Find Dining with Johor Kaki guidebook

Finally there’s a book about good street food in Johor!  Called, Find Dining with Johor Kaki, the clever play of words in the title aptly describes a guidebook for foodies to follow the recommendations from popular food blogger, Johor Kaki to find 100 Must-try Heritage and Street Food in Johor.
Tony Johor Kaki featured Roslin Beriani House
in Find Dining with Johor Kaki
Tony, better known as Johor Kaki, is no stranger to foodie fans because his Johor Kaki blog garnered a large following, both local and from across the causeway, who also enjoy seeking out good food here!

Yes, Tony has indeed proved himself to be a true Johor Kaki because he’s a Singaporean who simply enjoys what Johor has to offer. 

There’s something special about Tony’s passion and commitment to sniff out good food and I must commend him for his tireless effort because at one point, he was coming from across the causeway to Johor for food – by public transport – almost every day!

Tony tells me that five years ago, he could cross the causeway and sit down for a steaming bowl of noodles in Skudai with just a 30-minute commute.  But the current challenging traffic conditions makes it quite impossible for him to do this now.

Tony presenting Find Dining to
James Lim of Hiap Joo Bakery
Over the years, his consistent quest for quality street food in Johor has developed a strong fan base and the sheer volume of his blog posts on Johor food makes him the natural choice to recommend food destinations in a guidebook.

I remember back in 2012, I received a comment from Tony in response to my beef noodle story and it was a year later that we finally met at an event at Puteri Harbour.  Since then, we would sometimes meet at media events and food tasting outings.

So when friends at MAGistrate, the publisher of Find Dining with Johor Kaki, invited me to join them on their first food trail with Johor Kaki, I thought it would be fun to meet Tony again and congratulate him (in person!) on this book publication.

The half-day food trail in the city was arranged with Tony to meet with vendors of a few food outlets featured in the book, to present them with a copy of the book.

Mmm...Yum...Banana Cake!
According to MAGistrate, this was the first in a series of more food trails to the North, East and West side of the city, planned with Tony to meet and present the book to vendors of various featured food outlets.

Communications, Media and Sales & Marketing personnel from the publication’s sponsor, UM Land United Malayan Sdn Bhd, accompanied Tony and media partners on the trip, and UM Land kindly provided transport in two of their company vehicles.

An early start was arranged with an itinerary that kicked off at Hiap Joo Bakery & Biscuit Factory, the Lim family of traditional bakers at Jalan Tan Hiok Nee [Page 18]. 

At midweek, the bakery was already in full swing at that early hour, going about their daily routine to get their products ready to meet customers’ demands.

When Tony presented the book to third generation baker, James Lim Toh Shian, he recalled that this traditional bakery was one of his first-stops in Johor Baru when he started exploring Johor for interesting street food.

Tony presenting Find Dining to
Haji Makpol Kairon of Kacang Pool Haji
His father, Lim Meng Chin, was clearly delighted with the popularity of his family’s little bakery and reciprocated spontaneously by offering us the bakery’s best-selling banana cake to savour before we headed off to the next destination.

Our next stop was Kacang Pool Haji, at its first outlet in the recently refurbished food court, Medan Selera Larkin, close to the Larkin Fire Station [Page 58] at Jalan Tun Abdul Razak.

The affable Haji Makpol Kairon met Tony, wreathed in smiles, and chatted comfortably with the media who plied him with questions about the success in his business.

When asked about the ingredients that went into the kacang pool broad-bean stew, Haji raised his hand with thumb up and attributed the secret ingredient to his hand which he uses to pick and measure ingredients quite instinctively!

While the inspiration for Kacang Pool originated in the Middle East, Haji modified the recipe with his own twist and serves it as a beef stew topped with a sunny-side up (egg), best savoured with a slice of thick toast.

Tony enjoying the irresistible taste of Kacang Pool Haji
When Haji served up steaming bowls of Kacang Pool, its mouth-watering flavour was quite irresistible and everyone had to sample its lip-smacking taste!

As we were tucking into the delicious Kacang Pool, someone dropped a hint warning us to pace ourselves as our next destination was a beriani rice place.

Jalan Rebana off Jalan Kebun Teh where Roslin Beriani House [Page 59] is located, was just a short drive away and there we met with Puan Roslin, grand-daughter of the founder, and her husband, Encik Mustaffa.

Opened since 1983, the beriani house serves aromatic beriani made with basmati rice with a range of rendang prepared with meats like beef, lamb and chicken and even fish.

Tony presenting Find Dining to En Mustaffa and
Puan Roslin at Roslin Beriani House
Besides rendang, the long-grained rice can also be enjoyed with Ayam Masak Merah.  The meat dishes are balanced by freshly made pacheri or spicy slices of pineapple and acar or vegetable pickles.

After enjoying the savoury dishes, the thought of icy cold cendol next was very inviting as we headed off to the Cendol House at Jalan Rahmat, Kampung Melayu Majidee [Page 64].

Opened by Encik Mafiz at the back of his house in the kampung, the rustic ambience of the Cendol House was the perfect setting to enjoy a range of local snacks and thirst-quenchers.

Large kuali of boiling oil were frying up slices of banana, sweet potato, tapioca, bread fruit and oyster mushrooms, among other local delicacies like fritters, ready for lunch and tea customers.

