Back to dine at Nam Moon again


I stepped into the restaurant and my eyes zeroed-in on that long dining table arranged on the far right, at the rear of the restaurant because this was where my family and I made many fond memories of dining on Korean cuisine here.


A toast to friendship as we raised our
bowls of Makgulli together at Nam Moon

When I accepted the invitation to dine at Nam Moon again, I was not prepared for such a maelstrom of flashbacks to our time together when my dad and my brother-in-law were still with us. Back then, Nam Moon was among our family’s regular dining destinations.


It was where I had my first taste of Makgulli, the smooth flavour of Korean rice wine which simply made our family’s Korean dining experiences even more memorable.


It was good to be back for another dining experience prepared by the Lim family who operates this restaurant with a hands-on attitude and a passion for tradition.


Sunflower blooms along Jalan
Perang, outside Nam Moon

Lim Byong Hwan and his wife, with the help of their daughter, Jihae, have taken Nam Moon to the next level with an extended dining hall and more tables to serve a regular clientele who appreciate their menu of authentic Korean cuisine.


I was pleased to learn that the Lim family persisted patiently through the past few years by serving takeaways when dine-in was disallowed and kept all their staff in spite of the many challenges.


Lim and his wife kept themselves busy with rearing ornamental fish in aquariums that form part of the restaurant décor and nurturing healthy blooms of sunflowers that cheerfully bordered the road in front of the restaurant.


A generous spread of banchan at Nam Moon

Jihae reminded me that their restaurant was open daily for the past 13 years and has a tradition of preparing their food from scratch. And while it was reassuring to know that they still do not believe in shortcuts, she said it was rather physically challenging for the senior Lim.


Among the popular items that regulars often order was their Korean steamboat and in addition to the fresh ingredients to cook in the broth, there were dumplings which Jihae said, her father still insists that they should make their own.


Korean barbecued meat wrapped in lettuce
leaf is best eaten by hand!

When the banchan dishes were served, I counted some 13 items in the spread of appetizers – just as they did before – and we agreed that Nam Moon must be among the notable Korean restaurants here that serve such a generous number of banchan.


We took our time to savour the wide variety of appetizers while the staff helped to barbecue our SengKalbi, fresh beef ribs with bone, Kalbisal, boneless fresh beef ribs, and YangnyumKalbi, marinated beef ribs with bone.


Noona,” the staff politely addressed Jihae as older sister, as he presented the platters of freshly barbecued meat to our table.


A distinct bite and crunch in this Haemul Pajeon

As I wrapped barbecued beef, dipped in sauces and topped by appetizers, in fresh lettuce leaves (held in my hand) to pop into my mouth, it occurred to me that Koreans also ate with their hands not unlike the way Malaysians ate rice with gravies.


The seafood pancake, Haemul Pajeon, was served with a side of dip sauce and as I sank my teeth into a slice, I agreed that this pancake had a distinct bite and crunch which I very much enjoyed.


Steaming hot Samgaetang, Ginseng Chicken Soup

Another item to share was the mixed rice in a hotpot, Tolsot Bimbimbap which came with a bottle of gochujang – Korean red pepper paste sauce – for added flavour. In case it was too spicy, we decided to cautiously add only a small bit at a time to toss into the rice.


Other popular items to savour together included a portion of Jabchae, stir-fried potato noodles, and a bowl of Korean steamed egg.


Mul Nangmyun, cold buckwheat noodles

To strike a balance with the tasty dishes we were enjoying, there was the comforting flavour of steaming hot Samgaetang, Ginseng Chicken Soup.


MiYeun, our Korean foodie friend who often dined at Nam Moon, suggested that we have a taste of their Mul Nangmyun, buckwheat noodles that was served cold and I agreed without hesitation.


This bowl of cold noodles was served along with two bottles of sauces – white vinegar and western mustard – which MiYeun added a dollop each into the cold noodles.


Lim Byong Hwan [Left] with
wife and daughter, Jihae [Centre]

Then Jihae gently suggested that this cold dish was best savoured with the barbecued marinated beef ribs, YangnyumKalbi. When I had a taste, I must confess that I liked the refreshing taste of Mul Nangmyun so much that I kept the broth aside to savour later.


When MiYeun saw that I had kept the cool broth aside, she smiled and assured me that it was still good etiquette to lift the bowl to my lips and slurp up the tasty broth…


She suggested having a serving of Makgulli and our leisurely lunch suddenly turned celebratory. As we raised our bowls of Makgulli for a toast to friendship, it was like a warm welcome back to enjoy the familiar food in Nam Moon.


