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9 Culinary Experiences Across Asia for Food Aficionados

With leisure travel picking up again across the globe, now is the best time to pack your suitcases and check in for a stay at these luxury hotels in Asia — where a relaxing vacation and the best gastronomic experiences the region has to offer, await.

Alma Resort Pays Tribute to Vietnam’s Sidewalk Culture

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In homage to the Vietnamese pastime of sipping-brews-on-pavement, Alma has launched Cam Ranh’s most happening venue, Chill’s Snack & Bar. Open 5pm-10pm daily, the street-style venue is anchored by two American-style food trucks near the resort’s vast amphitheater. The menu features popular street beverages such as Vietnamese coffee, fresh fruit juice, and milk tea. Signature coffees are coconut coffee and coffee with fresh milk and tapioca pearls.

Chill’s serves cocktails such as ‘Amphitheater Sunset’ with tequila, orange, grenadine, crème de cassis and lime. The likes of seafood pizza, fruit, shrimp salad, meat sandwiches, cheese sticks and lemongrass chicken feet are written up on the menu board daily. Entertainment includes nightly movies screened under the stars, live music, fire twirlers and flair bartenders.

Meliá Chiang Mai Offers an Array of Exciting Dining Offerings

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A Sunday brunch with fresh seafood on ice, buffet dinner replete with a paella cooking station, and mojito menu with a Spanish and Thai spin are among Meliá Chiang Mai’s new dining offerings from 1 July to 30 September. Staged on the first and last Sunday of the month, ‘Brunch del Domingo’ features Spanish, Mediterranean and Thai offerings including charcuterie, chilled prawns, Mediterranean salads and a live cooking station.

Highlights of “¡Es viernes!” international dinner buffet, held on the first and last Friday night of the month, include tapas and pinchos, and live cooking of gambas al ajillo and grilled river prawns. The mojito menu adds wild berries, passionfruit, pineapple, watermelon and lemongrass to the cocktail’s traditional ingredients. 

Immerse in the Local Culture at Azerai Resorts

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Azerai has launched a new experiences menu with a strong culinary focus to help immerse guests in the local culture at the brand’s three resorts in Vietnam: Azerai La Residence, Hue in the former imperial capital, Azerai Can Tho in the Mekong Delta, and the beachfront Azerai Ke Ga Bay.

At Azerai La Residence, Hue, the resort’s new Perfume River boat offers a “Private Dinner Cruise” featuring fine Vietnamese and Western cuisine. At Azerai Can Tho, “Romance Under the Banyan Tree” features a lantern-lit, five-course meal for two. And at Azerai Ke Ga Bay, the “Monastery and Iconic Fruit of Binh Thuan” includes stops at an exotic dragon fruit farm, Ta Cu Mountain, and local salt fields.

An Omakase Dining Experience at Tanah Gajah, a Resort By Hadiprana in Bali

With any meal the conversation can be just as important as the culinary offering – especially when Chef Dean’s involved. The seasoned Singaporean chef, who has been guiding Tanah Gajah’s culinary direction for over a decade, infuses his personality into all his delectable dishes. With his Omakase Dining Experience at The Tempayan, guests get to see more of the chef than just the magic he creates on each plate.

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Omakase, which translates as a meal of dishes selected by the chef, ensures that the five-course menu he offers uses only the freshest seasonal ingredients, while also giving guests the opportunity to learn about local produce and dishes. The experience also includes a guided tour of Chef Dean’s passion project, the resort’s expansive organic garden. The cost is IDR 750,000 ++ (USD50) per person. 

French Fine Dining at Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi

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Le Beaulieu, the award-winning modern French fine dining restaurant at Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi, and its refined al fresco extension La Terrasse have celebrated their reopening following an extensive seven-month refurbishment. With an elegant and sophisticated new design, alongside renowned French gastronomy and a wide selection of wines, the signature restaurant at Metropole Hanoi ties together the hotel’s 120-year-old storied past with a contemporary new look that manages to meld the opulent, the classical and the modern in a single scheme that’s long on white, gold and heathery blue-grays. Operating in its current space since 1901, Le Beaulieu is believed to be the oldest continually operating restaurant in Vietnam. And now, after this renovation, the newest.

