Updated 13th Oct 2014; This restaurant is closed.
We are getting increasingly more emails from our readers recommending restaurants. Since we do not eat out everyday, it is getting harder to follow every recommendation.
However, there is one that came from Audrey that got my attention. It was the mention of Hokkien Mee with Jee Yow Jar. Jee Yow Jar is the Cantonese word for fried pork fat. That sure got my attention!
It is a Malaysian restaurant and for me I will find it hard not to check it out. Moreover this restaurant is just walking distance from my office.
Well, the sad news is that this new restaurant takes over the place vacated by Miki Ramen where we once held a chowtimes event. See what I mean? For every new restaurant that opens, it mostly mean that it is the closure of another.
JB Malaysian Cuisine is located on Kingsway by Royal Oak. For those of you who are familiar with the stalls in the Crystal Mall Food Court, it is the same people who is behind the Triple One Malaysian stall. Yeah, they closed the stall in Crystal Mall and re-opened as JB Malaysian Cuisine.
The word JB refers to the southern city of Johor Baru which borders Singapore. JB is popular with day trippers from Singapore because everything is cheaper there. Singaporeans will go over to JB to eat and shop. They will throng the supermarkets in JB and will buy all sort of things … like toilet papers, cooking oil, etc. Just like we Vancouverites go over to Bellingham for the same thing.
Malaysians always call Singaporeans as Kiasu (scared to lose out), Kiasi (scared to die) and Kia-jingfu (scared of the government). For being Kiasu, they will … drive over to JB with an empty tank and fill up in Malaysia. They save serious money because car ownership is so expensive in Singapore (yeah, they have to pay something like $10K just for the right to buy a car!). There was once a ruling that every car that comes over from Singapore to JB must have at least 1/2 tank. I have lots of stories of Singapore and Singaporeans but I’ll save it for some other time.
I should be talking about food here!
I had no idea that I was there just four days after they had opened. Not many people know of them yet. The main signboard is not up yet too.
Frankly, to me the location is not great. Parking is not easy to come by and cars zip by this intersection fast that not many people will notice this place.
Inside the restaurant, it looks very much the same as I remember it when it was Miki Ramen. It is not very big, maybe 25-30 seats max.
Service was good and the same lady who manned the Triple One Malaysian stall front in the Crystal Mall was there to greet me. She is friendly and chatty. She doesn’t speak much English but another helper does speak English better. It wasn’t a problem because I speak Cantonese myself.
When I pulled my camera, she immediately asked me if I was a journalist. I said no, and I told her I write about food on the internet but it did not quite register to her. Her next question was if what I am writing was going to be free. She still thought I was a journalist. LOL! Hmmm … maybe I should have quoted her $19.99 for a 50-word 2-picture review. LOL!
From what I remember, the menu is pretty much the same as it was in Crystal Mall with a little bit of expansion to proper restaurant meals.
They have Combo sets for 2 to 4 persons ranging from $28 to $68. You may click on the menu above to show it larger.
They also have lunch specials which is available from 10:30 AM to 4:30 PM. There are 20 different items which are $7.50 only and that includes coffee or tea.
Faced with so many choices, I decided to ask the lady for a recommendation. I can see that she did not want to recommend but did eventually asked if I would consider the Rendang. I looked all over the menu but could not find it. It seems this is called the Indonesian Brisket Curry with Rice.
When I first saw the dish, I was kind of disappointed that she called this Rendang. This is more a beef curry than a rendang. I was thinking whether if she knew what real Malaysian food is like. It was only later I found out that while the lady was Malaysian, her husband who is the cook is from Hong Kong. That figures.
By all means, the food wasn’t too bad but it certainly wasn’t stellar. Far from it.
It was oily but truth is, it is not uncommon to see oiliness in Malaysian cooking. It is just that in Vancouver, people will raise their eye brow at the sight of it. The curry is slightly spicy and has that certain kick to it. It does leave a lingering heat in the mouth. Like I said it is curry, not rendang.
Lots of beef briskets and it is tender.
The serving was large enough for a hearty lunch. Otherwise, it was quite unexciting. They have lettuce and cucumber as garnishing. As usual, I like jhup with rice.
The lady gave me a dish of her home made sambal. It was made too dark and just not right. Again it was not sambal as I know it and that it wasn’t bad or anything like that. It is just that I had a certain expectation of a good sambal.
She was telling me that she had a tough time in Crystal Mall where people always take a LOT every time she turns around. I like her stories of how frustrated she was with some customers who takes way too much and how some customers were so quick in emptying her sambal pot. Sambal takes a long time to make and they do not charge for sambal.
The lunch special came with tea or coffee. Since this is supposed to be a Malaysian restaurant, I asked for Kopi Susu (Malaysian coffee with condensed milk). She does not have it. They just have good old Canadian coffee.
You know where I had the best Kopi Susu in Vancouver? I like the one in Kedah House. They put in Gula Melaka (palm sugar) into the coffee. If you have never tried it before, you should! See this post.
Not quite satisfied with the Curry Brisket, I decided to order another dish … the one that Audrey was telling me about. It is the Hokkien Mee.
Ai-yah. Not nice-lah. This is not Hokkien Mee-lah.
Too wet. The noodles is too thin. No caramelizing. The sauce is wrong — should be the thick dark soy sauce.
The jee-yow-jar (fried pork fat) is tiny although it is fragrant. I asked that they give me extra jee-yow-jar but it wasn’t quite enough to make the noodles heong (fragrant) enough.
I like jhup but with Hokkien Mee, you must never have jhup or too much jhup like the ones above.
So this is done quite wrongly to call this Hokkien Mee. Calling this something else would be better because it was not bad … just that it is not Hokkien Mee.
The best place I had Hokkien Mee in Vancouver is in Chez Suanne. The chef of Chez Suanne makes very good Hokkien Mee and it is always a treat when she makes it for dinner. See her recipe here.
They gave me jalapeno peppers (above left) for the Hokkien Mee which is not quite the right condiment. This is more suited for soup noodles.
For Hokkien Mee, they should give sambal chili (above right) like the ones that is in Suanne’s Hokkien Mee.
I don’t know man. I want to see this restaurant be successful but I felt that they are not big on authenticity. They had the general ideas but it is just tweaked too much to suit the taste of the customers.
I asked them about it, particularly the Hokkien Mee. They told me that their customers like the Hokkien Mee with lots of jhup. So, go check out JB Malaysian Cuisine yourself and let me know what you think.