Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Restoran ZZ @ Johor Bahru

There are two Restoran ZZ (that we know of) in JB. However, they are unrelated. The one on Jalan Mahmoodiah is famous for it's briyani gam while the other is its mee rebus tulang.

KK: They are also not far from each other, probably about 2 kilometres apart, so make sure you go to the right one.

Literally translated, mee rebus means boiled noodles which, when I was younger and not yet familiar with the dish, thought it meant it was mee in plain soup. Oooh, so far off!

No watery soup, it's a thick gravy mainly consisting of beef broth and pureed sweet potato, with taugeh and topped with fresh cili and crispy fried shallots. It's a hearty, sweet and savoury dish. Restoran ZZ takes it to the next level - let's make it sinful. 

This bad boy of mee rebus comes with a straw so you can suck the marrow of the lamb shanks (we got 3) adorning the dish. Ahhhh cholesterol.

The dish has other options such as bone with meat, meat or plain but why go all this way for plain?

If you're not hungering for mee rebus, then give their Laksa Johor a go. I personally think that Laksa Johor is the most complicated laksa dish to cook properly as it requires so much ingredients! I have yet to find good Laksa Johor in Klang Valley much to my dismay (feel free to share if you know a spot).

The laksa here came with a glorious gravy teeming with fish. It's so thick you chomp, not slurp it. The spaghetti itself was not over cooked (but not al dente). Despite the generous amount of fish, the dish itself is not fishy, which I sometimes find Penang Laksa to be.  It may not look aesthetically pleasing but it's all good in the taste department.

Both dishes come with a reasonably generous serving. I sometimes find mee rebus in Klang Valley to have smaller portions, I don't know why.

K: I heard this story about the origin of laksa Johor. While I can't vouch for it's accuracy, it's a nice story to share. Anyway, apparently Sultan Abu Bakar went to Europe and he was so taken by spaghetti that when he got back to Johor, he ordered the royal chef to come up with a new dish incorporating spaghetti. And voila, laksa Johor was born.

Restoran ZZ has kampung theme setting, you can dine at a normal table or go for a pondok to duduk bersila (remember to take off your shoes). The service was friendly and surprisingly fast, and restaurant itself was pretty clean too. There are other dishes available including pisang goreng (banana fritters) if you're hungering for a tea time snack.

K: We were lucky enough to get free entertainment in the form of 3 young ladies who were terrified of cats. As we all know, even though it's not really hygienic, cats do roam around restaurants in Malaysia. These 3 girls were shrieking and cowering in a corner just because a big, bad cat decided to say hello. And it happened twice, with 2 different cats. Fun time for the cats. "Let's act nonchalant and just sit near them, cleaning ourselves up. Stupid humans."

Verdict - a triple threat; good food, good service, good price.

Restoran ZZ (here's a map)
Jalan Petri
Johor Bahru
Open daily from 7am to 2am
Price - $

Friday, July 5, 2013

Warung Saga @ Johor Bahru, Johor

At a t-junction, across Esso gas station and near Rima College is a restaurant that's exterior is so unassuming, it's easy to miss it. Plus there tend to be cars parked right in front of it, blocking the very hard to read restaurant sign.

But inside, it's striking indeed with its wall-to-wall of photographs of royals, politicians, celebrities and even music records.

K: And when we refer to music records, we mean the old school piring hitam albums stuck on the walls. Not just the covers ya, but also the piring hitam themselves.

Their signature dish is Lontong Kering, which we've never had or heard of, so we were looking forward to this. Unfortunately for us, we got there at 11am (you try getting out early with a cranky baby) and we were greeted with a "makanan dah habis. Tinggal sup dengan minuman jer" (food's finished. There's only soup and drinks)

Uuuu T.T

Not wanting to go all this way empty handed, we took the soup tulang (literally 'bone') with bread.

It came with kicap and cili potong but it wasn't necessary as the soup was choked with flavour from the herbs and spices and beef broth. Maybe it's because we had the very last bowl? The "tulang" actually had generous chunks of tender meat.

So good and this isn't their top dish? Wah liao!

K: I concur. The sup tulang was excellent. Some places are very stingy with their sup tulang - the bones look like they've been scraped clean and there would only be minute pieces of beef floating around but not here. Lotsa beef for me hungry tummy! They can call it beef soup instead of sup tulang and it would still fit the description.

