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.
This Post Has 33 Comments
In Penang, I think that Hokkien Mee is called Hokkien Char, to be eaten with lots of sambal 🙂
I’ve ordered from them before at Crystal Mall and frankly, I didn’t like any of the dishes I bought (about 4 dishes).
Hi Lissa: OK, let’s get technical here in naming the dish.
For Penang-lang: They call it Hokkien Char Mee to differentiate it from Hokkien Mee (which is a noodle soup)
For KL-lang who speaks Cantonese: They call it Fook Keen Meen
For KL-lang who speaks English: They call it Hokkien Mee
Yea, Hokkien Char is absolutely different from Hokkien Mee in Penang. In KL, our Penang Hokkien Mee is called Prawn Mee; whilst Penang Hokkien Char is called Hokkien Mee. Weird, huh?
P/S: I am a Penang-lang studying in Vancouver. ;p
It’s funny about the hokkien mee not being hokkien mee. There is no excuse for it really. The correct noodles are avaivalable locally as the the thick dark soy. No point calling that thing something it isn’t. Those that know better will be dissappointed and for those not familiar with Malaysian food wouldn’t come looking for it so what is the benefit?
Hi Sedap Makan: It came back to me now. The lady was also saying to me that it takes longer to braise the noodles properly in Hokkien Mee. Suanne did say that it does take longer than simply stir fry to get to the level of caramelizing but then with high heat, we remember seeing in Malaysia it was done very quickly. Ben
In Malaysia we usually had this late at night. Not sure why but that is when we tended to eat this. It is quite a spectacle the first time you see them cooking in giant woks on their custom made burners which put out a tremendous amount of heat. It is more impressive at night in the dark as the fire from the wok looks like you are in a blacksmith shop. This style of cooking is difficult to duplicate in most kitchens and it is what makes for the level of carmelization. If you aren’t cooking on gas I don’t think you can cook this properly.
I bought an outdoor wok last year (65,000 btu most small burners are 10,000btu)and have only used it a few times. It is capable of making this I am sure. It is tricky to keep from getting the walk too hot and burning. I think I might give this a try this weekend.
So what does one need to do to get invited to Chez Sedap Makan? 🙂 I’m kidding. Anyway, just so that everyone can see what you mean about custom made burners, here it one youtube I just found. A picture paints a thousand words. A video paints a million words:
Thats what I’m talking about and sometimes they will pick up the wok and the flames will shoot up into the air. The video captures ths intensity with the sparks flying out like its a blast furnace.
As for the rendang and the sambal. If you put those in front of me and asked what they were, I would not have guessed Rendang and sambal. The sambal I am used to seeing is more red from the chillis and the rendang here looks like it is in soup broth not the nice thicker darker redang I am used to. Might have just called it curried beef brisket if that is what it tasted like.
We drove by this place on Friday night and I was thinking if you have visited this place yet since it says it’s Malaysian cuisine! You are sure fast Ben!!! Hehehehehe!
Hi Buddha Girl: Oh yeah, you betcha. 🙂 Anyway, this place is a no brainer as it is just a few minutes walk from the office. Hey, have you tried Hokkien Mee with Jee Yow Jar before? If you have not, I think you will like it. Ben
I never had “Hokkien Mee” 福建麵 before…I think I need to ask Buddha Boy to try Suanne’s recipe…hehehehe! A former colleague told me before that growing up, his mom has always stir-fried the noodles in lard 豬油 or deep-fried pork fat 豬油渣…mmm…both sounded good…hahahahaha!
As for the “Jee Yow Jar” 豬油渣 itself…I had it in Taiwan…extremely fragrant and yummy! Yups…pork fat is always yummy!!! But I only had it on rice, never really tried any other way…would love to try other dishes with it!
Hi Buddha Girl: Hmmm … I never had jee yow jar with rice but it sounds like a great idea. 🙂 Ben
Ben, crispy Jee yow jar should be eaten with hot rice, a spoonful of the fragrant jee yow & dark soya sauce. Trust me, it’s GOOD!! I also always like some jee yow in my noodles too! In Taiwan, one can actually buy bottled fried shallots in jee yow, a condiment usually for noodles. FYI, my HK friends like to eat jee yow jar with sugar.
wow Uncle Ben sure gets around! I am going to try and make Suanne’s recipe for Hokien Mee.
Suanne, can you provide a photo or description of the type of noodle I should buy?
Oh no … not at all. JB Malaysian Cuisine is just a few minutes walk from my office. Anyway, about Hokkien Mee, you MUST make sure there are these three components:
>> Wok Hei
>> Jee Yow Jar
>> Thick soya sauce
Miss one of these and you cannot call it Hokkien Mee.
Hi joyluckclub, I used thick Shanghai noodle which can be found in most Chinese groceries.
Being a Singaporean, I totally get it when you talk about kiasu Singaporeans. FYI, they still are and maybe worst since it has gotten more competitive in Singapore. I came to the US way too early to fully immerse myself in “kiasuism”. However, no matter how long I have been away, I sure agreed with you on the authenticity of Redang and the Hokkien mee. It is a shame cos both of the dishes did not even come close to anything they were supposed to be — Yan
I agree the Hokkien Mee does not look right. The yellow noodles must be thicker and also the color should be darker. At least they had the pork fat. It is a must to make it delicious 🙂
That was not rendang, it looks like Indonesian soup Kambing (Goat soup). Hey my niece married to a Singaporean, I would ask them what do they say about Malaysia Chinese.
Is the owner/lady Chinese ? I’m guessing so, otherwise if she’s Malay or Singaporean the dishes would likely be much more authentic.
