Toast Box now opened at Zenith

If you enjoy the feel and flavour of freshly brewed coffee and the traditional taste of Kaya Toast sandwich, spread with a generous dollop of Hainanese Kaya and a slab of melting butter, then head over to the Toast Box.

Customers queue to place orders at Toast Box, Zenith
From as early as 7am every day, you can sip your morning cuppa at Toast Box, now opened on the street level of Zenith Lifestyle Centre along Jalan Trus and just one floor up from its Jalan Wong Ah Fook entrance.

And if you are still up and about in the wee hours of the morning before 3am, Toast Box will still be open to serve you a range of hot food and snacks with cool and warm drinks.

Besides Kopi, Teh, Kaya Toast and soft-boiled eggs, there is a menu that includes Peanut Butter Thick Toast and popular Asian delights like Laksa noodles, Curry Chicken with rice or bread, Mee Rebus as well as traditional banana-leaf wrapped Nasi Lemak and Mee Siam.

A traditional cloth strainer is still used in their
coffee brewing process
Now you can savour your warm brew in a modern and comfortable kopitiam with its décor, reminiscent of the charm of the coffee-shop culture in a bygone era.

The design concept in Toast Box reflects a significant era during the 60’s and 70’s where people gradually moved out from living in kampung or villages into public housing areas.

The décor has mosaic tiles, window grilles, colours and repeated patterns that are reminiscent of that era as people embraced modern living and forged new relationships.

And when it was the norm for people of every race to sit down to eat together in the neighbourhood kopitiam.

Watch the Coffee Master pour without wasting a drop!
I like the entire white-washed look and am more than glad that they have left out the ubiquitous spittoon that was typically placed under each table in old coffee-shops!

As I admire the décor, I notice a short queue of customers lined up in front of the order counter.

Then I realise that the quick-service concept in this Toast Box outlet means you should place your order and pay at the Order counter and collect the order from the Pick-Up window.

In some instances, like when there is a crowd, the staff will serve orders to your tables.

Spreading Hainanese Kaya and butter on toast
While waiting in the queue, I watch the Coffee Master brew traditional Nanyang Kopi from their signature blend of coffee powder, using the old-fashioned method where the dark brew is strained through a cloth strainer.

It is then expertly “pulled” from the pot in a wide arc and served in a fragrant, frothy cup.

In the same way, freshly brewed tea with milk is “pulled” in the tradition of teh tarik and served with a delicious frothy head.

When it’s my turn at the Order counter, I also spot a small selection of popular kueh like Seri Muka and Kueh Koleh Kacang along with two choices of curry-puffs – curry chicken and sardine – within the showcase that also has banana-leaf wrapped items like Nasi Lemak and Mee Siam.

A small section of kueh and curry-puffs for snacks
As I’m trying to place my order, I cannot help being distracted by the display on their modern cash register which has a changing screen with poster ads to promote the various set meals available at Toast Box.

While waiting to collect my orders, I watch the kitchen team as they busy themselves with toasting slices of bread over a modern electric grill, which has replaced the traditional charcoal grill.

Another team member is moving with speed and dexterity, spreading toast with Hainanese Kaya and adding a slab of butter, which he skillfully sliced off a pillar of butter, resting on a plate.

I watch how food is being prepared and quickly served to waiting customers as the open-plan design of this modern kopitiam offers customers a clear view of the action in the kitchen.

An open packet of Nasi Lemak and a serving of two soft-boiled eggs to savour with light sauce and pepper
A serving of Laksa noodles topped with ingredients
A freshly brewed cup of Nanyang Kopi at Toast Box
Since the Toast Box started in 2005 as a stall unit at the Food Republic food-court in Wisma Atria, Singapore, it has gained a loyal clientele who enjoy dining in the modern replica of a traditional coffee-shop.

From Singapore, the Toast Box brand has expanded abroad with outlets in China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Thailand and the Philippines as well as Malaysia.

While the outlets here are mainly in Subang Jaya and Putrajaya, more outlets will soon be opened in the Klang Valley as well as in Johor Baru.

Toast Box is at Lot 01-11 Zenith Lifestyle Mall, 82-C Jalan Trus, 80000 Johor Baru. Open daily from 7am to 3am.

Taste of Thai at Hero Market

Now you don’t have to go to Thailand to get authentic Thai products like popular brands of cooking sauces and pastes as well as ready-to-eat and ready-to-drink brands.

