[编辑 Editor 吕大人 英译 Translator 刘大人 摄影 Photographer 刘大人]
It’s not every day that a restaurant in Johor Bahru earns widespread accolades for its gourmet cuisine and food pairing, especially with a local chef at the stoves. As soon as we heard about Chef Mui‘s impending return after nearly a year out, we did not hesitate to go the extra mile (25 miles to be exact) across the city to the far end of Iskandar Puteri to be among the first to get into the “mix” with only a short span of three hours to spare.
There was always something brave and resolute about Chef Mui, as we admire his courage to physically move from a small, nondescript single-storey corner shop lot in JB’s oldest residential area to a sprawling factory space in one of Iskandar Puteri’s latest development. Taking a giant leap of faith from Sprout to Champor and making the transition from modern European to Asian influences, we are glad to see him back, and doing what he does best!
However, some things remained unchanged – his passion for educating diners on new ways to appreciate local fresh produce; his attention to detail, not only in food preparation but also in plating and presentation, and his pride and patience in taking time to explain every single dish he served, simply distinguishes Mui’s touch in Sprout and Champor, from the rest.
Deriving inspiration from a Malay expression, which may be loosely translated as “mix and match”, Champor continues his humble takes on the lunch menu with a hint of local or Asian twist on both the foods and drinks.
For a start, we enjoyed the homemade sodas, in particular, the Papaya, Passion Fruit, Chilli and Lime with its obvious tell-tale slice of Red chilli in the drink and the Tamarind, Lime, Mint and Chilli Salt really spicing things up. For something milder but equally refreshing, the zesty Grapefruit Shrub, Orange and Rosemary drink is undoubtedly capable of whetting our appetite for the food that is coming our way. Cheers!
Pumpkin, Ginger and Curry Soup with Toast
If the drinks have set the tone for the dishes ahead, the Pumpkin, Ginger and Curry Soup with Toast is capable of taking us to the next level. As we savour a bite of toast dipped into the rich puree of pumpkin with its pleasant curry flavour, we were immediately sent to the seventh heaven of delight, as good as having all our favourite “mamak” flavours all in a bowl. Absolutely mind-blowing!
Baked Beetroot with Tofu, Pickled Burdock, Cashew Nuts & Soy Chillies Dressing
Our next starter is in stark contrast with the earlier soup and particularly refreshing in this weather, with the Baked Beetroot with Tofu tasting cool and mild. Served with crispy Pickled Burdock, Cashew Nuts & Soy Chillies Dressing, we just love the contrasting colours and crunchy texture that these toppings provided in every mouthful.
Spaghetti with Shitake, Seaweeds, Sesame Seeds & Miso Dashi Sauce
Pasta lovers who enjoy a touch of Japanese would inevitably fall in love with this Spaghetti dish tossed in dashi sauce. Twirling the al dente pasta with our fork, we caught a whiff of the miso as we tucked into the accompanying Shitake, Seaweeds, Sesame Seeds. We also recommend adding on cubes of house-cured salmon for more bite.
Nasi Lemak Burger
Move over McD, for Mui’s rendition of the Nasi Lemak Burger, albeit without the nasi (or rice) ingredient, is probably the next best thing after the Malay comfort food itself. Inspired by nasi lemak flavours and sandwiched between two warm and soft sesame buns, the burger comprises of a spiced marinated chicken, fried egg, cucumber slices and sambal. We loved this so much that we “tapao” (take home) some more for our family! We’re almost salivating while writing this!
Roasted Flank Steak with Couscous and Pineapple Salsa
The Roasted Flank Steak is honestly a steal! We mean, where else could you get steaks for prices as low as this!? For too long, we’ve ignored the flavourful goodness of less popular cuts like the flank steak, which is a secondary cut taken from the abdominal muscles or lower chest of the cow. Grilled to medium doneness, the meat was lean and surprisingly flavourful, and the rule to thumb is to slice the meat against the grain, to enhance the meat’s tenderness, or it can get a little tough. Kudos to Chef Mui for living the Champor spirit by creatively putting together in a single serving, an exciting combination with Couscous and Pineapple Salsa with a side of Rendang Sauce and a crispy Papadam!
Coconut Panna Cotta, Gula Melaka Sponge, Pandan Coconut Cream and Puff Rice
Finally, we round off the meal with Chef Mui’s choice of dessert, beginning with the Coconut Panna Cotta presented in a cube. Aromatised with coconut and created with rich layers of Gula Melaka Sponge and fragrant Pandan Coconut Cream resting on a bed of Puff Rice, this classic confection is clearly an instant hit as we happily slurp each mouthful and polish off the plate in no time at all!
Banana Sponge, Roasted Banana Sorbet, Peanut Butter Mousse & Crushed Peanuts
The trio of Banana Sponge, Roasted Banana Sorbet, Peanut Butter Mousse & Crushed Peanuts is also equally gratifying and brings the curtain to an amazing gastronomical journey around Asia. Surprisingly, the banana sponge does not fail in comparison with its more famous counterpart in downtown JB, while the sorbet and mousse certainly add a new dimension to our overall enjoyment for this classic local dessert!
Cauliflowers Steak, Quinoa Salad, Spiced Corns & Almonds
The menu at Champor also offers vegan options, and we managed to catch a glimpse of the Cauliflowers Steak, one of the popular items served on a bed of quinoa salad and garnished with spiced corns and whole almonds just before departure. We make a mental note to return to try this!
Glad to have you back, Chef Mui, and we cannot wait for dinner at the new Sprout to see how you continue to create a delightful dining experience for discerning diners in this new area as well.
Champor / Sprout
📍 29, Jalan SILC 2/3, Kawasan Perindustrian SiLC, 79200 Iskandar Puteri, Johor
📞 +6018-319 4885
🕚 11.30am to 3.00pm [Lunch]. Closed on Sunday.
🍽️ NO PORK, NO LARD