Category Archives: food

Manhattan Fish Market at KSL Mall

Update, 2013 – I have been back several times and the service has declined consistently. Last time the food took at least 20 minutes to show up and wasn’t cooked 0 parts of it were still cold [that doesn’t mean not hot, but actually cold – likely it had been frozen and not even cooked enough to get to warm]. Given all the good options in JB, I would not recommend eating here.

I shied away from the Manhattan Fish Market due to the name (it just seems like at least I should try Asian food). Not that there is really any reason for that, but I do feel a bit silly when I am eating western food here. As a traveler I would eat local cuisine, but as an expat I do find I enjoy to eat good western food, which thankfully I have found in several places in JB. I have eaten at the Manhattan Fish Market several times now and I really like their baked fish. They are excellent.

The market is located on the second floor of KSL Mall, in the Johor Bahru CBD. The service isn’t the greatest and the atmosphere is typical mall: not much to like. But the food is great and the price is reasonable (about RM 25-40 for a meal).

Manhattan Fish Market is certainly not a place I would try to visit as a tourist. But for those living in Singapore and Johor Bahru it is an excellent option. From what I have eaten it has been more of a Asian fusion type of food, but some of the other choices are a bit more typically western (fish and chips, for example). So expats or locals can choose what style they prefer.

Related: JB Station Kopitiam at Danga City MallChez Papa French BistroVillage Briyani Cafe

I thought I had photos from one of my visits, but I can’t find any. I’ll add some when I get a chance.

Tomatoes From the Balcony Garden

Last week some of the tomatoes started to ripen and be edible. Yay.

photo of red and green cherry tomatoes

Red and green cherry tomatoes from balcony garden

The beans stopped growing well. I am not sure why. The plants seem ok, the beans just are not tiny or otherwise inedible. It might be not enough water, or not enough nutrients in the soil or something else. Also what I thought were pepper plants, were not. So none of the pepper seeds sprouted 🙁 At least for the time being the tomato plants seem to be producing well. The plants are pretty wimpy though (not as bushy as they normally are – are when they are most healthy).

Related: Balcony Vegetable Garden Starting to Produce FoodGrowing Your Own Food With a Balcony Vegetable Garden

Jusco Mall at Permas Jaya, Johor Bahru

The Jusco Mall at Permas Jaya is somewhat small. The Jusco Hypermarket offers a wide variety of items and the food selection is good. The Jusco may be a bit smaller than others but it is perfectly adequate in my opinion. The best that the rest of the mall offers are restaurants, including a food court with several good options and also a Sushi King, A&W, Secret Recipe and Pizza Hut.

photo of the stores at the mall

Stores in Jusco Mall

I would guess there are fewer than 20 other stores. In the surrounding few blocks there are quite a few shophouses with restaurants, beauty salons and the like in addition to several hotels (and a large new Marriott, I believe, should open in 2012). There is a nice night market across the street from the mall on Sunday nights (I’ll add a post on that when I get a chance). The Treasure Store (used books) has also relocated to this area (near McDonald’s).

photo of the food court

Food court at the Jusco Mall

The Strait View condos are located in Permas Jaya a short walk from the mall (1 km I am just guessing). The walk is fine but crossing the road (at the underpass to the highway) to get there is a bit awkward. The Strait View condos complex is very large and includes quite a few expats (many from Japan – that is where Jusco is from),

Related: Bus to Permas Jaya from Johor Bahru CBDCity Square Mall, Johor Bahru CBDKSL Mall JB CBD

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Balcony Vegetable Garden Starting to Produce Food

My balcony vegetable garden is starting to flower and I have been able to enjoy a few beans. A wrote about setting up my balcony to growing some food earlier. I am using several containers and all but one of the “crops” has done well. The sweet peas hardly sprouted and the few that did then died.

small green tomato on plant

The first tomato.

The Tomato plants have done very well, as you might expect – they seem to grow with no problems. How much food I get only time will tell though, a few tomatoes are started to show up. Mainly I planted cherry tomatoes (I figure with my small planters that would work best). But the first batch of seeds didn’t do so well, so I planted some seeds from the tomatoes I got at the store (full size) – some sprouted, so we will see how they do.

green bean flower and plant

Green bean flower

The beans are the first to have produced and I have enjoyed a few beans so far. They seem to be producing pretty well. I really do like being able to just pick a snack off my plants.

I needed to improvise something to give the beans and tomato plants some stability. I couldn’t find something designed for it at the store (I did find a couple smaller items to support tomato plants a bit later – so I have a couple of those in use).

flowers on a pepper plant

Flowers on a pepper plant

The pepper plants did not have a high percentage that sprouted but those that did seem to be growing fairly well. They are growing quite tall and are fairly lanky looking. The flowers started to show up maybe 10 days ago and the starts of many very small peppers are now visible.