Enjoy the affordable Korean Set Lunch menu served on weekdays, Monday to Friday, from 12pm to 3pm. Prices range between RM14 to RM19 only per set.


Nam Moon Korean BBQ (Non-Halal) is located at No. 31 Jalan Perang, Taman Pelangi, 80400 Johor Baru, Johor. Open daily from 11am and closes at 10pm.


For reservations, Tel: +607 – 331 5573.

Taste Selera Warisan Meldrum at GBW Hotel


With its strategic location on Bukit Meldrum, GBW Hotel draws inspiration from its historical site to present a breaking-of-fast buffet dubbed, Selera Warisan Meldrum which aims to satisfy the cravings of diners who are homesick for homecooked specialties this Ramadan.


Replica of Malay kampung house at the
outdoor section of the Selera Warisan
buffet spread this Ramadan

Selera Warisan Meldrum, simply translated as A Taste of Meldrum Heritage, is the theme for a menu of traditional favourites served from live-cooking stations, appetizers, main course dishes to savour with rice as well desserts and refreshing drinks.


Chef Karim and his culinary team at the GBW Hotel Johor Baru are presenting this sumptuous spread of familiar dishes that will not only tantalize the diners’ tastebuds but also give them that much longed-for comfort and taste of home.


Laid out within the café and spanning across the length of the hotel lobby with live-cooking stations in the outdoor section, there are more than 100 dishes served in this generous spread for the breaking-of-fast buffet served from now till April 20.


Local crisps served in air-tight containers

In the Appetizer section the buffet begins with a choice of preserved dates and a range of mixed salads in various types of Kerabu and fresh ingredients provided for diners to mix their own Rojak Petis and Gado-Gado.


For a crunchy bite, there are choices of local crisps like keropok, kerepek, banana chips as well as mini versions of rempeyek as well as pickled fruits to whet the appetite for more food from the hot buffet.


Freshly-grilled skewers of Beef and Chicken satay

The daily menu served in the hot buffet is a range of popular dishes prepared with meat, poultry, fish, seafood and shellfish as well as local vegetables like petai beans, in menus that will rotate to welcome diners back for a taste of something different.


Familiar dishes in the hot buffet include Ayam Rendang (chicken), Ikan Kari Mamak (fish), Daging Kurma Berkentang (beef), Kambing Gulai Kawah (lamb), Udang Masak Lemak Cili Padi (prawns), Sotong Sambal Petai (squid), Kupang Masak Merah Berserai (mussels), and Sayur Lemak Nenas Ikan Masin (vegetables).


Diner helping himself to Nasi Briyani Ambok

In the outdoor section, live-cooking stations are designed as stalls to serve Kambing Golek or whole roasted lamb, Beef and Chicken Satay, Aneka Mee Senandung Selatan for a choice of noodles like Curry Noodles and Mee Rebus, as well as a choice of stir-fried noodles.


At the hot soup stall, GBW Aneka Sup, diners may have a rich beefy soup to add in a choice of cut meat, carrots and potatoes.


Thirst-quenching drinks to choose from

Warung Wak Da’eng serves freshly-made breads like Murtabak and Roti Jala or net bread to savour with the gravies while the Goreng-Goreng stall offers deep-fried items like fried bananas, sweet potato slices, small spring rolls, samosa and the hottest favourite – cubes of deep-fried durian.


For a choice of rice, there are Nasi Lemak Kukus Bonda, rice steamed in coconut milk served with condiments and freshly-fried Ayam Berempah (chicken), and Nasi Briyani Ambok (lamb) served with dhall or lentil gravy and Ayam Masak Merah (chicken).


An appetizing pick of favoured food!

It was a pleasure to observe how diners mixed and matched their pick of favoured items from the wide buffet spread to savour.


For instance, I saw how favourite Nasi Lemak was topped with two choices of egg – hardboiled and bulls-eye – as well as deep-fried Ayam Berempah with a side of gravy, Siput Sedut Masak Lemak Cili Padi (shellfish) served in a small bowl.


Topping steamed glutinous rice (Pulut) with
warm gravy made with durian (Durian Serawa)
Indoors, the eye-catching, colourful array of cakes, tarts, puddings and pastries are designed to tempt while an assortment of local kuih and sweet broths vie for equal attention.


