[编辑 Editor 吕大人 英译 Translator 刘大人 摄影 Photographer 刘大人]
Chinese New Year (CNY) ushers in good wealth and prosperity, but don’t let the festive feasting stand in the way of good health. Keeping a balanced diet can be a massive challenge before and during CNY, with all the tempting goodies and endless gatherings only serve to increase our need to indulge.
Upon returning to our daily routines in office or school, do we realise the weight gain from all the munching! Watching our waistlines inches pile on can be quite depressing but as great a time of the year this festive season is, surely there must be a way to stay healthy without feeling like we’re depriving ourselves.
With or without CNY, “find dining” and sharing good food have its hazards, not least among them is overloading on grease, salt, sugar and don’t know what chemicals (in the words of our friend, Tony from Johor Kaki). Fortunately for us, it’s not a matter of should we or should we not reach for the customary CNY snacks, but rather how to enjoy this festive season without worrying about busting our healthy diet, thanks to our friends from Friends & Fig!
Eating a plant-based diet in Johor Bahru can be a challenge at times as Malaysians (and Singaporeans) love their meat, so we are glad to find another cafe to add to our list of vegan-friendly places. Before you dismiss it as boring, do check out the new menu at Friends & Fig which features all sorts of items, from 100% pure cold-pressed juice & smoothies to homemade soups and deconstructed Super Bowls – all made from vegetables and fruits. The folks here like to get creative, so the items change every few months and keep customers coming back for more.
Meet Mint and Christine, the latter whom we have known from her early days in Bukit Chagar (walking distance to new R&F mall & CIQ) which we used to visit regularly to eat, drink and be healthy! Together with Joyce – qualified independent natural juice therapists (MCMA) UK, the trio are firm advocates of the principle “You are what you eat” which we also subscribe to. Always holding the idea of running a business close to their hearts due to health-related issues affecting their loved ones, the ladies are even more determined to make it a reality and put their beliefs in action at Friends & Fig.
Their new location at Southkey can be a little tricky to find, being located in Block F and on the second floor, but well worth it. Unlike their previous location, Friends & Fig opts for a somewhat minimalist look with plain furnishings and minimal decorations on the walls. The brightly-lit interior was accompanied by natural light from the full glass balcony illuminating the space, which made the cafe pretty comfortable. Not only do we get to enjoy healthy food, but book lovers can even indulge themselves in a cosy reading session by picking one of the many books off their shelves. Remember to check out some of the homemade products or imported seasonal fruits & premium goods on display, such as organic teas or essential oils for that well-deserved relaxation we all need once in a while!
Besides offering regular dishes and juices, Friends & Fig have packages designed to help cleanse our body. Check out their various therapy and programmes such as Juice Fast & Detox, Juice & Soup Cleanse, FNF Liver & Gallbladder Detox, FNF 5:2 Clean Eats Cleanse, FNF Gut Cleanse and more. We can even sign up for their delivery packages to get fresh juices delivered to our doorstep (T&C apply)!
Feeling guilty and fancy yourself a detox after all that sinful seasonal indulgence? Here’s your chance to “pay-back” with a limited-time 5-day package for RM320 (U.P RM400). Enjoy 3 days pre-post plant base meals inclusive of breakfast, lunch and dinner and 2 days juice fast & detox program. Friends & Fig members enjoy an additional 5% discount, and promotion ends 31 March 2019! Interested? Call +6019-718 0072 for further enquiry.
100% Pure Cold-Pressed Juice & Smoothies
Raw, vegan, cold pressed and formulated by Joyce, these 100% Pure Cold-Pressed Juice & Smoothies are more than just juices and cleanses. Starting with the perfect detoxifier, Gut Soother – comprising Packham pears, organic chia seed, guava, English parsley and local organic lime; Malibu Passion made up of pineapple, passion fruit, apple, kiwi, orange and local organic calamansi) and Pink Lady with apple, strawberry, pomegranate and local organic calamansi, these tasteful blends already made us felt our system clean and going again.
If you fancy something richer and creamy, the Berries Kiss with blueberry, strawberry, banana, orange, chia seed with full vegan yoghurt goodness will definitely help us reduce our appetite and food cravings to keep our excess in check.