Hyatt Regency Phnom Penh unveils its latest menus

Hyatt Regency Phnom Penh, the Cambodian capital’s newest international branded hotel, is leading the charge as the city’s culinary scene picks up pace following the pandemic. Opened in 2021, the property has gained an exalted reputation for dining through its range of exciting outlets. Two of these — all-day-dining outlet The Market Cafe Restaurant and Lounge and signature venue FiveFive Rooftop — have recently unveiled new menus.

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FiveFive focuses on fresh, sustainable seafood and local produce. Highlights of its new menu include a delectable set dinner featuring dishes like Kampot crab on toast and seared Hokkaido scallops. The Market Cafe Restaurant and Lounge, meanwhile, is reupping courtesy of items such as sustainably sourced Dover sole with brown butter and capers and a selection of plant-based dishes.

Banyan Tree Samui Welcomes Aficionados of Thai Cuisine

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Banyan Tree’s signature restaurant, Saffron, has initiated a Thai Tasting Menu, ideal for those on the island who wish to introduce friends and family to Thai classic cuisine in a luxurious ambience. Overlooking the sapphire sea from an exquisite venue above the resort, Saffron’s newest menu features an array of favorites: from appetizers of por pai pho (crabmeat spring rolls in a mango salad) and mieng som-o (pomelo, cashews, coconut & ginger wrapped in betel leaves and topped with a tamarind sauce) to entreés of grilled salmon in galangal and lemongrass or a sizzling plate of roasted peppered pork spare ribs. Dessert is the ever-popular dish of mango in sticky rice and coconut. Price is 1,800 THB (USD50) nett per person. Open daily 6pm – 11pm. For reservations, call +66 077 915 333 or email: saffron-samui@banyantree.com

A New Chef and New Menu at SOL By Meliá Phu Quoc in Vietnam

SOL By Meliã Phu Quoc is embracing new beginnings with Spanish chef, Sergio Nieto Garces, joining as executive chef. Garces will bring more Spanish flair to the oceanfront resort elevating OLA Beach Club to the pinnacle of Spanish gastronomy on the island. In July OLA Beach Club will launch a new menu, inspired by Garces’ own fascinating culinary journey.

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The talented chef trained under some of Spain’s foremost culinary experts, including Martin Berasategui, who holds 12 Michelin stars – the most of any Spanish chef. In Madrid, he worked as executive chef of Jose Luis group, opening branches in Marrakech and Tokyo. At SOL’s OLA Beach Club Garces will serve up contemporary Spanish cuisine. Highlights from the new menu include Andalusian style marinated chicken paella and creative vegan fare like almond soup with smoked beetroot tartare. 

Palace Hotel Tokyo Blooms for Tenth Anniversary

To celebrate Palace Hotel Tokyo’s tenth anniversary this year the Forbes Five Star property is going back to its roots. For the summer the hotel’s popular bars will be serving up “Blooming,” a new cocktail inspired by its original Triple One (1-1-1) cocktail, which first debuted in the hotel’s opening year.

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The new blend mixes Palace Hotel Tokyo’s signature 1-1-1 sake by Hakkaisan, Yuzu liqueur, Lillet Blanc, and Sakura liqueur to deliver a clear, sharp taste with a flowery Japanese aroma. The limited-time cocktail will be on offer at Palace Hotel Tokyo’s Royal Bar, an old world-style cigar bar with the most comprehensive Japanese whiskey selection in the city, and the chic Lounge Bar Prive, where guests can take in views of the Imperial Palace gardens by day and the surrounding city skyline by night. 

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Hakka Cuisine@Fu Gua Thong, Bandar Puteri Puchong

Bitter gourd, or bitter melon, is a common ingredient in Chinese cuisine, often stir-fried with meat or eggs, or served in a soup. It has many purported health benefits, including reducing blood sugar levels, as well as aiding in weight loss. I think the latter is because it’s so bitter, you wouldn’t be able to finish the dish anyway. Eat less = lose weight = profit. (You can probably tell I don’t like bitter gourd very much, lol).

Jokes aside, there are people who enjoy the vegetable’s distinct flavour – so if you’re craving a nutritious and tasty(?) bitter gourd dish, head to Fu Gua Thong Restaurant in Bandar Puteri Puchong. Their signature bitter gourd soup, cooked with tender slices of pork, is a crowd puller, and while I won’t order this on my own volition, I’ve had it before with the fam and can attest that they cook it in a way that doesn’t make the bitterness pronounced.

