We are now on part 4 of our tour and the beautiful city of Johor Bahru is playing host to us today. We reached here from Muar after covering the 170 km distance by road in around 2 hrs 30 min.
If you have been following my Malaysian trail in the previous posts, you will know that I have arrived here after a hectic round of eating in Melaka and Muar and my work here was to continue doing the same. And you thought your job was tough ? 😀
Johor Bahru is the flamboyant capital of the state of Johor, which is the southernmost state of Malaysia.
Come with me as I unveil what it has in store for us.
A glimpse of Johor Bahru –
Johor Bahru or JB as is it is popularly called, sits at the southern tip of Johor, a mere Strait away from the country of Singapore and all one has to do is go Straight away on the causeway across the waters, to reach within 5 minutes 😀
Obviously a hot destination for visitors from Singapore, JB also has daily commuters cross over the Johor straits to work in Singapore while the have their residences in JB. This is considered a very economical option due to cost of living being lower in Malaysia.
JB offers the visitor an experience of its historical and cultural sites right from the British era via its palaces, museums, memorials, art galleries, temples etc while simultaneously showing its face of modernity with impressive views of its skyline fringed with high rise buildings, its malls, its multi cuisine restaurants, its theme parks etc
Of course there is no dearth of eating options in the city and JB is in fact known for some of its signature goodies like the Sup Tulang and Mee rebus. Which of course we were here to perform deep research on, deep being the key word and you will read on if you want to know why 😀
Restoran Sup Tulang ZZ –
Sup Tulang or Soup Tulang is said to originate from the Indian muslim community and is basically a clear broth that obtains its subtle yet distinct flavors as a result of stewing beef or mutton bones for several hours along with spices and condiments like ginger, chillies and tomatoes. The broth is served with the aforementioned enormous shank bones immersed in it. The depth of flavors literally emanate from deep down within the bone, where the precious marrow resides and this is the most treasured part of the whole extravagance. Straws are provided to suck out every bit of the exquisite core and the rest of the soup can be consumed with the accompaniment of steamed rice or just drunk as it is.
Sup Tulang is also referred to as Gear Box, most likely due to its resemblance to the gears of large vehicles. Well it was definitely geared for large appetites and as I soon discovered, it did a great job of surprising those with small appetites too 😀
Another variant using these marrow bones, is the Mee rebus where the bones are served with their accompanying straw but instead of swimming in their clear broth, they are placed on a bed of yellow noodles that are slathered in a thick gravy made from sweet potato and dried shrimps and stock and the whole thing is finally embellished with a generous topping of bean sprouts, hard boiled eggs, chopped chillies and crispy fried bits of noodles for an added texture. A true indulgence that should not be missed.
The Restoran Sup Tulang ZZ is one of JB’s famous spots to sample this wonderful treat and that is exactly where we were headed for lunch.
Sup Tulang ZZ has been around for 40 years with the ZZ standing for Zaina Zaini (grandfather and grandmother) probably indicating that it began with that generation. They have 6 branches across JB and are open from 7 am to 1 am and serve Sup Tulang throughout their open hours !!!
We dined at the outlet at Jalan Petri, Kampung Bahru and this was a large semi open space shaded by big trees and with seating under thatched roofed stalls. One has the option of sitting at regular tables and chairs or even squatting at the traditional low tables.
While the menu is vast with various open counters serving a wide range of dishes like laksa, bubur nasi, various gorengs (fries) and other local curries and stir fries, the attraction here is their Sup Tulang and Mee Rebus and we lost ourselves in the pleasures of those bones for the next one hour 😀
Cool lemonade assisted the food down our gullets and the meal ended with a taste of tempeh and banana goreng (fritters).
The quantities are generous and I was initially apprehensive about being able to finish the entire dish. But liquid finds it way into unknown nooks of the tummy and I was quite surprised at the number of marrows that gently found their way into my straw and I am certainly not making any Bones about it 😀
This was truly a meal to savor and one should not miss this when in JB.
More information about Restoran ZZ Zup Tulang is on their FB page.
Johor Craft Complex –
After the gear box experience, we changed gears and headed for the Komplex Kraf Johor (KKJ). This Craft Complex has been set up 3 years ago with the purpose of providing a one stop shop to showcase, encourage and save from extinction the handicrafts and culture of Malaysia.
KKJ is located at Lot PTB 20002, Jalan Cenderasasri, Larkin, 80350, Johor Bahru and more information is available at the website of Komplex Kraf Johor.
What was exciting was that we were not just going to view the place but also try our skill at producing our very own Kompang which is a hand drum made by fixing a diaphragm of cured goat skin across a wooden ring.
Well we had just had our rendezvous with the goat shanks at ZZ Sup Tulang and as our guide Alan put it, our work with the goat skin would now cover the entire package !!! Kid-ding at its best (excuse the pun) 😀
The Kompang is a special instrument that is used mainly for traditionally marking celebrations like weddings, welcoming ceremonies, inaugurations etc.
At the KKJ, visitors can also participate in various activities like craft workshops, demonstrations, lectures, musical performances on tradition instruments, guided tours etc.
We interacted with the Deputy Director of KKJ and we were taken for a short tour of the place where we also learned about a few of their musical instruments, tried our hand at them and were treated to a melodious performance on the Angklung which is an instrument made out of bamboo tubes fixed onto a bamboo frame and make musical notes when struck.
