James Foo Western Food @ Bayan Baru

I’ve heard wonderful and not so wonderful things about James Foo in Tanjung Tokong, mostly wonderful. Recently they turned into a franchise and have expanded to several locations, most recently at the brand new Elit Avenue, which is a 5 minutes drive from where I am staying.

So when I picked my pierogi friend up from the airport yesterday afternoon (she’s got a wonderful tan after almost 2 months visiting all the lovely beaches around SEA) and she said she wanted to eat something not so Asian, I immediately thought this place.

It was good timing when we arrived, the usual lunch hours crowd were just dispersing. This place seems like a family friendly eatery, I noticed a few big families eating there. I suppose it is understandable after looking at the menu.

James Foo Western Food
One side of the menu, there is another side with all those fish, steak and lamb stuff.

The prices seem to be on the low side, considering the restaurant is nicely renovated, not to mention the place is air-conditioned. I was rather pleased so far, thinking that this is a place that I could come more often, whenever I feel like using a fork and a knife for my meal.

We ordered a Fresh Mushroom Soup to share.

James Foo Western Food
Fresh Mushroom Soup

Well, it was a good thing that we shared. The moment I tasted the soup, I understood where those not so wonderful things about this restaurant came from. To put a long story short, I think when they name this soup [Fresh Mushroom Soup], they actually meant it as a shorter version for [Fresh Mushroom Bits in Slightly Watered Down Campbell Soup]. I guess I can understand, with RM 3.50 it is unrealistic to expect the soup to be a properly fresh made one. But still, the name on the menu is misleading. It gives people false expectations.

James Foo Western Food
My Grilled Chicken n Pork Combo

The side dishes are nothing much to shout about, typical cheapo food court stuff. The meats were grilled nicely though. I thought the amount of black pepper sauce was perfect for my liking, but it is probably too little for the usual diners. There is barely enough sauce to cover half of the meats. They do have add-on sauce options though, where you can pay RM 1 for more sauce.

She had a rib eye steak which I did not snap a picture of for RM 20 (or US$ 6). I warned her that she might not like steaks in these cheapo places, but she thought it is so cheap that she wouldn’t mind. True to my prediction, the steak was too overcooked to her liking. She did enjoy the black pepper sauce though, it was a new flavor to her apparently.

No Americans/Europeans that I have met ever liked steaks in Malaysia. Especially not in cheapo localized restaurants such as this one. They don’t even give you a choice of how cooked you prefer your meat to be. It is all well done. So if you are a westerner looking to come to my lovely country for vacation, don’t bother ordering the steaks. In fact, just avoid it.

We had soya bean milk for drinks. They were served in classy looking glasses, but one sip and I knew it. Canned drink poured into the glass. Oh well, that’s RM 2.30 for you I guess.

I think the reason some people dislike this franchise is because when they see this place is air-conditioned and the price is slightly higher than food court fare, they would expect the food to be comparable to the likes of Chili’s and TGIF. Never mind the fact the the prices in these more genuine steakhouses are 2 to 3 times higher.

My verdict? I guess this is an okay place to dine in, cheap western food in an air-conditioned restaurant at a slightly higher price compared to food courts. It is not great, but it is certainly not bad. Mid range price for mid range dining. That’s what this James Foo is.


  1. I wonder between this place and Anson in Sibu, which one tastes better? I think Anson’s price is cheaper by a lot. I have not been to any of these localized western food for many, many, many years now. Actually come to think of it, I have never eaten them even once. Oops! Guess I judge the book by its cover here.

    Unless you count the old “RiverBank Restaurant and Pub” that used to be in Central Market (now no longer there). My sister treated me to my first steak there in 1986. We had a T-Bone steak and a Sirloin steak and my first impression was that it was not very tasty so I seldom eat steak after that. Hahahaha!

    • Well, if you can only accept real western food, you can never dine in localized western food outlet. Just like if you can only accept authentic Malay/Thai food, don’t bother trying them in US or UK, they’re just not the same.
      Hahaha, so you went there on the year that I was born! (Oops 😳 ) .. I’ve seen that pub before, but never went in.

  2. hmmm, at least the steaks look quite nice to me from the first photo on top.. my focus was on the meat until you mentioned “The side dishes are typical cheapo food court stuff”, muahahahaha!! having said that, i guess not only cheapo food court, in fact many eateries even some more established restaurants also give this kind of sides to feed you!! 😀

    • Well, at least in places like TGIF, you might get a proper side salad, spinach, broccoli, carrots and/or cherry tomatoes

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