Grand Straits Gardens now at Legend Park


When I was invited to Grand Straits Garden at its new location, I had a flashback to a time when this Chinese restaurant was a frequent dining destination for our family.


Entrance to Grand Straits Garden, Legend Park

Opened at Danga Bay since 1985, Grand Straits Garden Seafood Restaurant went through several building renovations to upgrade its premises and became the restaurant of choice for hosting Chinese banquets on a grander scale.


Renowned as the largest Chinese banquet restaurant here, the flagship restaurant in Danga Bay could accommodate up to 3,000 guests and had some 160 fulltime employees and over 200 part-timers.


In fact, for my nephew’s wedding, we chose this restaurant to host the dinner banquet as our guest list was well over 70 tables and even to this day, some guests still talk about the unforgettable taste of the individual bowls of superior soup that was served in the menu.


The iconic crab outside City Plaza

In early 2018, an international Food & Beverage investment consortium from Hong Kong acquired the Grand Straits Garden group of restaurants that comprised the flagship restaurant at Danga Bay, its outlet at Bandar Seri Alam and the Grand Bayview Seafood Restaurant, Danga Bay.


With these thoughts in mind, I accepted the invitation and made my way to Legend Park at City Plaza along Jalan Tebrau, the new location of the Grand Straits Garden.


My foodie friend, Yoshiko, said to meet at the Garden section of the restaurant so I parked at the outdoor carpark at City Plaza, followed the signage and saw a flight of steps that led downwards to the restaurant.


As I scanned a nearby sign with the layout for Legend Park, my interest was instantly piqued when I saw that the indoor section was dubbed, Meisan Hall and Polo Hall, familiar brands reminiscent of the former Mutiara Hotel Johor Baru.


Bruce Lee discussing the layout of Legend Park

When Yoshiko introduced me to Bruce Lee, the Malaysian representative of the Hong Kong investment consortium that owned the Grand Straits Garden group of restaurants, I knew that there must be story behind this man and his name.


[I don’t know about you but I would balk if and when I was introduced to a man who had the same name of iconic action movie stars like Jackie Chan or Bruce Lee.]


In the course of our conversation, Lee shared his story – which started in Pahang – about how he was inspired by the legendary action star who earned his fame in Hong Kong and Hollywood, and who left an inspirational legacy of his martial arts and philosophies.


The illusion of a waterfall in
the landscaped garden

No, Lee is not a martial arts exponent but he adopted the name Bruce because he admired and shared the values and philosophies of Bruce Lee, a renowned action hero who had earned the reputation as a Legend.


The inspiration from this famous personality is evident in Lee’s life as he embraced the philosophies expounded by his namesake and applied it to business investments like the Grand Straits Garden, developed across the Legend Park.


Lee said that after its business model was restructured, the restaurant’s business improved dramatically but when the global pandemic reached Johor in early 2020, the business at the Grand Straits Garden, as with other banquet restaurants, was seriously affected.


When their business was hit by the global pandemic, the owner of the property that housed their flagship restaurant in Danga Bay, issued a notice for them to vacate the premises.


Bruce Lee with two assistants...

Hit by such a double-whammy, there was no alternative but to consider closing the business. As a caring and considerate employer, Lee then gave his staff the option to stay or to leave.


Looking back, Lee said it was a series of circumstances that guided the consortium to consolidate their business by closing the Grand Straits Garden Restaurant, Bandar Seri Alam and the Grand Bayview Seafood Restaurant, Danga Bay, and to relocate the flagship restaurant from Danga Bay to its new location in December 2020.


Lee and his staff (those who chose to stay!) made good use of the time during the lockdown by developing the sprawling space next to City Plaza – known to locals as Wadi Hana – that comprised a pocket of greenery and two rows of old terrace houses, and turned it into a complex of indoor and outdoor dining halls, a landscaped garden, fish pond and pet sanctuary.


Bruce Lee at the
Whale Spirit mural
on 26 Dec 2020

Indoors, the dining hall, bar and lounge has a small stage that features a baby grand piano for live music entertainment so the entire space in the Grand Straits Garden is collectively dubbed the Legend Park… after the Legend of Bruce Lee.