We gets lots of rain, but the plants are largely sheltered from it (the rain has to be blown by a fairly hard wind to water those on the balcony – which happens sometimes but not very often to any substantial degree). So I have been watering them. The do get quite a bit of sun.

Related: Growing Lettuce in My BackyardGrow some of your own foodScience Sort of Explains: HiccupsEat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.

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City Square Mall – Johor Bahru CBD

City Square Mall greats you as you leave the CIQ and enter Johor Bahru CBD (Central Business District). You can take the over-street crosswalk from CIQ to enter the mall without ever going to street level. City Square Mall is one of 5 fairly large malls in downtown Johor Bahru. The others are Danga City Mall, KSL Mall, Plaza Pelangi, and Holiday Plaza Mall. The S1 bus will take you between all the malls and runs about every 20 minutes between 10 AM and 8 PM (and less frequently earlier and later in the day).

photo of the inside of City Square Mall

City Square Mall, Johor Bahru CBD

City Square is a large, 5 story, mall that is doing quite well – the proximity to the CIQ and causeway, I am sure, help keep up traffic and therefore stores. There are a large number of clothing and fashion stores, as well as beauty salons. There is also a movie cinema with multiple screen showing the latest films.

Food offerings include: Stonegrill, Old Town Kopitiam, Kinsahi, Papparich, Sushi King and Teh Sarabat Cafe. There is only one, small, grocery store.

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I find it somewhat amusing how un-user-friendly shopping mall website are, like City Square (it at least has photos of some of the stores). Though I would be more annoyed if I actually wanted to learn something from the site. They would be much better if they just had an RSS fee and a google search. Shopping malls spend a great deal of money providing an environment for shopping, I would certainly think they could do a much better job of providing virtual assistance with a bit of thought and effort. The internet might as well not exist, for how useless mall web sites are – that is not a good sign.

Danga City Mall in Johor Bahru

View of Inside of Danga City Mall

Inside the Danga City Mall in JB - unfortunately the upper floors have far too many vacant store fronts.

The Danga City Mall is my favorite mall in JB. It has several very nice small restaurants and a high number of technology stores. The top floors also include a bowling alley, paintball arena and archery range. Unfortunately the mall also has quite a few empty shops. At least for now it also has my favorite store, the Treasure Store (which has lots of great used english language books): the Treasure store is moving to Permas Jaya next month.

photo of authorized Apple reseller store in Danga City Mall

Ascentouch (authorized Apple reseller) part of the large IT Valley area in Danga City Mall, JB Town.

The IT valley has the richest collection of technology stores in Johor Bahru including Samsung, Sony, HP, and Ascentouch (Authorized Apple reseller) used computer stores, computer repair, computer equipment stores. They have the normal assortment of phone stores and internet providers.

The restaurants offer some really good food very inexpensively. Two of my favorite are JB Station Kopitiam and Agena Sea (which moved next to the exhibit hall recently). On the lowest level there are about 8 good restaurant choices including Hokka Hokka Japanese Food, A1 Cafe. And there are probably about 8 more upstairs, including a small Italian restaurant which is decent (and better than I would think it could be for such a small location) though the seats are not very comfortable (more suited to drinking than eating). There is also a small grocery store that has some things but it would be better if it were a bit larger.

photo of the bowling alley

Bowling alley in the Danga City Mall - there is also a paintball arena.

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Growing Your Own Food With a Balcony Vegetable Garden

A few years ago I starting growing my own vegetables and I found it incredible convient. You can save money too, but my main purpose is to eat food that taste better and is better for me. I have started a vegetable garden on the balcony of my condo in Johor Bahru.

photo of the Nursery near KSL Mall

Front of the nursery by John Hunter.

First I needed to buy some supplies. I was referred to a great nursery two blocks from KSL mall: Skyt Perniagaan Ming.

The planting boxes they have are especially nice. Very light but made of strong plastic. They also have a divider to leave a bit of room at the bottom of the planter for water to drain and the ability to let the water drain out the bottom by removing plugs (if you use it outside). If you use the boxes indoors you can leave the plugs in and it won’t drain out the bottom. They have 2 sizes, I got the smaller ones, which are about 25 cm by 75 cm by 20 cm (deep). They actually suggested the larger size for growing vegetables so we will see if I made a mistake.

photo of the plants inside the nursery

Plants inside the nursery

I never used fertilizer when I grew in my yard. I just used some compost and regular dirt. I am using some long release fertilizer at their suggestion for these containers. I barely need to water them as it rains nearly every day heavily enough to water the plants (Since there is a balcony right above mine, there has to be a fair amount of wind and rain for nature to take care of the watering for me).

