PUBLISHED May 4th, 2016 07:05 am | UPDATED March 26th, 2019 12:27 pm
Cafe hopping is practically a national sport. While the buzzing cafe culture in Singapore isn’t showing signs of fizzling out just yet (with the first ever Singapore Coffee Festival coming up), what’s worth checking out is the growing cafe scene conveniently across the causeway. Located within walking distance from Johor Bahru Sentral, we pick the 10 that are worth the day trip across the border.
Besides driving into Johor Bahru, consider taking the new Shuttle Tebrau train service from Woodlands to JB Sentral, or public buses serving the route between Singapore and Johor Bahru to avoid the snaking traffic.
Both Singaporean (SBS and SMRT) and Malaysian bus services offer pick ups at various locations around the island such as Jurong East Interchange, Kranji MRT, Woodlands MRT, and Queens Street Terminal.
Tip: pick up a Data SIM card at a Malaysian convenience store or petrol station before you get started. This would come in handy for navigation, which can be quite confusing for first timers. Once you’re in a cafe, there is usually free wifi to tap on. A prepaid SIM with 1GB data costs around RM30 (approximately SGD10). M1 users can purchase the M Card in Singapore, which offers affordable rates of SGD5 for 1GB (to be used within 3 days). Excess data can be used when you return to Singapore.
Let’s get started:
The Replacement Lodge and Kitchen
With it’s minimalistic, clean interiors and drool-worthy menu, it’s easy to understand why locals and tourists alike flock over for their brunch fix. Notable dishes include the value-for-money The Breakfast Platter (RM 26.90) and Churros (RM14.90), which comes with your choice of dip (choose from options like Salted Egg Yolk, Gula Melaka, and Dark Chocolate Ganache). We also liked the Berries Compote French Toast (RM18.90) that was served with fresh mint, berries compote, and vanilla ice cream. If you’re heading into JB early, make this your first stop ’cause you get a coffee or juice with your breakfast for just RM3!
The Replacement Lodge and Kitchen is located at 33-34 Jalan Dhoby, 80000 Johor Bahru, Malaysia. p. +60 16-713 2714. Open on weekdays 9am-7pm, weekends 8am-7pm.
Part fashion boutique and part cafe, Bev C is a stylish spot to seek shelter from the sweltering heat. Shop their label on the ground floor before heading up to the loft to enjoy their signature Espresso Ice Cubes (RM 14.90), which is served with your choice of Milk, Chocolate and Milk, or Caramel and Milk. Grub wise, the lean menu offers plates like Charcoal Croissant with Smoked Salmon (RM18) and dessert pies (RM12.90).
Bev C is located at 54 Jalan Tan Hiok Nee, 80000 Johor Bahru, Johor Bahru, Malaysia. p. +60 10-400 5407. Open Tue-Thu 11am-8pm, Fri-Sat 11am-10pm, Sun 11am-8pm.
Faculty of Caffeine
Expect the same stellar quality in their menu and presentation – despite their stark contrast in interior design – from Faculty of Caffeine, sister cafe of The Replacement Lodge and Kitchen. Rocking an edgier, industrial-chic finish, it draws an equally strong brunch crowd in the nearby neighbourhood of Jalan Trus. Notably stronger in their dessert offerings, go for the Salted Caramel Affrogato (RM 11.50) and Bana-Nuts (RM15.50) – croissant topped with banana, assorted nuts, vanilla ice cream, and a generous drizzle of peanut butter.
Faculty of Caffeine is located at 106 Jalan Trus, 80000 Johor Bahru, Malaysia. p. +60 16-713 2714. Open Tue-Sun 9am-6pm. Closed on Monday.
Roost Repurposed & Recycled Cafe
As the name suggests, Roost is creatively decked out with an electric mix of furniture made from recycled and repurposed materials. The result? A cozy, welcoming space that would be a perfect pit stop before you continue your chow down on cafe grub. Have one of their freshly squeezed juices or a fuss-free Frozen Yogurt (RM 9.90), topped with fresh cut fruits.
Roost Repurposed & Recycled Cafe is located at 1 Jalan Dhoby, 81200 Johor Bahru, Malaysia. Open Mon-Sat 12-4pm, 6-10pm. Open Sun 6pm-12am.
