For the benefit of those who might not know what JB is (this means the list will not be useful for you) – it stands for Johor Bahru, which is the capital city of the southern-most state of Johor. JB can be spelt in various ways and is the second largest urban area in Malaysia after KL, but I guess what it’s best known for is (sadly), its proximity to Singapore. Being a Johorian myself, (technically I’m from Melaka but I stay in JB), I feel sad that there’s nothing much constituting a “tourist attraction” in JB. Whenever people ask me what there is to do in JB, I can only think of two things, cheap and good food, and cheap shopping. And note that cheap and good is only relative to Singapore, and cheap shopping the same, because Malaysians will know that prices in JB are definitely not cheap compared to the rest of the peninsular. I guess we can attribute the inflated prices to the influx of our Singaporean neighbors. Of course there are other things to do, like Desaru or Kukup, but for my friends wanting to take a day-trip into JB, eating, shopping, doing manicures and spas are about all I can think of. Sad but true.
Although I’m now staying in Singapore, since my home in JB is less than an hour away (if there is no traffic jam on the causeway, which is notorious for massive jams), I go home very often, as often as every week during the weekend. And what I usually do, being the cheap that I am, is to buy some of my baking supplies in JB and either bake in JB or bring them into Singapore.
Do note that there are certain custom restrictions, so things like eggs and poultry are restricted items, but besides that, everything in moderation should be fine! Like my Singapore list, I’ve highlighted several places that I shop at, and indicating under comments what can be found there, or what I usually buy from those places. I am only highlighting the shops within JB, and not the greater Johor which includes Muar, Pontian etc because well, I haven’t been to those shops myself so I can’t say much about them! For those other places, you might want to refer to this list I found which is pretty helpful for baking shops outside Johor as well!
- General Supermarkets
- Giant, Carrefour, Jusco, Tesco.
- These are the main supermarkets in JB, and can be found all over the place. Jusco is especially prevalent nowadays, but do note that Jusco tends to be more expensive compared to the other supermarkets, except for price controlled items like sugar. If you’re unaware, sugar, oil and flour are government-controlled items in Malaysia. Just off the top of my head, I think sugar is slightly less than RM3 for 1kg and flour is about RM2.50 or so. I like Jusco because they have an organic department and they tend to sell a greater variety of products which include sea salt, flaxseed, whole wheat flour, etc.
- Depending on the supermarket, they’ll sell the bare basics which include baking mixes, food coloring, cocoa powder (Van Houten is a popular brand in Malaysia), and Nona, which is a local brand. I like to visit Tesco, because they sometimes have really good deals and they occasionally have Waitrose and other English products. They also sell frozen puff pastry sheets and frozen berries, for example.
- As a rule of thumb, prices are generally half of that in Singapore. However, don’t expect to find anything too out of the ordinary.
- Address: 11 Jalan Persisiran Perling, Taman Perling, 81200 JB
- Contact: 07 236 9763
- Webpage: http://perlingindah.blogspot.com/
- Directions: The shop is located along the main stretch of shops that cars will pass by on the way to and from the Tuas Second Link. If you’re headed towards the Second Link, you can see it on your left, a few buildings away from Perling Mall.
- I wouldn’t trust their blog much because it looks rather uninviting, but this is a seriously big shop filled with tons of baking items, like the equivalent of the Singapore Phoon Huat. Many people from all over JB flock here to buy baking supplies, and lucky for me, I stay nearby ;p I particularly like their selection of pans and moulds and cupcake liners, etc. It’s much better stocked than an average Phoon Huat.
- Things they sell include a wide range of dairy products (different cheese, whipping creams), Wilton products, cake boards, all sorts of pans, probably 20 types of flours and nuts and many other ingredients. All you need for a baking business is here really, and I can tell many such home-bakers come here to purchase in bulk. Only things you can’t find would be the more expensive stuff, things like Valrhona chocolate, etc – these are not found anywhere in JB. Believe me, I’ve searched. Also, for the imported products like Wilton, they might be the same price or a tad more expensive here.
- They also hold baking classes, with some rather big names like Kelvin Chai and Alan Ooi.
- Address: 116, Jalan Harimau Tarum, Century Garden, 80250 JB
- Contact: 07 3349999, 3344581, 3344582
- Webpage: None
- Directions: This shop has a tiny storefront, and is located next to Crystal Crown Hotel. You will have to open your eyes to look for it because it is rather easy to miss. If you’re coming from the causeway into JB, it’ll be located on your left, it is opposite the second nearest petrol station from the causeway ;p
- My first impression of this shop was many many years ago, when my mom dropped by to purchase some nut flours which she couldn’t find anywhere. The store hasn’t changed much, and still stocks loads of stuff. It contains about the same stuff as Perling Indah, so it really depends at which end of town you’re at. They also sell a bunch of Chinese/Taiwanese recipe books.
- Address: 19 & 19A Jalan Besi, Taman Sri Puteri, Skudai 81300 JB
- Contact: unknown, but appears to be 07 334 9999 as well?
- I haven’t been here before, so I can’t comment much. From what I heard though, it’s similar to the first 2 shops, albeit on a smaller scale with fewer varieties.
- Address: 67, Jalan Susur Larkin Perdana 1, Larkin Perdana 80350 JB.
- Contact: 07 2343633
- Webpage: http://www.bakewell.com.my
- This is similar to the first two stores listed, but they provide a smaller variety of products. They tend to stock products that caters to a Malay clientele, and by that I mean lots of fondant, packaging for home bakers, and the basic varieties of baking ingredients. It’s a bit far from where I stay, so I seldom head down.
- Address: 11, Jalan Dato Jaafar 1, Larkin, 80350 JB
- Contact: 07 2268958
- Webpage: http://www.bakerszone.com.my
- This is situated pretty near to Bakewell, and will be really accessible for visitors from Singapore. Again, they are very similar to Bakewell in terms of the goods they stock. Even their websites look so similar that I suspect they might have the one and same management?
Well, that’s it for my list. There’s perhaps several more, but these are the ones that I know of, and the ones that I go to on a regular basis. My favorite, is of course the one nearest my home. It also happens to be the cheapest. That being said, I still go to places in Singapore to purchase items like Valrhona chocolate, Nordic Bakeware, etc.