Many Singaporeans will brave the traffic and heat and wait at the Malaysian causeway to Johor Bahru for good food. While there are many new cafes sprouting out across JB, there are also many well known Chinese restaurants amongst the locals.
The restaurant is nestled among many low rise buildings and is outside of the main city areas therefore there are very little tourist here and most of the customers are locals staying around the neighbourhood.
The facilitate the customers visiting the restaurant, there is an open space area for customers to park their cars since the only way to get to the restaurant is by car.
The restaurant is actually form with just the zinc roof and metal structures so there is no proper unit number. There are also many portable air conditioners to cool the air flow in the blistering heat so the customers can eat in comfort.
The kitchen is separated from the main sitting area with partitions and is practically an open air kitchen as well. You can view how your dishes are cooked while on route to the washroom which is very basic squat toilets with no flush options and only a pail of water for flushing.
There are also a couple of framed photos of celebrities from Singapore visiting this restaurant. Some of the pictures look quite dated.
The menu is a simple booklet of printed color paper with plastic laminate so that it can be reused and cleaned with a wet cloth. The dishes offered are typical of many Chinese restaurants. We ordered a couple of their signature dishes for this review.
The clam soup is something you see often on many tables and unlike Western clam soups, this is milky and very similar to the soup of fish head noodles. I was expecting the soup to be very sweet but I was hugely disappointed as the soup was milky but bland on taste and failed to capture the natural sweetness of the shellfish.
Next was this garlic fried pork cubes which was recommended by the service staff. The pork came in small pieces and meat was quite tough. It tasted more like sweet and sour pork instead of any garlic flavours.
The cereal prawns where mediocre as the prawns were not that fresh. It has not gone bad but it was not very fresh as the meat was quite limp. Although the cereals were still crispy and quite tasty, the prawn was not crunchy to the bite so we did not even finish the dish.
The next dish was again recommended by the servers which has fried tofu with sweet and sour seafood toppings. The dish itself looked very pretty but the taste was very disappointing again. The seafood serving was quite generous but the tofu itself although crispy but tasted sour like it has gone bad. I had a mouthful and stopped eating the tofu.
The fish was very affordable and we ordered this special topping which has fried pickled vegetables instead of the usual green onions. The fish meat was soft and tender and is fresh but has the strong mud taste which is dependant on the type of fish you select. The fried pickled vegetable provided a very nice texture and taste to the fish.
Instead of chilli crab, we ordered chilli crayfish as the server told us the crabs were not good that day. This was perhaps the only dish which was nice no doubt it was a little on the sweet side but in comparison, this was the best dish we had in this meal.
Just like how we eat chilli crab, they also sell fried Mantou ( flour buns) for you to dip into the sauce.
Overall, this is the 2nd time we visited Chua Kee and while the first was very enjoyable, I am pretty surprised that this visit is totally disappointing. Every single dish had something bad except for the chilli crayfish. Although the price is very affordable ( MYR 230 for 7 dishes and drinks – which is less than SGD 100 ) , I do not think the quality of the food is worth all the travelling. This will probably be our last visit.
Address: Jalan Kacang Panjang, Gelang Patah, 81550 Gelang Patah, Johor, Malaysia
Operating hours: 11.30 am to 11 pm