Undoubtedly one of the most Instagram-worthy cafes on the list, Pace is eye-catching with its fresh wooden interior, complemented with Tiffany blue accents. Specialty coffee, including filter coffee, and tea is available on the menu, along with interesting coffee desserts such as a Rainbow Cheesecake Affrogato (RM 15) and Magnum Espresso Shooter (RM 15). Perfect for coffee lovers who are open to creative variations of the beverage.
Pace Cafe is located at 40 Jalan Ibrahim, 80000 Johor Bahru, Malaysia. p.
+60 7-222 4896. Cafe is open Mon 10am-8pm, Wed-Sun 10am-8pm. Closed on Tuesday. Wine lounge is open Mon-Sat 4pm-12am. Closed on Sunday.
The Ice Cream Project (TIP)
Here’s one for those who scream for ice cream. TIP’s rich and creamy ice cream recipes (RM14) are vegan-free and consists of fresh dairy products – no preservatives, artificial chemicals, or gelatine. A small variety of flavours are available, including Original Milk and Cookies and Cream. Upon receiving your order, be sure to check out the staff in action as they prepare your dessert with liquid nitrogen!
The Ice Cream Project is located at 3 Jalan Dhoby, 80000 Johor Bahru, Malaysia. p. +60 7-300 7286. Open Tue-Thu 3-10pm, Fri-Sat 3pm-12am, Sun 3-10pm.
Flowers in the Window
The team from Roost is behind this new kid on the block, which boasts an exquisitely designed space beautified with lush greenery and fresh flora. The menu is, aptly, crafted with herbs and flowers in mind – so you’ll find desserts garnished with edible flowers as well as thirst-quenching herb infused coolers. Diners can also expect artisanal breads such as ciabatta and sourdough. Have your sourdough served with a spread of pesto and toppings of tomatoes, mozzarella, and fresh basil (RM 16), or enjoy it with the Miso Beef Stew (RM 25).
Flowers in the Window is located at 9 Jalan Dhoby, 80000 Johor Bahru, Malaysia. Open Mon 10am-10pm, Wed-Sun 10am-10pm. Closed Tuesday.
Alicafe Specialty Coffee
Alicafe stands out from the rest of the cafes in the area with its cozy, dark interiors, and wooden and brown leather furnishings. It’s all about the coffee here, and rightfully so. Adorable coffee art is delicately prepared by the baristas on hand, with macchiatos and lattes sporting 3D bears and cats. Another photo-worthy drink is the Cotton Candy Affrogato (RM 14.90). Imagine your cup of espresso served with chewy marshmallow, and garnished with a fluffy handful of cotton candy – so don’t be surprised if you see everyone whipping out their phones at the same time!
Alicafe Specialty Coffee is located at 27 Jalan Dhoby, 80000 Johor Bahru, Malaysia. p. +60 16-719 3737. Open Daily 11.30am-12.30am.
Chaiwalla & Co. Container Cafe
Prefer tea over coffee? Zip over to the funky Chaiwalla & Co – this al-fresco style container cafe lets you customise your tea just the way you like it. Take your pick from a wide variety of flavours (Saffron Rose, Banana, Lemon, Caramel etc), sweetness levels, and toppings (Grass Jelly, Nata De Coco, Pearls etc). If you’re spoilt for choice, just remember that you can’t go wrong with classics like Thai Milk Tea or Chai Latte.
Chaiwalla & Co. Container Cafe is located at Lot 2810, Tan Hiok Nee Street, 80000 Johor Bahru, Malaysia. p. +60 18-943 0769. Open Mon-Thu 12om-12am, Fri-Sat 12pm-1am, Sun 12pm-12am.
The soft serve craze is raging, even across the Causeway. Head over to Koone (unmissable with its splash of neon pink paint across the entrance) for the ultimate soft serve fix. They sport a wide variety of flavours and dessert bowls. Matcha lovers can dig into the Matcho (RM 22), served with Matcha soft serve, chewy Japanese mochi, Azuki red beans, and crunchy cornflakes while chocolate fanatics can indulge in the Henna (RM 24), a tasteful combination of rich chocolate soft serve, lava molten cake, brownie bits, chocolate soil, and tangy passion fruit puree.
Koone is located at 30 Jalan Dhoby, 80000 Johor Bahru, Malaysia. p. +60 16-784 7833. Open Mon-Thu 1-10pm, Fri-Sun 12-11pm.
Top Image: Faculty of Caffeine