Updated: Mar 2, 2021
It seems like my go-to entertainment during and after the 2020 quarantine and in general Covid regime is... drum roll please-Eating! No surprise here, it might be the boredom, or it might be simply me having a little bit of extra time to explore, discover and try new places in my area (also my urge to support local businesses, that might have it hard during these challenging times). The area for the past 'not sure how many months already' is Johor Bahru city in Malaysia. Therefore today I give you four absolute favour-Eats that I keep coming back to (or order take away from).
Friends and Fig
No 02-15, Block F, Komersil Southkey Mozek, Persiaran Southkey 1, Kota Southkey, 80150 Johor Bahru, Johor
Friends and Fig is the first place I discovered, just 24 hours after my arrival in Malaysia. Still very much jet-lagged and temporally living in a hotel, I was desperate to find a good place to have my meals. And by a good place, I mean, a place that could somewhat fit my complicated food regime, (I've mentioned in previous posts, that I am currently learning to adapt my nutrition choices to an illness I've had for many many years, to live a happier, and more comfortable life, really). Needless to say, ramen, dumplings, and dishes packed with soy products were out of the picture... well hello there, Malaysia! I chose my destination well!
Luckily after months living in the beautiful country, I finally managed to find restaurants that serve delicious food with a Malaysian twist that I can happily and without guilt consume and enjoy. But for the first week Friends and Fig was my saviour. I was ordering take away at first and especially during the quarantine, but later decided to visit the place and discovered that they actually have a beautiful, light and inviting interior that houses the diner and a little health store. The menu is vegetarian and they offer a large selection of cold juices, teas and homemade kombuchas. Healthy heaven indeed!
One of the many things I love about the restaurant is that it allows building your own dish, by choosing ingredients from a rich list of choices. I usually create my own bowl, depending on whatever I feel like eating that day, plus that allows me to exclude any soy products that might be added to my dish (soy, tofu, tempeh... etc.)
Routine by Soon
R&F Mall, Lot G-025, G-026, Mercu 1, Jalan Tanjung Puteri 1 R & F, Tanjung Puteri, 80300 Johor Bahru, Johor
Routine by Soon is an Instagram kingdom and not only interior-wise but food-wise too. On top of everything, the staff is super friendly and the food is absolutely to die for. The chef-a young very talented lady, also called Alexa (her name might have won me over). Originally intended as a fast-food spot, the restaurant now offers 'modern' fine dining in a very pleasant Millenial-inspired atmosphere.
My first visit, back in March, when my mum was still around, and not just her but my crutches too (as mentioned previously, I've suffered quite an unpleasant injury). I was immediately offered a spare chair to rest my leg, even though the place was packed, and there were no empty tables. That was such a kind gesture, I won't forget. The next thing that grabbed me was the food of course, and the beautiful presentation. Every dish is served with such attention and eye for the detail.
My favourite will have to be the 'Barramundi with Kale Salad'-fish dish, served with kale, carrot and black mushroom salad, dressed with apple cider vinaigrette, dried cranberries, poached eggs, garlic crumbs and buttery carrot puree. I also recommend you ordering the 'Hummus Party', a vegetarian dish of creamy hummus, stir fry barely, oyster mushrooms, roasted cauliflower, sugar snap pea, purple cabbage, grilled eggplant, boiled egg, pomegranate and splash of spiced yoghurt.
Finally, my guilty pleasure 'Burnt Cheesecake with oat crumble' (truly guilty, since it's well made of cheese-but once every few months is allowed).
Oh oh, and they have their own homemade peanut butter, that you can purchase from store, or also order with your take away. 10 points for Gryffindor! (please, excuse the Harry Potter reference, if you get it you get it.. I just had to...)
JWC The Factory 30
30, Jalan Mutiara Emas 5/3, Taman Mount Austin, 81100 Johor Bahru, Johor
JWC or Just Want Coffee is a Coffee roastery that also serves great food. I mentioned the place in my recent Coffee o'clock post, however, it deserves a spot amongst my favourite restaurants too. They offer literally food with a twist-an esperesso twist. If you are a coffee lover like me, you would most definitely appreciate this place too.
Some of my favourite dishes here are Coffee Teriyaki Don-served with grilled vegetables, Hungry Jack Big Breakfast and JWC Signature Japanese Curry Rice. Once again I won't skip the dessert-JWC has a wide selection of cakes, but their Tiramisu is the one I can not resist. Another guilty pleasure of mine. Worth trying!
Jalan Storey, Bukit Senyum, 80300 Johor Bahru, Johor
Mrs Who is a recent discovery and a place that has been crawling into my Grab (food ordering app) recommendations for a while. Decided to give it a try and was pleasantly surprised by a very lush, minimal and filled with light interior, completed with cute finishing touches. Once again super friendly staff, that is happy to recommend local dishes, as well as explain and provide more information on the origin and mysterious ingredients packed in these dishes.
If you're curious about traditional Malay cuisine, I would recommend their version of Nasi Lemak, which represents butterfly pea flower rice, fried chicken, hardboiled egg, Nyonya Acar (Malaysian pickled vegetables) and sweet sambal (a popular sweet chilly sauce). All of this is garnished with roasted peanuts and fresh cucumber.
Try the Spiced Chicken Satay, another Malaysia favourite-these are chicken skewers served with rice cubes and house-made peanut dip.
Mrs Who offers unique refreshing drinks and cold teas too. Trust me you won't be disappointed!