Sunday, 30 July 2017

One local destination a month - Part 6 : Mersing, Johor

I have to start this 6th post of my 1LD1M series with an apology. When I first embarked on this set of travel stories, the intention was to write about a new place in Malaysia that I have never been to before. However, the month of June was mostly taken up by the fasting month of Ramadhan and later the Aidifitri celebration. Hence there wasn't much traveling except for the balik kampung trip to my better half's hometown of Mersing.

To keep the series in motion, I therefore have to slightly bend my rules and write about Mersing, a place I have written about a few times before. Sorry about that. Nonetheless, I hope the new information I'm sharing here would be helpful to readers who plan to drop by this small town on the east coast of Johor.

While Mersing is probably more well-known for its beaches (Air Papan, Penyabong etc.) and as the stepping point to the islands (Tioman, Sibu etc.), I'll focus my writing on a few makan places that are worth mentioning.

1. Nasi Dagang

Not many people know that Mersing has a good selection of food items that originated from Terengganu like nasi dagang, keropok lekor and satar. This is because a sizeable number of Terengganu descendants have settled there, especially in the area known as Mersing Kanan (locally known as Tanjung). Perhaps the most famous of all the nasi dagang in Mersing is Nasi Dagang Mak Yah, sold from a simple stall next to the main wet market. The nasi dagang is so popular that you have to queue to buy it.

However, Mak Yah sells her nasi dagang for take-away only. If you wish to have your nasi dagang as a sit-down breakfast meal or not patient enough to stand in a waiting queue, I recommend you make a visit to Nasi Dagang Warisan Kak Ju. It is a foodstall located on Jalan Makam, a road that runs along the coast on the north side of town. Other than nasi dagang, Kak Ju also sells nasi lemak, nasi minyak and other breakfast items. Although it is slightly out of town, the short drive would be worth it. Taste is good, price is very reasonable (still at kampung levels) and parking space is ample.

Warisan Kak Ju. Visited 28 June 2017

Nasi dagang on a plate

2. Nasi campur masakan kampung

For a kampung-style nasi campur (mixed rice) lunch meal, our place of choice is a foodstall called Kedai Ucu Selera Kita, also located on Jalan Makam but nearer to town. This place sells a wide spread of kampung dishes that would make you spoilt for choice. The slight drawback is that service may be a bit slow when the huge crowd hits at lunchtime. On weekends, hungry out-of-towners would flock the place, so if you wish to avoid it, try coming here before noon. Despite this minor inconvenience, we like to have our lunch here because we've not found another place in Mersing which can match the variety of dishes on offer.

Large seating area that's quickly packed

Typical nasi campur mix consisting of asam pedas ikan, sayur and telur asin

3. Mee bandung

You wouldn't think you'd find good mee bandung muar in Mersing, would you? I'll tell you now that you can. But you have to drive some ways out of town to reach the place. Mee Bandung D'gunung is an unimpressive stall located right by the roadside of Federal Route 3 about 10km north of town. If you are driving from Mersing town towards Endau, you'd probably miss it. But if you are game for a bit of difference, then make a look-out for it on your left-hand side after you pass the water treatment plant in Tenglu.

The stall is mostly a one-man show run by an amiable gentleman called Encik Mat. If you come in a large group, then patience is key. He operates from early morning to around 6pm with a short closing period around mid-day for zohor prayers.

While the mee bandung is not bad, Encik Mat also serves good mee soto too. Again, prices are still customer-friendly.

Location is just by the main road

Mee bandung in reasonable portion


Couldn't resist a bowl of mee soto after finishing the mee bandung

4. Satar and keropok lekor

Okay, back to the Terengganu delicacies of satar and keropok lekor. There are not that many stalls selling satar. We have tried almost all and the one we consider the best is located near the keropok gallery along Jalan Makam at Mersing Kanan. This stall has no particular name so I decided to give it the title of Gerai Satar Terbaik Mersing and recommended an addition to Google Maps.

They start business around 11 in the morning and would sometimes be sold-out by 3pm. They have a few small tables where you can sit and have your satar in-situ. Complete your selection with some keropok lekor, otak-otak, kuih paung and cendol which they also sell, and you have a satisfying tea-time meal.

Satar and otak-otak over charcoal fire

Satar is made up of fish, coconut and some killer bits of cili padi

Kuih paung whose insides are also fish and coconut

4 comments:

Andrea Boult said...

Dear Encik Oldstock,
Thank you very much for this absolutely foodilicious post. The mee soto looks awesome, unlike the rather sad ones we usually see in KL. Are those bits of fish or grilled meat in the dish?

It is interesting to find Trengganu cuisine in Johor. Someone told me recently that one can also get authentic Sarawak food in Johor, too. Seriously?

Amelia said...

Hi OldStock, jalan jalan cari makan. :)) Now adays go Mersing no more nightmare winding road like those days which take up long hours. I only stopped over several times cos transit to Pulau Tioman and on the way to Kuantan.
The soto and nasi campur look really good too.

Best regards,
Amelia

Oldstock said...

Dear Puan Andrea,

Sorry for the delay in replying. The mee soto contained generous strips of chicken meat. In that photo, the some meat was on the bone. A bit crude perhaps but I guess that's the kampung-style of serving it. Does not take away the tastiness of it :-)

I'm not sure about getting authentic Sarawak food in JB but I was told that there is a sizeable community of Sarawakians living in Pasir Gudang area. It is quite possible that there are some restaurants that cater to them. I'll try to find out.

Oldstock said...

Hi Amelia,

Sorry for the delay in replying. Yes, the Mersing road is not so winding as it used to be. Just to let you know, although my better half is from Mersing, neither of us have ever been to Tioman or the other islands. Somehow we are just not attracted to visit the islands :-)