It was on an incredibly warm and sunny day that I visited Chaiwalla & Co. Honest Tea, a recommendation by my Johor-dwelling friend. On that public holiday, we made our way through some dusty streets until we reached the cafe, nestled opposite a large parking area, and seemingly deserted. I loved how it looked though; lots of wooden surfaces and a cosy atmosphere, despite it being open to its surroundings.
Here's a Chaiwalla & Co. fun fact: the cafe is made out of a modified cargo container. I didn't realise this at first, as we approached the cafe from the side. It only dawned on me when I saw some newspaper articles displayed on the cafe counter's side.
Even though it was a hot day, the open space around the cafe allowed the breeze to blow through freely, and it didn't feel warm at all. The cafe had no air-conditioning or fans to keep customers cool, but the regular breeze totally makes up for it. We were quite comfortable under the shade. I wouldn't want to hang around on a windless day though.
Three flavours: Saffron Rose, Passionfruit and Vanilla.
My friends and I got some milk tea each; I went with the Passionfruit flavour, as I'm very fond of passion fruit milk tea. The lady at the counter suggested taking it at 50% sweetness, and it was just the right amount of sugar for me. The passion fruit taste was very subtle, balancing well with the milky tea.
I took a sip of my friends' drinks as well, and I have to say that the Vanilla was my favourite. It was sweet without being overpowering, and I loved how the vanilla flavour filled my mouth. The Saffron Rose was alright, tasting a lot like sirap bandung, but not quite. My friend described the taste as being similar to Turkish Delight.
When you order your drink at the counter, the server will write the details onto a sticker that looks exactly like the nutrition facts label you would find on food packaging. How cute is that?
Over the three hours that we spent at the cafe, we all had two drinks each. My second drink was some Pure Honey milk tea, which was alright though I prefer my first choice better. My friend also tried their coffee, which wasn't as bitter as we were expecting.
You can buy drinks on their own or go with a set. The Chai Combo comes in hot or cold beverage options, with your choice of either a black pepper beef pie, chicken mushroom pie or hot tuna puff. Hot combos are RM6.80 while a cold combo goes for RM7.80. On their own, the pastries cost RM3.80.
The image above is of the chicken pie, which is filled with chicken pieces, carrots, peas and mushrooms. It was a tasty snack, and I felt that the gravy inside was proportionate to the meat filling unlike a lot of dry pies I've tasted. The black pepper beef pie is similar, only it uses beef slices and doesn't come with mushrooms. The pastry was light and fluffy, with a nice buttery taste. They heat up the pies as you order, so it's served up warm and toasty.
The hot tuna puff was also very tasty, and the tuna filling was soft and moist. There was also a hint of some finely diced onions inside it, which was a nice touch and really added to the texture. By the looks of things, the only thing missing from this cafe right now is a vegetarian option pie or puff.
After two hours of hanging around the cafe, we decided to try the brownies sold at the counter. For a tiny brownie slice, the price is pretty steep at RM3.80. It was a really good brownie though; rich and chocolatey with a moist texture. Even so, still kind of expensive for such a small square.
I'm not sure how crowded the cafe can get, but most of the seats did get all taken up when I visited, with many others stopping by just to pick up drinks before going on their way. I had a really pleasant afternoon here, and I'm definitely visiting again the next time I come over to Johor Bahru.