Rockin' local and legendary burgers


World Burger Day 2022 on May 28 was celebrated in rocking style at the Hard Rock Café Puteri Harbour with the introduction of two new local and legendary recipe burgers.


Chef Bobby and his culinary team presents
a new menu along with the local and legendary
burgers at Hard Rock Cafe Puteri Harbour

Nothing is more local and legendary than Malaysian Satay and Spicy Sambal sauces to top burger patties and add a more relishing flavour that meets the tastes of local palates.


As the Hard Rock Café refreshes its menu, Chef Bobby and his culinary team have put their heads together to present local legendary burgers in choices of Chicken and Beef while the Spicy Sambal Burger is even available in three levels of spiciness.


The level of spiciness in these top three spicy burgers are indicated by the presence of fresh chilli-padi served on the side of the burger, from one, two or three chillies for hot, hotter and hottest.


Check out the number of chillies to indicate Hot 
Hotter and Hottest local and legendary burgers

You can stay safe with the Local Legendary Original Spicy Sambal Burger or venture to try the Local Legendary Super Spicy Sambal Burger.


But if you dare, go for the Local Legendary Extra Spicy Sambal Burger.


And when you place your order for the Local Legendary Hottest Sambal Burger in Town, I suggest you also ask them to be on standby to call the Bomba or Fire Services to help put out the fire in your mouth…


Hardy whipping up an Irish Coffee

Or you could get Hardy the bartender to serve you refreshing cocktails created from fresh fruit juices mixed with a generous splash of Red Bull energy drink to quench your thirst and of course, put out any fire.


But if you are a coffee snob (like me!) why not choose an Irish Coffee made with a blend of quality coffee and coffee liqueur. Specialty coffees include Kahlua Coffee and Irish Kiss.


In addition to the local and legendary burgers, check out a new menu exclusively available at Hard Rock Café Puteri Harbour that features items like Country Smashed Burger (Beef), Swiss & Mushroom Smash Burger (Beef), Diablo Smashed Burger (Beef), Crispy Chicken Sandwich, Buffalo Chicken Sandwich, Boneless Bodacious Tenders, Cuban Sliders (Beef), Pineapple Pulled Lamb Quesadilla, Chicken Quesadilla, Original Bruschetta, Legendary Jumbo Combo, Fish & Chips with Tatar Sauce and the Cowboy & New York Surf & Turf.


Facade of Hard Rock Cafe Puteri Harbour

Hard Rock Café Puteri Harbour is located at Retail Lot 2-B2 Residensi & Hotel Marina, Persiaran Tanjung, Pengkalan Puteri, 79100 Iskandar Puteri, Johor.


The Café serves Food and Beverages that are free from alcohol and pork products. Open daily from 12pm to 12am. Live band show from 8pm, Tuesday to Sunday. Tel: +607 – 276 9999.


Stay connected for updates and promotions on Hard Rock Café Puteri Harbour official pages on Facebook @HardRockCafePuteriHarbour and Instagram @hrcputeriharbour.

A relaxing poolside barbecue buffet dinner


The barbecue buffet dinner served by the infinity pool at Impiana Hotel Senai, popular with diners two years ago, is back again.


It was good to be back at Impiana Hotel Senai
to chill out over a barbecue dinner by the pool

As travel and in-dining were reopened nationwide, this popular poolside barbecue is being relaunched and served at the poolside on Level Two of the hotel.


When the elevator doors opened on Level Two, I was enveloped in the tantalizing aroma of freshly barbecued meats and when I arrived at The Pool, I saw the live cooking station where fresh meat and seafood were sizzling on the grill.


Hosted by the pool in the open air, diners can chill out and relax while they savoured a leisurely dinner on a Saturday evening.


A live barbecue cooking station
I followed my nose to the sizzling items on the grill and could identify the seafood items neatly arranged for diners to help themselves to whole fish, prawns, mussels, cray fish and flower crabs.