This meal ends sweetly with a choice of warm and cold desserts in the form of Pulut Serawa Durian, Bubur Pulut Hitam, shaved ice ABC-Cendol, a range of ice-cream flavours and fresh cut fruits.


There is a choice of thirst-quenching cold drinks as well as a range of hot beverages like Coffee, Tea, Milo and Teh Tarik or pulled tea.


Prayer rooms are prepared for the convenience of Muslim diners, and parking is provided in the indoor carpark. Remember to have your parking ticket endorsed at the hotel reception to pay a flat rate parking fee.


Selera Warisan Meldrum Ramadan Buffet is served daily from 6.30pm to 9.30pm at D’ Meldrum Café on the lobby level of the hotel from now to April 20, 2023.


Rate at RM98 nett per adult and RM48 nett per child aged six to 12 years and seniors aged above 60 years.


Take advantage of the Early Bird rate of RM78 nett for adults for vouchers bought from now till March 31.


GBW Hotel is located at No. 9R Jalan Bukit Meldrum, 80300 Johor Baru, Johor.


For reservations, Tel: +6016 710 0048, +6016 723 3558 and +6016 710 0073.


For more info, visit webpage:

Downtown Johor Baru: Teochew Heritage


Just as she did in the past two months since we embarked on the My Johor Stories in Downtown Johor Baru project, Charmayne N. updated me on the list of participants who will join our Heritage Walk and Book Reading session arranged for Saturday, March 18.


Participants with Teochew Opera Actor at the
JB Chinese Heritage Museum

Charmayne, fondly known as Charm, is a member of Team BrandCulture PR Marketing and Communications who graciously provides support to My Johor Stories.


From the participant list, we could tell from their names that this was a mixed group of local Malay and Chinese with some Koreans. When I saw that there were two participants named “Sam” – one Chinese and the other, Korean (and to avoid any embarrassment!) – I reminded Charm to please help me identify who was who.


Just two days ahead of Saturday, I was very encouraged to receive a last-minute registration from two Malay ladies to join my Book Reading session, hosted at the DoubleTree by Hilton Johor Baru.


I later learnt that Suhaili Sarman registered to join the Reading session (and brought her friend who was visiting from Penang) when she saw the event poster posted on Facebook. She recalled reading My Johor Stories books when she stayed at the Ponderosa Golf and Country Club, a resort among the hotels and resorts here who agreed with me that people liked to stay in a place with a story.


A brief introduction to the Chinese
contribution to the development
of early Johor from an info poster

Meanwhile, several guests invited to my Book Reading session who confirmed their presence included Secretary of the JB Kwong Siew (Cantonese) Association, Cheng Chee Tong, and Grace Chiam of BrandCulture PR Marketing and Communications.


BrandCulture supports My Johor Stories in Downtown JB by preparing the digital posts for Instagram and Facebook, as well as the cool videos and attractive posters for each month’s activities.


I thought it would be good for Grace to have a first-hand experience of the casual, fun and meaningful interactions during our Book Reading sessions.


While the theme for March was about Teochew Heritage, I wished to let Mr Cheng of the JB Kwong Siew Association, have a glimpse of what My Johor Stories was doing in the community.


The early arrivals was by
boat, sailing in from the
Straits along Sungai Segget

Mindful of the long, long day ahead, I prepared myself mentally and physically for Saturday, March 18.


As you may know, I have been working in partnership with the Drum Up JB shows since their first shows opened in January 2023. And it so happened that they arranged their next two shows at 2pm and 8pm, also on March 18, the same day as my Heritage Walk and Book Reading session.


As their matinee show clashed with my 2pm Book Reading session, I could only be at the Permaisuri Zarith Sofiah Opera House to join them for their 8pm Drum Show.


On that sunny Saturday morning, my day started with meeting the participants who assembled at the lobby of the JB Chinese Heritage Museum for a 10am start of our Heritage Walk.


I introduced our videographer, Chong Han Sun of JB Twenty-Twenty, to David Yee of the JB Chinese Heritage Museum, who was ready to issue our entrance tickets.


Teochew Opera provided live
entertainment to the local
Chinese community made up
of a majority of Teochew people

As each participant received their identification sticker along with entrance ticket, I was pleased to meet with a Korean family, Sam and Jenny, with their 8-year-old daughter, Sunny.


