Restoran Tong @ Johor Bahru
It wasn’t easy to find Restoran Tong. We took many turns and ultimately had to ask a local for directions before finally reaching our destination. Mr Poh Ah Tong is the owner of Restaurant Tong. He is a Hainanese and started this business in the 1970s. His 30-year-old son, Kenny, is currently helping him in the kitchen but Mr Poh still insists on doing his own marketing.
You may ask how passionate is Ah Tong about his food? Well, he buys racks of fresh pork ribs from the market and cuts the ribs himself at the restaurant. That gives him the freedom to decide on the desired thickness he wants. We didn’t try their bak kut teh which was supposed to be their signature. Instead, we were told that their kampong chicken and steamed fish taste much better.
The steamed pomfret (RM$70) is small but, at that price, one can’t complain. They uses sea fish and not river fish. It is done well, with the meaty fish, so very fresh, perfectly in a tasty, savoury soup. It comes with slices of ginger, tomatoes, fried shallots and tofu. The soup was slightly too salty for my liking, it would work if you order a bowl of rice. But I enjoyed every single slice of the fish meat, it is going on the must-order list.
The piping hot winter melon soup is on of the best versions I’ve had. It has a good balance of pork ribs, longan, barley and winter melon, which is known for its cooling effect. The soup is fresh-tasting – I could taste the natural sweetness of the winter melon, plus it was not too salty and the pork ribs weren’t porky.
As Hainanese myself, we used kampong chicken to cook chicken rice ourselves. So it really feels like I am home when the steamed kampong chicken is served. Served in big chunky cuts in eye catching yellow colour, the meat is less oily, sweeter and has a firmer texture. The meat is super tender and moist, I think I can have the whole plate to myself. You can’t get something like this in Singapore!
Here’s the map, hope it helps you! It’s a joy when someone is serving food he is clearly passionate. His dishes are simple but well-executed with a good balance of flavours. Everything tastes natural and unpretentious, which makes me feel like home. By the way, the owner cooks Hainanese Eight Treasure Pot every weekend, so it is best that you visit them on Saturdays or Sundays to enjoy the meal!
Restoran Tong 东肉骨茶馆
Address: 41, Jalan Hang Lekir 10, Taman Skudai Baru, Skudai, Johor
Opening Hours: 9am to 2:30pm