On a separate counter, trays of rice and noodles were displayed, neatly wrapped in individual conical packets of Nasi Lemak, Nasi Ambang and Mee Goreng.

Facade of Cendol House in Kampung Melayu Majidee
Bowls of refreshing cendol offered with a choice of toppings like red beans, glutinous rice or corn, were the staple choice of customers here.

While we relaxed, cooling our heels (and palates) here, we saw customers arriving by cars, by motorcycles and also on foot to this friendly neighbourhood eatery. 

It was already close to lunch time so we decided to vacate the tables for regulars to find a comfortable seat here.

As we piled into the vehicles to go back to the city, I learnt that the next stop was our final destination for the day’s food trail.

We were told that due to the perpetually heavy traffic along Jalan Wong Ah Fook where Kam Long Restaurant [Page 22, Non Halal] is situated, the vehicles would drop us off at Jalan Siu Nam, a nearby side street, for us to walk the remaining distance to the restaurant.

Tony cooling down with a refreshing bowl
of cendol at Cendol House
After all that eating, a short walk was indeed, very welcome.  We trekked along the pavement and as we approached Kam Long Restaurant, I saw the queue waiting to enter the restaurant which stretched the length across the front of three other shops!  Wow!

I’m reminded that this was the usual midweek queue because the length of the queue will just double during weekends!

Kam Long Restaurant has gained a loyal clientele in the last 30 years, for its one and only item on the menu – freshly cooked Chinese fish-head curry made with red snapper, in a delicious gravy filled with ladies fingers, long beans, fried tofu skins and tau kee (soy bean sticks) – to eat with white rice.

And we witnessed that there were indeed many fans of fish-head curry who were ready to patiently wait in line for their turn to savour their signature claypot fish-head curry!

Two tables were reserved for our group and I felt rather uncomfortable to walk right inside the restaurant while such a large crowd was waiting in line!

The two young men manning the stoves were Dennis and his brother, second generation cooks who have taken over the business from their father.

Tony with two claypots of fish-head curry
at Kam Long Restaurant 
In the few minutes we took to settle into our seats, we observed how orders were taken and the claypots assembled with the fish and vegetables before being rushed to the rear kitchen where mores stoves would cook the curry to meet the heavy demand.

In typical kopitian tradition, the ambience was just noisy and hectic with lots of movement and a great deal of shouting by staff calling out words of caution as they served the steaming claypots, so as to avoid any scalding accidents!

Dennis and his siblings have implemented an operating system which runs like clockwork and it was quite impossible to interrupt him midway just to present the book and snap a shot with him.

It took a while before we saw a tiny break in his momentum where he could leave his stove to receive a copy of Find Dining from Tony and pose for a quick photo.

Customers familiar with the routine here, patiently waited to be seated and served.  Once the steaming claypots of curry were served, they would eat as quickly as it was possible to eat such hot food, and vacate the table quite considerately, for the next customers.

Tony presenting Find Dining to Dennis at
Kam Long Restaurant
Aware of the pressing queue waiting out there, we too felt the pressure and ate as fast as it was possible so that the tables could be released to the next in line.

Before leaving Kam Long, I studied their menu posted on the wall and noted that opening hours are from 8am to 4pm.  I thought the strategy to avoid the massive queue must be to plan visits to this restaurant at an off-peak period. 

After all these years, I hope some fan of fish-head curry has found that window of opportunity where they can savour their meal at leisure.  Or the other alternative is probably to order takeaways to enjoy this dish at home!

On our way out, I observed that the queue waiting to enter Kam Long seemed to have grown distinctly longer and I marveled at their loyalty and patience to wait for the taste of Kam Long’s claypot fish-head curry.

There was much to talk about as we boarded the vehicles on the side street and inched our way back to our starting point at Jalan Tan Hiok Nee where we dispersed.

Visiting these few vendors together was just a tip-of-the-iceberg glimpse into the 100 Must-try Heritage and Street Food in Johor listed in Find Dining with Johor Kaki.

This Free-of-Charge guidebook is a handy reference for foodies who are serious about finding their destinations – even without the use of electronic devices or when there’s no internet connection or if your battery suddenly went flat!

Tony assures readers that he would update information as he discovers any changes so it’s best if you referred to his Johor Kaki blog for any updates.  Just scan the QR code on the page for each vendor with your smart device that should take you directly to his blog posts for any updates or changes in address or business hours.

It looks like Tony has enough material in his food blog to fill many more guidebooks but this first publication is his tribute to street food vendors in Johor – a true labour of love – and his way to honour Johor’s unique wealth of food culture and heritage.

Thanks, Tony Johor Kaki, MAGistrate and UM Land.  May this be the first of many Johor food guidebooks to come!


  1. Anonymous11/02/2016

    Thanks, Peggy for this article. We are grateful to Tony for promoting Johor food. Good for the food vendors & convenient for us to locate them. We salute Tony for spending so much time, effort & of course money ( he pays for his food) to write his blog and the foodie guide. Thanks to MAGIstrate & UMLand for making the foodie guide as a gift for the public! (Mdm Chong LH)

  2. Thank you Peggy for your kind article. Thank you Puan Chong for your support and encouragement.

  3. Wow... you guys must have large engine capacities. All that eating in one day! Salute!