That *is* a tough location to thrive. I hope she improves the food and survive the next 6 months.
Hi LotusRapper: Yes, the owners are Chinese (hence they offer Bah Kut Teh). Agree about the location. Ben
In that location, they should cater to office workers. Like a very good Malaysian “chap fun” stall.
Cuisine sounds high class but the menu & the food are cafe style. What are they doing with wonton soup, kung pao chicken and Thai tom yum in the menu?
Didn’t think they would pull out of Crystal Mall to open their own restaurant.
Wasn’t impressed with their food then, so I’ll probably pass especially if the chef is not Malaysian or S’porean!
As an aside, it seems to me that such restaurants thrive if the portion size is adequate. It’s galling when u pay $8-9 and still feel hungry. All it takes is for the chef to add 50% more rice or noodles and customers will be happy. Penang Delight take note 🙂
Hi, uncle Ben.
I feel kind of bad when u mentioned about silliness of singaporeans. I am a Singaporean therefore could fully empathize with them. To them, the cost of living couldn’t justify their paycheck, therefore, had resulted in those extremes. Honestly, who won’t be happy to get a bargain, just across the Border. It’s akin to a “few” people crossing over to Seattle to get cheaper gas. The list goes on…. Guess u won’t want to call them kiasu too. Hehe. Haiz, I guess every country isn’t perfect afterall n has their equal share social issues. Hopefully, singapore and other countries in the near future will have a better government who cares for their people and gradually changes their citizens outlook to life.
Opps, I have forgotten to ask , do u know where i can find malaysia/singapore carrot cake in Vancouver. It either comes with the white or black version. Both with fried with eggs n salted radish. I think in hokkien, it’s call ” cai tou guo”. 菜头果
Xie Xie ^^
When you said ”cai tou guo” 菜头果, do you mean this type below?
We have not seen this in Vancouver before unfortunately. I don’t think there will be anyone who will make it and sell it in restaurants. If anything, someone may sell it at food courts. I also think that there are some home businesses that does these types of Malaysian/Singaporean “kuih” but there are mostly known via word of mouth and they supply to churches and places like that.
About the Kiasu’ism. Don’t feel bad about it. From your description it does not seems to me that you had grown up in Singapore and does not really understand what that means. I’ll have you know that the word is almost always used by Singaporeans to describe themselves and is not usually used as a derogatory term. Kiasu’ism is not a bad thing particularly in the context of the island state of Singapore where self-reliance is a necessity. Here is a very good description of Kiasu’ism: http://www.squidoo.com/Kiasu
Here is a TV program made in Singapore by Singaporeans for Singaporeans that poke fun in this unique culture. Really, I don’t Think it is a bad thing, not when the national TV makes a program about it.
Could Felicia be referring to Chai Tow Kueh which is a fried carrot (lo bak) cake? It’s a savory dish done both way in white and dark depending on whether or not you add the sweet soya sauce. I think the picture you’ve shown is a variation of “Put Jai Go”
Hi Felicia (and Lily): Ah … I see what you are saying. Or at least I think I know what you are saying now. The “white” version is the plain ones while the “black” version is one that they fry it with eggs and beansprouts on a flat pan which I saw in Pasar Malams (night markets). Is that what you are talking about? It is also known as Lo-Bak-Go (Cantonese). If this is Lo-Bak-Go you are referring to, then wouldn’t it be the same as the radish cake that you commonly find on most dim sum menu in Vancouver? Am trying to demystify this thing because what do I know!?! LOL!
Anyway, we were in Parker Place today and scouted for Poot Jai Go that Crispy was talking about (obviously different from what Felicia was looking for) and found that they call it the Sweet Rice Cake and it costs 65 cents each with one free for six bought. Here are a couple of pix we took:
BTW, Felicia, I hope that Kiasu comment I made did not offend you. If I did, I am sorry.
I saw something similar to cai tou goh being sold in the Taiwanese icy stall in Parker Place food court. It is sweet though not savoury.
Regarding kiasu,that was a really funny video you posted. I think its a trait common to most Chinese not just the ones from Singapore/Malaysia. I do practice that myself. I will always try to get freebies. I’m sure Ben you know how often I asked for the freebies you give out to your readers. And of course there are those free food samples in Costco and T&T that I always partake.
Yes, Lily! That is wad I am looking for! And, so many other yummy dishes as well. Do guys know about nonya dumplings n popiah as well. I missed these sumptous food so much.
This is the link for the black version.
Hi Felicia, you may find something similar at the Phnom Penh Restaurant @ Vancouver Chinatown. They have the dark soy fried version with egg, shredded preserved lo-bak & beansprouts. Don’t know what it’s called on their menu but when my Cambodian friend orders it, she calls it “jin-guo” and the dish is eaten with garlic infused black vinegar.
Thanks for the video. Gave me a good laugh. My American Born son had a good laugh with the “aiyo” and the “some more”. Make me missed Singlish and all the local food!! – Yan
Aw… In my memory if doesn’t goes with bean sprout or garlic infused vinegar dip. ><., guess, I have to make it myself. Aw!!
Btw, uncle Ben, I alright with the kiasu ish coments. Din Noe why I became defensive out of a sudden where I usually have lotsa nasty stuff to say of my Sucky singapore government. So I am cool. Hehe. U should have a old production of Singapore local film called " money not enough." The movie emphasized more on the worst aspects of the living of Singaporean.
Btw, I believed the carrot cake had to made with soften radish n steamed to cakes. It had to cut into cubes n fried together with salted radish, eggs n occasionally sweet soya sauce ( kecap manis).
Below is the picture of a white version
Are there many Singaporean n Malaysia tried this resturant how the standard isit taste alike ? thank you