When it comes to navigating the bountiful food spots in and around the Singapore/Johor customs area, many connoisseurs of Johor’s local offerings have already established a “dining routine” of sorts whenever they’re in the neighbourhood. Most of these gourmands will also likely stick to their predetermined route without taking much of a detour.
But indulge us, if you will, for located less than half an hour from the JB checkpoint is Taman Mount Austin — a rather unassuming foodie gem that has already begun its ascent as Johor Bahru’s hippest food spot.
Take your pick from instagrammable cafes, trendy bubble-tea shops, old-school hawker fare and local eateries, Mount Austin has most of the tastiest finds for the foodies.
And if you’re a softie at heart, maybe some of these places could also masquerade as a romantic date to bring your significant other the next time you’re out and about exploring the town. Whether it’s a brunch date, a lunch escapade, or a dinner rendezvous, here are five places in Mount Austin that’s perfect for a romantic date.
Before even entering its premises, the theme of the world’s second (Pikachu is always #1 in our hearts) most recognizable rodent in this café is certainly clear from the get-go. Yes, M2Escape is the first (and possibly the only) Mickey Mouse-themed café and homestay established in the urban albeit peaceful district of Mount Austin.
This place pretty much embodies a Mickey Mouse paradise for diehard fans of the Walt Disney-created character. It’s easy to see why.
From Mickey’s iconic red, white, and black polka-dotted facade adorning nearly every inch of the interior, to the giant Mickey and Minnie Mouse plushies keeping a watchful eye on patrons as they dine, to the F&B offerings served in Mickey-shaped paraphernalia, to the Mickey-inspired ice-cream, cakes, lattes, bubble teas, and… well, you get the gist — it’s Mickey galore!
Oh, and have we mentioned that you’ll also be able to purchase a ton of Mickey Mouse products at the café?
Food-wise, you’ll find M2Escape’s offerings more suited towards the palate of Western lovers. Expect the usual suspects like a range of pasta, as well as baked rice, chicken chop, pizzas, and a standard collection of sides (fries, potato wedges, chicken nuggets, and more) rounding off the M2Escape dining experience.
While this spot may not seem like the most romantic of places for a date, we’d beg to differ, especially if your other half is a big fan of the iconic mouse.
Perfect For: Lunch dates, dinner dates, and an overnight staycation.
Where: 7-01, Jalan Austin Heights 8/8, Taman Mount Austin 81100 Tebrau, Johor
Opening Hours: 12.00 PM to 12.00 AM daily, closed on Mondays
2. bloom by Mokmok
Which lady doesn’t love to be showered with affection, gifts, and flowers?
bloom by Mokmok is perhaps one of the most recognizable and Instagrammable places on our list. The uber-romantic floral ambience of this hipster café alone is well worth braving the notoriously always-gridlocked Johor–Singapore Causeway for.
Picture it. A ceiling full of colourful dried flowers hanging above, lights dimmed down low with a light floral fragrance in the air mixed in with the waft of your food, and your partner sitting across staring lovingly at you. How lovely does that sound?
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As for their menu, bloom by Mokmok serves a plethora of fusion food with rice bowls, burgers, and a whole host of decadent desserts (jiggly souffle, anyone?) awaiting your eager tummy. But whatever your choice of food is, we’d recommend giving their flower teas a try — since they are a café named “bloom”.
Perfect For: Lunch and dinner dates
Where: 87, Jalan Mutiara Emas 2a, Taman Mount Austin, 81100 Johor Bahru
Opening Hours: 12.00 PM to 11.30 PM daily, last order at 10.30 PM
3. Myeong Dong Korean BBQ Buffet
For couples who find bliss in a hearty meal, a trip to this affordable local Korean buffet is right up your street. After all, couples that grow fat together stay together, amirite?
Buffet lovers on a tight budget will absolutely love this joint as it is one of the cheapest Korean BBQ buffets in town. At less than RM30 (SGD$10) per pax (excluding drinks and add-ons), Myeong Dong Korean BBQ Buffet is a great value-for-money buffet place to bring your date to, especially if he or she is a heavy eater.
