Double Treat

After years of pursuing their individual culinary careers, brothers Brian and Sam Soon, recently joined forces by pooling their skills and experience to present diners with the culinary creations of two chefs instead of one at Big Bro 2.

Facade of Big Bro 2 Cafe at Taman Seri Austin, Johor Baru
The chef brothers grew up observing how their father ran a successful bak-kut-teh business and they not only inherited his enterprising spirit but his culinary skills as well.

This may explain their penchant for pork and how they use various meat cuts in their menu which is pleasing the palates of diners, many of whom are regulars from the neighbouring suburbs while some even travel from across the city to dine here.


Opened in a commercial square of a city suburb, the family-friendly café has a no-frills approach reflected in its furnishings.  The long wooden tables for convivial dining were created from disused wooden pallets and varnished into a smooth sheen.

Rows of stainless steel mugs for your drinks!
Big Bro 2 aims to revive the kopitiam concept where regulars, familiar with the routine of self-service, can help themselves to the drinks before putting the items on the bill.

As diners select from canned and bottled soft drinks and beer or homebrewed herbal tea chilled in an open ice trough, I’m reminded of a bygone era of how regulars used to do likewise from our friendly, neighbourhood provision shop!

In those days, a bottle-opener may be hung from a convenient spot for customers to pop open their fizzy bottled drinks and pick up a straw to sip their beverages.

A serving of Grilled Mushrooms
Brian points to rows of stainless steel mugs, hung on a rack, and shows me how diners should help themselves to ice-cubes from the freezer box and pick up straws, just like in the old days!

At the back of the dining hall, menus are written on two broad chalkboards in two languages – English and Chinese – for easy reference but if you must read from a hand-held menu, just ask and the waitresses will produce the menus from their wide pockets.

A glance at the menu tells me that besides the two chefs’ reputation for good food, their competitive prices must be yet another attractive reason for dining at Big Bro 2. 


Chef Brian Soon presents his special
Ubud-style Babek 
I start with an appetizer of grilled mushrooms (RM12) but before it is served, the waitress places a small bowl of mushroom soup in front of me and says it comes complimentary with main course orders.

I’m not only pleasantly surprised but very pleased with its contents and flavour as I taste thin slices of real mushrooms in every spoonful.

Meanwhile I’m keeping an eagle eye on the items coming out of the kitchen and watch as other diners are served main courses ranging from Angus Ribeye (RM68), Grilled Lamb Rack (RM50) and Pork Knuckle (RM55) to Barbecued Pork Ribs (RM23) and Chicken Cordon Bleu (RM21).

As for me, I fancy it’s smart to pick the Pork Combo (RM25) as it comes with a slice of pork chop, a plump sausage, bacon strips and freshly made potato mash on a bed of sautéed spinach.

A Pork Combo serving
“Spinach is one of my favourite vegetables and we decided to use these fresh greens to complement our meat dishes,” said Brian who clearly prefers to use local produce in the menu.

He also assures me that their own-made sausages in a range of flavours, are created from his own recipe which favours more meat than other ingredients.

I’m comfortable with my portion of Pork Combo but smaller eaters may opt for lighter meals like Fish & Chips (RM17), Chicken Ala Picatta (RM17), Pork Chop (RM18) and pasta in Carbonara (RM15) or Aglio Olio (RM13) sauces.

Creme Brulee topped with marchmallows
The chef brothers often introduce new items as specials and I’m happy to sample Brian’s favourite duck dish, crispy Ubud-style Babek (duck) served with a side of perfectly steamed ladies fingers and spicy sambal terasi dip.

As I chew into the crispy bits, boldly crunching bone along with meat, he tells me the serving is only half a duck and it’s so new that he has yet to price this item and place it on the menu!

I like to end my tasty meal sweetly and Brian offers dessert choices like his signature Chocolate Lava (RM6) and Crème Brulee (RM6), topped by pretty marshmallows and dusted with sprinkles of icing sugar.

I lick my lips at the end of the meal and consider how their fair prices for the reasonable portions of delectable meals must be drawing diners back again and again.   

28 Jalan Seri Austin 1/1
Taman Seri Austin
81100 Johor Baru, Johor

TEL: 6016 - 7550868 

HOURS Open daily 5pm to 10.30pm
Friday, Saturday and Sunday, open from 12pm

FOOD Western specialties with an Asian twist

PICK Beef Steak, Pork Knuckle, Pork Ribs, Lamb Rack and

PAY No GST but corkage charges apply

MOOD No frills contemporary café

SERVICE Efficient English-speaking staff

I SAY… Go give it a try

A version of this was published in The New Straits Times, Life & Times on 13 February 2017

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