When it comes to culinary delights, few cities can rival the vibrant and diverse food scene of Johor Bahru, affectionately known as JB. An energetic city known for its rich cultural heritage and varied culinary traditions offers a treasure trove of gastronomic delights waiting to be explored.
Whether you’re a local food enthusiast or a visitor eager to savour the city’s finest flavours, here are the 10 best makan places in JB you need to know about. Thank me later!
1. Restoran Kacang Pool Haji
If you’ve had the opportunity to visit Johor, you’re likely familiar with the excitement surrounding kacang pool. At Restoran Kacang Pool Haji, you can enjoy the best kacang pool in JB.
This delightful dish consists of cooked and seasoned fava beans, crowned with a perfectly fried egg, and adorned with finely diced red onions and slices of vibrant green chilli.
Often enjoyed during breakfast, the Kacang Pool (RM6) is accompanied by a thick slice of toast that strikes the perfect balance between crunchiness and fluffiness. Many locals take pleasure in either dipping the toast into the flavourful beans or savouring it as it is.
For those in search of other breakfast classics, this establishment also presents options such as Nasi Ambang (RM6), Nasi Lemak (RM2), and an array of lontong dishes (RM6), among other tempting offerings.
Jalan Sabar, Taman Dato Onn, 80350 Johor Bahru, Johor
+6013 737 7997
Daily: 7am – 12am
2. Onn Kitchen
The early bird catches the worm, they say. If you’re up early and are craving for roti canai, Onn Kitchen is the place to go.
This dining establishment has earned widespread recognition for its fluffy Roti Canai (RM1.50). What sets it apart is the unique self-service option for their accompanying gravies. Numerous customers delight in the freedom to ladle generous portions of curry, dhal, and sambal to enhance the flavours of their roti.
Onn Kitchen boasts a delightful selection of beloved Malaysian dishes, including Lontong (RM8), Nasi Lemak with fried egg (RM4.50), and an array of other enticing options.
3. Mat Corner Nasi Ambang
Johor is also famously known for Nasi Ambang (or Nasi Ambeng). Nestled in a local food court located in Bandar Baru Uda, Mat Corner Nasi Ambang serves the best nasi ambang in JB.
This classic Malay-Javanese delicacy features a base of steamed rice accompanied by a selection of proteins like fried chicken, beef rendang, grilled fish, or prawns. These are complemented by an array of vegetables, including stir-fried varieties, coconut-infused dishes, and fresh cucumber slices. The dish is further enhanced with a spicy sambal for a delightful kick and additional condiments like serunding (fried shredded coconut), fried tempeh, tofu, and boiled eggs.
Mat Corner Nasi Ambang offers an array of options for this traditional dish. You can begin with timeless choices, such as Nasi Ambang Ayam (RM7) or Nasi Ambang Daging (RM7).
For those seeking both chicken and beef, the Nasi Ambang Special (RM9.50) is a delightful option, or if you’re particularly hungry, you can indulge in the Nasi Ambang Double (RM9.50).
22, Jalan Padi Mahsuri 13, Bandar Baru Uda, 81200 Johor Bahru, Johor, Malaysia
+6019 724 4798
Sat to Thu: 10.15am – 3.30pm
Fri: 8am – 12.30pm
4. It Roo Cafe
If you’re seeking mouthwatering Western cuisine, look no further than It Roo Cafe. Located in the historically rich streets of JB city centre, It Roo Cafe has been serving the best chicken chop in town since 1961.
This small local eatery has gained a reputation among locals for its famous Chicken Chop (RM18.50). Whether you go for the fried or grilled version, their chicken chop embodies a flawless harmony of textures and flavours. The tender and juicy chicken is infused with a secret medley of Hainanese-inspired herbs and spices, resulting in a distinctive and fragrant taste.
You have the choice of two delectable sauces to accompany your chicken chop — either savoury black pepper or rich mushroom. Accompanied by a side of perfectly crispy golden fries and a refreshing coleslaw, the chicken chop promises an unforgettable dining experience that is sure to leave a lasting impression.
You’ll also find a diverse range of delectable dishes on their menu. Consider trying the It Roo Fried Rice (RM9.50), the classic Fish and Chips (RM18.50), or the flavorful Hailam Mee (RM9.50). What’s particularly delightful about the Hailam mee is that you have the choice of selecting mee, bihun, or kuey teow noodles to suit your preference.
17, Jalan Dhoby, Bandar Johor Bahru, 80000 Johor Bahru, Johor
+607 222 7780
Daily: 11am – 8.30pm
5. Wan Li Chinese Restaurant
If you’re in search of authentic Cantonese cuisine, make your way over to Wan Li Chinese Restaurant located in Renaissance JB. Specialising in seafood, this establishment has garnered a reputation for its seasonal lunch and dinner menus.
One of the restaurant’s standout dishes you shouldn’t miss is the Wan Li Signature Traditional Peking Duck (RM70 for small, RM128 for large). This revered culinary masterpiece showcases succulent Peking duck prepared with time-honoured techniques, delivering crispy skin, tender meat, and a selection of delightful condiments which together create an unforgettable dining affair.
Among the highly recommended options, the Fragrant Fried Rice with Conpoy, Egg White, Garlic Crisps, and Beet Root Juice (RM37 for small, RM55 for large) stands out. Additionally, the Crispy Baked Sea Prawns with Avocado and Homemade Creamy Egg Sauce (RM58 for small, RM98 for large) and the Golden Cod Fillet with Mai Tong Herbal Glaze (RM102) promise exquisite flavours that should not be missed.
