With the vast availability and affordability of multiple cuisines, Singaporeans are evidently very spoilt when it comes to food. Yet, we find ourselves constantly lamenting that we do not know what to eat.
Should you ever find yourself sick of the choices in Singapore, perhaps it is time to make a trip across the causeway to savour all that Malaysia has to offer.
Johor Bahru is less than an hour away by car or bus, and is a foodie paradise with its amazing variety of street food.
From old-world Salahuddin Bakery to the obscure bustling Meldrum Night Market, here is our guide to 5 Secret Street Food Destinations in Johor Bahru, Malaysia that you should check out during your next day trip to Johor Bahru.
#1 HIAP JOO BAKERY & BISCUIT FACTORY
Family-run Hiap Joo Bakery & Biscuit Factory sells an assortment of buns and cakes, but is most famous for their freshly baked banana cakes (RM4.80 – small, RM9.50 – large). The fragrant cake is sliced into smaller portions and served in takeout plastic boxes. We love how the cake is slightly crisp on the outside, yet soft and moist inside. It was definitely one of the best banana cakes we ever had.
The wining formula behind Hiap Joo Bakery’s irresistibly delicious baked goods is no secret – they take immense pride in baking buns and cakes in their age-old traditional wood fire oven with zero artificial enhancements and preservatives. As a result, these sweet treats should ideally be consumed fresh within three days.
Do note that butter and coffee cakes are only available on Thursday mornings.
#2 HUA MUI COFFEE SHOP
Established since 1946, Hua Mui Coffee Shop is one of Johor Bahru’s oldest eateries. The unassuming two-storey shophouse is a beloved breakfast haunt amongst natives, where both Chinese and Western cuisine are prepared and served here. Pair your soft-boiled eggs and grilled kaya butter toast with an aromatic coffee brew.
Eggs and toasts aside, the halal-certified traditional shophouse’s best-selling dish is its signature Hainanese Fried Chicken Chop. In an attempt to retain Hua Mui’s enchanting old-world charm authenticity, operations have remained retro and dishes are actually being delivered upstairs with a mechanical pulley system.
Walking through the hectic Meldrum Night Market is almost akin to time travel. Located just a stone’s throw away from the modern infrastructure City Square, the rundown back alley is lined up with vendors selling a a mind-boggling array of Malaysian food. From Apam Balik Pancakes to Char Kway Teow, there is so much to pig out on.
While not everyone is comfortable with the idea of sampling street food due to questionable hygiene, it is still fun to take a stroll down Meldrum Night Market. We enjoyed watching the Malaysian hawkers whip up a storm in their own stalls, and it also offers an opportunity to learn about the locals’ livelihoods!
#4 SALAHUDDIN BAKERY
Opened since 1937, Salahuddin Bakery is possibly Jalan Dhoby’s oldest occupant. While most youngsters flock to the café-saturated neighbourhood for its various new café openings, it is Salahuddin Bakery that has touched the hearts of generations with its freshly baked curry puffs and wood-fired bread loaves. We are so glad that the bakery has remained unfazed by Jalan Dhoby’s gentrification.
Salahuddin Bakery is a testimony that passion can indeed overcome all barriers – including the test of time. Majority of its loyal customers have been visiting the Indian bakery since childhood days.
Despite the convenience and availability of modern electrical and gas ovens, Saladhuddin’s descendants insist to prepare breads with their almost ancient wood fire oven to keep things like they were before.
#5 SHOON HUAT BAK KU TEH
As its name suggests, Shoon Huat Bak Ku Teh is a specialty Bak Ku Teh diner. The flavour of the pork ribs soup served here at Shoon Huat is far from the peppery ones Singaporeans are familiar with, and basically, nothing is similar to the ones we usually have. Instead, the clear broth is characterized by its distinct herbal tastes.
Similar to most Bak Ku Teh stalls, Shoon Huat offers free top-ups of soups. You can also choose to add ingredients such as fish maw and tau kee into your soup.
About the writer:
Hui Jun Ng is a staff writer for ladyironchef. She previously worked in the food and marketing industry. She loves traveling and enjoys exploring underrated destinations. In her free time, you will find her indulging in coffee and her all time favourite local dish – bak chor mee.