Braved the jam (or lack thereof) my colleague, Rachel, and I did on a late weekday morning. Honestly, with the ongoing hustle and bustle of crazy Singaporeans rushing into JB as if their life depended on it, we were surprised it only took us 30 minutes to clear customs. A good day awaited!
So, without a boring rundown of our trip to JB, here are 10 best JB cafes worth crossing the border for.
1. The Cool Cat
Located smack in the middle of nowhere (trust me when I say even Grab drivers have difficulty finding this place) is newly-opened, The Cool Cat. Once you’ve found your way into Tunku Mahkota Ismail Youth Centre, you’ll be greeted by what looks like a container park of eateries coupled with a mini skate park. Personally, it reminded me of a mini *SCAPE.
If you’re looking for something to cool you down, The Cool Cat sells homemade ice cream in plenty of flavours. The owner, Roy, also mentioned that he tailor-made his ice cream flavours to be less sweet to cater to everyone’s taste buds.
For only RM11.90, one loaded ice cream cup comes with homemade chocolate syrup in a mini syringe, a mini pretzel, a mini ice cream cone, and a frozen strawberry, all atop a bed of cornflakes. We had the teh tarik and yam ice cream, and it didn’t disappoint. Like Roy mentioned, it wasn’t too sweet which made it easy to go back for more, and the toppings were a pleasant touch to the ice cream.
I can definitely see myself coming back here to get my ice cream fix, the next time I’m in Johor.
2. Caribbean Juice Bar
Next up is Caribbean Juice Bar. Think Bali or the Caribbean vibes, this is a place that’s perfect for your inner island girl (or boy). Perfectly situated at Puteri Harbour, the juice bar is conveniently located by the water, adding to the island vibes.
Decked with wooden furnishings and floorboards, the old shipping container also has a second level that’s coupled with an overhead straw canopy— a perfect place to up your Instagram game. Additionally, they’ve a really chill playlist that sets the mood. Think Bob Marley, UB40, and Sister Nancy.
Since we have been eating a fair bit on this trip, we decided to opt for the Loaded Papaya (RM15) and a Smoothie Bowl (RM15).
The former consists of half a papaya stuffed with homemade granola, coconut milk, flax and chia seeds, and goji berries. I love papayas and having them by the water only elevated my dining experience. The latter was a hit too! I got the All Fruits Ripe Smoothie Bowl and boy, was it satisfying. Needless to say, both dishes made an impact on healthy food tasting good!
3. George and Dragon Cafe
I’ve been debating with myself on whether or not to share George and Dragon Cafe with the masses however, I came to a conclusion that good things must be shared so I shan’t gate-keep this place any longer.
The quaint English cafe has an interior filled with the owner’s family heirlooms, complete with knights (in shining armour), antiques and souvenirs, among other things. What struck me the most was that once you enter the cafe, it’s like entering an old Irish pub.
Personally, if you’re craving a good plate of juicy steak, this is the place to have it at. Not forgetting their delicious Homemade Sauces (RM4.80) that will automatically make you forget about pairing your steaks with the boring black pepper or mushroom sauce.
For starters, we had the Garlic Bread Basket (RM9), Potato Skins (RM25), and a classic Mushroom Soup (RM14). And two Homemade Sauces— garlic & mustard and creamy herb.
For mains, we went for two standard English dishes, the Fish & Chips (RM38.80) and Bangers & Mash (RM24). Like their (yummy) steaks, all their dishes are absolute bangers (pun not intended). Also, if you’re a huge dessert lover (unlike me), do try their homemade desserts— I heard they’re not to be missed!
Besides food, they also have a list of delicious drinks available— from beers straight from the tap to specially curated coffee and milkshake options.
All in all, if you’re looking for a nice place to have brunch, lunch or dinner, George and Dragon Cafe is the place for you.
4. Grumpy Goat & Friends
This one is a tad bit further away from the others but it’s worth the trip. If you’re huge on aesthetics and Asian-Western food dishes, Grumpy Goat & Friends shouldn’t be missed. I mean, where else can you find a double-storied glass house that’s filled with ample natural lighting?
