[Johor Bahru, Malaysia] I believe many would have heard of insta-famous People & Places Café in JB – the industrial-chic café inspired by Melbourne café scene, which propelled to even greater fame after being patronized by Mandopop star Jay Chou.
Founded by the same team, ROUTINE by Soon is their latest café brainchild conveniently located at the newly developed R&F Mall, which can be reached upon some short walking distance from JB CIQ checkpoint.
While the former boasts plenty of natural sunlight, high ceiling and industrial chic interior, ROUTINE by Soon took up a slightly varied style.
Equipped with warm shades of pink and pastel coral interiors and filled with tons of lush greeneries, they first started this place with the concept of a casual eatery but has recently revamped their menu to more of a full-fledged café.
I took a quick scan of the menu and spotted a couple of familiar dishes from People & Places café such as Quesadilla Breakkie (RM25, SGD$8.40), Englishman’s Breakfast (RM29, SGD$9.70) and Roasted Peanut Butter Toasts (RM11.90, SGD4).
The change was probably rather recent as the serving staff actually took the extra effort to went through with me the full menu and elaborated more about their new dishes. Very thoughtful.
I was recommended to the Sous Vide Piri Piri Fried Chicken (RM27.90, SGD9.30) which came served with an aesthetically eye-catching grilled corn slathered with tomato salsa sauce, sour cream and topped with pomegranate and coriander leaves.
The pronounced flavours which came together did reminded me of Mexican food which contains intricate flavours of savoury, sweet, sourish and spicy. Very much to my usual taste preference.
While I was expecting the chicken to be tender from sous vide, the meat texture turned out to be slightly tough and dry, probably from over deep-frying.
Another recommended dish was their Tiger Prawn Linguine (RM42.90, SGD14.30).
While this is the priciest dish on the menu, the pasta came with fresh tiger prawns cooked in prawn velouté and further seasoned with natural ingredients such as chilli, cherry tomatoes, capers and basil leaves.
This resulted in a serving of rich, creamy prawn pasta filled with umami-ness.
Interestingly, the pasta was topped with rice noodles crisps (those that you would usually come across at cze char stores as plating decorations) to provide some elements of crunchiness to the dish.
Also worth a mention was their Salted Egg Yolk Fries (RM16.90, SGD5.70), which came covered with loads of savoury salted egg yolk bits embedded with spiced curry leaves.
It was quite the calorie-bomb, but I still ended up clearing the last bit of salted egg anyway.
The café is also vegetarian-friendly, with quite a handful of plant-based offerings to cater to the greater community.
I tried the Hummus Party (RM22.90, SGD7.70) and was impressed by the dish which came bursting with flavours from a variety of plant-based ingredients used such as hummus, stir-fry barley, roasted cauliflower, purple cabbage and many more.
For desserts, you should try their Matcha Panna Cotta (RM22.90, SGD7.70) which came with a jiggly matcha cream pudding plated together with fresh fruits such as passionfruit, strawberries, kiwi and with smears of black sesame jam.
While the matcha flavour was not overly intense, it was well-complemented with the other fruit components which would probably make this dessert more palatable for non-matcha lovers.
Some people on IG were also raving about their Burnt Cheesecake with Oat Crumble (RM12.90, SGD4.30).
While It wasn’t as silky smooth as the menu describes, I generally liked its rich creaminess which went well with oat crumble and not overly jelak from having too many mouthfuls.
To head to R&F Mall, look out for this inconspicuous link bridge entrance located to the left when you exit JB CIQ checkpoint.
The link bridge is fully sheltered and leads directly to the mall after an estimated 10 minutes stroll. You won’t have to worry about losing your direction or getting drenched in rain.
ROUTINE by Soon
R&F Mall, Lot G-025, G-026, Mercu 1, Jalan Tanjung Puteri 1 R & F, Tanjung Puteri, 80300 Johor Bahru, Johor, Malaysia
Opening Hours: 10am – 10pm (Mon – Sun)
Google Maps – ROUTINE by Soon
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Ho Seng Kee (City Square Mall, Johor Bahru)
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* Written by Lewis Tan @juicyfingers, a self-proclaimed coffee addict. Daniel’s Food Diary pays for food reviewed unless otherwise stated.