For those with lingering appetites, the restaurant also offers a luscious assortment of Dim Sum. Whether you’re dining with family or friends, Wan Li Chinese Restaurant is the perfect destination for an exceptional lunch or dinner experience.
6. Restoran Hua Mui JB
For those who appreciate the essence of traditional kopitiam culture, Restoran Hua Mui JB presents an authentic rendition of Hainanese cuisine with a touch of nostalgia. With its roots tracing back to 1946, this unassuming establishment has made a name for itself with its signature Hainanese Chicken Chop (RM18.90).
Visualise succulent chicken enveloped in high-quality eggs, immersed in Hua Mui’s unique seasoning blend, then coated with flour and expertly fried to a luscious golden hue, achieving a tender and flawless texture.
You can also savour other quintessential kopitiam offerings such as Hainanese-Style Mee (RM9.90), Cantonese Yee Mee (RM10.90), delectable Polo Buns (RM4.90), and a delightful array of additional menu choices. Restoran Hua Mui JB is a treasure trove of flavours that caters to various palates, making it a must-visit for those seeking a taste of nostalgia and culinary excellence.
7. Sweetwater Mediterranean Bar & Grill
If you’re in the mood for Mediterranean cuisine, Sweetwater Mediterranean Bar & Grill is the ideal destination, conveniently located in the heart of JB. Here, you can savour a mouth-watering array of dishes that will transport your taste buds to the Mediterranean coast.
I recommend you to indulge in the culinary delight that is the Slow-Cooked Duck (RM85) here. This rotisserie duck undergoes a meticulous process where it’s seasoned both inside and out with a medley of spices, then slow-cooked to perfection, resulting in juicy, tender meat encased in a crispy skin. You have the option to savour this exquisite duck with either their zesty orange sauce or tantalising chilli plum sauce.
Additional selections on the menu encompass a diverse range of pizzas, featuring choices like the classic Pizza Margherita (RM42), the savoury Pizza Campiana (RM48), or the delightful Pizza Mare E Monti (RM58).
Alternatively, if you’re in the mood for pasta, you can indulge in the creamy Fettuccini Carbonara (RM52), the flavourful Spaghetti Frutti De Mare (RM85), or the simple yet satisfying Spaghetti Aglio E Olio (RM55).
116, Jalan Serampang, Taman Pelangi, 80400 Johor Bahru, Johor
+607 331 4349
Daily: 12pm – 11pm
8. Pisang Goreng Mawar
For all those pisang goreng lovers, we got you. Nearby the Johor Darul Takzim (JDT) football club there’s a warong that’s a local favourite, Pisang Goreng Mawar. Here, you can relish in a variety of banana fritters and other local snacks.
This humble warong has been serving crispy pisang goreng for over 20 years. Ripe bananas are sliced, coated in a batter of flour, sugar, salt, and sometimes other ingredients, and deep-fried until they’re golden and crispy. This process keeps the bananas sweet and creamy inside with a delightful crunch outside.
And that’s not the end of the story; this place also offers a selection of traditional tea-time snacks. You can indulge in an array of karipap (Curry Puffs), nasi lemak, roti jala, assorted kuih, Laksa Johor, and a host of other interesting options.
Sri Gelam, 80100 Johor Bahru, Johor
+6011 617 63365
Sat to Thu: 11am – 7pm
Closed on Fri
9. Loco Boys Taco
Craving authentic Birria tacos? Loco Boys Tacos is the place to go! Nestled in Adaa Heights, this unassuming roadside eatery is your go-to spot for the most satisfying Birria tacos around.
They offer Birria tacos in sets, allowing you to opt for either their Beef Tacos (RM19) or Chicken Tacos (RM17). Each set includes zesty hot sauce and their homemade sour cream, perfectly complementing the succulent tacos.
Using only the finest ingredients and expert culinary techniques, Loco Boys Tacos is famous for selling out fast, so make sure to arrive promptly! They operate from 1 pm to 6 pm or until they run out, and the irresistible aroma of sizzling meat is bound to catch the attention of anyone passing by.
Jalan Adda 7, Adda Heights, Johor Bahru, Malaysia 81100
+6012 203 9070
Tue, Wed & Fri to Sun: 1pm – 6pm (or until sold out)
Closed on Mon & Thu
10. Gianni’s Trattoria
Gianni’s Trattoria is a beloved Italian restaurant well-frequented by locals. Renowned for serving the finest Italian cuisine, this establishment stands as the ultimate destination for indulging in timeless Italian culinary delights.
Famous for its daily rotating lunch menu, diners can always anticipate a wonderful surprise when visiting this eatery. You can view their 2 or 3-course lunch menu by visiting their Facebook page.
Their menu boasts a variety of delectable dishes, including Bistecca De Manzo — a flame-grilled flank steak complemented by Catalan-style ratatouille known as samfaina and a drizzle of balsamic reduction. Also, there’s Pollo Picatta — chicken coated in egg, accompanied by sautéed spinach and marinara sauce, and Pizza Diavola — a tantalising pizza topped with tomato sauce, mozzarella, pepperoni, bell peppers, and a touch of chilli.
Visit either their Taman Pelangi or Permas Jaya location to indulge in their mouthwatering offerings.
Taman Pelangi Branch
110, Jalan Serampang, Taman Pelangi, 80400 Johor Bahru, Johor
+607 331 2230
Daily: 11.30am – 10.30pm
Permas Jaya Branch
9, Jalan Permas 10/2, Bandar Baru Permas Jaya, 81750 Masai, Johor
+607 382 2230
Daily: 12pm – 11pm