Cheese-baked rice is not a Johor Bahru original, we’ve eaten it before in KL, but this cheese-baked mutton serving at Golden Fusion Cafe & Restaurant at Sentosa Plaza, JB was so Ooomdelala delightful, we had to come back for more.
And so it was that we chanced upon this pleasingly-designed bistro in the heart of Johor Bahru and had lunch there. And what a lunch it was.
A Cheese-Inspired First Day
The cheese-baked selection of the menu was enticing, they have cheese-baked everything but I
chose mutton because it seemed like a new twist. Turns out I made a good choice. The cheese was perfectly melted and baked to a golden crisp at the edges yet still retained its ooziness and moisture in the centre which blended well with the equally strong but tender mutton. Both flavours stood their ground, the cheese maintaining its own pungent hold over the mutton and vice versa.
In fact, I was so impressed with this dish we came back the next day hankering for more. That, and the fact that my companion had a craving for fries or chips or whatever you call those potato deepfries.
Starters ─ Hard and Raw
We dived into our second day lunch with confidence and began with the starters.
Of course, my companion zeroed in on the fries. They had a selection. You could choose between plain or spicy. My companion had the spicy, just for a change. His fries came with a sprinkling of paprika or chilli powder and he wolfed it all down in about two seconds, saying “Mmmfmmfmmfm” between mouthfuls.
I thought he meant they were so good he was speechless but I was to find out later that he was getting stabbed in the mouth and couldn’t speak.
“Aren’t chips meant to be soft and moist in the centre?” he asked later.
“Yes,” I replied nonplussed as I was no expert on potato deepfries.
“Well these were hard!” he yelped, “like spikes! They were so hard they were dangerous, you could use them like little skewers to stab people!”
Ooooh. So that was why he was stingy with the commentary. Got poked in the wrong place.
I decided to hold no more conversation on those fries and proceeded with picking out something safer for myself.
I chose a salad, a plain Garden Salad to please the senses and cool the system. Nothing like the fresh, green taste of vegetables on a hot afternoon I always say. Luckily, my salad was very safe and did not perforate my internal organs. It had croutons, a light creamy dressing over finely sliced red cabbage and lettuce leaves. The combination was airy and revitalizing and I loved the colours and the presentation.
My companion, being on a quest for fries that day, had chosen his main course of Fish and Chips before his side order of fries came. He had no idea that the chips on his Fish and Chips would also turn out to be just as piercing. But not normally one to make a hoo-ha over his food, he must have sucked it all in; slings and arrows both, and swallowed them all.
A little sleuthing on my part: They must have used the fries from the same batch. And maybe they were from yesterday.
I noticed he ate the fish portion of his Fish and Chips rather quietly too.
I later asked him how it was. He said, “OK”. That’s all he said.
Unfortunately, I would have to say the same thing about my main course too.
I had wanted to go for the cheese-baked again after the thoroughly enjoyable Cheese-Baked Mutton rice of the day before but after getting bombarded with so many other choices in the menu, I decided on the Mongolian Chicken rice instead.
What a disappointment that turned out to be.
I wanted to taste an East-Central Asian adventure on my tongue, one that would remind me of nomadic tribesmen who battled out their daily living over frozen tundra through extreme cuisine but my order turned out to be nothing more than the very commonplace Chinese-styled sweet-and-sour chicken instead.
No adventure there, sorry. And my order looked nothing like the picture in the menu too.
I did blink at it quizzically when it arrived at my table, inquiring if it was indeed Mongolian Chicken rice. They insisted it was.
(I googled Mongolian Chicken recipe later and indeed…Mongolian Chicken resembled what I ate).
Not that the Sweet-and-Sour Chicken rice I was presented with was bad or anything, actually it was very good for Sweet-and-Sour Chicken ─ it was tangy and had the right punch in all the right places ─ only it wasnt what I ordered, or at least, what I thought I ordered. I had expected something intrinsically more Mongolian, at least in my imagination.
And so it came to pass that I had an ordinary lunch that day.
Long, Cool Drinks
We ordered some creative ice-blended coconut drinks to go along with our meals. I loved the Coconut Ice-Blended the first day and chose it again for my lunch the second day.
My companion had the Strawberry-Coconut the first day and the
Mango-Coconut the second day.
All were refreshing and had the zing of coconut in the ice. (We love coconut you know).
And with the last gulp, we closed our culinary trek in JB and left filled and quenched to get on with the rest of the day. I mean, lunch is lunch, right?
There were hits and misses but I would give 10 points to Golden Fusion for presentation and décor and for making a genuine attempt at presenting fusion food as authentic as they were meant to be. Keep it up guys. Obviously, JB Boleh!