Bathed in the rays of the morning sun is a cozy two-storey Hainanese eatery, already buzzing with early activity as the boisterous chatter of customers filled the air.
Enter Hua Mui Restaurant (华美茶餐室), a well-known household name that has dished out authentic local flavour for 70 years, through time-honoured traditional baking methods involving only the freshest ingredients. Since its inception, the coffee shop has expanded to a few outlets in Johor Bahru, and also holds a certified halal status.
While the extensive menu offers a variety of delicacies, here are some noteworthy ones:
Hua Mui Breakfast ($2.60)
Prepared in the style of a 80’s English breakfast, the dish consists of sausages, peas, potato wedges, eggs, and a bun, all drenched in gravy – a simple, yet filling platter to start off the day.
Its strength lies in the perfect harmonisation of flavours despite the use of common ingredients. The sauce is infused with a savoury touch, and its light, flavourful taste helps to balance out the overall palate. Additionally, the potatoes are cooked to perfection, sporting a slight golden-brown sheen, and can be easily peeled apart to reveal glistening, soft flesh.
Cheese and Kaya Toast ($0.90)
An all-time favourite, the kaya butter bread is served fresh out of charcoal fire, with a slice of cheese to boot. The smoky tang adds an additional layer of flavour, which complements well with the crispy pieces of toast.
Mongolian Chicken ($5.30)
Topped with curry leaves and various condiments are slices of chicken dripped with Mongolian sauce (surprise, surprise) – crunchy on the outside, yet soft and juicy on the inside.
The dish boasts an appealing presentation, and its taste does not disappoint either: the strong wave of flavour intensifies when in one’s mouth, and everything washes down fairly smoothly.
Hainanese Chicken Chop ($5.30)
Heralded as the signature dish as Hua Mui Restaurant, it comprises of green peas, tomatoes, and potatoes in light brown mushroom gravy. Don’t strike the sauce off immediately – it blends very well with the chicken chop, and retains a smooth, silky consistency. Also, none of the ingredients grow soggy after being soaked in it, which is definitely an added bonus.
The star, inarguably, is the chicken chop; a succulent piece fried to the ideal level of crispiness that is neither too oily or batter-excessive. Tender flesh lies inside, and the rich burst of flavour that comes with it is much welcomed.
This dish certainly stays true to the roots of Hainanese cuisine – light, less oily, and of course, delicious.