Saturday, November 11, 2023

Restoran Todak (旗鱼海番村) - Opposite Sembawang Park @ Masai in Johor [Malaysia]

Admittedly, I frequent Johore Bahru quite often. And it came as a surprise when I told some friends and colleagues I was thinking of going to this seafood restaurant known as Todak, and many were aware of this place for the longest time!

While most mentioned that standard had dropped and pricing had increased quite a bit since they last visited, it was noted that the Google review of 3.9 was still pretty decent with almost 5,000 reviewers! Hence, no reason for us to give it a miss.   

We grabbed in from Mid Valley Southkey shopping mall but I had to warn you; getting a Grab out might not be so easy as we waited for about 30 minutes to secure a booking! p.s. to be fair, we requested for a bigger car as there were five of us.

Urbanites like me who had lived in a kampong and borne before the 1980s would love such setting; having seafood by the sea in a restaurant on stilts! It's nostalgia and for the older generation like my mom, this was how they ate seafood in the past.

Problem for urbanites is that the sight for low tide might not be as welcoming. In addition to rubbish laying on the seabed, there was also the unavoidable stench. Frankly, I had smelt worse.

Doggy doggy! Quite a number of them although they were domesticated and honestly didn't quite care for the humans that kept passing by them. 

I don't get this sign; should I proceed to find a table on my own? Well, when one didn't know what to do, one could just use their mouth to ask. It doesn't hurt. 

Timing was about 5.00 pm and the whole restaurant was already packed with customers. Guess it still remains popular after all these years, and it's best to reserve if I were to revisit in the future. 

Unsheltered space that might appeared unused at this moment but once it's night time, the whole area would serve as another big space with tables and chairs for diners! More of those photos later.

Straits of Johor that cuts across Singapore and Malaysia; the tall buildings at the background are actually from Johor Bahru, the state capital of Johore.

The two photographs as above showed the Singapore side, which was surprisingly quite underdeveloped with much greenery. I actually knew this part of Singapore quite well as my dad used to bring us to the park often when we were young. And even when I was a teenager, my friends and I would have barbecue sessions in the park.

It's actually Sembawang Park (beaulieu house as indicated with the red arrow) and I had visited a few times on lunar new year's eve to check out the fireworks across the Straits of Johore! 

Highlight for such seafood restaurants was live seafood! This reminded me of Love Seafood Restaurant at Batam which had an impressionable seafood in a humongous pan! Malaysian counterparts should do something similar! 

I know it's sad but when it comes to seafood, freshness beats everything! And at Restoran Todak, the variety was startling although my family would be quite boring when it comes to seafood; it would be the usual crab, prawn, fish. 

And you can choose your own seafood. I left the selection to my mom who has better experience identifying the "freshest" one that would make our meal. 

The poor crabs and seabass. Even though I am not very sure about the running rate for sea bass, I am aware that crabs in Singapore would generally cost about S$70-S$80 per kilogram. The large crabs here that we chose was just RM 150 a kilogram; about S$45.

Queuing up to order and inform the service staff the style for the live seafood. For the fish, it shall be steamed, Hong Kong style and crabs shall be golden sand and chilli.

Orders that were quickly written down. I can't imagine writing down in full Chinese characters as my handwriting is bad; to the extent I sometimes don't understand what I wrote. 

Now, awaiting our food! Waiting time was not very long and all that we ordered were placed on our table in around 30 minutes. That's quite fast in my opinion. Without further ado, let's review! 

Tea - a pot of tea for us to wash away all the sinful things we would be having shortly after. A bucket of ice was provided in case we prefer ice tea. 

Sweet Potato Leaves in Sambal - well, this was quite average and was added merely as a vegetable dish to complement the overwhelmingly meat and seafood ones.

Cereal Prawns
- 300 grams with about seven prawns; the meat was fresh but I had issue with the cereals; they were clumped together and lacked the unique cereal flavor that I absolutely dig! One thing that was interesting; green chilli, instead of chilli padi, were fried with the cereals and that was novel.

Butter Sotong - So often faced with sotong that was bland tasting, this was refreshingly good as the meat was full of flavor! It also help that the butter component was both sweet and aromatic! They weren't perfect though as the sotong was a little rubbery. 

Seabass Steamed Hongkong Style - what's the best way to have fish? Aside from eating them raw (not really recommended given the risk of bacteria), Chinese believes that steaming would be the way to go.

This didn't disappoint. The meat was firm and so fresh, and needless to say, my mom was over the moon given how big a fish lover she is! Just for this fish dish, she has been asking when we would return again to Restoran Todak.

Golden Sand Crab - there was hardly any "sand" which was in reality cereal-tasting. Big disappointment on the crab; I thought it was live crab but the meat was mushy, coupled with a fishiness that made us frown between our eyes as we dug into the meat. 

Chilli Crab - in comparison, the chilli was better although it was more tomato than chilli, which I personally prefer as too hot a chilli made my lips burn! 

The crab was also better; meatier, fresh and firm! 

Mantou - fist sized, it was strange to have this plate of fried buns served to our table when the chilli crab came only about 20 minutes later! For those who don't know, the mantous were to dip into the chilli crab sauce! 

Buns were amazingly soft and fluffy yet blessed with a thin, crisp outer skin that gave way to a little crunch as my teeth sank through! Totally perfect for soaking up the chilli crab sauce! Yummy! 

I was wondering why this large tool was passed to us. Even though I don't have a technical diploma / degree, I figured the concept was similar to the crab pliers. 

Which do I prefer? In terms of mess, this one was much better in containing the rogue, flying crab shells, and with the use of both hands; had the advantage of dealing higher pressure for a stubborn shell that refuses to crack!

Chicken Satay - catching the unmistakable whiff of grilled meat brought me to this separate stall nearer to the entrance of the dining area. I wasn't hungry yet, I knew I could have some stomach space for satay! 

I was mindful; just ten sticks.

The kind of satay I love that have charred bits and layers of fats in between the meat! Satay gravy had hints of sambal and the unassuming slices of onions were sweet and crunchy! 


In a nutshell, the food wasn't mind-blowing even though freshness played an important part, especially for the fish! However, our total damage was just RM 403; a steal as it would have been a lot more should we have the same dishes in Singapore! Would I be back? Why not, especially if I could have more of those delicious satay! 

1, Jln Dedaru 11, Kampung Teluk Jawa, 
81750 Masai, Johor, Malaysia

As above. 

As above.

Sweet Potato Leaves in Sambal - RM 16.00
Cereal Prawns (300g) - RM 30.00
Butter Sotong - RM 24.00
Seabass Steamed Hongkong Style (600g) - RM 42
Crabs (1.5 kilo) - RM 255.00
Mantou - RM 8.00
Chicken Satay - RM 1.50 a stick
Tea - RM 1.00 per person
(Subject to Service Tax) 

Additional Information
Unsheltered space that would be filled with tables and chairs as the sun sets and more customers start to stream in! Only thing to worry about; rain! 

Food stall right outside the main entrance.

Ending the post with photographs taken at the restaurant with my family! Pity my dad didn't join as he couldn't stay the night with us. 

No comments:

Post a Comment