Department of International Trade Promotion, Ministry of
Commerce Thailand, Minister Counseller, Patcha Wutipan,
[Right] touring the Sabai Sabai Thai Food Festival 2018.
With Thailand as Malaysia’s nearest neighbour in the North, Malaysians are no strangers to the taste of Thai cuisine, snacks and sauces.

This is probably because Malaysians share similar tastes and enjoy Thai culture and cuisine as well as their innovative products, like low calorie snacks made from real fruits.

In addition, Malaysians who often visit Thailand for business or pleasure usually buy home Thai products and have become familiar with their brands and range of products.

From now till August 31, Hero Market at Taman Desa Tebrau in Johor Baru presents the Sabai Sabai Thai Food Festival 2018.

A section of the Thai Food Fair at Hero Market, Desa Tebrau
This event is jointly organized with the support of Department of International Trade Promotion, Ministry of Commerce Thailand (DITP) and HPG Marketing (M) Sdn Bhd.

The festival was launched in a simple ceremony officiated by Minister Counsellor of DITP, Patcha Wutipan, Hero Market director, Francis Teng, and HPG Marketing managing director, Soh Vleong.

Hero Market operates 24 supermarkets in the Klang Valley with one outlet in Johor Baru.

Incorporated in 2005, the team at Hero Market who has a combined food retail experience of more than 75 years, is committed to providing everyday low prices.

Check out this Chilli Lemon snack!
Since HPG Marketing started their operations some seven years ago, they have been importing Thai products into Malaysia and these familiar brands have been well received here.

While Hero Market already has a good range of Thai products on their shelves, this collaboration in a Thai Food Festival is an opportunity to introduce a wider variety of Thai products here.

There are fruit snacks by J-Fruit, Manora fried shrimp and crab chips, Pocky choco sticks, Madam Fish crispy fish snacks, Tawan rice crisps, Otori roasted peanut snacks, Tamarind House sweet tamarind, Schweppes +C Lemon Flavour soft drinks, Malee 100% juices, Birdy 3-in-1 coffee and Hales Blue Boy Syrup, just to name a few.

A selection of popular dip sauces
To better appreciate the range of Thai products that are being introduced here, visit Hero Market during the Thai Food Fest.

And when you shop at the Hero Market outlet during this Food Festival, every RM5 you spend on Thai products will entitle the shopper to participate in a lucky draw.

The top prize will win two return flight tickets to Phuket with accommodation for a 4-Day 3-Night stay while the second prize winner will receive two return flight tickets to Hua Hin with a 3-Day 2-Night stay.

Meanwhile, the third, fourth and fifth prize winners will receive a hamper each worth RM500, RM300 and RM200, respectively.

For more info about the Sabai Sabai Thai Food Festival 2018, visit Facebook pages: or

Enjoy the Mega Drums Fest!

The rhythm of the 24 Festive Drums fills the forecourt of the Johor Gu Miao or Old Temple, much like how it did 30 years ago when the drums were first performed here on 12 June 1998 for the opening ceremony of the 9th National Chinese Dance Festival.

Drumming at the forecourt of the Johor Gu Miao on its
30th anniversary celebration on 12 June 2018.
A new form of percussion art created by the cultural ideas of Tan Chai Puan and the musical composition of the late Tan Hooi Song, has developed into a unique art of drumming dubbed, the 24 Festive Drums.

Back in 1998, the two Tans never imagined the far-reaching impact of this proudly Johor-born tradition that was later exported back to China.

As students from the first drum troop in JB’s Foon Yew High School went abroad to study, they introduced this art of drumming and established drum troops in colleges and universities worldwide.

It’s appropriate that the birthday cake for this celebration is designed in the shape of a Chinese drum, complete with two drum sticks and Chinese characters for 24 Festive Drums, inscribed on the drum.

Tan Chai Puan [Front Row Center] with the first drum troop
at the Johor Gu Miao on 12 June 1998. 
Just as the first event was witnessed by representatives from the five Chinese clans, their current representatives are here along with Department of National Heritage director, Khalid Syed Ali.

A few members from the original drum troop are also present at the celebration and after the cake-cutting ceremony, they cannot resist taking up the drum sticks again to beat a familiar rhythm, just as they did 30 years ago.

