coated with savoury brown sauce. It is a relatively simple meal that complements well with a side serving of clear beefy soup.
Where to eat: Mok Chai Hainanese Noodle Restaurant, 365, Jalan Kenanga 29/9, Bandar Indahpura, 81000 Kulai, Johor.
4) Kota Tinggi
Mee rebus, which literally translates as “boiled noodles” in English, is a type of yellow noodles drenched with thick sweet potato-based gravy, deep-fried shallots, hard-boiled eggs and a slice of lime served on the side. The secret to a good plate of mee rebus of course, lies within the thick and savoury gravy itself. One of the recommended places in Kota Tinggi is Mee Rebus Mak Long, which claims to use a traditional family recipe that has been passed down for over 20 years. Unlike most mee rebus that uses hard-boiled egg, Mak Long’s version is topped with telur goyang (soft-boiled egg) instead.
Where to eat: Mee Rebus Mak Long, Jalan Kampung Tembioh, Kampung Seri Lalang, 81900 Kota Tinggi, Johor.
Bak Kut Teh
The words “Klang” and “bak kut teh” are often synonymous with each other. But the thing is, Klang isn’t the only place to fulfil your bak kut teh fix. There’s a good bak kut teh restaurant called Kiang Kee in Kota Tinggi, which is known for their signature claypot bak kut teh cooked under charcoal fire. The thick herb-infused broth also pairs well with its sweet pork ribs that are both flavourful and tender to the bite.
Where to eat: Kiang Kee Bak Kut Teh, Batu 8 1/2, Jalan Mawai, 81900 Kota Tinggi, Johor.
Loke Tien Yuen is no stranger to most locals, given its reputation for being the oldest Chinese restaurant in the rustic coastal town of Mersing. The restaurant, which still retains its old-time charm, is famed for authentic Cantonese dishes as well as its fresh seafood varieties, particularly their signature steamed fish cooked in light soy sauce.
Where to eat: Loke Tien Yuen Restaurant, 55, Jalan Abu Bakar, 86800 Mersing, Johor.
Nasi dagang is one of the popular breakfast meals commonly enjoyed in Kelantan and Terengganu. But you don’t have to travel all the way there since there is one available at Nasi Dagang Warisan Kak Ju. Apart from their signature nasi dagang with gulai ikan tongkol (tuna curry), they also serve other rice dishes such as nasi lemak and nasi kerabu.
Where to eat: Nasi Dagang Warisan Kak Ju, J80, Kampung Tanjung Genting, 86800 Mersing, Johor.
Otherwise known as grilled fish cake, otak otak is typically eaten as a snack. And when we talk about otak otak, Muar is always the place that comes to mind. While there are plenty of places you can get your hands on this delectable snack, the famous Otak-Otak Cheng Boi at Taman Sri Emas is easily the most recommended one of them all. Each otak otak is made fresh and grilled using the likes of mackerel fish and prawn in a wrapped coconut leaf.
Where to eat: Otak-Otak Cheng Boi, 28-4, Jalan Bentayan, Taman Sri Emas, 84000 Muar, Johor (beside Riverview Hotel).
Another popular local food that you can’t afford to miss in Muar is mee bandung, particularly the one in Abu Bakar Hanipah at Jalan Abdullah. Each plate of mee bandung boasts a combination of savoury and spicy kick using varieties of ingredients such as shrimps, cuttlefish and sambal (chilli paste) added to the thick gravy.
Where to eat: Kedai Makanan & Minuman Mee Bandung Abu Bakar Hanipah, 69-A, Jalan Abdullah, 84000 Muar, Johor.
If there’s one thing unique about Pontian’s version of dry wantan mee, it is the sauce itself. And that sauce in question is tomato sauce, which gives the wantan mee is a nice mix of sweet and sour-ish flavour.
Where to eat: Kedai Mee Ah Chuan, 147, Skudai-Pontian Highway, Kampung Atap, 82000 Pontian District, Johor | Heng Heng, 766, Lorong Anggerik, Kampung Parit Mesjid, 82000 Pontian, Johor.
Coffee & Toast
The best breakfast to start your day doesn’t have to be fancy or complicated. This is especially true when you choose to have your morning breakfast consisting of their signature traditional coffee and charcoal-toasted bread with butter and homemade kaya at Kheng Guan Hiong Coffeeshop, which has been around for three generations since the 1950s. For a complete wholesome breakfast, don’t forget to order soft-boiled eggs seasoned with dark soy sauce and white pepper.
Where to eat: Kheng Guan Hiong, 15, Jalan Limau Kasturi, Taman Suraya Indah, 82000 Pontian District, Johor.
Wait, what? A Chinese restaurant specialising in roti canai? But this is what exactly you will get in this restaurant located at Kampung Tengah. Their roti canai is particularly crispy since it is usually made fresh upon order. You can also find other breakfast staples like roti telur, roti sardin (sardine) and mee goreng (fried noodle).
Where to eat: 登雅茶室 (Tengah Chinese Roti Canai), 16, Jalan Cheng Kuok Tong, Kampung Tengah, 85000 Segamat, Johor.
There’s a hidden gem within Kg. Kwongsai in the form of a stall selling kampung-style dishes, particularly their signature chicken. Marinated with special sauce, the chicken is then grilled to perfection using a charcoal oven. Best paired with a glass of fresh sugar cane or coconut water.
Where to eat: Segamat PG, 36, Jalan Labis, Kg. Kwongsai, 85100 Segamat, Johor.
No visit to Tangkak would be complete without savouring a hearty bowl of beef noodles. You ca choose from different types of noodles such as thick yellow mee and flat noodle varieties. The heart of the dish is the herb-infused bone broth itself, which has the aromatic taste of beefy flavour and various beef toppings.
Where to eat: Restoran Kuang Fei, 20, Jalan Solok, Kampung Padang Lalang, 84900 Tangkak, Johor. | Restoran Do Do Do, 90 & 91, Jalan Teknologi 1, Kawasan Perindustrian Tangkak, 84900 Tangkak, Johor.
Instead of your regular dry or soup-based mee typically served in a bowl or plate, mee siput is more of a crunchy snack itself. Mee siput is basically eaten with sambal tumis for that extra spicy kick.
Where to eat: Kampung Tanjung Laboh, 84900 Tangkak, Johor.