Wait. So this isn’t a review about their bittergourd dish?

Well, for fellow bittergourd haters like me, a trip to Fu Gua Thong is still worth it for their Hakka cuisine, with dishes such as Deep Fried Hakka Style Pork (zha yuk), Yam and pork belly, stuffed tau fu pok, and stir-fried yam and abacus seed. The Hubs and I were here for dinner over the weekend, and even though we only ordered two dishes to share, they were both excellent and reasonably priced.

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Typical Chinese restaurant vibe. There’s a small section selling snacks, pastries, and groceries at the front of the restaurant.
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The stir-fried fish slices in ginger and onion came in a generous portion, swimming in a rich, and savoury sauce. The fish slices were fresh, thick, and firm,and the sauce made it an excellent accompaniment to rice. The ginger and onion not only gave it a nice flavour, but also masked any fishy odours the seafood might have had.

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This is my favourite at Fu Gua Thong – Hakka fried pork! Thick slices of pork belly are marinated in nam yue (a fermented beancurd sauce – my dad hates the stuff, so we don’t have this often at family dinners), then deep fried to give it a crispy, crunchy exterior. The meat inside was fatty but not greasy. It was served with a side of chilli sauce, which accentuated the salty flavour.

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Our simple but tasty meal for two!

So yeah. While Fu Gua Thong’s bittergourd dishes are sure to satisfy fans, they have many other dishes that are decent as well. Service wise, waiters appear harried and are not exactly welcoming, with curt/bordering on rude responses, but if you have zero expectations for service, this is a good place for the food.

FU GUA THONG (PUCHONG)

32, Jalan Puteri 2/4, Bandar Puteri, 47100 Puchong, Selangor

Opening hours: 11AM – 3.30PM, 5.30PM – 9.30PM (Daily)

PS: I hope you liked this post! Please consider supporting my blog via Patreon, so I can make more. Or buy me a cup of coffee on Paypal @erisgoesto

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Roast Meats @ Chan Meng Kee, Bandar Puteri Puchong

The Chan Meng Kee brand, famed for its roasted meats, was started in 2008 by Chan Yoke Pui, a self-professed ‘charsiew fanatic’. The original restaurant in SS2, Petaling Jaya, quickly gained a loyal following, as patrons thronged the store for their dose of siew yuk (crispy roast pork), char siew (sweet barbecued pork), and roast chicken, served with their signature noodles or rice.

Today, Chan Meng Kee has two other branches – one in Da Men Mall USJ, and another in Puchong, the latter of which I visited for lunch with the fam. The store is simple but comfortable, with basic tables and chairs, floor to ceiling windows that afford plenty of natural sunlight, and air conditioning. Diners can also see the chefs chopping up the meats through a glass window next to the kitchen.

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Our food did not take long to arrive. The Hubs ordered the siew yuk, which came in generous portions atop a bed of cucumbers. The rice was also topped with two slices of sweet liver sausage. The pork was well seasoned, with crunchy, crackly skin, and a nice balance between the lean and fat. The liver sausage was superb – basted in a sweet, caramel-like sauce, the sausage casing was chewy on the outside, with bits of fat within the sausage that lent it a unique texture. It was so good I ordered a separate plate!

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Liver sausage is a rarer menu item compared to the usual trio of roasties – chicken, siew yuk, and char siew.
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Chan Meng Kee does roast duck as well. I like that they gave me the thigh part; there was a lot of meat, and it was easy to eat. The blend of textures and flavours – crispy skin, the melt-in-your-mouth layer of fat underneath it, the slightly gamey duck meat seasoned with herbs and spices – came together perfectly. While I still prefer the roast duck from Soon Lok, Chan Meng Kee can probably give it a run for its money.

Aside from roast items, the restaurant also offers dishes such as poached chicken, curry laksa, shrimp wontons, and more. Prices are reasonable for the setting, ranging around RM10-RM15 for single plates.

CHAN MENG KEE (PUCHONG)

No.1-GF, Jalan Puteri 1/4, Bandar Puteri, 47100 Puchong, Selangor

Opening hours: 9AM – 3.30PM, 5PM – 8.30PM (closed Wednesdays)

PS: I hope you liked this post! Please consider supporting my blog via Patreon, so I can make more. Or buy me a cup of coffee on Paypal @erisgoesto

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Budget Eats: Soru Station Puchong

With food prices increasing, even noodles and rice at your neighbourhood chap fan stall or kopitiam can be quite pricey, what more cuisine like Western food.