I can hear the emotion in Tan’s voice as he speaks and I’m sure his dearest wish was to share with Hooi Song, who lost the battle to cancer in 2008, the joy and pleasure when the 24 Festive Drums was recognized as a Malaysian National Intangible Cultural Heritage in 2009.

Drums Festival

Tan continues to actively promote this art of drumming through International Drum Festivals held every alternate year since 2010, for local drum troops to compete in the National Championship and for international drum troops to showcase their drumming skills.

Poster for the 5th International Festival
of 24 Festive Drums on Aug 24 & 25.
The coming 5th International Festival of 24 Festive Drums 2018, planned for August 24 & 25, is part of the 30th anniversary celebration and will be held at the Pasir Gudang Corporation Stadium, an indoor stadium with 2,600 seating capacity.

Drumming fans can look forward to two mega showcases – National Championship and International Show – over two nights in this drums fest.

On Aug 24, some 300 drummers in the 10 troops from the five regions will storm the stage to show off their creativity and drumming skills to thrill their fans.

To earn a place to compete in the National Championship, regional competitions were held in the North, Central, South, East Coast and East Malaysia where the two most outstanding drum troops were identified to represent each region.

The show on Aug 25 will be a celebration of drumming with performances by troops from China and Singapore, and a guest appearance by HANDS Percussion Malaysia. The three top winners from the National Championship from the previous night, will also perform.

Coming of Age

Tan aspires for JB to become the home for international drumming and is proud that data collected from schools, colleges and universities, including International Schools, indicate that there are currently an estimated 6,000 drummers and a total of 25,000 drummers since 1988.

Tan Chai Puan, Khalid Syed Ali and representatives of the
five Chinese clans in Jb, cutting the Drums' anniversary cake.
As he witnessed the live drumming performance, Khalid is impressed by how this art of drumming has developed into a huge and healthy cultural community of multi-racial and professional drummers.

While drumming may have started as a school activity, it has spawned festivals, promoters, trainers, team managers and even musical and cultural researchers, up to PhD levels.

In Chinese culture, a man is believed to mature at age 30 and the four Chinese characters on the Drum Festival’s poster, artistically rendered in brush strokes by celebrated artist Tan Swie Hian, is translated as ‘a celebration for drumming up and standing firm.’

Fast Facts

Tickets: VIP at RM100, Standard at RM60 and only RM30 for students. Available from JB Tiong Hua Association, Tel: 607 – 278 8999, and JB Chinese Heritage Museum at 42, Jalan Ibrahim, Johor Baru. Open daily from 9am to 5pm. Closed on Monday. Tel: 607 – 2249 633.

A version of this was published in The New Straits Times, Life & Times Jom on 16 August 2018

Wan Li's traditional handcrafted mooncakes

Renaissance Johor Baru is taking a contemporary approach in celebrating the Mid-Autumn Festival with traditional baked and snow skin varieties of mooncake stuffed with a range of trendy fillings to meet the tastes of modern mooncake connoisseurs.

Wan Li's traditional handcrafted baked mooncakes
I join guests at the food-tasting event and it starts with sampling a variety of mooncakes presented on platters in the foyer of Wan Li Chinese Restaurant.

Chinese Head Chef, Go Yong Jia, continues the tradition of making handcrafted mooncakes filled with fresh, fine quality natural ingredients in classic recipes.

A quick look at the varieties of mooncakes includes Pure Lotus Paste in baked mooncakes, as well as those with Single Yolk and Double Yolks.

There are also choices like Jade Custard, Green Tea Paste with Single Yolk, Assorted Fruits & Nuts and a new flavour, Red Bean Paste.

A sampling of snow skin mooncakes
created in a range of pretty pastel colours
Snow skin mooncakes are created in a range of pretty pastel colours and are easily identified as Dark Chocolate Crunchy Pearl, Coffee Truffle, Taro Paste Truffle, Green Tea Matcha Truffle, Passion Fruit Truffle, Peppermint Chocolate Truffle, Strawberry Truffle and an additional flavour of Lemon Truffle.

My nose helps me to identify the filling in the pale yellow snow skin mooncake. From its strong fragrance, I know it’s the snow skin mooncake stuffed with fresh durian!

These handcrafted delicacies are made with natural ingredients with no preservatives and I’m reminded that when the snow skin varieties are brought home, they should be kept refrigerated to preserve its quality.

Chef Go smiles widely when we meet again at Wan Li as he remembers me from previous events.