Not to be confused with the American’s annual championship game of the NFL (National Football League), these Super Bowls have the eat-clean crowd and the gym-goers in Johor Bahru craving for its superfood goodness since 2015. We get to choose from a selection of classic or signature bowls when we eat here or create our “personal salad” by selecting our own ingredients, so get creative!
How’s this for our very first self-pick “Design your own” Super Bowl which comes with a generous portion of lotus chips, falafel, egg, zucchini, sweet potato, orange, mixed green base, buckwheat tempeh and their signature nuts but not nuts dressing? Appetising, flavourful, yummy but most importantly, healthy! 🤣
If you are not sure what to pick, we recommend the Japanese Bowl the most, which combines some of our usual Asian favourites such as soba noodle, Korean kimchi, roast pumpkin, cherry tomato, kyuri, tofu, furikake and edamame. Be sure to dip or toss the ingredients with the balsamic roasted sesame dressing provided for added flavours.
And if you’re super health-conscious, the Anti-Cancer Bowl is a must try! Be warned, this antioxidant-rich selection is definitely not everyone’s cup of tea, but on hearing that it’s supposed to help keep cancer away, a few of our friends changed their minds and decided to give it a go. Being one of 刘大人‘s personal favourite, this colourful bowl of mixed green with cauliflower rice, purple cabbage, garlic chips, onion pickle, turmeric & spice cauliflower, carrot, kyuri, broccoli and furikake is best enjoyed with their special sweet potato nuts dressing (peanut free). If you enjoy “curry” laden with cumin and turmeric spices, this super bowl will definitely spice things up for you!
Pumpkin Sweet Potato Soup & Cauliflower Soup
We moved on to the soups, and both the Pumpkin Sweet Potato Soup and Cauliflower Soup hit the spot as far as comfort food goes. Imagine roasted pumpkin and cauliflower, cooked down to a rich broth, then pureed until silky smooth, doesn’t it just sounds kind of great to you? For some reasons, the guys love the latter to the max with a mild cauliflower flavour and hints of tom yum peeking through the tartness of the broth, but the ladies stand by their preferences for the added sweetness of sweet potato that comes with the former. Nevertheless, both are winners!
Serving vegetarian versions of some of our local’s favourite food, Friends & Fig seems to execute with ease the transition and adapting of cultural dishes into modern, ones. Combining quinoa brown rice with shimeiji chai poh, tofu, French bean, raw carrot, raw purple cabbage and sunflower seed, served with a peanuts free but still wholesome basil soup, the Nuts-free Leicha was full of aromatic herb flavours, and we dare say it even tasted a bit better!
While we probably can’t imagine Nasi Lemak without coconut milk, or as Tony calls it Un-Nasi Lemak having tasted nothing like the dish it was named after. Surprisingly, we actually love this Nasi Un-lemak with its blue-pea brown rice with “extra virgin” coconut oil, topped with bitter-gourd sambal and served with sambal monkey head mushroom with potato, buckwheat tempeh and lotus chips for an added flavourful crunch! Available only as a today’s special, be sure to follow Friends & Fig on FB for their daily updates if you’ve set your heart on this one!
Sunflower Cheese Raw Zucchini
With some space to go, we opt for the third daily special in Sunflower Cheese Raw Zucchini that sees our bowl filled with Zucchini noodle, sunflower seed raw “cheese” sauce, broccoli, basil leaf, corn, flaxseed, cherry tomato and YES… avocado! Need we say more?
With these sensible approaches to the New Year (and given the upcoming Ramadan festivity), we trust you can still have a blasting good (and guilt-free) time soaking up all the goodness, food and family included.
Now go forth and bid your stubborn fat farewell and have a great year ahead!
Friends & Fig
📍 No 02-15, Block F, Commercial Southkey Mosaic, Persiaran Southkey 1, Kota Southkey, 81100 Johor Bahru, Johor
📞 +607-207 1210
🕙 Daily from 10.00am – 8.00pm
📱 Friends & Fig
🍽️ GLUTEN-FREE, NO PORK NO LARD