"Old town old flavours" never rings more true when my friend and I visited Johor Bharu recently.
The famous Hua Mui Hainanese Coffee Shop founded in 1946 beckons to us the moment we set eyes on it. Ladies in sari with some midriff exposed, young men in ties with iPads on the small tables, and old Indian men with some shadows of grey beard appearing and Chinese towkays all sit comfortably under the antique ceiling with old style swirling fans.
We are given the menu almost immediately. This is one of the places where you don't have to stretch your neck and snap your fingers to get the attention of the wait staff. The young girl wearing a nice Hua Mui t-shirt is all smiles. I give her a 10 for her nice body language of understanding her customers . What an array of choices!! We are not wrong in our first impression.
|located at the junction of Jalan Trus and Jalan Dhoby of Johor Bahru town. This chicken chop is priced at RM 9.80 (Photo courtesy of Phyllis Wong)|
As we sit waiting for our kopi-o to arrive we drink in the surrounding. What a lovely place, old town feel. red buildings and red lanterns and interesting windows.
We are impressed by the multi-cultural mix of the people in the streets: some hurrying to their destinations, others walking slowly and perhaps thinking of what next to do. Two ladies are keeping the streets clean.
Next to our table the two young men with their iPads are eating trditional just nearly hard boiled eggs when their order of chicken chops arrive. It is only 3 p.m.
The aroma of the chicken chops whiff into our nasal passage and even though we have already had our lunch, we unanimously decide to share a Hainanese Chicken Chop.....we are not disappointed. It is crispy and the peas are just right. This is the day we have two lunches!
The sauce is exceptional ...it is the original Hua Mui Chicken chop sauce made with Worcestershire sauce and other secret ingredients. The crispy chop is definitely made with egg and flour batter and breadcrumbs.
The Hainanese Coffee shops go way back in the history of South East Asia. They provide the best coffee and the best kaya and butter toasts. And they also cook up the best Asian European fusion Chicken Chops. The original Hainanese cooks were houseboys of the European colonial civil servants or "planters" and with their training they started a long history of great coffee shops. This tradition lives on to make the kopitiam of Malaysia and Singapore so famous...Iconic is the word.
If you cannot be in Johor Bharu you can look out for other Hainanese Coffee Shops in other parts of Malaysia and Singapore.
It may be old town and old flavours but the Hua Mui Hainanese Chicken Chops in particular really has a strong long staying power!! We must not forget and forsake our own home grown dish.