Incidentally, for the past Heritage Walks in January and February, we had young participants along, so I was delighted to have Sunny with us this March.


I was very encouraged from the very start of our Walk because when I asked the group a general knowledge question – Sunny replied spontaneously – and with the right answer!


[Later that day, at the interactive part of my Book Reading session, it was Sunny’s hand which shot up first when I asked participants to share their own Johor story!]


From the group made up of Chinese, Malay, Indian and Korean participants (there was another Korean couple, Paul and Esther Kim), I was particularly pleased that Tengku Tarmizi Bin Tengku Aziz of the Sultan Ismail Library, who was with us in the January and February Heritage Walks, was here again in March.


Sam Park, wife Jenny and
Sunny with Teochew
Opera actor

Our Walk started within the JB Chinese Heritage Museum that featured exhibits which chartered in chronological order, the Chinese contribution to the economic, social, cultural and educational development in Johor.


With the Teochew, the dominant Chinese dialect group who settled here along with the Cantonese, Hokkien, Hakka and Hainan people, they left a vast legacy of Teochew culture and heritage here.


It gave me great pleasure to share with participants, historical references of the strong relationship between the Chinese immigrants and the Johor royal family that started in 1844 when the Chinese accepted the invitation of the Johor ruler to open up new land to cultivate pepper and gambier in this state.


I also discussed how Chinese planters worked in the kangchu system and that these economic crops earned its place of honour in this state. As a result, the pepper and gambier motif (featured throughout the city and state) was adopted as a Johor icon.


The museum also preserved information on the powerful Ngee Heng Kongsi and prominent Teochew leaders like Tan Hiok Nee and Lim Ah Siang, as well as Wong Ah Fook, a Johor pioneer of Cantonese origin.


Our group gathered in front
of Ah Ma Teochew Kuih,
Jalan Trus, Johor Baru

The Ngee Heng Kongsi and Chinese leaders in Johor have been honoured for their contributions with roads named after them, as in Jalan Ngee Heng, Jalan Tan Hiok Nee, Jalan Ah Siang and Jalan Wong Ah Fook.


The legacy of Teochew culture and heritage is well preserved in Johor with the practice of Teochew Opera entertainment and a wide variety of Teochew food.


Participants then had the pleasure of a close encounter with a Teochew Opera actor for a photo session. My friend, Madam Heng, was dressed in full costume and make-up, in the role of a scholar that was traditionally performed by a female actor.


Meanwhile, I had placed an advance order for a traditional steamed Teochew kueh, filled with glutinous rice, groundnuts and dried prawns, from Ah Ma Teochew Kuih.


A comfortable walk from Jalan Ibrahim brought us to this Muslim-friendly café located at Jalan Trus for a brief introduction to its menu of familiar Teochew favourites. [They have another outlet in Taman Eko-Botanic, Iskandar Puteri with more outlets opening soon in the city suburbs.]


Collecting our order of Teochew kueh
for each participant to taste

From its menu, I highlighted popular items like char kway teow or stir-fried flat rice noodles flavoured with cockles and dark sauce, rice porridge served with side dishes, braised chicken with braised tofu and egg, as well as a yam paste dessert, or-nee.


This cosy café was crowded on a Saturday morning but that was all right as we were only visiting their three-wheeler stall parked outside, that presented a variety of Teochew kueh and other popular local kueh for takeaways.


When the participants had received their takeaway packs of Teochew kueh, we made our way up Jalan Trus to the Johor Old Temple. [Earlier on, we saw a replica of its ancient doors, displayed in the JB Chinese Heritage Museum.]


The Chinese rendition of Johor
was engraved on this ancient bell

While we walked along Jalan Trus, I shared with the group that this same road was also known as Johor Baru’s Street of Harmony because the places of worship for the early community in Johor, were literally located along the same route.


They understood well because some participants had parked their cars at the open carpark close to Galleria Kotaraya and to reach the JB Chinese Heritage Museum, they had walked pass the Masjid India that was located at the corner where Jalan Dhoby meets with Jalan Duke.


As we stopped at the junction to cross the street, we saw the Arulmigu Raja Mariamman Devasthanam, Hindu Temple where Jalan Trus meets Jalan Ungku Puan, while the Gudwara Sahib Sikh Temple was next to it on Jalan Trus.


Johor Baru’s Street of Harmony was among the stories featured in my 2017 MPH Non-Fiction Bestseller, My Johor Stories: True Tales, Real People, Rich Heritage.


