凯旋 Kai Xuan @ Puteri Pacific Hotel, JB

I’ve shown you my most favorite restaurant in Johor Bahru (JB). Next I’m going to show you my second most favorite restaurant.

Again, this was a place that I stumbled upon by chance. You see, when I first started doing these business trips to JB, those hotels in Century Garden were not yet in existence. Every time we come here, if we wanted to stay in JB, there was only one hotel for us, the Puteri Pacific. It was either this, or staying in Singapore.

Now, you might be wondering: “Then why so stupid and come here? Why not stay in Singapore?”.

The thing is, you know, it is fine to stay in Singapore if the trip only involves one or two nights stay. But engineers like us usually come for a week or more because we need to get work done. Getting caught in heavy traffic to get our passports stamped, twice a day, for a week or more, is an extremely frustrating thing. Not to mention that we have to get up extremely early and arrive back in Singapore extremely late. The amount of trouble is just not worth for that minor glamour of claiming “I can stay in Singapore yeah!”.

So, I was always staying in Puteri Pacific whenever I have to travel to JB in the first two or three years of my job. And then, because I was new and relatively inexperienced, not to mention that JB was (still is) actually notorious amongst us as the crime capital of Malaysia, we never went out of the hotel for dinner. It was always the hotel’s buffet dinner for us.

Now, I know a buffet dinner is expensive and lovely. But imagine having buffet dinner for a week or two, continuously. I can guarantee you that by day three, you will feel so tired (bordering on disgust) with the prospects of having another buffet dinner, lavish as it may be.

It was precisely because of this disgust, one day during my second trip to JB, I decided to explore the hotel a little bit. It was in this manner that I noticed the existence of a halal Chinese restaurant located at the lower ground floor of the hotel.

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It looked exactly like this, my first descent into the hotels LG floor. No changes in over 5 years

At that time, I was traveling with a big group of people, with a healthy mix of Malay, Chinese and Indian. Now the Indians were cool to try this Chinese restaurant. But, I had a hard time trying to convince the Malays to give this place a try. Especially when the restaurant also looked exactly like this when we took a peek from the outside.

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As it was, so it is… Deserted…

I had to use every persuasion trick known to mankind to convince them that this place is 100% halal, and that the flavors that they will get will be drastically different compared the usual nasi kandar or ikan goreng that they were so used to.

In the end, I managed to get the oldest Malay guy on board (we’re best friends now). Once I won him over, the battle was won, and in we went…

Oh, I have talked so much without telling you the name of the restaurant. I mean this restaurant: 凯旋 Kai Xuan Chinese Restaurant @ Puteri Pacific Hotel.

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As this is a halal restaurant, you can be rest assured that you won’t be able to find any oinks or alcohol in here.

One thing though… you know how most of those CMRs (Chinese Muslim Restaurants) in Malaysia, they are usually helmed by those China Muslims from Yunnan or Xinjiang? As a result, the CMRs in Malaysia mostly serves dishes that are unfamiliar to the mostly Cantonese Malaysians.

Here in Kai Xuan though, the chef is a Muslim from Guangzhou (that’s what the waitress told us). The dishes that we get here are Cantonese styled dishes. Dishes that most Malaysian Chinese are very accustomed to.

You know what happened that night? I introduced to my Malay coworkers the concept of [scallops] and [stir fry with garlic and soy sauce] and [龙躉 giant grouper] and [sharks fin] (Sorry, hippies. I’m Chinese…) and in the process, blew each and every one of their minds away. It was a splendid feast, and everyone loved it so much, especially my best friend elderly Malay guy. So much that in his subsequent trips, even without me, he would make it a point to come to this restaurant for dinner and convert other Malays into Chinese food loving people in the process.

Anyway… why am I getting carried away talking about grandmother stories from the past?

This time, I came here alone. So there was no way I could order away in reckless abandon. So I went with two dishes, one soup and no rice.

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Prawns with salted egg yolk batter

This prawns with salted egg yolk is my must order dish here. It is probably because of the presence of curry leaves and cili padi in the mix, but I really like the version here over any other versions that I have tried before.

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Broccoli with garlic

Broccoli for the veggie quota of the day. I actually wanted to order the one with scallops, but decided against it. There’s already a plate full of prawns for me, can’t consume too much seafood at a go…

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Pickled Cabbage Soup 咸菜汤

I could’ve gone with sharks fin soup, but I opted for this pickled cabbage soup instead because I had it once before and liked it very much. It was still as good as I remember.

I really enjoyed my meal here, as I have always enjoyed. Although this is a halal Chinese restaurant, I really feel the food here is very good, and much better than a lot of those non-halal establishments.

To be honest, I don’t understand why this restaurant always seems to be deserted at dinner time. I’ve seen so many Johor Chinese people blogs say good things about dim sum at this restaurant, but not one have ever featured dinner here.

I mean, yeah, it is in a hotel so the prices is a bit steeper. But for comparison, my bill here was about the same amount as my bill in Kinsahi. And I’m pretty sure the food here is even less expensive compared to, say, 汤师傅 Tang Shifu.