Among the meat items were Lamb Cuts with garlic, Chicken Sausages and marinated Chicken Wings.


The barbecue menu will change every Saturday to rotate among items like marinated whole Prawns, Chicken Tikka, Minute Steak, Fish Fillet Medallions and Squid marinated in turmeric.


I continued my survey saw there was Minestrone Soup served with a range of breads and a selection of Appetizers with fresh salads – both local and international – to strike a balance with the meats.


Diners helping themselves to the
dishes in the hot buffet

Curious to see the food choices set out in the hot buffet, I discovered Gratin Potatoes with Mushrooms, Buttered Mixed Vegetables and Corn on Cob in Buttered Milk.


I also saw choices of Spaghetti Aglio Olio and Yang Chow Fried Rice to satisfy our carb-cravings.


At the Dessert counter, there were chilled drinks, cakes and pastries, and in the freezer, a choice of ice-lollies to cool our palate after the hot barbecue.


I thought it was a good spread for a barbecue dinner and joined the other guests to help ourselves to the freshly barbecued meat and seafood with a generous helping of corn on the cob (P. S. I like very much!) and a side of salad.


Fresh seafood in the chiller for the barbecue

The best part about a buffet is how diners may return to the buffet table to have another helping of items which they liked. And nobody would be counting how many times I returned to the buffet for what I liked to have again (and again!)


The relaxing barbecue dinner by the pool was an ideal setting for hotel General Manager, Mahadi Mathana, to announce the launch of their Rewards App, a mobile application that offers greater convenience online in a spend-and-earn platform.


Mahadi said that the global pandemic, which resulted in long lockdown periods, had led us to grow familiar with using mobile applications and in this growing digital trend, it was timely to unveil their user-friendly app to earn and enjoy more rewards.


General Manager, Mahadi Mathana
announcing the launch of
the Rewards App

He explained that this Rewards App allows registered users to have convenient access to the latest Food & Beverage deals and room promotions, and that they will earn one point for every RM1 spent.


Cumulative points are redeemable at all Food & Beverage outlets as well as in the form of room nights. The app also offers instant rewards like F & B discounts, complimentary meals on your birthday month and special room rates exclusively for app users.


As Impiana Hotel Senai celebrates its fifth-year anniversary since its opening on 10 October 2017, app users will instantly earn 500 points for every installation of the app from now till October 2022.


For updated info on Impiana Hotel Senai and the Rewards App, visit their official Facebook and Instagram pages.


A choice of tasty dishes in the hot buffet

The Rewards App is available for both iOS and Android phones. Click here to download the app:


To enjoy the popular Barbecue Buffet Dinner served at The Pool on Level Two of Impiana Hotel Senai every Saturday from 6.30pm to 10pm, prior reservations are required.


Rate at RM88 nett per adult and RM40 nett per child aged between six and 12.


For reservations, Tel: +607 – 5958898, +6016 – 713 4590 or email:


Impiana Hotel Senai is located at Jalan Impian Senai Utama 2, Taman Impian Senai, 81400 Senai, Johor. For more info, visit website:

Calling High-Pole Lion Dance fans in JB...


During my recent meet-up with Tan Chong Hing, founder of the award-winning Kun Seng Keng (KSK) Lion and Dragon Dance Association in Muar, I was invited to join them for an event planned in Johor Baru in June 2022.


High-Pole Lion Dance performance in a 
mall concourse enjoyed by the public;
Photo courtesy of the KSK Album

This was just what I was after because I was keen to witness a live performance of High-Pole Lion Dance. (I have only watched from television and videos!)


And when I learnt that the event would be held in nearby Plaza Sentosa, I did not hesitate to accept.


As time passed and we were already in the middle of May, I tried to find out more from my contact in KSK and wrote to their official Facebook page via Messenger.


In reply, I was directed to read their post on the event in Facebook and a newspaper report by Sin Chew, a Chinese publication.