But there are still some good options – if you know where to look.

Newly opened in The Wharf at Taman Tasik Prima is Soru Station, which serves affordable local and Western fare. With humble beginnings as a food truck, business did so well that they opened a few physical branches, the latest being this outlet in Puchong.

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The Hubs and I came here for a quick lunch. Despite being peak hour, the restaurant was not too crowded. The space wasn’t fancy, but it is well ventilated, clean, and comfortable. We made our orders by scanning the QR code menu at our table, then proceeded to the cashier for payment (you can also choose to pay online).

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Our orders were served quickly. Hubs had the Beef Burger (RM9), served with a side of mashed potato. Like many Malay-style burgers, the burger was extremely messy; slathered in a variety of sauces such as tomato, chilli, cheese, and finally a large helping of gravy.

The sauces can be a tad overpowering, but I could still taste the seasonings used in the patty, which was thick and juicy. It reminded me of Otai burgers, actually. Our only qualm was that the dish was a little cold – the patty was probably heated up very quickly on the grill, but everything else wasn’t. Still, for the price, I think it’s good value.

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I went for the nasi lemak ayam crispy (RM8). Again, portions were generous. The rice was good; with hints of ginger and turmeric – but I was a little disappointed with the chicken. It was fried well with a crispy texture, but it was very bland. It didn’t even have the natural flavour of the chicken, which was very odd. The skin had no flavour whatsoever. The saving grace was the sweet and savoury sambal, which went well with the rice (I also used it as a sauce for the chicken). So yeah, some hits and misses. But all in all, I wouldn’t complain, given the price point.

Most of the dishes are priced around RM7 to RM12; and the portions are filling. I wasn’t expecting anything super, so the food was decent enough for me. Service and environment is good as well – so all in all, value for money!

SORU STATION (PUCHONG)

No 8/1, Prima Bizwalk Business Centre, Jalan Tasik Prima 6/2, Taman Tasik Prima, 47150 Puchong, Selangor

Opening hours: 12PM – 12AM (closed Mondays)

https://www.sorustation.com/

PS: I hope you liked this post! Please consider supporting my blog via Patreon, so I can make more. Or buy me a cup of coffee on Paypal @erisgoesto

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Pasar Malam OUG (OUG Night Market), Kuala Lumpur

With Malaysia in the endemic phase and its borders once again open to tourists, many events and activities have now resumed, including open air night markets. And since it has been close to three years since I last went to one, I dragged the Hubs to the OUG Pasar Malam in KL for a foodie adventure.

Held every Thursday evening from 5pm onwards, this predominantly Malaysian Chinese night market may not be the largest or the most popular, but there are lots of interesting things to see, cheap items for sale, and more importantly, delicious street food.

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We parked at the housing area next to the market and walked a short distance to where bright yellow umbrellas had been set up, the familiar hum of electric generators filling the air. I was surprised to see the sparse crowd (something almost unheard of pre-pandemic, because Malaysians love pasar malams). There seemed to be less stalls as well. I guess the pandemic did take a toll on businesses.

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The market is spread across several streets, but it is not very large, with maybe 50 or 60 stalls at most. Aside from snacks and local fare, you can also find cheap mobile phone cases, accessories, clothing, jewellery, bags, fresh produce, and more.

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Although it was drizzling slightly, it felt nostalgic to be walking around a night market again! Nothing beats the atmosphere of a night market – the smell of food being cooked wafting across the air, the sight of a hawker cooking char kuey teow over a huge flame, sellers shouting to customers to try their goods, thumping Chinese techno music – it’s an experience that you won’t find in the cold, clinical confines of an air-conditioned shopping mall.

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Pro tip for visitors to the Klang Valley – there are pasar malams every day of the week in different areas. Some of the vendors will move to different markets every evening, so you might spot them even when you visit another spot. The major ones are the SS2 pasar malam on Mondays, Taman Connaught pasar malam on Wednesdays, and Setia Alam pasar malam on Saturdays.