If you are a Johorean or are in Johor, I guess it is time for you guys to give this restaurant a chance. If you can accept halal dim sum, I don’t see any reason why you cannot accept halal Chinese style dinner…

22 Comments

  1. This hotel was once very popular with 5 star services. I have not been there for a long time and wonder if the ratings remained. The plus point about China chefs is that they must come from Guangzhou in order to dish out their best culinary skills. I am planning a visit to Guangzhou to taste their world of finest Chinese food. My friends got fat each time they returned because the food choices are like havens.

    • Apparently they are still retaining their 5-stars. I agree their service is excellent, but the hotel itself is getting old, the rooms and facilities all look like antiquated. It’s been 4 or 5 years since I last stayed with them, I wonder if they renovated. If judging based on the lobby then probably not.

  2. I’ve always known that JB was a high-crime area of Malaysia, a place where it is best for girls and women to go around together with a big man. But I never knew things were to the extent you are better off eating at a hotel… 🙁

    Salted egg yolk batter. Yesssss! You sure know how to do Cantonese style dishes. The portions look small, I must say 🙄

    I actually haven’t had halal Chinese food before. I trust that chicken and seafood is used to give the food flavour as opposed to pork. And spices too.

    • Well, I’m sure I exaggerated. But I guess everywhere other than our immediate home area will look like a crime infested risk area, so better safe than sorry I guess. Although I have been going around a lot more on trips that I drive instead of flying in.

      Actually it is the bones that give flavors, or in seafood’s case, the crusty shells. The meat will do next to nothing in terms of boosting a dish’s overall flavors, if you ask any Chinese cooks.

  3. In my experience of dining in Chinese restaurants in hotels, they’re usually deserted at dinner time becos of the price factor (or the perception of higher prices). Many feel that at similar prices, there are plenty more equally good, if not better, Chinese restaurants with more premier ingredients. But lunch time is a different story as it’s usually filled with corporate clients (where the companies are the ones who foot the bill…haha!).

    • Yeah, that’s why I’m writing what I wrote in the last paragraphs. I want people to know that the prices here is not different compared to a few of those nice restaurants in the malls. 😐

  4. You probably already know that I’m not the biggest fan of Cantonese style food… so chinese-muslim food from yunnan actually sounds really interesting to me. However… that prawns with the salted egg yolk sounds soooooo good!! I really liked the little backstory in the beginning too. 🙂 And also… Singapore is overrated… Malaysia’s way cooler. That’s my verdict after having been to both now. 🙂

    • Yeah, I know now. You’re a spice person, and subtle flavors don’t really work for you. But salted eggs are a super flavor. I believe you will like it. 🙄

      It is no wonder that Singapore doesn’t suit you then. Their food is bland compared to what you can get in Malaysia and (probably) even more so in Thailand or Vietnam 🙄

  5. I am not crazy about prawns BUT….if it is Prawns with Salted Egg Yolk Batter, then yes, I am crazy about it 😀 This restaurant seems to have maintained their standards over the years. I haven’t been to JB in ages and chances of going there again seems quite remote.

    • Yeah. The longest I ever tried is 3 days back and forth traveling, and I got so tired and frustrated with crossing the Causeway 🙁 ..

      • But more expensive for your company to put you all up in Singapore when you all are working in JB but they are willing to do it? Why so weird?

        • It is hard to explain the way big MNC operates in a way that makes sense I suppose. We have a list of preferred suppliers for every travel related thing: airlines, hotels, car rentals, bla bla bla. There are certain criteria that need to be met for a service provider to be included in our list. A handful of the Singaporean hotels qualify, whereas in JB only one does. It is not about being cheap, but overall value for money which our HR/Procurement group has a matrix of criteria.

          I know nuts about how these stuff works in detail, I’m just the user.

  6. Paling hoi-wai punya dish today is the prawns with salted egg yolk..If I go alone for dinner also I will order like you, minus the vege, haha.. Maybe 1 prawns or sotong and soup (or taufu kang) like you, and another meat 😛

  7. I know you want to stay off carb as best as you could but how could you do justice to that delicious plate of prawns with salted egg yolk if you do not eat it with rice!! I could imagine how delicious the prawns would taste with steaming white plain rice, so so yummylicious bordering on when Harry met Sally’s famous scene, u know (unless you are not a movie buff).

    Also good for being halal chinese food ambassador. Thumbs up!

    • I’m a movie buff, but not buff enough for the old movies, so I never watched this one before 🙄 … Hahaha I know what you mean lah. I have had this dish here before previously with rice. But okay lah, I had the prawns with broccoli, nice contrast and flavors balancing too 😛 ..

  8. give your biggest applause to the Ambassador of Cantonese Food, your colleagues must be so glad you recommend this restaurant to them!! i mean they probably already love Chinese food, just that they could not find any around they can eat with peace of mind and up to their tastebuds standard.. now, you must show them this prawns with salted egg yolk batter dish.. i love it and i am sure they would!! 🙂

    • Heh, no need to show anymore, they already know. This prawn dish was one of the orders we got that time anyway. 😛

    • Recently I noticed a lot of restaurants are offering this dish already. Up to a couple years ago, I think not all Chinese restaurants will do this, have to search for it. 🙄

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