Happy New Year to everyone!
It’s the first day of 2017 and here I am starting the new year with a short getaway to Johor Bahru, Malaysia!
My friend wanted to do something on this holiday so we just snapped our fingers, and here we are! It was a smooth day at the custom and we managed to clear our way through from Singapore to Malaysia in 30mins!
Our first stop is to Restoran Rong Shu Xia 榕树下粿條仔 located along Jalan Maju. What this stall sells is similar to Kway Chap in Singapore except that it is Thin Rice Noodles (Kway Teow Kia) instead of those big pieces of kway commonly found in Singapore. You get to choose what the sides to go with your Kway.
The pig skin is a bit tough and we didn’t like it but the rest are yummy! The pig intestine is very clean (even cleaner than some hawkers in Singapore!). It seems to be marinated with some spice or pepper and there are no “smelly” taste when you ate it. We paid a total of RM21 for 2 pax share. Equivalent to about S$7 only!
Since we were super early (it was only around 9am), we decided to head to Jalan Tan Hiok Hee for some cafe hopping.
Since we are too early, there are only a few cafe opened. We decided to try out The REPLACEMENT Lodge & Kitchen. I had seen pictures from my friends’ previous visit and the food looks good too.
We ordered the Churros with Salted Egg Yolk dip. The presentation of the churros is very pretty.
Unfortunately, it was a tad too oily to our likings. The salted egg yolk dip didn’t taste strong too. Fortunately the coffee is good so it saved the day. Atmosphere wise, this is a nice place for chilling but it can get over crowded with customers. I guess I will need to try the brunch menu next time as it could be better.
Next stop, we headed to 节令鼓 Drums Cafe, a cafe that looks very interesting on the outside with an oriental feel. The interesting concept about this cafe is that they had drums hanging from the ceiling. The 3rd floor is also the place where members of the club practice for their drums. We had some mille crepe and mango milkshake/tea.
The mille crepe was too hard and instead of fresh cream, it was layered with cream cheese. Being a fan of mille crepe, I felt that this was frozen instead of freshly made. The mango milkshake is fine but not memorable.
We headed back to City Square Mall for a pedicure session as we were already full from the food. In this shop, the manicurist are a bit pushy for added services like scrub and spa but you can just turn them down nicely if you felt that it is too pricey. Colour choices for non-gelish are very limited as they only have OPI for normal color. For myself, I owned almost every collection from OPI so it was quite tough for me to choose a shade that I want.
I have always had the impression that pedicure and manicure are cheap in JB but it seems like the price might have risen in recent years. I paid RM45 for a pedicure and topped up RM30 for a citrus scrub. Total is equivalent to about S$24. The good thing is that my legs are super fair and shiny after the scrub!
Hungry again after our pedicure (seriously?!), we headed to Dragon-i 龍的傳人 for lunch. This is similar to Crystal Jade/Ding Tai Fung. Dragon-i serves mainly Shanghainese food like xiao long bao, la mian and more.
The Xiao Long Bao is so much better than the ones I had at Din Tai Fung! Juicy and tender meat, I could have all 4 by myself easily. The only cons is that the skin is a bit thick but that doesn’t really affect the impression it had left on me.
The Carrot Cake are nicely pan fried. Slightly crispy on the surface and still soft under the skin. Don’t underestimate the seafood stir fry la mian. It might not look good in the presentation of the dish but it taste awesome! Only thing is that the prawn looks so much smaller than the ones in the picture on the menu. LOL!
We soon checked into our room at KSL Resort Hotel after the meal. The KSL Hotel is connected to the KSL Mall and you can easily get here by the Shuttle Bus that runs between JB Sentral to KSL Mall.
The room is spacious and beds are comfortable. This is one of the rare hotel that actually provide bolster and we had 2!However, the rooms are facing Tower 1 of the Hotel and we could see into the rooms opposite us. This means that people could be staring into our room too! We ended up with the curtain drawn throughout our stay. Personally, I prefer to have my hotel room filled with natural sunlight. Hence, the dimly lighted room affected my impression of the hotel.
Another thing we noticed was that the bathroom tower stinks! It smells like those dried up sweat on the towel. It was horrible. We requested for a change of towel and the 2 new (?) towels that they brought up to us stinks too. I seriously can’t bring myself to use them. I ended up using the small face towel to dry myself as it at least smells normal.