While some stalls are unique to their particular pasar malam, you will typically find several that offer similar items. Standard fare at most Malaysian Chinese pasar malams would include fried goodies like salted egg fried chicken, squid, and roast meats. If you’re wondering why there’s an Ultraman on the banner, it’s because “Ultraman” is called “Ham Darn Chew Yun” (literally ‘salted egg superman’ in Cantonese – I guess because the eyes have a similar appearance?).

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Deep fried chicken skin. One does not eat ‘healthy’ at a pasar malam. If you’re looking for that then you’re better off at a salad bar. 😛

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Colourful steamed dumplings.

Like many other things, food prices have also increased at the pasar malam. It is no longer super cheap, but of course, items are still relatively affordable. Just be prepared to shell out a little extra, especially if you’re buying a lot of snacks rather than having one big meal.

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Giant deep fried prawn fritters (har beng), with at least four or five whole prawns in each.

So, what did we get? There were so many options to choose from that we had a hard time picking just a few, and after walking up and down the main street several times, we settled for:

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Lemongrass pork sausages (RM4 each). The meat is minced and blended with lemongrass and chilli, then stuffed into a chewy sausage casing. The flavour was a tad strong for me, but it was tasty nonetheless. The barbecued pork skewers (moo ping – RM4) did not fare as well, as they were almost pure blobs of fat.

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The husband loves crispy apam balik, so we got a bunch of these to try. They were thin, flaky, and sweet, with a generous filling of crushed peanut and corn.

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Another snack I haven’t had in a long time – keropok lekor (fried fish snacks)! These were sold by a Malay auntie, and came in several different varieties. The thin crispy one is great for those who like a bit of crunch, but since I prefer something with more bite, I went for the ‘losong’ (long and cyllindrical). RM2 netted me five pieces. They were nicely fried, crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. But as I munched, I couldn’t help but reminisce about how as a student, just RM1 could get me five pieces of losong, and 10 of the crispy ones. Inflation’s a btch.

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The highlight for us from our trip was these crab-filled mantous, available steamed or deep fried. We got the deep fried ones for RM5 per pop. They were not greasy at all, and the frying gave the bread a crispy texture, while the inside remained soft and fluffy. The filling was generous and flavourful – it reminded me of Singapore chilli crab. So if there’s one thing you have to get at the Pasar Malam OUG, I recommend these!

I was happy to be back at the night market again, and although it’s much less lively these days, it’s still nice to be back enjoying the open-air atmosphere.

PASAR MALAM OUG

Jalan Hujan Emas 4, Taman Overseas Union, 58200 Kuala Lumpur, Wilayah Persekutuan Kuala Lumpur

Open every Thursday from 5PM – midnight

PS: I hope you liked this post! Please consider supporting my blog via Patreon, so I can make more. Or buy me a cup of coffee on Paypal @erisgoesto

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Aroy-D-Thai Kitchen, Taman Putra Impiana, Puchong

Aroy” is Thai for ‘tasty’, making it a preferred moniker for many Thai restaurants. One such place is Aroy-D-Thai Kitchen in Taman Putra Impiana, Puchong, a no-frills spot serving authentic Thai favourites the likes of tom yam, pad thai, and pad krapow gai.

So, does the restaurant live up to its name? Let’s find out!

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It’s hard to miss the store, what with the colourful posters of Thai tourist destinations plastered against the glass. Inside, an air conditioned interior offers diners a cool respite from the heat. The restaurant is simple with minimal decor, but comfortable enough for a quick lunch.

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The restaurant offers a selection of ‘single’ rice and noodle dishes, as well as ala carte items meant for sharing and to go with rice. There’s tom yum, curries, stir-fried vegetables, seafood, pork, and chicken dishes.

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The Moomins ordered her favourite – pad krapao gai (basil chicken with rice), minus the chilli as her stomach problems make it difficult to eat spicy food. They were very accomodating, and the rice came in a hefty portion as well, topped with fried egg.

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The Hub’s had tom yum fried rice, which again came in a generous portion. The ingredients were fresh and the rice had been stir fried over high heat, imparting each grain with a fragrant aroma and smokiness. Although the dish packed some heat, I couldn’t really tell it was tom yum per se – tasted more like spicy fried rice. Still, a tasty and filling dish to keep you going for the day!

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As for me, I went with the pad thai, fresh out of the wok with wisps of steam when it came to the table. On top of a bed of rice noodles lay two large pieces of shrimp, tofu cubes, a fluffy omelette, a side of crushed peanuts, and a lemon wedge.