A KSK souvenir magazine design
This experience reminded me (once again!) about the plight of Chinese people who do not read Chinese and how they often missed out on special events simply because the info or reports were only published in Chinese.


Over the years, I have been working closely with my bi-lingual friends in the Chinese community who would share with me, relevant info on Chinese events in English so that I could write in English for the benefit of the Chinese who do not read Chinese.


For this, I am ever grateful for the support and sympathy of my bi-lingual friends who are understanding because I am not conversant in Mandarin and need their help to patiently explain the Chinese cultural context and background info so that I may gain a better grasp before I wrote it in English.


In fact, I shared this important point in, Connecting People through My Johor Stories, my 2019 TEDx Talk where I also discussed how Chinese who do not read Chinese can learn more about Chinese culture and heritage from my stories that are published in English.


The KSK team performing to the
backdrop of Parliament Building

When I looked at the KSK Facebook post on the event planned for June, I read the digits and figured that these were the dates for the event. But that was not enough.


Aware that there was still time, I rushed to engage KSK in an exchange of emails where I confessed my weakness in Chinese and sought their help to provide the info in English so that I may share it with others/readers who do not read Chinese.


Knowing that the event would be held in nearby Plaza Sentosa, I hoped that the info I can share will interest fans of High-Pole Lion Dance here to avail themselves of this wonderful opportunity to witness a live performance – almost at their doorstep.


High-Pole Lion Dance enthusiasts are familiar with KSK, the award-winning team who have established a reputation as world-class champions of International and National High-Pole Lion Dance competitions, multiple times.


Tan, who founded the Kun Seng Keng Lion and Dragon Dance Association in Muar in 1988, made it his mission to organize Lion Dance competitions annually to actively promote the culture and heritage of lion dancing.


This National High-Pole Lion Dance Competition, organized by KSK every year and hosted in various venues nationwide, is supported by the Malaysia Dragon & Lion Dance Sports Association.


In recent years, the team from KSK Muar emerged as National champions for competitions in three consecutive years, held in Dataran Pahlawan, Melaka in 2017, in Muar in 2018 and in Kluang in 2019.


Due to the global pandemic, this annual competition was deferred for two years.


This year, the National Competition, dubbed the MingAnLi Competition after the title sponsor of the competition, will be held in Johor Baru on Saturday, June 4, in an exciting programme from 2pm, at the concourse of Plaza Sentosa in Taman Sentosa.


A leaping lion in action!

I learnt that MingAnLi is the name of a village in Teochew and was told that Mr Wu, the main sponsor this year who originated from MinAnLi in China, proposed the title, MingAnLi Cup, for this competition.


So come along to witness some 16 participating teams who will be pitting their skills to win trophies that are sponsored by Muar Lion Business.


Fans of Lion Dance can look forward to being wowed by participants that include teams from Negeri Sembilan, Perak, Penang, Selangor, Kuala Lumpur, Melaka, Johor and Sabah.


Meanwhile, get ready to enjoy the delightful sounds of dramatic drums and crashing cymbals at this exciting High-Pole Lion Dance Competition. See you there!

New at Tosca, DoubleTree by Hilton JB


With two long years of lockdown which inevitably resulted in an economic slow-down, I made the choice to order-in or buy from local suppliers and merchants in an effort to support and help them stay in business.


Entrance to Tosca on Level 13 
DoubleTree by Hilton Johor Baru

Then when I received an invite to experience the new menu at Tosca, I was so intrigued by its description, “A refreshing new menu that focuses on sustainable sourcing and healthy plant-based options,” that I did not hesitate to accept and went to check it out.


I remember being introduced to Chef Hassan Mohammed, the hotel’s Executive Chef, and was keen to see him again to find out how the menu at Tosca has been refreshed with healthy plant-based ingredients, gluten-free options and quality dry-aged meats to prepare authentic Italian cuisine.