I can see that he’s much more comfortable with demonstrating the art of hand-making mooncakes under our watchful eyes, as cameras clicked and videos filmed.

Besides carrying out a demo, Chef Go also invited guests to join him for a hands-on experience in shaping the pastries into traditional wooden moulds that are designed with an embossed rendition of the capital letter “R” for Renaissance Hotel.

Chef Go Yong Jia presents a gift box
of freshly baked mooncakes by Wan Li
So when the pastries are popped out of the mould with a loud ‘Bang!’ the letter “R” appears clearly embossed on top of the mooncakes.

The annual celebration the Mid-Autumn Festival on the lunar calendar coincides with Sept 24 this year. Most traditional Chinese homes would celebrate with a family dinner, not unlike the reunion dinner held on the eve of the lunar new year.

While the menu for the Mid-Autumn Festival may not be as elaborate or rich with auspicious ingredients, this reunion dinner will bring the family together again.

For this festive season, the culinary team at Wan Li has created a menu that includes interesting new dishes like Sea Prawns and Glass Noodles simmered in a claypot and Crunchy Mixed Vegetables with Crispy Lotus Roots.

It is a tradition for families and friends to present each other with mooncakes and these gifts of mooncakes packed in lovely boxes, are usually brought to the reunion dinner and presented to the host with pride.

Traditional baked and snow skin handcrafted mooncakes are exclusively available from Wan Li for a limited time until Sept 24.

A set of eight snow skin mooncakes is priced at RM98 nett and a set of four baked mooncakes cost RM98 nett only while the set of eight snow skin Durian mooncakes is at RM168 nett.

A range of traditional baked mooncakes with gift boxes and traditional wooden moulds at Wan Li
For bulk orders, enjoy 10% discount for purchases above 10 boxes, 15% discount for purchases above 25 boxes and 25% discount for purchases above 100 boxes.

Club Marriot Members will enjoy 20% discount on purchases.

For advance orders and enquiries, Tel: +607 – 381 3388 or email:

Wan Li Restaurant [Pork-Free] is on the lobby level of the Renaissance Johor Baru Hotel, 2 Jalan Permas 11, Bandar Baru Permas Jaya, 81750 Masai, Johor. 

'Speak Out for Engineering' nationals 2018

“What is the use of an excellent engineering idea if you failed to communicate it effectively to your client?” This is the question young engineers, university undergraduates and lecturers must consider if they wanted to become successful engineers.

One for the album: The audience, speakers and judges
at the national level Speak Out for Engineering event
held at University of Southampton, Iskandar Puteri 
To help budding engineers develop verbal and visual communication skills to explain technical engineering ideas to a non-engineering audience, the Young Members Section in the Malaysia Branch of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, organizes an annual competition to train and challenge them in these skills.

The competition dubbed, ‘Speak Out for Engineering’ or SOfE, has been held in Malaysia annually in a national level competition for the past ten years.

Established in 1964 to challenge young engineers to prove they could communicate effectively, this competition has been adapted over the years to allow for greater participation but the original aim of ‘communicating effectively’ remains the main emphasis.

Runner-up, Bhoshaga Mitrran A/L Ravi Chandran
from University Tenaga Nasional
In 2004, the competition changed its name to ‘Speak Out for Engineering’ Presentation Competition that aims to promote the skills to communicate mechanical engineering subjects by describing and explaining these topics through verbal and visual communication.

This competition was also designed to promote interest in the art of communication.

While this competition is open to Affiliates, Associates and Young Members of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE) who have been professionally registered for ten years or less, the competitors are usually university students and lecturers.

This year, the seven shortlisted competitors to make their final presentations are representatives from University Tenaga Malaysia, University of Nottingham Malaysia, Taylor’s University, INTI International University, University Malaya, Heriot-Watt University Malaysia Campus and University of Southampton Malaysia.

Institution of Mechanical Engineers, Young Members
Section, Malaysia Branch chairman, Achugovind Kumar
[Left] with the champion speaker,
Muhammad Syafiq Nor Azmi
The champion stands to win 300 British Pounds and a 4-week Personal Public Speaking Mentorship worth RM1,000 by Breezi Speaking, a public speaking training company, while the runner-up will win 200 British Pounds and a 50% discount voucher for a similar 4-week training with Breezi Speaking.

All the competitors will also receive a 50% discount voucher for the 4-week Personal Public Speaking Mentorship by Breezi Speaking.