With an extensive menu, we were certainly spoiled for choice. We got the Salted Egg Chicken Waffle Burger (RM29), “Nyonya” Style Spaghetti with Marinated Chicken Fillet (RM28), and Grumpy Supreme Fish (RM38). If you’ve not had a waffle burger before, I’d recommend it however, opt for a different flavour as the salted egg was a tad disappointing. Nonetheless, the other two dishes made up for the salty disappointment and are something I can see myself coming back for.
We also had their quirky drinks like the Tiramigoat (RM13)— essentially a combination of tiramisu and coffee in a very messy mug (with a printed image of the brand’s mascot). My colleague tricked me into drinking this knowing full well I’m not a fan of coffee in any form , and it was extremely bitter for me. However, in her words, “this is super good, especially for coffee lovers”.
5. The Lightwood by Mues
Another hidden gem that’s been all the rage of late is The Lightwood by Mues. The one-month-old, pastel-hued bakery cafe has been the talk of the town amongst Johorians for a while now. And I can understand why. Stepping into this place is like visiting a different country altogether.
They’re known for their homemade Sourdough Bread, Focaccia, and Bagels, along with mains like their Wild Rice Pilaf, Duck Confit, and more. Pair them up with your beverage of choice to have a lovely time!
6. Off Day Cafe
Ever heard of a place that embraces three countries in one location? Well, that’s what Off Day Cafe is all about. At this minimalistic cafe, you will find Australian-inspired brunch sets, Korean-inspired desserts, and Malaysian-roasted coffee. If that’s not enough, their all-white interior is coupled with lovely terrazzo table tops to give the place an additional pop!
Have a go at their Freshly Baked Strawberry Shortcake (RM13) or incredibly indulgent Tiramisu Cake (RM16), and pair them with a refreshing bevvy to end the day. I also heard their Cheesecakes (from RM22 per piece) are to die for.
7. A Bread & Coffee Place
With a self-explanatory name like A Bread & Coffee Place, you wouldn’t expect anything else, right? Wrong. Apart from bread & coffee, the old-school cafe also specialises in Western food and cakes.
If you enjoy the simplicity of life, this is a cafe for you. Coupled with the nostalgic ambience, A Bread & Coffee Place offers the simple things that life has to offer. Breakfast lovers, you’d be glad to know that RM28 will get you a Supreme Breakfast Set— loaded with two crispy streaks of bacon, two sausages, scrambled eggs, sautéed mushrooms, two slices of toast, lettuce, cherry tomatoes, and your choice of potatoes or pumpkin.
208, Jalan Sri Pelangi, Taman Pelangi, 80400 Johor Bahru, Johor, Malaysia
+60 11-5209 6888
Mon, Tue, Thu to Sun: 8am – 5pm
Closed on Wed
What’s a JB cafe listicle without the inclusion of Mount Austin aka Singaporean’s holy grail? Enter KAKIYUKI, a Japanese handcrafted shaved ice dessert bar that uses fresh fruits and premium ingredients.
This cafe is worth the trip especially if you’re a shaved ice lover like me. Cold desserts are what we need when it comes to spending too much time in the sun. With flavours like Matcha Brulee, Hōji Mountain, Watermelon Kiss, Black Forest S’mores, and more, you’d definitely be spoiled for choice!
They also have Anmitsu Ice— an ice-based Japanese Anmitsu dessert bowl, and classic Japanese confectionery!
9. 6D Cafe Mount Austin
You’ve heard of 2D, 3D, and even 4D cafes, but have you heard of a 6D Cafe? The unique cafe is filled with a 2D black and white, crayon Shin Chan-themed interior and is unlike any other cafe around the area.
When you’re done taking pictures at every corner of the cafe, be sure to indulge in their Western fare like the popular, Smoked Duck Pasta or Crispy Chicken Chop Burger. Dress in bright colours when you visit to stand out in your pictures!
This Industrial-themed cafe that specialises in Japanese dishes and matcha drinks will immediately transport you to a dystopian society. Or to the set of Hunger Games. The interior, however, is reminiscent of a modern art gallery. Fair warning, be there early to avoid the long waiting time.
I’d recommend the Matcha Strawberry Sando (RM14), Truffle Carbonara Udon (RM26), and you can never go wrong with some crispy Karaage (RM16). Afterwards, wash it all down with a tall glass of refreshing Watermelon Matcha Iced Latte (RM15).
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