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What can I say? It’s pretty decent pad thai. I like the sweet and sticky sauce, which goes well with the noodles’ chewy texture, and the overall flavours are well balanced.

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We also got fried mushrooms to share. The dish surprised me: mushrooms are notorious for soaking up oil, but these were light and not greasy at all. The batter was crispy and not too thick, and the mushrooms were well seasoned too.

Considering that you get to dine in air conditioned comfort, and the dishes are tasty, I’d say Aroy-D-Thai offers great value for money – a good spot for a lunch break for office workers, or people who live in the nearby housing areas. Single dishes start from RM10.90.

AROY-D-THAI KITCHEN

38, 1, Jalan Putra Impiana, Taman Putra Impiana, 47100 Puchong, Selangor

Opening hours: 10.30AM – 8PM

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Fresh & Affordable Buffet Hotpot @ Shabu-Yo, BBCC LaLaport, Kuala Lumpur

Malaysians are spoiled for choice when it comes to hotpot options. To name a few:

  • Hai Di Lao – known for their exceptional customer-oriented service (some outlets even provide manicures while you wait!)
  • Beauty in the Pot – specializes in nourishing collagen soups that are purportedly good for the skin.
  • Suki-Ya, an affordable halal Japanese hotpot chain.

With so many choices, there’s probably a hotpot chain for you out there, no matter the preference. But if an affordable price point and fresh food is what you’re looking for, then Shabu-Yo ticks all the right boxes.

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One of the newer entrants to the Malaysian market, Shabu-Yo is Japan’s largest shabu-shabu chain with close to 300 stores in its home country. They opened their first outlet in Sunway Velocity back in 2020, then Sunway Pyramid a year later. Their third store in BBCC Lalaport Kuala Lumpur welcomed diners in April 2022 – and it was here that the Hubs and I stopped for a late lunch over the weekend.

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Before you dine-in, choose whether you want the all in course (Beef+Pork+Chicken), or just the Pork and Chicken. We went for the latter, as it was cheaper and we prefer pork anyway. There’s also an Australian Wagyu course if you’re looking to splurge.

Staff members are friendly and well trained. We were asked if it was our first time (yes) and then shown around to the different buffet sections before they brought us to our table.

The interior looks warm and cozy, and is designed to look like a traditional Japanese ryokan or eatery. The dining area is lit up by dozens of lights hanging from the ceiling, with booth seating, overarching wooden beams, and wooden partitions for privacy.
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There are a few soup bases to choose from. We got the Chicken and Pork, accented with goji berries, and the Japanese ‘amber’, which had a beautiful golden colour. Other choices include Sukiyaki, Yuzu, and Tomato.
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You order the meat from a tablet at your table. Just key in the quantities you want, place your order, and voila!

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We got started with one of each item: pork collar, pork belly, chicken, and tsukune (a combination of minced pork and chicken served in a faux bamboo stalk. The pork meat was fresh and tasty, especially the pork collar which had a great balance of lean and fat. I also recommend the tsukune. I thought it would be dry, but it was soft, moist, and juicy. The chicken wasn’t as fresh though, so we had that one plate and only got pork refills afterward.

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In Japan, raw egg is usually given as a dipping sauce when you eat shabu-shabu or sukiyaki. If you haven’t tried it, I suggest giving it a go! The heat of the meat fresh from the pot cooks the egg slightly, lending it a smooth, silky texture, while also elevating the flavours of the meat.

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Having sampled our first round, I then hopped over to the buffet section proper to see what they have in store. The dipping sauce station carries a large variety of condiments, including soy sauce, vinegar and sesame oil, goma, ponzu, homemade chilli, and more.
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The vegetable bar. What I noticed: A lot of fresh vegetables, and less processed foods. Most hotpot chains will have more of the latter with items like hotdogs, cheese tofu, processed seafood balls, etc. A plus point for the health conscious, I guess?
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The fried food station had karaage, takoyaki, and fries. The karaage here is delicious! I know it’s a ‘cardinal sin’ at hotpots to eat anything other than the ‘expensive’ items if you’re looking to get your money’s worth, but the karaage here is just too good. Well marinated, crispy on the outside, moist and juicy on the inside. The takoyaki was excellent as well, with a sizable chunk of octopus enveloped within.
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Another cardinal sin: getting rice. I couldn’t resist though, as they had beef curry. It was another winner in my book. Flavourful and as far as Japanese curries go, not too sweet.
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If you’re the kind that must have carbs, Shabu-Yo has a few types of noodles for you to choose from as well.
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After several rounds of meat, we were feeling pretty stuffed – so time for dessert! There’s an ice cream machine with vanilla and matcha-flavoured ice cream, which you can customize with various toppings.

