Johor Bahru is a popular place for budget-conscious Singaporean gourmands to come and find their favourite Malay, Indian and Chinese dishes at half the price of over the causeway. After dark the dining spots and food stalls come alive with local specialities such as coconut-drenched laksa noodles and mee soup served with simple grilled seafood. Hawker stalls are particularly good value whilst there are quite a few fine dining places and international chain restaurants within the shopping malls.
Johor Bahru restaurants
Restoran Bamboo: Popular Chinese restaurant renown for ‘emperor’s paper-wrapped chicken’ which is baked with exotic herbs (RM15).
Nightmarket: Lively place packed with Singaporeans gorging themselves on cheap eats. Grilled seafood such as sea bass or shrimps is great value whilst the local lanksa noodles are especially well-prepared. The Nightmarket is located next to a Hindu temple across the footbridge from Sentral Station and stalls set up at dusk.
Restoran Nilla: Home of the ‘best banana-leaf food in town’ with delicious South Indian meals such as chicken masala tosai (RM3.50) or cuttlefish (RM4) amongst the house specialities.
Restoran ZZ: Popular low-key eatery with Malay and Thai dishes with Johor-style laksa (RM3.50) a particular favourite.
Johor Bahru bars and nightlife
Nightlife in Johor Bahru is never going to rival Bangkok or Singapore, yet there are a couple of safe places for a wee tipple. But beware that some pubs, discos and karaoke lounges in the city are frequented or owned by Chinese gangs which may not appreciate foreign guests, so leave quickly if you feel particularly unwelcome.
Bert’s Keller: An intimate and cozy pub with hearty food and rumoured to serve the finest oxtail stew in the country. Live bands play every Wednesday and Saturday but there’s a fun atmosphere here every day of the week.
TGI Fridays: The US pub chain’s sole branch in southern Malaysia with the usual array of cheery waitresses, flamboyant bar staff, tasty burgers and draft Tiger Beer at RM13. Great if you’re feeling homesick.