It was always good to be back at the DoubleTree by Hilton. One of the many reasons was because the hotel is located on the same road as where I grew up in our grandfather’s house (across the road!) on Jalan Ngee Heng.


A live cooking station in full
view of diners at Tosca

The previous time I was at Tosca in December 2021 was to welcome General Manager, Linda Giebing, to Johor Baru, and this time when I arrived at Tosca, I was delighted to be welcomed in by her.


In our conversation, I was more than pleased to learn from Linda that she had already read my books.


I was still smiling (behind my mask!) when she declared that she must read My Johor Stories again, especially now that she had grown more familiar with the city and could better relate to the names and places mentioned in my books.


While a great deal may have changed after the global pandemic, the hotel stays focused on to welcoming back regulars who are familiar with their Italian fare.


Tosca is also ready to interest diners who are keen to explore their new menu which features gluten-free pasta, dry-aged Wagyu meats and vegetarian dishes that uses the finest and freshest ingredients.


Chef Hassan Mohammed,
the hotel's Executive Chef

In line with Hilton’s Travel with Purpose initiative, the hotel remains fully committed to reducing its environmental footprint by half and doubling the social impact investment by 2030.


Chef Hassan and his culinary team have curated a new menu that includes a range of appetizers, main course items, pasta and pizza as well as desserts.


It features seasonal local ingredients in range of dishes that are created from fresh ingredients and are made from scratch.

For instance, fish fillets to make the Local Seabass dish are freshly cut from fresh whole fish that arrived in their own kitchen.


Locally sourced, fresh ingredients like giant sweet water prawns, soft-shell crabs, sea-bass and a fisherman’s soup filled with local seafood selections, are among the recommended dishes.


Appetizer of Buffalo Mozzarella

“At the heart of good food is the quality of the ingredients,” said Chef Hassan.


“Locally grown food creates important economic opportunities, provides health benefits and helps to reduce the environmental impact,” he added.


Tosca is taking on a more sustainable approach by fully supporting the local farming community with its new menu made up of 80% of locally and sustainably sourced ingredients.


A serving of Local Seabass served on a 
bed of quinoa salad

“Using local produce also helps bring the community together and gives people the opportunity to make a difference,” said Chef Hassan, with reference to Hilton’s Travel with Purpose initiative.


Tosca also has a refreshed Kids’ Menu that includes their signature pasta and pizza choices where pizzas are prepared at the live-cooking station for the kids to enjoy a hands-on and educational experience.


Tosca's signature 
Wagyu Beef Burger

As travel was only recently reopened, an experience at Tosca also offers diners the opportunity to taste the world here.


In addition to the Scottish Salmon, there is also Tosca’s signature Wagyu beef burger to enjoy.


For a sweet ending to a memorable Italian meal, dessert choices include classic Tiramisu, tangy Panna-Cotta with berries and Apple Crumble made with fresh apples from Cameron Highlands.


Tosca also presents Seasonal Menus that feature seasonal supplies offered by local farmers as well as Chef’s Choices, so check out this information which is regularly updated via Facebook and Insta-stories.


Berries Panna Cotta

Tosca Italian Trattoria is on Level 13 of DoubleTree by Hilton Johor Baru located at No. 12 Jalan Ngee Heng, 80000 Johor Baru, Johor.


The restaurant offers options for indoor dining with private dining rooms or alfresco at the poolside. Open for lunch on weekends from 12pm to 2pm, snacks from 2pm to 5pm and daily dinner from 6.30pm to 10.30pm.


For reservations, Tel: +607 268 6868 or email:

For more info, visit webpages: or

Exploring High-Pole Lion Dance in Muar


No, I did not attempt any lion dancing stunts but I had a most exhilarating time, learning more about the art of High-Pole Lion Dance from Tan Chong Hing, founder of the award-winning Kun Seng Keng Lion and Dragon Dance Association in Muar, Johor.