I was surprised at the quality of the ice cream. At most of the other hotpot buffets I’ve tried, their ice-cream tends to be more ‘icy’, with a higher content of ice than cream, almost like a sorbet. The version here, however, is creamy and rich, almost like McDonald’s ice-cream sundae.

Aside from ice-cream, they also have a waffle machine if you’re craving something more substantial.

All in all, I think Shabu-Yo is a great option for those looking for fresh food at a relatively affordable price. Selection wise, I don’t think they have a lot of items as compared to, say, places like WagyuMore, but what they do have is of excellent quality.

Our buffet lunch for two on a weekend cost about RM112, inclusive of taxes.

SHABU-YO

Lot G-78 & 79, Gourmet Street, Mitsui Shopping Park LaLaport Bukit Bintang, 2, Jalan Hang Tuah, Kuala Lumpur City Centre, 55100 Kuala Lumpur

Opening hours: 12PM – 9PM (daily)

Beauty Salon + Cafe @ A Taste of Yi Cafe, Bandar Puteri Puchong

With how hectic our lifestyles can get these days, it’s important to take time to kick back, relax, and re-center ourselves once in awhile. It can be as simple as going for a walk in the park, attending yoga or meditation class, or just visiting a local cafe. Bonus points if it has a pampering salon within it—like A Taste of Yi Cafe at Bandar Puteri Puchong.

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A Taste of Yi is located on the first floor of a commercial shop lot, just above Brilliant Nasi Lemak House. I’ve passed by it several times, but never thought to venture upstairs until recently, when my Mom told me that there’s a cafe here with a hair/beauty salon in it.

The space is spacious and cozy, spruced up with lots of tasteful art decorations and paintings. Apparently they conduct painting sessions and art workshops here on select weekends, so you’ll find art materials and canvases littering the space.

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The salon is located next to the dining area, separated by a cleverly designed bookshelf. If you’re worried about hygiene, fret not: only wash and blow sessions are available, so you won’t have hair flying all over the place. They also provide manicure and pedicure services.

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Salon area
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The space was surprisingly empty during our visit, despite it being high time for lunch. Not that our anti-social selves had anything to complain about. If you’re looking for a cozy, quiet space to work, this is it. Staff members are friendly and knowledgeable about the menu, and can recommend you the specials of the day. The menu is a fusion of Asian favourites such as rice and noodles, as well as Western dishes like pasta and croissants. You can view the full menu here.

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N got the Lemongrass Pork Chop Rice, which came in a generous portion, featured a huge mound of rice topped with a fried egg and a gigantic slab of juicy pork. It was well marinated, savoury, and flavourful, the lemongrass having permeated and tenderized the meat. No complaints here!

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I went for their signature Prawn Noodles, which also came in a large portion and was chock full of ingredients including chashu (thinly sliced Japanese-style roast pork), sizable shrimps, egg, and vegetables.

For the uninitiated, prawn noodles are a Penang specialty, with the broth made from shrimp stock. One should indulge in moderation if they don’t want their cholesterol level to rocket off the charts, as the stock often incorporates the creamy roe from prawn heads, as well as the shells. The version at A Taste of Yi is good: the soup is rich with the naturally sweet taste of seafood, and the addition of sambal and chili lends it a spicy kick. I upgraded to ramen noodles from the regular yellow mee, but in hindsight I think I could have saved on a couple of bucks, as they weren’t particularly special.

The cafe also carries desserts like cakes and chocolate drinks — perfect for tea time.

Overall, we enjoyed the food, as it tastes homemade rather than commercial; and the ambience is cozy and intimate. Prices are slightly steep, but not exorbitant. If you’re looking for a nice spot to chill (or somewhere to hangout after a pampering pedicure), consider A Taste of Yi. 🙂

A TASTE OF YI CAFE

2,-1, Jalan Puteri 1/2, Bandar Puteri, 47100 Puchong, Selangor

Opening hours: 10.30AM – 6PM (closed Mondays)

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