The soup was not too oily and neither was it over spiced and thickened like the mamak soups. Clear beef soup where the beef was the main star, not smothered by the spices. Just the way i like it. :)

My main 'beef' (pun intended) with the place was the customer service. When we came a young man greeted us nicely and told us that only soup was left as they haven't started on their lunch menu yet. Understood, since it was 11 am so, we were stuck in the Twilight Zone between breakfast & lunch.

But later, when we were having our meal, more people dropped by and they were told brusquely by a makcik that there's no food and only drinks were left. This was after 12 pm. 12 pm is lunch time, still no food for the lunch crowd? And can't you tell them nicely when the food will be ready instead of shooing them away like stray cats?

Before we left, I asked the guy preparing the lunch food what time do they normally run out of breakfast food. His answer, "Kadang-kadang cepat, kadang-kadang lambat." Wow, that's really informative. I asked the same question to the pleasant young man who first greeted us when we came and his answer was "Around 9 - 9.30 am." See, that's not too hard now, isn't it? 

Good food is one thing, but good customer service also goes a long way.

Warung Saga caters mainly for the breakfast crowd, so do come early if you want to avoid disappointment. Besides their basic menu (which includes the Lontong Kering), they have daily specials. We heard that the Laksa Johor is recommended, available only on Saturdays.

According to a sign in the restaurant, the specials are:

Saturday - Laksa Johor
Sunday - Mee Rebus
Monday - Mee Siam Kuah & Gado Gado
Tuesday - Laksa Nyonya
Wednesday - Mee Sup Sambal Belacan
Thursday - Soto

All of the above are priced at RM3

Warung Saga (here's a map)
Jalan Mahmoodiah
Johor Bahru
Price range - $

Verdict - Definitely going to come here again to sample this Lontong Kering.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Gerai Ayong @ Johor Bahru, Johor

I pestered K to take me on a makan trip last year before delivering but the man was just too busy. In the end, we planned the trip for Jun 2013, that's over half a year ahead! 

Haze or no haze, aku takleh sabar dah woy. I WANT MY NOMS I WANT IT NOW!

I got some serious side eye when choosing JB for makan trip destination. JB takde benda lah, said K and some friends. HAH! 

Apologies for crappy photos (and lack of it), we used a camera phone. But to make up for it, have a map

Important advice for people not familiar with JB - don't completely trust googlemap for directions. It hasn't been updated, we had to make a lot of u turns as there was no right turns. 

Gerai Ayong, Medan Selera Tepian Tebrau

Gerai Ayong is famous for tauhu and char kway/ koi bakar, sotong kangkung, ikan bakar (grilled fish) and ais jelly. 

Clockwise from top - ABC, Tauhu & Char Kway Bakar, Ais Jelly

The tauhu and char kway bakar (grilled) was a surprise hit for both of us. The crunchy, lightly charred tauhu and char kway  was served with sweet and sour rojak sauce with peanuts and cucumber. 

The sotong kangkung was good, served with same sauce. The sotong was springy and overall, it's a good dish, but I wouldn't drive all the way from KL to JB for it, mostly cos it's not something too hard to find.

We chose ikan pari (sting ray), the sambal on the ikan bakar was an absolute winner. Sweet, sour and spicy, the sambal was so sedap you don't need any dipping sauce/ condiments and the fish itself was fresh and well cooked. We were hoping for other seafood like baby crabs but they only had fish in stock that day. 

Left - Sotong Kangkung & Ikan Pari Bakar

For drinks we had the ais jelly and abc. Wah, macam day and night. The ais jelly is light and refreshing thanks to the limau, while the abc was heavier as it's served with generous drizzle of chocolate sauce instead of sirap. The abc was interesting but it can be weird eating red beans and sweet corn with chocolate. To be honest, I think the ais jelly compliments the fish better than abc.  

K: Actually felt a bit muak eating the ABC. Too rich, too rich! It's something I would give a miss and I am a choc lover too. Choc's great, as long as it's not too sweet of course.

Random musings: The stall's name is Gerai Ayong & the operator, Ayong, is Chinese, so how come the name of the operator on the signboard is Malay? Chinese Moslem? Ali Baba? Anyone can shed some light?

Gerai Ayong is located at the Tepian Tebrau Food Court, which apparently has other good stalls too. Will have to make another trip down to JB to check the rest out...if we can resist going back to Ayong that is!

Verdict - Worth the trip, worth a repeat :D

Gerai Ayong
Medan Selera Tepian Tebrau
Jalan Mohd Amin
80100 Johor Bahru

Open from 6PM - 12PM
Closed on Wednesdays
No pork served
Price range - $-$$