Sumptuous seafood at Fern Pine Cafe

“Where is Fern Pine Café located?” I know this is your question too as you wonder how to get to that sumptuous seafood buffet.

Live cooking stations for grilled and fried items
(It was also my question when I received an invitation to a seafood dinner here!)

All my curious questions are answered when I went to the Holiday Villa Johor Baru and find my way to Level 9 of the hotel.

As I ride up the elevator, I feel a sense of déjà vu because I’ve attended events held in the ballroom on Level 9 but I was (sadly) oblivious to the café which is located directly opposite, on the same level!

Now that the foyer to the ballroom is empty (there is no event on!), I finally see the entrance to the café.

“So here it is…” I tell myself as I take in the sight of tables occupied by diners who are already tucking into plates of seafood they helped themselves to from the buffet.

A section of diners at the seafood buffet in Fern Pine Cafe
It’s just pass 6.3opm and still light outside. I can see through the glass walls to the row of chefs, busy at their live-cooking stations set up on the open balcony – grilling and frying a range of seafood and vegetables.

Food & Beverage Manager, Warren C Kamalaswaran, welcomes me into the café and shows me to the table but suggests that I take a tour of the buffet spread before I decide on where to start.

Warren tells me that every effort is being made to serve the freshest seafood so they decided to offer their seafood buffet exclusively on Friday and Saturday because the weekly seafood supplies arrive on Thursday.

“There’s no menu for the buffet,” he explains because what is being served are a range of fresh items from the weekly supply.

Warren demonstrates the art of removing flesh from
the gong-gong snail
Warren also points out that they even try to offer local seafood like the shellfish known as gong-gong (Malay) snails, prepared in percik flavours in this buffet.

I’m not familiar with this local shellfish so Warren kindly offers to demonstrate the art of removing the tender flesh from its shell, using a wooden skewer.

By sending the sharp end of the skewer into the shell’s opened end and turning it in a little twist, the flesh can be removed, neatly speared onto the skewer!

In the indoor section there are sections for the main course, soups and desserts with a selection of fried mantou (buns), rice and noodles to enjoy with the seafood.

Freshly baked shellfish under the warmer
A small queue is gathered around the warmer, waiting for their turn to help themselves to freshly-baked split prawns and stuffed crab-shells.

Nearby, there is a platter of Baked Salmon Wellington where slices of baked salmon are served with a side of heavy cream sauce.

Close to the Japanese section where there is a range of sushi and sashimi, there is a bed of ice covered with split open raw oysters, chilled prawns and crayfish or yabbies!

Among the cooked seafood, I spot fried prawn fritters and curls of cuttlefish fried in a fragrant, spicy batter and curry leaves – all my favourites.

Baked Salmon Wellington topped with cream sauce
Warren said that for variety, they rotate some items between the two seafood buffet dinners. These include fried carrot cake, fried kway teow (flat rice noodles), teppanyaki and fried oyster omelets.

With a better idea of the spread, I pick my choice of juicy seafood to savour, not in order of preference, aware that I can go back to the buffet countless times.

As I pile my plate with a few grilled prawns, I make a mental note to keep some space for the chilli crabs prepared with flower/blue crabs – the type of crab my dad prefers.

There’s no better way to enjoy a seafood spread than to dig in with my fingers and savour every juicy morsel. Soon, crustacean shells are piling up on my plate and the staff are efficiently helping to change my plates.

A portion of chilled seafood [Clockwise] raw oysters,
fish sashimi, crayfish or yabbies, and prawns
And by the time I remember the chilli crabs, I realise that I have no space left!

While I’m sad about missing it, this only means I have to come back to the Fern Pine Café again for another seafood buffet experience.

Seafood Buffet at Fern Pine Café every Friday and Saturday evening from 6.30pm to 10.30pm.

Price at RM98 nett per adult and RM49 nett per child aged five to 11 years; Seniors aged 60 and above enjoy 20% discount.

Groups enjoy the best deal of 10 paying diners gets one to dine Free-of-Charge!

Fern Pine Café is on Level 9 of Holiday Villa Johor Baru City Centre, No. 260, Jalan Dato’ Sulaiman, Taman Abad/Century, 80250 Johor Baru.  Tel: 607 – 290 3388.  Website:

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