I first tried Putien at IOI Mall last year, when we had one of our pandemic lockdowns in KL. As such, I ordered dishes to go and had them with the fam. Everything was pretty good, albeit on the pricey side. A year on, I decided to have another go again – this time dining in solo!
While not at a ‘fine-dining’ level, Putien’s interior looks fancy, with ambient lights, silkscreens for privacy, and a glass-windowed kitchen where you can watch the chefs in action. I like the blue and gold hues as well, befitting of a restaurant that specializes in coastal Fujian cuisine.
Although their seafood dishes are popular (the steamed yellow croaker is a signature ‘must-try’, according to many recommendations), they also have items such as Drunken Squid, Sweet and Sour Pork with Lychee, Stir-fried Yam, and Chicken in Fermented Red Rice Wine, among others.
Service is also impeccable. Waiters are well trained, professional, and are quick to attend to your every need.
I ordered two dishes, the braised pork intestines (RM24), and the resto’s signature ‘bian rou’ soup (RM12), to go with a bowl of rice.
The braised intestines had been meticulously cleaned, so there was no gamey smell typical of innards. It arrived gently simmering with a fire underneath. The intestines had a nice, chewy texture, and I also enjoyed the light, savoury broth that came with it. RM24 is a bit steep for the portion, but there was nothing to complain about taste-wise.
Some things are best eaten on the spot, and Putien’s bian rou soup is one of them! The last time I had this was for takeaway, and the dumplings were not in tip top shape. This time, I could fully enjoy them as they are meant to.
Wonton wrappers are typically made from wheat flour, but Putien adapts a centuries-old recipe originating from the Qin Dynasty that features thinly pounded meat paste that acts as a substitute for the usual egg/wheat wrapper. The result is a dumpling skin with an unusually springy texture, enveloping juicy pork meat within.
The soup itself is excellent as well; rich and savoury but not overpowering, concentrated with the lip smacking goodness of meat, seaweed, and spring onions.
Putien’s dishes can be expensive, but they are worth the splurge once in awhile. I especially love the bian rou soup, and can see myself coming back often just to have a bowl of hearty, comforting soup.
PUTIEN (IOI MALL PUCHONG)
G18A, Ground Floor, Jalan Puchong, Bandar Puchong Jaya, 47170 Puchong, Selangor
Formerly located at another spot in Bandar Puteri Puchong, Choo Choo Chicken dishes out casual Korean fusion fare, centered around fried chicken, plus offerings such as rice bowls, rice burgers, army stew, and even pasta. The Hubs and I came here for dinner on a weekend some time ago, and spent a nice, quiet evening chatting and watching K-pop videos while burning our tongues over bowls of spicy ramyeon.
The restaurant’s signature is their Korean fried chicken, with 7 different flavours to choose from including soy, creamy garlic, spicy, sweet, and crispy. They’re also known for their Rose Chicken, which is essentially boneless fried chicken paired with cheesy, creamy soup in a bread bowl. Good for sharing, but since it was just the two of us, we opted for individual dishes instead.
Pro tip when eating greasy food: order something like lemonade or a fizzy drink to help cut through the greasiness! I liked the glass mugs they were served in.
If you like sweet and spicy flavours, then their Spicy Ramyeon is a good call. The Hubs and I both ordered this, and were soon breathing fire from our mouths. The chicken had a nice texture: very crispy on the outside, thanks to the double-fry technique, and moist and juicy on the inside. The noodles were also cooked al dente, with plenty of springiness. The dish was topped with a smattering of Korean seaweed. It’s one of those unhealthy things that you crave whenever you want something spicy and carb loaded lol.
Prices are range from RM15++ and are standard for an establishment of its kind. But because the resto is pretty quiet most of the time, I think it’s a good choice for when you want to hang out over drinks and food, without having to worry about vacating your seat.
CHOO CHOO CHICKEN (PUCHONG BRANCH)
G12, Jalan Puteri 2/6, Bandar Puteri, 47100 Puchong, Selangor
The legendary Imbi Market, a wet market that operated in the heart of Kuala Lumpur, was an icon of the city for over 60 years – popular not only as a social and cultural hub, but also for its extraordinary street food.
While the market is long gone, replaced by shiny skyscrapers and bustling commercial centers, vestiges of its glorious culinary days remain – in the form of the food court at ICC Pudu.