The top two speakers will also represent Malaysia to compete in the IMechE SOfE 2018 South East Asia regional competition.
I read this information with interest from an email received from the Student Chapter of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers at University of Southampton Malaysia.

Muhammad Syafiq Nor Azmi from University Malaya
making his presentation at the competition
This background information was received along with an invitation to join the panel of judges for this competition.

I was pleasantly surprised but they felt strongly that the experience of a non-engineering person like me would complement the judging panel which is made up of engineers who are in the industry and in education.

This will also be the first time for the University of Southampton Malaysia to host the national level competition for SOfE and the first such event to be held in the region of Iskandar Malaysia.

The email continued with more details of the competition and the judging criteria.

It also explained that the presentations will have mechanical engineering content in its broadest sense – like its purpose, research, design, feasibility and practicality – which should be made clear and comprehensible to a person with a non-engineering, English-speaking background, like me.

I read the entire email again and gave it some serious thought before I replied and accepted their invitation to join their panel of judges.

Early that Saturday morning, I reached the EduCity Multi-Varsity Complex with a smooth drive from the city to Iskandar Puteri and found my way to the University of Southampton Malaysia, lecture theatre.

The campus was relatively quiet due to their summer holidays and I was later told, an enthusiastic team of Year One undergraduates gave up part of their holidays to organize and host this event.

I was warmly welcomed by the university’s Director of Foundation Programme & Head of Quality Assurance, Assistant Professor Dr. Ng Jo-Han, who introduced me to my fellow judges.

The distinguished panel of Judges at the event
Azalea Badrulshah, an IMechE associate member and Design Engineer with one of the most innovative engineering companies in the industry, Dyson, Rotarian Lee Soo Tong, the immediate Past President of the Rotary Club of Johor Baru and J. Kannan, Chief Executive Officer of Kolej Teknologi Suria, a vocational education college, both also engineers by profession.

I was honoured to be numbered among them and while I may not have similar credentials, my practical experience in effective public speaking with different audiences, does count for something.

But I have the most important role in this panel because unless the competitors managed to effectively communicate their technical ideas to me – the non-engineer – then they would not have achieved their goal.

I, the non-engineer judge, giving a brief intro
at the start of the competition
After all, this was the main objective of SOfE and I was ready to being intellectually stimulated by these young talents who were brimming with well-researched technical ideas and bursting to impress us in the competition.
So with three engineers and Azalea and Kannan, who are both experienced Toastmasters, we made quite a formidable 4-member judging panel.

One after another, the competitors presented their ideas on topics like, AI: Why the Future Should Embrace It?, Print Me A House, Electronic Fluency Devices: Snuffing the Stutter, Enhancement on Tire Sidewall Cutting Machine, Artificial Intelligent Applications, The Internet of Things: What’s In It for You?, and The Future of Electric Vehicles.

During the judges’ deliberation, the scores tallied showed a unanimous decision with similar comments on their strengths and weaknesses. Before the prize presentation, Kannan, represented the panel to give the judges’ comments to help the competitors improve on their areas of weakness.

Nixshal Nantakumar, from University of Southampton Malaysia, made a special impression on the judges when he discussed the merits of Electronic Fluency Devices designed to help people who suffer from stuttering. It was especially meaningful because his topic was based on his personal experience.

Muhammad Syafiq Nor Azmi from University Malaya who presented, ‘The Internet of Things: What’s In It For You?’ emerged as champion while Bhoshaga Mitrran A/L Ravi Chandran from University Tenaga Nasional, who discussed, ‘AI: Why The Future Should Embrace It?’ was runner-up.

As for me, I think I did a good job as a credible judge.

A version of this was published in the August 2018 issue of The Iskandarian

Suasana Iskandar Malaysia opens in JB

The rapidly changing Johor Baru city skyline welcomes a new landmark with the official opening of Suasana Iskandar Malaysia on August 5.

The VIPs at the Ribbon-Cutting ceremony to
declare Suasana Iskandar Malaysia officially opened
Situated in the heart of the city, Suasana Iskandar Malaysia (IM) enjoys two road frontages: Jalan Wong Ah Fook and Jalan Trus.

Developed by award-wining property developer, UM Land, this landmark property with residential, hotel and lifestyle components, is an integral part of the city’s progress as a modern, vibrant and culturally rich city.

