Weekend food and fun at Paragon Market Place

The Food Truck Alleyval event at the Paragon Market Place kicked off from end August 2020 with the Merdeka weekend for two consecutive weekends to offer a food and fun destination for the whole family.

The Paragon Market Place is located at Jalan Tampoi, JB
As its name describes, this carnival features an interesting menu of street food served from food trucks parked in the forecourt of the Market Place.

I made sure my face mask was securely fastened as I joined visitors queuing (at safe distances!) to complete the Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) upon entry.

The sun was still shining brightly after 5pm and the number of people arriving behind me was swelling by the minutes.

After removing my shades, I let my eyes adjust before reading the signage at the ground floor unit where the culinary team from Grand Paragon Hotel Johor Baru had set up a stall.

The Grand Paragon Hotel stall at the event
Visitors may be familiar with the Grand Paragon Hotel at Jalan Harimau in Taman Century as some may have stayed there, attended events there and also dined there.

Several years ago, I was a guest at a Ramadan breaking-of-fast event hosted by the hotel and can recall the awesome taste of their signature specialty – cubes of deep-fried durian!

Creamy squares of real durian were frozen and then coated with a layer of batter before being deep-fried to golden brown.

Fans of durian have told me that they cannot stop at one nor can they ever forget the pleasure of sinking their teeth through the crispy batter and savouring the creamy taste of real durian within!

Event poster with details of activities
Grand Paragon Hotel general manager, Yeo Siu Ling, warmly welcomed me to the event and when she spotted her colleague nearby, she did not hesitate to introduce us.

Dato Sri Edwin Tan Pei Seng, managing director of Paragon Globe Berhad, was then helping his kids with their ice-cream cones.

Meanwhile the hotel team manning the Paragon stall were busy serving customer orders for popular items like Nyonya Laksa and Durian Goreng or deep-fried durian.

Now fans of the Paragon deep-fried durian need not wait for Ramadan to taste this specialty because it is available from their stall throughout this event.

It was already Day Three of the first weekend of the event and by then, I had learnt that the Paragon stall was also serving an all-new item in their small menu.

It was slices of Apple Pie exclusively baked for them by home-baker, Kak Mariam.

A familiar favourite, apple pie by Kak Mariam
It met with Kak Mariam in 2007, then based in Mersing, and after my story, Royal approval for apple pie, was published, she told me that her whole life had changed.

In 2019, some 12 years after my story on her amazing apple pies was published, Kak Mariam was still baking her apple pies for customers and I had the opportunity to create more interest in her home-baked specialty.

It was while I was reviewing my script for the TEDx Talk entitled, Connecting People through My Johor Stories, that I was to present at the event organized by the University of Southampton Malaysia.

When the organisers heard the part where I mentioned about how Kak Mariam’s life changed because of my story on her apple pies, they were keen to have a taste of her apple pies.

So the organisers placed an order for apple pies from Kak Mariam to share with the team and at the end of the rehearsal, everyone had a portion to savour, while some shamelessly asked for more.

Home-baker Mariam Hassan [Center] with Grand Paragon
Hotel GM, Yeo Siu Ling [2nd from Left] and Paragon Globe
Berhad CEO, Gary Goh [2nd from Right] met at the pre-event.
They enjoyed her apple pies so much that they decided to place another order (to replace the original dessert menu!) and served slices of it during the break between the presentations by scheduled speakers on the day for the TEDx Talk.

It so happened that after Gary Goh, Paragon Globe Berhad CEO, read My Johor Stories on Kak Mariam and her apple pies, he felt strongly that her home-baked specialty would fit perfectly into their menu for the Food Truck Alleyval event and asked me for her contact.

Once they connected with Kak Mariam, the team met her at the Paragon Market Place to discuss further details of the event and the rest – as they say – is history.

A slice of apple pie is served topped with
a scoop of vanilla ice-cream
It was my pleasure to connect them with Kak Mariam and so glad that more people can get a taste of her amazing apple pies, served with a scoop of vanilla ice-cream.

In our conversation, I was delighted to learn from Ms Yeo that the hotel was in fact, seriously considering serving Kak Mariam’s apple pie at their hotel restaurant.

Well, why not? After all, her apple pies do meet with royal approval!

The Food Truck Alleyval, a food truck and carnival weekend event held at the forecourt of the Paragon Market Place, is open from 5pm till late. Please read poster for more details of the event.

Paragon Market Place is located at No. 135 Jalan Tampoi, Kampung Melayu Majidee, 81100 Johor Baru.

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