This establishment has the whole shebang for a delightful Korean feast. You may expect the standard Korean fare like Kimchi, Bulgogi, and also other traditional Korean dishes like Tteokbokki and Jajangmyeon. And while beef isn’t part of the spread, the Korean BBQ eatery does have a well-marinated selection of pork and chicken — with some truly far-out flavours like green tea pork, making for a truly unique dining date experience.
But be warned though, the poor ventilation and crowded venue mean things will heat up (not romantically, unfortunately) rather quickly especially when dinner time rolls around. We’d suggest sitting near the open windows for a more enjoyable experience. The service here is also minimal, so don’t expect the staff to handle much of the grilling.
Perfect For: Lunch and dinner dates
Where: 58-01, Jalan Austin Height 8/7 Taman Mount Austin, 81100 Johor Bahru
Opening Hours: 5.30 PM to 11.00 PM, Monday to Thursday; 12.00 PM to 11.00 PM, Friday to Sunday
4. The Cheese Lab
For all its negative connotations and associated health detriments, burnt food is at times, the final touch to complete the perfect dish. And nothing embodies a love for slightly darkened food than The Cheese Lab and their wide assortment of burnt cheesecakes.
Imagine a traditionally light and fluffy, wobbly half-baked interior comprising a rich cream cheese that you’ll typically find from a slice of cheesecake. That, in of itself is already plenty delicious as a dessert. But add a pinch of contrasting bitter-sweetness in the form of a caramelised (the burnt part) crust, and you’ll unlock a whole new dimension of flavour.
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明天最后一天啦！ 最后一天促销了！ ⚠️📣新年🏮开张活动🎉买一送一大促销‼️ 目前店家一共有原味🍰、巧克力🍫、竹炭⚫️、抹茶🍵与香蕉🍌5种口味供选择。(P/S: 外带盒超精致，很适合送礼呢💓) 此外这里也售卖美美的渐层系列、奶盖系列与蓝花系列等饮料🥤哦！ 🎉开张促销‼️即日起只需完成以下简单步骤👇🏻并出示给店员即可享有蛋糕买一送一的优惠！ ✅按赞👍🏻 Johor Food Guide 食在柔佛 与「The Cheese Lab-Mount Austin」的官方脸书 ✅分享此帖(记得将分享设置为公开） ✅留言 【我想吃烧焦芝士蛋糕！】 + 标记3位好友 📍39, Jalan Austin Heights 8/5, Taman Mount Austin, 81100 Johor Bahru, Johor 🕐1300 – 2300
At The Cheese Lab, you’ll also get to choose from eight different flavours including chocolate, charcoal, crème brûlée, and so on. Otherwise, the café also has cheesy drinks à la cheese bubble teas on their menu. Though, we’d recommend choosing one of their more refreshing and IG-able mocktails instead.
Perfect For: Lunch and dessert dates
Where: 39 Jalan Austin Heights 8/5, Taman Mount Austin, 81100 Johor Bahru
Opening Hours: 2.00 PM to 10.00 PM daily
5. Just Want Coffee, Factory 30
When all else fails, a lovely conversation over a hot cup of joe is all you’ll need for the perfect romantic date. Say no more, as Just Want Coffee (JWC), Factory 30 is exactly the place you need for the perfect coffee date.
Housed in a two-storey former factory, this modern café sports a retro interior design which comes equipped with beautiful wallpapers, as well as selective thematic lamps and furniture to boot — providing comfy ambience in the midst of Mount Austin’s semi-industrial charm.
While you’re there, choose from a range of pasta, pizzas, bagels, cakes, and of course, coffee! The caffeine offerings of JWC, in particular, are unsurprisingly a highlight given the café’s name. You may find a good variety of coffee here ranging from the classic cup of cappuccino (with an assortment of latte art) to exotic hand brews like Ethiopia Limmu.
Indeed, JWC comes as a highly recommended spot for coffee fanatics and couples looking for a quiet place to chill and sip coffee in Mount Austin, Johor Bahru.
Perfect For: coffee and afternoon dates
Where: No 30 Jalan Mutiara Emas 5/3, Taman Mount Austin, 81100 Johor Bahru
Opening Hours: 12.00 PM to 12.00 AM daily