The day’s event kicked off with a Ribbon-cutting Ceremony at the porch of the drop-off point of the property along Jalan Trus.

The VIPs who took part in the ceremony were UM Land Chairman, Tun Musa Hitam, UM Land Group Managing Director, Dennis Ng, Ministry of Tourism and Culture, Tourism Policy and International Affairs, Under Secretary, Mohd Daud Mohd Arif, Johor State EXCO for Johor Women Development and Tourism Committee, Chairwoman, Liow Cai Tung, ONYX Hospitality Group, President & CEO, Douglas Martell, Iskandar Regional Development Authority, Chief Executive, Datuk Ismail Ibrahim and Johor Baru Mayor, Tuan Haji Amran A. Rahman.

Thai cultural dance performance at the Amari ballroom
The event continued in the Amari Hotel ballroom where a video presentation showcased how a prestigious plot of land in the city, situated between Jalan Wong Ah Fook and Jalan Trus, was transformed into Suasana IM.

Guests were given an overview of the integrated property developed with the 35-level Susana Iskandar JB, a tower of service apartments that feature smart-home technology, created in partnership with Samsung Malaysia Electronics.

Managed service apartment units are operated by Suasana Suites. It has a rooftop café that serves local cuisine and commands a panoramic view of the city.

Building facade of Suasana IM,JB
Suasana IM features the first 5-star Amari Hotel in Malaysia, a Thai brand that offers the finest in Thai hospitality with 242 rooms, Breeze Spa, the Amaya Food Gallery and creative meeting venues.

In the podium of Suasana IM, Zenith Lifestyle Centre is the first lifestyle hub in JB city centre with curated international retail, food & beverage and entertainment experiences, some that even spills out onto the recently landscaped sidewalks of Jalan Wong Ah Fook.

In the next part of the event, Tun Musa was invited to sign the commemorative plaque.

With cameras shooting and lights flashing, the plaque-signing was witnessed by Mohd Daud Mohd Arif, Liow Cai Tung, Tuan Haji Amran A. Rahman, Dennis Ng and Datuk Ismail Ibrahim as well as guests in the ballroom.

Then it was time for a sumptuous celebratory lunch to be served.

In his characteristic way of breaking-away-from-the-event-programme, Tun Musa hijacked the microphone from the event MC and casually introduced himself as, Musa.

Tun Musa Hitam saying a few words at the event
He went on to say a few words of commendation for the recent smooth transition of government and praised the members of the previous and current government who were seated here to witness this prestigious event and to enjoy a meal together.

While a Press Conference was being held with the media in a separate room, lunch was served and guests were entertained by traditional Thai dances and musical entertainment by the Thai Dance Society from Singapore.

The day’s events continued on the ground floor concourse of the Zenith Lifestyle Centre where games and food-tasting stalls were set up to introduce their fare to guests. From Japanese, Korean, to Taiwanese and Thai, there was something for everyone to discover.

The property is designed to welcome vehicular traffic via Jalan Trus while visitors may just walk in from Jalan Wong Ah Fook.

Visit Suasana Iskandar Malaysia, located at No. 82-C Jalan Trus, 80000 Johor Baru.

Join the Charity Sunset Run 4 Fund!

Mark your calendars for Saturday, September 15, and gear yourselves up for the fourth edition of a charity fun run, jointly organized by Palm Resort Berhad and TJ Mart Kulai.

Event poster for Charity Sunset Run 4 Fund
When you pay RM60 entrance fee to join the Charity Sunset Run 4 Fund, each participant will received an event T-shirt, finisher medal and a goody bag.

But this is not all. You will have the privilege to run an 8km trail through the Melati golf course while enjoying breathtaking views of the green as the sun sets.

This is a bonus for non-golfers who may have never had this experience.

The run will flag-off at 4pm from the resort’s lawn court, in four categories: Men’s Open and Veteran, Ladies’ Open and Veteran.

Winners in each category will receive trophies and cash prizes of RM300, RM200 and RM100.

More importantly, the trail through the golf course will be free from vehicles and completely safe for leisure running.

In addition to healthy outdoor fun for everyone, the charity fun run is for a good cause as proceeds will be contributed to the Palliative Care Association of Johor Baru (PCAJB).

Established in 2007 by the Rotary Club of Johor Baru, the oldest Rotary Club in Johor, the PCAJB provides quality medical and nursing care for terminally ill patients.

