Old Street Let's Eat Cafe

If you are exploring the heritage quarter in Downtown Johor Baru and looking for that famous Red House at the corner of Jalan Tan Hiok Nee and Jalan Pahang, you will not find it.

Menus at Old Street Let's Eat cafe on Jalan Tan Hiok Nee
That’s because the landmark building that was once painted red in colour, is no longer red but was given a facelift and repainted white!

I had already spotted its colour-change while the building was being upgraded and couldn’t wait to see what it was going to look like when they opened for business.

Recently I was at the Johor Baru Chinese Heritage Museum for a meeting with cultural activist, Tan Chai Puan, and when it was over, we decided to go for a drink.

I kept up the pace with Tan, who walked with such purposeful strides, and he led me directly to this freshly whitewashed building.

With David Yong [Left] and Tan [Right]
We are familiar with this building because in past years, Tan and I have attended various culture and heritage events which he organised, and were held here.

Its façade, designed in interesting architecture, remains a popular subject for photographers but wait till you see the transformation inside.

We stepped into the cool interior and I was not surprised with how Tan was greeted with such warm reception by the young man behind the counter. After all, Tan is well renowned for his involvement in a host of cultural activities in the city.

I was duly introduced to the young proprietor, David Yong Chee Onn, who happens to be the vice-president of the Southern University College Alumni Association.

Tan and I were taken on a quick tour of the premises and I was delighted to see how the old wooden staircase, windows and window trellises as well as the ancient floor tiles, were carefully preserved.

At the top of the stairs, upstairs lobby
The beautiful furniture and fittings bathed in subtle lighting with soft music playing in the background – popular Mandarin songs reminiscent of the Hong Kong - Shanghai club heydays – thrust me into another charming era, right there in JB’s popular heritage quarter.

The air-conditioning also helped to shut out the noise (and heat!) from outside and created a cocoon of comfortable respite from walking and exploring the area.

Aptly named Old Street café, this Let’s Eat outlet in the heart of Downtown JB was the latest addition to the chain of Let’s Eat cafés with other locations at Taman Molek, Taman Johor Jaya and Taman Setia Tropika.

Yong pointed out the interesting details designed into the café which beautifully matches with the theme of the old building and this old street.

From antique replicas to an ancient armoire carved with a series of Chinese scenes – I cannot tell if it was from a popular legend – but I appreciate how Yong had a wall of wooden drawers installed into the side of the counter.

Traditional Chinese medicine shop drawers, put to good use here
A series of Chinese carvings on this ancient armoire; Also notice the metal dangling door knobs!
A section of the dining hall upstairs
I observed how a staff took out a package of paper napkins from there… The drawers were not just for show but these traditional Chinese medicine shop drawers were given a new lease of life and put into good use!

In that quick visit, Tan and I only enjoyed a drink here but I assured Yong that I would be back again to taste the food.

A quick glance at the menu gave me an idea of the food and drinks – mainly Hong Kong, Cantonese with a hint of local café fare – just what hungry people wandering about the old street need!

Here’s a glimpse of the Old Street Let’s Eat Café, enough to whet your interest (and appetite) to go check it out for yourselves.

Open from 9.30am to 7pm, the Old Street outlet of Let’s Eat Café is at 56, Jalan Tan Hiok Nee, 80000 Johor Baru. Tel: +607 – 220 0530.

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