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‘Mee bandung’ Muar trader Bakar Hanifah with customers at his shop in Jalan Abdullah, Muar.

IT is the food that keeps people coming back to Johor. Let's face it. Besides the alluring island resorts off Mersing and the Endau-Rompin National Park among others, Johor is a mecca for unique delicacies.

While some people may argue that Penang is the food paradise and that Sabah offers the freshest seafood, no one can deny the sumptuous food that originates from the peninsula's southernmost state.

Laksa Johor, mee rebus Haji Wahid, mee bandung Muar, and a twist to the popular dessert ais kacang are among food that are high on tourists' must-have list when they come to Johor.

Many Johoreans claim that the best laksa Johor are the homemade ones. It's certainly not an easy-to-prepare meal that can be dished out from scratch.

Unlike laksa Penang, or laksam, laksa Johor includes generous amounts of coconut milk and is topped with fresh herbs and spices. The biggest difference is the use of spaghetti instead of rice noodles in the laksa.

If laksa is not your cup of tea, try mee rebus Haji Wahid. The dish sits on the same pedestal as the nasi dagang in Kelantan and Terengganu, or mee goreng Abu in Kedah.

The best place to have a plate of mee rebus Haji Wahid is at a stall in Plaza Angsana, Johor Baru. The stall at the shopping mall's outdoor food court is packed during lunch hours and on weekends.

The dish is made using yellow egg noodles topped with spicy and sweet brown gravy sauce.

The gravy consists of potatoes, curry powder, water, salted soybeans, dried shrimps, and peanuts. The garnishing is different that what is normally found in other mee rebus.

While typical mee rebus comes topped with a hard-boiled egg, pieces of fried tofu, and chopped spring onion, Haji Wahid's comes with crunchy fried batter which is a secret recipe.

Another favourite is the unique ais kacang which is drizzled with chocolate syrup that's widely available in Johor.

It is made up of a small mountain of shaved ice topped with rose syrup, evaporated milk and chocolate syrup. Red bean, grass jelly and toddy palm seeds are buried underneath the shaved ice. As the ice concoction melts away, many people are also known to drink it up with a straw.

Johor ais kacang traders often set up shop in food courts that are known to offer plenty of local delicacies. The famous ais kacang stall at Tepian Tebrau, Johor Baru, is next to another stall selling grilled seafood, and tauhu bakar (grilled tofu) and char kuih.

Another stall selling ais kacang in Larkin is next to an equally good stall selling western food such as chicken chop and black pepper steak.

One ais kacang trader in Jalan Ayer Molek, Johor Baru, has included grilled tofu in his menu because the dish goes well with the icy dessert.

In Muar, a good feast often includes the mee bandung Muar.

There are several good places to savour the cuisine, but most locals swear by the one served at Pak Hussin Ali's Central stall in Tanjung Agas.

Some have described his mee bandung Muar as "out of this world". The dish is made using yellow noodles in spicy gravy topped with pieces of fried tofu, sliced beef and a poached egg.

Like many mee bandung traders in Muar, the Hussin Ali family has been making the delicacy for decades.

Sumber : NST Online
Tarikh : 20 Oktober 2010