Chaiwalla & Co Container Cafe

Someone asked this Eatvestigator where they could find some decent chai tea at decent prices. This Eatvestigator had to first point out the redundancy of the phrase “chai tea” because the word chai essentially means tea in India (which was itself derived from the Chinese word “cha/茶”). However this chai is typically infused with spices. It thereby follows that a “Chaiwalla” is very much the Indian version of a barista who makes tea for you.
Thoroughly disappointed by the chai latte offered at a certain Seattle coffee chain, this Eatvestigator decided to seek out some chai that wasn’t exorbitantly priced or watery. Here lies this gem of a Chaiwalla Container Cafe in the Little India of Singapore Johor Bahru. The shop operates out of an actual container, providing a scenic view of a car park with al fresco seating. The locals do NOT appeared to be concerned with any sort of outdoor daylight muggings. There is of course safety when gathering in numbers. It is located at Jalan Tan Hiok Nee, which is a mere stone throw away from City Square.

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You get reasonably priced chai at around RM3.8-5.8, with choice of original or additive flavours, done hot or cold. This Eatvestigator tried both the original hot chai and cold chai, and can attest that it has not been diluted watery like certain overpopulated establishments. There were other beverage choices such as milk, thai milk tea to suit your mood. Pies were also on offer but this Eatvestigator didn’t have the time or stomach to try them.

Nearby, there were also various venerable old eateries, ranging from a coffeeshop to a bakery. As of writing, they have opened a second outlet at The Curve in Kuala Lumpur. (No love for tea drinkers in Singapore).

Lot 2810, Jalan Tan Hiok Nee
80000 Johor Bahru

Restoran Todak

Right opposite Singapore’s Sembawang coast is this al fresco seafood restaurant on stilts that offers a somewhat scenic view of the Johor straits and shipyards in Singapore. The restaurant is set amidst a sleepy fishing village of the Orang Asli (Malaysia’s true aboriginals) whom this eatvestigator observed digging the mud for some of the “fresh” catch which are supplied to the restaurant.
The location is a good 30 minutes away from the Causeway by car, single one way taxi fare is approximately RM30-40 depending on your haggling skills. The main reason to venture here is for the reasonably fresh seafood that is about half price of what you get in Singapore. There are in fact a few other restaurants in the vicinity but this was observed to be the most crowded (for good reason).
As with any respectable seafood restaurant, prices are prominently displayed alongside the live produce. It is this eatvestigator’s opinion that restaurants which refuse to prominently display prices have the utmost intentions of  fudging their calculations and you often end up with astronomical prices.
Grouper, mud crabs and clams are in great abundance. There are about 4 categories of mud crabs that vary from the smallest to the largest. The cheapest being RM3/100g, upsizing to RM5/100g, RM7/100g, RM10/100g. The cheapest are the first to be gone, so the eatvestigator’s party went with the RM7 ones. Boy they were huge.
First blood was the whole grouper (RM100, ~SGD39), steamed in Teochew style. Very sweet and fresh, well executed.
The obligatory prawns (RM45, ~SGD18) were never particularly impressive every single time that the eatvestigator has been here. Get them if you are not broke and just want some variety.
We also had crabs done in two different styles, the first being salted egg york, the second being chilli. The eatvestigator preferred the former, but both had their merits. Both dishes utilised 3 crabs each, totalling approximately 3.5kg for a grand total of RM231 or SGD90 for both. This is approximately half of Singapore price.
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It is obligatory when having chilli crab to also have fried mantous for dipping with the sauce. These were pretty addictive and the party ended up having a second helping.
We arrive at the most pertinent aspect of the venture across the straits. There was crab, fish, prawn, cuttlefish, and assorted vegetable stir fries, even coconuts. For a meal of 11 persons, this worked out into about RM50 ~SGD19 a person. Truly Malaysia boleh value. Beware, cash only and make sure you pre-arrange a ride back if arriving by taxi.

1, Kampung Orang Asli, Telok Jawa, Masai, Johor Baru
11.30am ~ 11.30pm

Tiong Bahru Bakery

This is a heavily backlogged post by the eatvestigator who took an extended vacation recovering from the affliction that is reported as follows. Tiong Bahru is the main breeding ground of the T4B7 virus, more commonly known as the cafe fever, which has gripped Singapore. A key haunt of the virus is the Tiong Bahru Bakery where many of the afflicted gather in droves. In the interest of not catching the virus, it is best to avoid the area during weekends.
A key hallmark of infected individuals is their affliction for expensive caffeinated potions. Coffee is the predominant choice of potion, often topped  with ornamental patterns which bear little resemblance to the coffee plant. A chart is provided above for reference, the specimen shown below is a flat white.
The establishment does indeed live up to its namesake and serves bread. However the often humble appearances of the bread belies their ornate display. Prices are in the range of $2-5, so everyone can afford to buy some dough sans meat.
This is called charcoal bread. It tastes as unimpressive as it looks, almost like stone.
Do not be deceived, this is not a chicken cutlet with chilli powder. In fact, it is actually apple crumble with some cinnamon powder. Given the price, a scoop of ice cream would have helped it to look more like the latter.
The T4B7 virus appears to influence its victims into paying premium dollar for seemingly normal looking food under the influence of caffeinated potions. The area around Tiong Bahru remains highly infectious, the only cure for this appears to be an empty wallet, you have been warned.

56 Eng Hoon Street
#01-70 Singapore 160056
8am – 8pm (Daily except closed on Tue)