Since its inception, the PCAJB has provided hospice care for about 300 patients and aims to create more awareness of what they do so that many more in our community may benefit from their services.

The PCAJB is a non-profit organization and seeks funding support from corporate socially responsible companies and individuals with a big heart.

A sample of the Entry Form
Lee Tet Loong, Director of Pembinaan Titis Jaya Sdn Bhd, which owns and manages TJ Mart, is committed to hosting the Sunset Charity Run 4 Fund for the fourth time as he believes that the PCAJB is doing a noble job for the needy and deserves to be supported.

Led by Dr Angamuthu Rajoo, the PCAJB offers a range of services that include providing medication, medical and homecare equipment and couselling care to patients and their families.

The work of PCAJB is meeting a real need in the families of terminally ill patients, especially in coping with their practical and emotional needs.

“We hope to continue the legacy of the Run for the benefit of the PCAJB whose year-on-year expenses increases in tandem with the number of people who are stricken with the dreaded disease,” said Jef Kong, General Manager of Le Grandeur and CEO of Palm Resort.

While he is proud that the previous charity fun run raised a total of RM38,800, he hopes that this year’s event will receive greater support from the public and their club members to achieve a higher sum to contribute to the worthy work by PCAJB.

Hurry! August 17 is the closing date for registrations to join the Sunset Charity Run 4 Fund.

For online registrations, go to webpage

Payments should be made either online or walk-in to Palm Resort or TJ Mart.

Participants who have registered and paid online or by banking-in, must take a photo of your proof of payment and send it to Tel: +6017 - 7696926 by WhatsApp.

For more info, please contact Le Grandeur Palm Resort on Tel: +607 – 599 6000, Palm Resort Golf & Country Club on Tel: +607 – 599 6222 and +6017 – 7696926 or TJ Mart Kulai on Tel: +607 – 598 4323.

Participants can also look forward to Free drinks sponsored by Nestle and locally made charcoal burgers, waffles and shaved ice drinks sold from food trucks operated by the Johor Food Truck Association.

Best of Johor at Makan Kitchen

For two whole months, from August to end September 2018, Makan Kitchen in DoubleTree by Hilton Johor Baru, presents a daily buffet in the theme, Best of Johor that feature dishes with a distinct identity of the southern-most state of the Malaysian Peninsular.

Makan Kitchen is at the lobby level of
DoubleTree by Hilton Johor Baru
Johor cuisine has a unique blend of ingredients that are not found in other parts of our country as it is influenced by Arab, Bugis and Javanese settlers as well as the nations around the Malay Archipelago.

The Javanese who settled here over the centuries have particularly influenced the Malay cuisine in Johor with flavours that are distinctly sour, sweet and spicy.

This is the inspiration for the culinary team led by Chef Mahathir Mokhtar in the Malay kitchen within the Makan Kitchen, to create a mouthwatering menu of dishes which they consider as the Best of Johor.

Chef Mahathir Mokhtar is busy in the Malay kitchen
I glance at the spread and spot cardboard cut-outs shaped like the profile of a horse that closely resembles the traditional kuda kepang horse, used as labels on the various dishes.

Hotel general manager, Daniel Alcaraz, who warmly welcomes me to the food preview, is also getting acquainted with the range of dishes presented in the Best of Johor buffet.

While the kuda kepang has long been associated with Johor, I’m happy to share with Daniel, a further insight into this tradition here.

Then it’s time to taste and I shall start from the appetizer section.

Urap Pucik Ubi
There is ulam or tender shoots also called pucuk, young leaves of wild plants that are usually found in the countryside.

Ulam is a traditional salad and its taste varies, depending on the different types of shoots. It’s like a local fresh salad and is consumed because of its taste and nutritional value as it adds variety and flavours to the diet.

The Malay folks in Johor have creatively incorporated fruits and vegetables into their ulam and two of the popular traditional salads featured in this buffet are the Javanese inspired Urap Pucuk Ubi (tender shoots of the tapioca plant) and Urap Jantung Pisang (banana blossom).

Kacang Pol with a side of toast and fresh vegetables
Urap is the Javanese preparation by blanching or steaming the fruit or vegetable before tossing it with grated coconut, dried prawns, seasoning and chilli padi or bird’s eye chilli.

Another popular dish in Johor is Kacang Pol, a dish with a Middle-Eastern origin.