Signboard at entrance to the training centre for
Kun Seng Keng Lion & Dragon Dance Association

From all their accolades and achievements, Lion Dance enthusiasts will instantly recognise the familiar name of Kun Seng Keng as a highly successful lion dance troop which was also the inspiration for a 2014 movie, The Great Lion: Kun Seng Keng.


In a prior conversation with Tan Chai Puan, co-founder of the art of the 24 Festive Drums, I broached the idea of featuring the High-Pole Lion Dancers in Book Three of My Johor Stories along with my pick of Proudly Johor brands.


C P Tan agreed without hesitation, that it was an excellent idea because this skillful lion dance troop had done Johor and the nation proud as World Champions in High-Pole Lion Dance, numerous times.


Granite statue of Guan Sheng Gong in the
forecourt with the admin building behind

In fact, the 24 Festive Drums had collaborated with the High-Pole Lion Dance troop for performances and these two Tans were familiar with each other.


[Information on Chinese culture and heritage are usually featured in Chinese publications but the Chinese who do not read Chinese, are missing out on all this valuable info because they do not read Chinese.


Over the years, I have been writing about Chinese culture-heritage in English so that the Chinese who do not read Chinese, can finally read it for themselves and appreciate the wealth of their own culture and heritage.]


So for my Book Three, I wanted to feature the story of the award-winning High Pole Lion Dance troop which has its origins in Johor, more specifically from Muar.


The two Tans met at the restaurant for lunch:
Tan Chai Puan [Left] and Tan Chong Hing

I got in touch with C H Tan through a telephone call to introduce My Johor Stories and explained that I wanted to include Kun Seng Keng (KSK) and the art of High-Pole Lion Dance in my next book.


I believed he understood what I was after but he decided to connect me to KSK Vice President, Ang Kuan Yau, to liaise with me and arrange for our meeting in Muar.


Ang proposed that I should meet them at their training centre on a weekend and when we had agreed on a date for Sunday, I informed C P Tan who graciously offered to go to Muar with me for this appointment.


C H Tan in his office with
C P Tan [Right] across the desk

I was more than pleased because the presence of C P Tan would not only enhance the goodwill between the two Tans but also a great help with language interpretation from English to Mandarin and vise-versa.


It was an added bonus when C P Tan even offered to drive us on this excursion to Muar.


Closer to the date of our appointment, I was delighted to receive a message from Ang who said that C H Tan wanted to host a lunch treat of Muar’s famous Assam Fish at a restaurant before we proceeded to their training centre for our meeting.


I did not hesitate to share this lunch invite with C P Tan, along with the map and address of the restaurant, and we agreed that good food was a fine start to our meet-up in Muar.


On the appointed Sunday morning, I was the navigator for C P Tan who drove us safely to our destination to meet with C H Tan and Ang at the restaurant for lunch.


C P Tan reading my manuscript to
translate into Mandarin for C H Tan

Ang was already there when we arrived and soon after, C H Tan and his wife joined us for a delightful meal of highly recommended Muar specialties.


While waiting for the dishes to be served, I had my pen poised to jot down notes as the gentlemen reminisced about the humble beginnings of the KSK troop and how his passion for lion dancing drove C H Tan to form his troop and took this performing art literally, to the next level – to perform on top of high-poles.


As I ate each mouthful of Muar’s famous Assam Pedas Fish and steamed Otak-Otak, I must confess that my mind was already chewing on the wealth of information garnered from the initial chit-chat between the two Tans that provided me with interesting details of this true story.


When lunch was over, C H Tan excused himself to send his wife home while C P Tan and I drove to the KSK training centre with Ang leading the way ahead of us.


C P Tan reading the Chinese-English dictionary
on his mobile-phone to explain cultural concepts
for my better understanding

The route took us from secondary roads to narrow paths that ran parallel to streams – a typical feature of the many parit, streams or water channels, in this district – to Taman Aman, located off Jalan Abdul Rahman, to the KSK training centre.