We also learnt about the Gambus which is a pear shaped mandolin like lute which is carved from a single piece of jackfruit wood. The wood is scooped out and across it is stretched a sheet of goatskin or wood, that is nailed onto it.
There was a quick tour of some artisans who were performing live demos on their craft and also putting them up for sale.
We then proceeded to begin work on our Kompangs at the workshop where everything had been laid out most professionally for us. A clamp to hold the wooden frame, the piece of goat skin, hammer, nails, rivets and even a red ribbon to make our Kompang look pretty.
Hammering is tough work, especially after a big meal and as we bravely struggled on with our project, we understood how difficult is it to produce a craft by hand. Skilled craftsmen could have produced several kampongs in the time that we took and by the end of the session I was begging one of them to take over my drum 😀
Of course they did the finishing bit for us and at the end of it we were proud owners of the prettiest drums on earth, a beautiful memento that I will be treasuring forever.
After this very fulfilling activity, we set off for our hotel where we checked in for a much needed rest. The night held promise of more food (but of course) and also a bit of sightseeing around JB.
Restaurant Spice Villa –
Dinner was an attempt to showcase the Indian touch in Malaysian cuisine and what better place than Restaurant Spice Villa. This place boasts of authentic North Indian cuisine and not the usual ‘international’ version and is run by a Malaysian of Indian descent.
Hence, Spice villa at 232-250, Jalan Dato Suleiman, Taman Abad 80250, Johor Bahru, was the venue of our final meal for the day.
Fish head curry with fresh succulent Red snapper, Tandoori chicken, Gobi Manchurian (no escape for Indians from that one anywhere :-D), Chilli squid fry, Prawns chilli fry, Madrasi mutton masala, biryani rice and Naans all made their way to our table and to their credit I must say that though not totally North Indian, this has been the closest that I have ever eaten ‘Indian food’ at any international location. Of course I do strictly avoid Indian food outside India but at times my choices are overridden by my companions and hence my knowledge of it 😀
Halal certified and vegetarian friendly, it is certainly a viable option for those seeking Indian cuisine in JB.
More information about Spice Villa is available on their FB Page.
The Istana Bukit Serene –
Since we had been very good and had eaten up our dinner without fuss :-D, we were promised a view of the Sultan’s Palace.
The Istana Bukit Serene is the palace of the Sultan of Johor and is one of the most famous landmarks and tourist attractions in Johor. The large arch at the entrance bears a replica of the Sultan’s crown and glitters in the illumination of the night.
There is a wide esplanade in front of the gates, with fountains and colored lights that dress up the decor and people come in the evenings to gaze at the beautiful illumination and enjoy the breeze.
Vendors blow bubbles that shimmer with multi hued reflections and the place is filled with families and tourists clicking pictures and marvelling at the grandeur.
However, the actual palace is off limits for security reasons. One cannot get past the main gates and has to be satisfied with whatever glimpse is possible from afar.
After enjoying the sights and lights of the palace and the relatively cool breeze of the evening, it was time to get to our hotel.
Trove Hotel –
Being a large city, JB has several stay options for a range of budgets right from modest hotels to Air BnB villas.
Our hotel was the centrally located Trove Johor Bahru at Jalan Dato Abdullah Tahir, 80300, JB. This is one of the hotels from the bouquet of Care Luxury Hotels.
More information about the Trove Hotel, JB can be found at their website.
Exhibiting 5 different themes based on characteristic hallmarks of the history and heritage of Johor, the various rooms bear symbols of the local aura in the form of murals, bed covers, room colors and other decor.
The different concepts are Local love – a tribute to the local art and heritage, Straits affair – signifying Johor as an ancient trading port, Into the woods – symbolizing Johor’s natural heritage, Fun with geometry – featuring traditional motifs and designs of Johor with a modern twist and the last one which is called Precious Moments – suites that are reminiscent of Johor’s luxury.
My room was themed on Local love which was very apt for a person like me who believes in the importance of experiencing the local wherever I go.
The rooms are also equipped with the usual TV, air conditioning, mini bar, Ironing facilities, alkaline water dispenser, safe etc,
The charm of this hotel lies in the rooms facing the Johor Straits, where one can revel in the views of Singapore across the waters.
The sunrise over the 2 neighboring countries, reflecting in the glimmering ribbon of the straits in between, is a sight to be recorded as one of life’s unique moments.
The all day dining Lada and Clove restaurant on the 8th floor was where we had our breakfast the next day. This was quite a substantial affair with Western options as well as local dishes like Roti canai, Noodle soup, Nasi Lemak etc.
I have pictures of the roti canai and a seafood soup as the only proof of what I ate because all the eating I had been doing, had quite confused me by then 😀
We checked out after the meal, to continue onto Day 5 of our Malaysian adventure. Stay with me as I take you to Desaru.
More information about Tourism Malaysia is available at –
For more pictures see My Facebook – Malaysia Food Trail-Part 4-Johor Bahru Also catch me on My Facebook, My Facebook page, My Twitter and My Instagram
Please Note – I visited Malaysia and embarked on the food trail, on the invitation of the Tourism Malaysia, which sponsored my flights, stay and related activities and I thank them for the same. The narrative is based on the inputs that I received from various sources as well as my own experiences.
Apr 15th-20th, 2019