This is a bean-based beef stew enjoyed as a dip to savour with toasted bread and a variety of fresh vegetables like kacang botol or four-angled beans.

Then it’s time to warm my stomach with a bowl of hot soup. I’m heading to the buffet when Chef Mahathir approaches and asks if he could be of any help.

Sup Ayam Berempah
When I tell him about what I’m after, he responds by dishing up a bowl of Johor-style Chicken Soup with a rich dark broth filled with chunks of chicken, potato and carrot.

He serves me a bowl, full to the brim but I’m not complaining because I like the comforting taste of Sup Ayam Berempah.

With my stomach comfortably warmed, I’m ready for a taste of the main course items.

While there is a range of Indian and Chinese dishes at the Indian and Chinese kitchens in Makan Kitchen, I’m focused on enjoying a taste of the Malay offerings, especially the items presented in the Best of Johor.

I’m familiar with Johor cuisine and am pleasantly surprised to see how the chefs have given a special Makan Kitchen touch to the menu.

Instead of the usual Ayam Percik, they are serving Puyuh Percik, substituting chicken with quail.

Assam Pedas Ekor Lembu
And instead of Assam Pedas which is usually prepared with fish, they are serving Assam Pedas Ekor Lembu, oxtail.

This sounds so good that I cannot wait to have a taste of assam (tangy) pedas (spicy) yummy with oxtail.

So I help myself to a generous chunk of tender oxtail, dripping in Assam Pedas gravy.

I’m pleased with the tender fall-off-the-bone meat and its collagen-rich flavour is simply…mmm… satisfying and very agreeable.

Besides the beef cooked in Nasi Briyani Gam Johor, other meat choices in the buffet include Rendang Tulang Rusuk (Beef Ribs Rendang), Ayam Ungkap (Javanese style fried chicken) and Kambing Kuzi (Lamb marinated in Kuzi spices).

At the grill section, in addition to Puyuh Percik, there are choices of Johor-style grilled meats and fish like Pais Ikan Tenggiri, Pepes Ayam and Paru Sambal on skewers.

Among the Best of Johor noodles are of course, Laksa Johor, a uniquely Johorean dish with a royal origin – which is made with spaghetti instead of noodles. There is also Mee Rebus or stewed noodles that are served with tulang or meaty bones.

As always, I must keep some space for dessert.

Kueh Lopes with Gula Melaka
With the durian season at its peak, the Best of Johor desserts offers two durian inspired items – a Durian cream cake and Cendol Pulut Durian.

The latter is a chilled cendol dessert with additional ingredients like glutinous rice and delicious durian, swimming in a rich coconut milk gravy.

Among the range of local desserts in the buffet, I see two particular sweet items that are the favourite of my grandmother – Kueh Lopes to savour with Gula Melaka (caramelized palm sugar) – and my grandfather, who preferred Kueh Koleh Kacang!

It’s funny how the sight of these two familiar desserts brought on a sudden pang of sentimental feelings for my late grandparents.

Maybe because I’m writing about them in my book sequel. It’s a strange connection but maybe it’s also because we used to live just across the road from this hotel.

The buffet comes with a choice of coffee or tea. And when my order is served, I sip it slowly while I reminisce about my grandparents and how they would also enjoy these two types of Malay kueh.

A typically Johor way to enjoy fried sweet potato [Left]
and fried bananas [Right] with a spicy dark sauce dip!
As I nibble on my Kueh Lopes and Kueh Koleh Kacang, I cannot help but reflect on how very Johorean we are.

The best way to end my Best of Johor buffet must be in the typically Johor way, to enjoy Tempe Goreng (fried fermented soya beans), Keledek Goreng (fried sweet potato) and Pisang Goreng (fried bananas) with Sambal Kicap (Spicy dark sauce dip).

The Best of Johor buffet at Makan Kitchen is from Aug 1 to Sept 30, Monday to Thursday, from 6pm to 10pm and on Sunday from 6.30pm to 10.30pm.

Rate at RM102 nett per adult and RM51 per child.

At the Makan Kitchen, diners at the daily buffet can also enjoy a range of dishes from the Chinese and Indian kitchens as well as popular items in International cuisine.

The Makan Kitchen is on the lobby level of DoubleTree by Hilton JB, at 12 Jalan Ngee Heng, 80000 Johor Baru, Johor.  

For enquiries and reservations: Tel: 607 – 268 6868 or email:  Website: