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Top 3 Eats at Jalan Tan Hiok Nee
If you find yourself in the revived street of Jalan Tan Hiok Nee, be sure to make a beeline for these food spots.
Named after a Chinese textile trader turned tycoon, Jalan Tan Hiok Nee encapsulates in itself, and the surrounding streets like Jalan Dhoby, a gritty and interesting host of characters. The businesses in the area are rather old and have developed a following of sorts among locals and foreigners, amidst newer cafes, ice cream shops utilising nitro, and a large street market that comes alive at night, selling clothing and other items. The buildings are pre-war, quite often seen in places like Georgetown and Melaka, and evoke a sense of sentimentality and simplicity. Here are our top three makan picks for the street and its surrounds:
Decorated like an American diner, but with a Malaysian twist, IT Roo, evokes a sense of nostalgia among Johoreans, as many reportedly spent many a dinner with family and friends hunched over its specialty: Hainanese chicken chop. Established in 1961, its bestseller is prepared for guests two ways; deep fried or grilled Hainanese chicken chop, served with potato wedges and coleslaw, with a generous heaping of mushroom or black pepper sauce. Moist and juicy, the chicken chop is an understated delight, washed down with another diner classic, the root beer float. Also available are other local favourites such as Fried Rice, Cantonese Mee and Mee Hailam, to name a few.
Salahuddin Shamsul sits at the front of his bakery, serving customers he knows by name, packing and exchanging money for the savoury and baked treats that he and his family produce at this institution of a bakery. “We use about 100 kilos of flour in a day, and I would say we bake about 300 loaves of bread daily,” says a now 80-year-old Salahuddin. Opened in 1937, the bakery with its wood fire oven, much like Hiap Joo’s (see below), is fired up from 10pm to 5am each day, with French loaves and other pastries such as cream-filled puffs, raisin bread and coconut buns coming out of the oven all night long. Besides their breads, a huge favourite among regulars are the curry puffs, chock full of minced mutton, chicken or lamb with fluffy, curried potatoes. Flaky and savoury, it is comfort food at its best.
Hiap Joo Bakery and Biscuit Factory
Owned and operated by a family, Hiap Joo’s banana bread and other baked goods like their coconut and red beans buns are huge favourites for JB dwellers. “We also have customers coming from China, Taiwan and Singapore,” says Lim Meng Chin. As the story goes, it was started by an Englishman in 1919 and then handed over to Lim’s grandfather, back in the 1930s. The cashier is operated by his daughter-in-law, He Bee, who stands in the steaming room, with the wood fire crackling away, along with 15 of their workers dutifully assigned to specific tasks of their own. Their bestseller is the humble banana bread. Lines are long each afternoon, when the breads start coming out of the oven. Each slice of banana bread is hand-sliced with purposeful precision, and the baked buns and biscuits never seem to stop coming out of the trusty wood oven. Lim says the flavour of the bread is enhanced because it is produced with the best ingredients and no added preservatives. “It can only last for 2 to 3 days at best,” he says. With the sort of crowd frequenting the little bakery, its probable to assume the banana bread barely last for hours, eaten while hot, fragrant and moist.
Dig in at these places!
Address: 17 Jalan Dhoby 80000 Johor Bahru
Tel: 07-222 7780
Business Hours: 11am -10pm, daily
Address: 26 Jalan Dhoby, Bandar Johor Bahru, 80000 Johor Bahru
Tel: 012-766 8380
Business Hours: 8am – 2pm, closed on Fridays
Hiap Joo Bakery and Biscuit Factory
Address: 13, Jalan Tan Hiok Nee, 80000 Johor Bahru
Business Hours: 8am – 6pm, closed on Sundays
By Michelle Gunaselan
Photos by Vincent Paul Yong
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