I didn’t buy enough seed packets at first (the packets don’t have a large number of seeds – many of the types don’t). I have bought more seeds now but in the interim I also just planted some seeds from some peppers and tomates I ate from the grocery store. Those tomato plants seem to be doing great (though I am not sure they will work in these small containers (they are the large, regular, tomatoes).

Related: The Science of GardeningMee Bandung at JB Station KopitiamEat food. Not too much. Mostly for rent to expats in Johor Bahru

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Mee Bandung at JB Station Kopitiam

There are several good restaurants on the bottom level of the Danga City Mall in downtown Johor Bahru. One of my favorites is JB Station Kopitiam. I have had at least 5 meals at JB Station Kopitiam, all have been excellent (and they have been under RM 10). A kopitiam is a traditional breakfast and coffee shop found in Southeast Asia. The word is a concatenation of the Malay word for coffee and the Hokkien dialect word for shop.

photo of JB Station Kopitiam at Danga City Mall

JB Station Kopitiam at Danga City Mall in Johor Bahru by John Hunter

I still don’t know the names of lots of Malaysian food, so one nice thing about JB Station is they have photos so I can find a picture of something that looks interesting. A decent number of restaurants do that, however, at the same time, a large number have no menu at all (especially the outdoor stalls, but also some indoor restaurants). I am not completely sure but I think the photo shows my order of Mee Bandung (a dish originating in Johor).

Mee Bandung, is a cuisine originally consisted of only noodles and eggs in soup made of the mixture of chilli, onion, spices, shrimp paste and dried shrimp. Over time the Mee Bandung recipe had been added to with the addition of shrimp, meat, fish cakes and vegetables. One thing I have noticed is the small Malaysian restaurants have a full or half hard boiled or fried egg on top of many dishes.

The lime juice is freshly squeezed and quite good.

photo of Mee Bandung soup and lime juice

Mee Bandun and lime juice from JB Station Kopitiam

Related: Sala Huddin Bakery, Johor BahruThe Village Briyani CafeBus to Jusco in Permas JayaPopular Used English Bookstore in Johor Bahru

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Drinks I Enjoy in Malaysia

phone of orange juice and strawbery soda

Orange juice and strawberry soda

Two drinks I have enjoyed since moving to Malaysia are orange juice and strawberry soda. Ok, the strawberry soda is just sugar water with some flavoring (that tastes nothing like strawberry to me) but I like it. What I really like is the orange juice. In the USA they have orange juice with pulp (essentially the inside of the skin of the orange. I don’t like pulp. This orange juice has intact orange “capsules.” I really don’t know what you call them, but the tiny bits of the orange that actually have the juice inside of them. The juice in the photo has lots of those floating in it, which are yummy.

I also like fresh lime juice and really most fresh juices. Green tea is nice, and I have been drinking much more tea recently. One thing I still haven’t figured out is what some places mean by yogurt. Some smoothies are great with really yogurt. Several places though obviously have no yogurt in what they call yogurt drinks – they are just juice flavoring with crushed ice.

Related: Residence Pass for Talented ExpatsBakery, Downtown Johor BahruBlogs in Kuching and Borneo

Bus to Jusco in Permas Jaya

I took the bus from downtown Johor Bahru to the Jusco (hypermarket) in Permas Jaya. From downtown you take bus number 123 which a passenger told me runs every 20 minutes. Of the supermarkets I have been to so far in JB that Jusco has been by far the best. I have tried a couple Tesco’s and a Carfour and one other Jusco (a complete disaster area, the store was a complete mess, the signs said things were 50% off then when you took them to the counter they said they were not – 3 different items from 2 different locations).

photo of the inside of a bus

Inside of a Johor Bahru 123 line bus, by John Hunter.

The Permas Jaya Jusco store itself is very clean and orderly. The prices seem the best to me. The vegetables were great this time (the first time I really checked). A great selection and very fresh looking. And the prices were great. I picked up baby asparagus, peppers, potatoes, Japanese and “regular” cucumbers. I am not a cook. My cooking tops out at microwaving the asparagus for a few seconds, reheating some Indian food or putting peanut butter on a roll.

Unfortunately the Jusco is a bit out of the way for me. I want to get familiar with the bus transportation though so I will be taking some trips. I can’t find anything good online that explains the bus routes. If anyone knows of a good source of information please let me know.

I went to the Village Briyani Cafe today and had chicken briyani. It was great.

Related: Straits View Condos, Permas JayaBakery, Downtown Johor BahruThe Treasure Store: English Language Used Books and Library Rental