In olden days China, the Chinese dialect groups traditionally lived and married within their own dialect group and very seldom were they able to speak or understand other dialects.


The end of our Heritage Walk: Teochew Heritage
at Jalan Ngee Heng, Johor Baru

The Chinese diaspora in South East Asia however, brought various dialect groups to settle in the Malay states and Indonesian islands and this compelled the Chinese to live and work together – and inter-married – within their multi-cultural community.


When Chinese immigrants settled here, they also brought along their brand of vice and justice which resulted in a period of anarchy.


In his wisdom, the benevolent ruler presented the Chinese with a piece of land at Jalan Trus to unite them with a common place of worship.


As a tribute to the Johor ruler, the Johor Old Temple uniquely bears the name of the state. A group of prominent Chinese leaders, led by Tan Hiok Nee, built the original Johor Old Temple.


A casual, fun and interactive time with this
participative group at the Book Reading session

This temple earned its reputation as the Temple of Unity as it houses the deities worshipped by the five main dialect groups – the Teochew, Cantonese, Hokkien, Hakka and Hainan – who have made Johor their home.


We visited the temple’s inner sanctuary as well as the outer courtyard to see the sedan chairs used to bear the deities on their annual tour of the city in the temple tradition of the Johor Chingay.


More artefacts in the new extension at the rear included the old wells and ancient brass bell which bears the rendition of Johor’s name, engraved in Chinese characters. 


After we exited the Temple, a further walk on Jalan Trus led to Jalan Ngee Heng where the early churches were located at nearby Jalan Gereja and Jalan Gertak Merah, that mark the opposite end of our Street of Harmony.


Sunny volunteered to share 
her interesting and amusing
Johor story with us

This Heritage Walk aptly ended on Jalan Ngee Heng where the image of three early Chinese leaders – Tan Hiok Nee, Lim Ah Siang and Wong Ah Fook – looked down upon us from a mural painted on the wall of a pre-war shophouse.


To benefit visitors exploring this historical street, a street gallery located opposite the DoubleTree by Hilton JB, provided brief info on these Chinese pioneers, posted in English Malay and Chinese languages.


After a short break, I was on Level 11 of DoubleTree by Hilton JB by 1.30pm to prepare for the start of my Book Reading session arranged in a function room.


I was delighted that almost all participants from the Walk that morning joined the Book Reading session along with three more registered participants and invited guests.


While my Reading session was in progress, I observed that a (masked!) man had slipped in to join the group.


Dr Bak sharing his Johor story with us

During our interactive time together, he had much to share on his own Johor story and finally introduced himself as Bak, (he said, as in Bak Kut Teh!) I later learnt that he was Dr Bak Jia How, a lecturer with Southern University College.


[I was pleased to meet with Dr Bak who, along with Mr Cheng, represented the JB Kwong Siew (Cantonese) Association. As Cantonese Heritage was the theme for the next My Johor Stories in Downtown JB activities, I was delighted to connect with Dr Bak who was the curator of the JB Kwong Siew Heritage Gallery.]


One of the best outcomes of my Heritage Walks and Book Reading sessions must be how the participants felt ready to share their own Johor stories, clear proof that everyone has their own story to tell.


Over refreshments, participants got to know each other better and shared fond memories of the JB they know and love as they recalled how Downtown JB came alive for them again with My Johor Stories.


All smiles from this group at the
Book Reading session: Teochew Heritage

For your own exciting experience of My Johor Stories in Downtown Johor Baru, come join the next and final Heritage Walk: Cantonese Heritage on Saturday, April 15 from 10am to 12pm with the Book Reading session from 2pm to 4.30pm held at the GBW Hotel Johor Baru.


Participation in each event is by registration, priced at only RM50 per person to receive a limited edition My Johor Stories tote bag, one book of My Johor Stories 3: Proudly Johor, Then and Now and an exclusive My Johor Stories souvenir bookmark.


The activities arranged for My Johor Stories in Downtown Johor Baru is an initiative under the Downtown Johor Baru Grants Programme: Arts, Heritage and Culture, a collaboration between Iskandar Regional Development Authority (IRDA) and Think City, supported by Majlis Bandaraya Johor Baru (MBJB).


Focusing on the heritage core of Johor Baru, the grants programme aims to support community-based initiatives to reactivate Downtown Johor Baru. For more info, Tel: +6016 727 5537.