[MY] 好比驰名药材烧腊 | Restoran 'Hao Bi'

Saturday, December 03, 2011

An impromptu thought sparked an extraordinary idea, a makan session at Johor Bahru (JB)! Being the weekend, we figured it might be a good idea to try out the public transport, which hopefully would be a better option compared to driving. With some search on the phone, we took bus service 170 from Kranji MRT station and soon arrived at Woodlands Checkpoint. To our surprise, it was an easy-pansy routine really, following other commuters and with proper clear signage, it was not difficult to find our way around. Being my first experience on public transport travelling to Malaysia (JB), I was truly impressed with the efficiency of the customs at both ends. Hopping onto another bus service 170 (which seems to depart on a very frequent basis), we arrived at Malaysia's 'Southern Integrated Gateway' (CIQ) (their customs complex). The entire affair of crossing the international boundary (from Kranji MRT station) took about 35-40mins. I do need to highlight that quite a fair deal of walking was required at the customs complexes.

P.S: Please refrain from taking any pictures at the CIQ. I conveniently whipped out my phone and was aligning my composition for the shot when a whistle bellowed in the distance. A customs officer instructed me to delete the shot instantly before allowing me to continue my journey.

Let the food hunt begins!

好比驰名药材烧腊 (Restoran 'Hao Bi')
There were a few types of their specialty roast duck, namely 'Shi Quan', 'Dong Quai', 'Ginseng' and 'Pi Pa'. With limited stomach space, we went for the 'Shi Quan Roast Duck', At RM7.50/plate for 1 person's serving, definitely did justice and value to money as the waitress explained that ten types of Chinese herbs were used to marinate and integrated into the process of roasting the duck. This was also my first encounter in trying out something other than the usual roast duck, could not wait for the dish to be served!

'Shi Quan' is a classic traditional Chinese herb formula known to tonify one's 'Qi' and blood. You may wish to understand more about the ingredients here.
十全烧鸭 ('Shi Quan' herbal roasted duck) 

(+) Mildly strong herbal aroma stimulated our senses even before we started eating!
(+) Herbal taste was sufficiently strong to leave an impact, and not overwhelming enough to deter.
(+) Very evenly roasted, and the savory aftertaste that lingers with each spoonful was addictive.
(+) If you suckle on the bone, you can taste the essence of the herbs used, mmmph..
(+) The greasy gravy with herbal taste was very tasty and inviting for second bite.
(+) The fragrant skin of the roast duck complemented the juiciness of the layer of fats underneath.
(+) Roast duck meat was rather tender and not overly roasted, so the meat did not taste stiff.

(-) Tasted slightly too salty for our liking and needed some plain rice and drink to wash it down.
(-) Not for the healthy conscious, but it is a heinous sin to say 'No!' to good food!

Verdict: 8.0/10

Roasted crispy pork (siu yook) and barbequed meat (char siew)

(+) A very crispy layer above the very fragrant fat on the siu yook. Hear the crispy crunch as you chew!
(+) A good cut was chosen for the siu yook, good proportion of skin-fats-meat.
(+) The char siew was well roasted and had a good amount of juicy fats.
(+) Fragrant oily rice was well-cooked and al-dente.

(-) The marinade used for the char siew was too sweet for our liking, which ruined the fine cut chosen.

Verdict: (Siu Yook) - 8.5/10 (Char Siew) - 6.5/10
好比驰名药材烧腊 (Restoran 'Hao Bi')
34 Jalan Siu Chin, Johor Bahru Town
好比驰名药材烧腊 (Restoran 'Hao Bi')

A walk in the vicinity (we took our cue from City Square Shopping Centre) and we chanced upon another roast duck specialty stall, however due to limited stomach space, we had to reserve that for another time. What caught our attention however was this...
I thought I saw a roast duck in the air, boy was I right!

Despite being just a bridge away from Singapore, JB still has some rather distasteful corners and alleys. Depending on one's perspective, you could either appreciate the below facet as 'Malaysia..truly Asia!' or if Malaysia is still one large step away from Wawasan 2020 (Vision 2020), an initiative for the nation to be a developed country by year 2020.
A stark contrast from the restaurants located in the confinement of JB City Square, just streets away.

Before heading off to JB City Square for dinner, by coincidence, I chanced upon a traditional Chinese medicinal store, which till today still offers authentic herbal brews at just RM0.80/glass! You could taste the 'bitterness' at the very first sip, very authentic indeed! 

Seems like there are several other such traditional Chinese herbal stalls around the area. It is quite a rare sight nowadays in Singapore with people resorting to pharmacies and/or clinics and hospitals. Nursing a rather sensitive stomach, we decided to proceed to JB City Square for dinner and unanimously decided on 'Sedap Corner', an authentic Malay stall nestled at a corner serving the hungry diners, us included. 

Song of the moment: 'Skyscraper' by Drew Ryniewicz

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