Johor's Kacang Pool Haji

In Johor Baru, Haji Makpol Kairon, 55,is synonymous with a popular snack served as Kacang Pool Haji.  Made with broad beans, also known as foul beans – the word, “foul” pronounced as “fool” in the Middle East – is translated into Malay as kacang pol.  While in Mecca in 2009, Haji Makpol discovered an uncanny connection with kacang pool as this food shares the same sounding “pol” word in his name.  But he was more intrigued to find out why there were long queues of people waiting to buy this popular breakfast food.
The latest and largest outlet of Kacang Pool Haji in JB

A serving of delicious Kacang Pool Haji
He deliberately joined a queue to buy this vegetarian dish called foul medames in that region but he was disappointed that it did not taste as good as anticipated.  As an experienced cook with a food catering business for weddings and other events, Haji was in search of a particular food that he could identify with and he somehow connected with kacang pool.  

Back home, when he tried to replicate this popular dish with his own modifications, friends in his neighbourhood mosque became 
his food-tasters.  On his seventh try, he finally found the right recipe that was satisfying to both he and his friends and Kacang Pool Haji was born.

Early Years
With three outlets in JB and one in Batu Pahat, Kacang Pool Haji has established a brand for delicious kacang pool that fans are flocking to eat at all hours of the day.  When I meet him at his latest and largest outlet opened recently in Larkin Gardens, Haji is pleased that he finally has more space to accommodate his loyal customers.  In between sips of black tea, he modestly shares the story of his journey with me.

Haji, the sixth in a family of nine siblings, speaks candidly about his family’s difficult circumstances in their kampung in Batu Pahat.  As a youth, he would help to improve the family’s income by tapping rubber from 2am before going to school in the morning.  After a devastating flood in the kampung, their belongings including his school books were destroyed and this marked a turning point where he quit school and started to earn a living.  Armed with an interest in the food industry, he went to Singapore to work with a canteen kitchen and learnt the ropes in kitchen management and food catering. 

Haji Makpol Kairon at his new outlet in Larkin Gardens
Soto Ayam or chicken soup with vermicelli
One day he saw a magazine with pictures of Thai food and even though he could not read English, his thirst for culinary knowledge led him to spend three months in Thailand to learn to cook Thai cuisine. Besides cooking, he also acquired tailoring skills to sew not only baju Melayu but also curtains.  The bespectacled Haji said he was concerned that deteriorating eyesight may stop him from earning a living through sewing so he took up baking and takes pride in his recipe for steamed cake.  

His passion was always in cooking so he decided to focus on a food product that’s unique to him and his search ended with the creation of his secret recipe for Kacang Pool Haji.

A Chinese chicken rice set
To launch his product, Haji participated in MAHA, the region’s largest and most comprehensive exhibition for Agriculture, Horticulture and Agro-tourism industries, and fondly recalls his experience with the event VIP, the then Prime Minister, Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.  When he served kacang pool to Tun Abdullah, Haji boldly passed his namecard to the VIP and he never regretted it.  Tun Abdullah not only liked this kacang pool but became a fan.  Now on his visits to JB, he never failed to place an order to enjoy a taste of freshly made Kacang Pool Haji!

Latest Outlet

Lemping (pancake) in two flavours: Banana [Left] and
lemping filled with young coconut [Right] with a side of
sambal and sardine gravy
Kacang pool can be described as the Johor version of chili con carne, a foul (broad) bean and minced beef stew that is savoured with chunks of toasted bread.  This stew is served topped with a sunny-side-up egg, chopped fresh onions and fresh green chillies with freshly squeezed lime.  Haji is pleased that fans of his food now have a choice of kacang pool stewed in beef or lamb that is only available at this outlet.  Two separate sets of bowls are used specifically to serve either the beef or lamb stew so that customers are assured that they will receive the right order!

Besides Haji’s signature kacang pool, there is an all-day dining menu of nasi lemak and nasi ambang where you can add-on a selection of side items like fried chicken, bulls-eye egg, omelet and beef rendang.  

Johor favourites come in a choice of lontong in gravy or the dry version, and soto ayam or chicken soup, with a choice of rice, noodles or vermicelli.  This fragrant spicy soup packs a solid punch but if you want a little more zing just spike it with that black sauce chillie condiment. Another popular item is their Chinese style chicken rice served with fluffy flavoured rice and steamed chicken with a side of clear soup and of course, the all- important chillie dip.

A glass of refreshing chendol is made with
real Gula Melaka or palm sugar

Diners can also enjoy a menu of grilled western food but for connoisseurs of traditional tea-time favourites, this is where you can savour the uniquely Johor style of freshly fried bananas served with a spicy black sauce dip.  Lemping or pancakes are another popular snack offered in a choice of lemping filled with young coconut served with a side of sambal and sardine gravy, or banana lemping, a lightly grilled pancake that certainly tastes better than how it looks.  Besides a menu of hot and cold beverages, there are cool favourites in creative concoctions like Sirap Bandung Cincau Soda, Cendol made with real Gula Melaka and Kacang Pool Blended.  No, this is not a drink made with blended beans but its Haji’s recipe for a refreshing brew of Nescafe, Milo and Horlicks ice-blended with condensed and evaporated milk.  Mmm…simply delicious!

Fast Facts

Johor style fried bananas served with spicy black sauce dip
The largest Kacang Pool Haji outlet is now opened at 12, Jalan Dato Jaffar, Larkin Gardens to serve customers from 7am to 12 midnight.  Three other outlets in JB are at the Larkin Food Court, Susur 5, Jalan Tun Abdul Razak, next to the Larkin fire station (7am till late),  Plaza Larkin Food Court, adjacent to Larkin Sentral (7.30am to 6.30pm), and Plaza Angsana (10am to 10pm).  An outlet is located at Benteng, Batu Pahat.  For catering enquiries, Tel: 017 – 727 2409.

A version of this article was published in The New Straits Times, Life & Times on 9 April 2015


  1. hello, can i know Haji Makpol Kairon 's phone number? for my interview for our Oral History's assignment. :)

  2. Hello Syazatty, please go to Contact [Top Left of this page] and send me an email so that I may reply with required details. Thanks.