The affable Lee said he gave his staff a free hand to express their creativity in the design of the space while he enjoyed painting murals in the indoor and outdoor sections of the restaurant.


When Lee shared about how he painted the Whale Spirit mural on the outside wall of City Plaza, I heard the sheer pride in his voice as he talked about this feat which he accomplished with the help of two assistants, within the span of eight hours on 26 December 2020.


Meanwhile, I was still keen to discover why their indoor dining hall was dubbed the Meisan Hall…


Familiar furniture from the Meisan in the
indoor dining hall of Grand Straits Garden

Then Lee clarified that when the Mutiara Johor Baru ceased operations in June 2021, their investment consortium also acquired the furniture and fittings from the Meisan Chinese Restaurant and the Polo Lounge. In fact, the ornamental fish from the Meisan was also relocated to the pond in the Legend Park!


The familiar sight of the dining tables and chairs in the indoor dining hall on the Lower Ground level of City Plaza, filled me with a sense of nostalgia because I remembered them from the Meisan of the former Mutiara Johor Baru.


Spot the familiar logo from Polo Lounge!

I also recognised the wooden reception counter from the Meisan, upcycled for use in the bar and lounge where the Polo Lounge logo was installed as a special memento of a popular watering-hole from a bygone era.


Lee was pleased that the Legend Park had even inherited a vintage collection of tableware, crockery and kitchen range from the Grand Straits Gardens and Meisan, including their experienced chefs who are skilled in serving Chinese banquet cuisine.


A souvenir glass panel from the
flagship Grand Straits Garden

The sight of familiar furniture, table cloths and crockery arranged in dining halls that were decorated with a mish-mash of memorabilia from the two established restaurant brands, set against an eclectic choice of wall murals, created a sense of organised chaos in the décor which I thought was retro charming but yet rather confounding.


Lee had also removed a glass panel from the flagship Grand Straits Garden restaurant and installed it at the entrance to the restaurant in Legend Park.


He, however, kept on the stickers for Business Hours in 2020 and MBJB A-grade cleanliness ratings by the Johor Baru City Council as an inspiration to the staff to maintain such standards here.


Since its soft launch on 23 March 2023, the Legend Park has hosted several private events while loyal diners have been returning to savour the familiar flavours served by Grand Straits Garden and Meisan.


A VIP dining room designed
in the terrace house

While waiting for our dinner to be served, I observed a stream of diners arriving as they walked in along the outdoor path – an alternative route from the flight of steps – through the landscaped garden into the indoor restaurant.


[Lee had taken the liberty to place an order for us to sample some of their signature dishes but politely declined to join us for the meal.]


Before he left, Yoshiko suggested to capture a photo memento of our time together and as Lee agreed, he reached for a pair of aviator sun-glasses and put his cool shades on for our photo.


When Lee told us that their restaurant continues the relationship with the same suppliers and sources of products and ingredients to prepare the same recipes using the same stoves and cooking range, I could not help but anticipated the same flavours in a familiar dining experience.


A photo memento with Bruce Lee
in the Garden dining area

Our meal started with the restaurant’s own-made Hakka Tofu topped with minced chicken and stir-fried crunchy Hong Kong Kailan with whole garlic.


This was followed by a dish of braised noodles in a light broth, topped with omelet and whole plump prawns.


Before the platter of wok-fried Chillie Crab was served with deep-fried mantou buns, the waitress brought a tray of hand towels with finger-bowl and a separate tray of tools including shell-crackers along with plastic hand-gloves, for us to tackle our crab dish.


While Yoshiko put on the plastic gloves to start on the crabs, I was pleased to find a tap and sink nearby to conveniently wash my hands.


Wok-fried Chillie Crab with mantou buns

Over convivial conversation, we enjoyed a leisurely meal, nibbling on tasty morsels of Chillie Crab with ample gravy to dip the deep-fried mantou buns.


Grand Straits Garden Seafood Restaurant [No Pork, No Lard] is located at the Legend Park, City Plaza, No. 21 Jalan Tebrau, 80300 Johor Baru, Johor.


Open daily from 3pm to 12 am. Closed on Monday.

For reservations, Tel: +6019 – 325 8058.


For more info, visit Grand Straits Garden Seafood Restaurant at

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