The soundproof system are not fantastic as we can hear the music playing in the corridor very clearly throughout the day (thank god they switched it off at night), but we had some noisy neighbour during the stay and they chatted in the corridor, slamming their doors and footstep constantly outside our room. The aircon is also very noisy at night. I didn’t slept well at all. This is my first stay at KSL resort and I will most probably try another hotel next time for the same price.
We took a 3 hours nap before heading out for dinner. (yes we are eating again!) We headed to Modern Fishing Point located along Taman Stulang Laut.
Check out the fresh seafood that they sells over here! You will need to find your own table and order your food at the stall. You get to choose your seafood personally over here. They will give you a number plate and just placed it on your table for the food to be delivered to you.
We ordered 2 large prawns, 1 squid and the smallest piece of stingray. Don’t forget to get their seafood fried rice too. The seafood are really fresh and portion is huge. The squid was so Q and chewy! I am not a huge fan of chilli so all these sambal chilli made me sweat a bucket. Nevertheless, I enjoyed the meal thoroughly. The total bill came up to RM106 (~S$35). Some would say that it is expensive but when you look at how big the serving is, you can’t get the same in Singapore.
We headed to AEON Temaru Mall after dinner for some light shopping. Didn’t buy much except for from toiletries and food for snacking back at the hotel.
Our mode of transport is mainly by Grab or Uber. It is actually cheaper than renting a car to self drive. Our ride costs about RM5-20 depending on how far the destination is. During our ride, we met a nice Uber driver and he ended up driving us around to dinner and then to the mall and back to the hotel. Before we headed back to the hotel, he brought us around to Mount Austin area to check it out. Apparently Mount Austin is a much more happening area compared to where we were staying. True enough, at 10pm+, the whole area is still bustling with crowd! There are many Family KTV places here and also BBQ Steamboat. So glad to know where we should be heading for our next trip!
For those who want to know how much is the taxi fare, here’s a rough guide at KSL Concierge Counter.
We slept in late the next morning as we were both worn out. (yes….even though we had a nap) Initially I wanted to head to Kak Kak Dim Sum at Jalan Maju but unfortunately it closes at 12noon and we were still lazing in bed at 11a.m.
To avoid the crowd heading back to Singapore after a long weekend, we went back to Jalan Tan Hiok Nee for lunch. When you are there, don’t forget to check out the famous Hiap Joo Bakery.
This shop sells mainly breads and banana cake. If you are thinking of buying the banana cake, take note that there may be a chance that you will have to queue for hours! I got mine the day before where there wasn’t any queue. You can see that I managed to get a picture of the shop without a crowd. However, this morning the queue was snaking along the whole street. Despite the heat, people are willing to queue just to buy the banana cakes.
Here’s a picture of the infamous banana cake. It cost RM10 for the big box with 10 slices. It is very soft and fragrant. My father loves it and he is usually a picky eater.
We also bought some bread to try. The texture is slightly chewy on the outside and soft on the inside. The kaya and red bean filling are quite generous too. I like the fact that the kaya used is the traditional brown kaya instead of the green ones we commonly found in Singapore. The bread are sold in 2s or 4s around RM4-6 depending on the fillings.
For lunch, we settled down for some quick hunger fix at the coffee shop opposite the bakery. I tried the curry laksa noodle and its good. Nothing fancy as it is serve with just a few fishbowls, beancurd and half hard boiled egg. It cost RM5. Cheap and good. The serving is small so some may want to try the nasi lemak sold in the same coffee shop. It smells really good but I didn’t get to try it out.
We decided to visit one more cafe before heading back home. We choose the Roost Cafe as our final destination for this trip. The atmosphere of the cafe is very cozy and they actually plays nice music that wasn’t too loud. We can still chat with each other softly with the music playing in the background.
Coffee here is good. Strong aroma and good serving portion. They have some salad and pesto on their food menu. I saw some other guest having them and they actually look quite good. We had a great time chilling in the cafe, slowly sipping our coffee and enjoying the nice music. I will definitely be back here in future.
It was a pleasant and relaxing 2 days trip. We managed to clear the custom and arrived back in Singapore within an hour. I am definitely coming back again soon for another food and cafe hopping getaway.