A bold signboard for the Kun Seng Keng Lion and Dragon Dance Association along with the distinct KSK logo, clearly marked the entrance to the training centre.


In the forecourt next to the flagpoles, stood a granite statue of Guan Sheng Gong, the most famous general in Chinese history, wielding his weapon – a huge blade on a long handle.


Some of the equipment used in the
physical training of High-Pole Lion Dancing

When I stepped into their administrative building, my eyes were riveted to an entire wall in the hall of the single-storey bungalow, a showcase that displayed their proud collection of trophies.


In the office, I set up my laptop to share with C H Tan the draft of my manuscript for him to verify the facts.


To do this, C P Tan helped to read my English copy and translated it into Mandarin for C H Tan to have a better understanding of what I had written.


It took a while before the two Tans settled into a comfortable momentum as C P Tan explained the content to C H Tan, dotted by multiple pauses for C H Tan to clarify, add or amend each point.


Image of Guan Sheng Gong
rendered in wood

While it was a tedious process, I am familiar with the challenges of getting the facts right in English with due respect to the people involved in this amazing journey to its success.


As C H Tan made reference to various events and highlights in their journey, he showed us souvenir magazines that were published to commemorate these events.


The magazines were in full-colour, complete with impressive photographs and brief descriptions not only in Chinese but also in English and Malay.


I was amused at one point when C H Tan used such profound words in Mandarin that C P Tan struggled to share with me in English but he conveniently opened the Chinese-English dictionary on his mobile-phone to let me get a grasp of the cultural concepts they were discussing.


As the review of my manuscript came to an exciting end, I was more than pleased that we had obtained valuable information to flesh out my story and do justice to the proud heritage of the KSK High Pole Lion Dance troop, a story that was truly worth telling.


C P Tan standing next the a 
2.5-meter high-pole

After talking about the troop’s journey, we were welcomed to visit the physical training centre, now developed on a large space behind the admin building.


In the early years, their training was held in the forecourt of the compound but training in the open-air space was always interrupted by rainy or wet weather.


To overcome this inconvenience, a large covered space with a high ceiling was constructed in the rear part of the compound that allowed the troops to train uninterrupted in any kind of weather.


Ang and C H Tan were pleased to show C P Tan and I the various equipment the troops used for their regular training that ranged from upturned ceramic jars and wooden benches to the high-poles and twin cables that were suspended between the high-poles.


The KSK logo designed on the side of their
coach along with their Intangible National
Cultural Heritage award received in 2007

C P Tan volunteered to pose next to a 2.5-meter high-pole to illustrate how high the poles were, which reminded me (again!) that the art of high-pole lion dancing was certainly not for the faint-hearted because they performed without any safety net.


An image of Guan Sheng Gong carved in wood, stood against one wall while another wall was filled with another collection of trophies and awards.


We also saw their vehicles parked there that included a passenger van, a goods truck and a comfortable coach – a far cry from the second-hand two-door Honda Civic car that C H Tan used to ferry the team of nine to 12 youngsters to their events in the early years.


I could just imagine how they used to cram into that small car with the windows wound down so that they could hold the lion head outside.


With C P Tan and C H Tan at the
KSK wall of trophies in their training centre

C H Tan and Ang then invited us to join them for a taste of Muar coffee but we had to decline as C P Tan had an appointment to participate in an online event that same evening and should get home soon.


On our drive back to Johor Baru, C P Tan and I had a good time rehashing the events that were discussed during our meet-up with C H Tan and Ang.


Our discussion clarified many important points and while everything was still fresh in my mind, I could not wait to add all these interesting details into my story on the award-winning High-Pole Lion Dancing troop.


Thank you, C H Tan and Ang, for sharing the KSK story with me. My deep gratitude also goes to C P Tan for being that vital link who helped me benefit so much from this meet-up in Muar. Thank you, gentlemen.