Travelling to Johor Bahru may be out of the question for now, but there are still eateries in Singapore offering the good ol’ JB dining experience. Like underrated foodie gem Good Year Restaurant in Tampines, which has been serving Pontian-style bak kut teh (characterised by its aromatic dark herbal broth that’s commonly found in Johor) and a selection of zi char dishes in the neighbourhood for almost 15 years.
The eatery is tucked away in an ulu corner in Tampines Ave. According to photos posted by netizen Larry Lai on Facebook foodie group Heritage SG Food, it looks as charmingly gritty as an authentic Johor eatery, complete with a zinc awning and faded banners. For those who haven’t been to the restaurant, he adds that “it’s a peaceful rustic place that transports you back to old kampong days or even [a] village in Thailand”.
The rain-soaked carpark is just as rustic.
Rounding up the kampong experience are well-fed stray dogs snoozing at the entrance. Despite calling itself a restaurant, Good Year’s space is more like an open-air kopitiam, and is classified as such. A staff member tells 8days.sg that those who are unvaccinated or waiting for their vaccination status to kick in can dine here, “but we can only seat groups of two people”.
Other than bak kut teh and zi char, Good Year is also known for its Fish Head Steamboat and Curry Fish Head (from $28), which you can also swap for assam gravy.
Like JB bak kut teh stalwart Kota Zheng Zong Bak Kut Teh, which opened a Singapore outlet at Holland Village, Good Year serves its Pontian Bak Kut Teh ($8) in a claypot laden with pork ribs, enoki mushrooms, fried beancurd skin and tau pok soaked in a herbal tonic-like broth.
The restaurant also offers zi char sharing plates like Chilli Crab ($50 for two 450g-500g crabs), Sambal Lala (from $15), Salted Egg Sotong (from $14), Prawn Paste Chicken (from $12) and a weekend-only Cabbage Chicken ($25), which has a “whole kampong chicken lovingly-wrapped and slow-cooked in cabbage and our special broth”.
Good Year also makes its own beancurd for its Claypot Beancurd (from $12).
Other than the bak kut teh and fish head steamboat, most of the zi char dishes on the menu are available for islandwide delivery via WhatsApp preorder.
Address: 15 Tampines Ave, S529788.
Opening hours: 11am-10pm daily.
Islandwide delivery via WhatsApp order here.
Photos: Larry Lai/ Good Year Restaurant