Opened in the 2010s, ICC Pudu was built to provide better, cleaner facilities for the traders of Imbi Market (and also to get them away from that sweet, sweet prime land the old market sat on). Most of the wet market traders, as well as the food stalls, shifted to this new spot, bringing with them six decades of culinary history. Many of these stalls today are still run by second or third generation proprietors, and their clientele also spans generations of families. In recent years, it has also attracted a younger crowd.
Video of the our food trip here!
If you’re averse to dining in humid, stuffy conditions, with sweat pouring down your back as you shout over the din to be heard by your fellow table mates, then this might not be the place for you. If that’s not a problem, then you’ll be well rewarded with the wide variety of cuisine they have on offer, served simple and fuss-free, but with layers of flavour. I recommend coming in a group so you get to try more dishes, as there are at least 20 stalls here, all with their own specialties!
One of the most popular food stalls here is Ah Weng Koh Hainan Coffee, which serves typical Malaysian breakfast kopitiam fare the likes of soft boiled eggs, coffee and milk tea, and toast with butter and kaya. Because the queue was so long, though, we decided to get drinks from another stall. The taste was not impressive, however, so if you have the time to spare, stick to the OG.
Next, I ordered a char kuey teow from this stall, which also specializes in lala (clam) noodles. It doesn’t have a name, so here’s a photo for reference.
The portion was not very large, but enough to satisfy. They were generous with the toppings, with bits of bouncy shrimp and juicy cockles within. The noodles were also cooked over a strong fire, imparting a smoky ‘wok hei‘ taste from the caramelization of sugars and Malliard reactions. While it’s not the best kuey teow I have had, it still scores pretty high on my scale. 8.5/10!
The Hubs went for the Fish hor fun, from the Special Teow Chew Steam Hor Fun stall. The stall specializes in seafood porridge and seafood noodle soups.
What came to the table was an unusual dish, which I had never seen before. Wide, thick strips of hor fun swam in a golden broth, with fish slices, chilli, tomato, and lemons. Apparently, the dish was inspired by the traditional Teochew steamed fish dish, and is an original creation. I definitely recommend this if you’re coming here!
The noodles are slippery smooth and just slides down your throat, while the fish has all traces of unpleasant ‘fishiness’ removed, thanks to the lemon. The lemon and tomato also give the soup, which has pork bones as a base, a tangy, appetizing taste. None of the ingredients overshadowed each other, but just came together in a perfectly balanced way.
For snacks, we went for some popiah and pai tee (top hats) from the QQ Penang Popiah stall. It took a long time to get to our table.
The pai tee and popiah were both decent; the jicama inside was fresh and crispy, with the fried dough pieces wrapped within adding extra crunch. But I wouldn’t say it was worth the more than half an hour we waited for it.
Last but not least, one cannot come to ICC Pudu and not grab some of the famous Kuih Bakul (nian gao – sticky rice cake) snacks from the Imbi Kuih Bakul stall! There’s always a long queue snaking from the front of the store, but they move quickly, as the cooks churn out batch after batch of golden, fried goodness. Some people prefer the three layer nian gao, where the glutinous rice cake is sandwiched between yam and sweet potato, but I like mine plain as you can bite into the sweet, gooey cake whilst also enjoying the fluffy, crisp batter enveloping it on the outside.
There is so much to eat at ICC Pudu that it would take multiple trips to try everything – but that’s also one of its draws, as no two trips will be the same. Food is affordably priced for the area.
Tucked on the southwestern most tip of Japan, OkinawaPrefecture is known for its azure blue waters, sandy beaches, and tropical climate. Also called “Japan’s Hawaii”, the prefecture regularly bags a spot on lists of top domestic destinations for locals.
Okinawan food is also popular, as it is notably different from that of the Japanese mainland. This is thanks to its proximity to Taiwan, China and Southeast Asia, as well as the long history of trade between these regions.
Lucky for us living in the Klang Valley, we don’t have to splurge thousands on a holiday to Japan, as there’s a hidden gem serving Okinawan cuisine, right in the heart of Petaling Jaya.
Miyako Land Izakaya, which opened its doors last year, is tucked within an industrial-turned commercial lot called B-Land, sharing the place with a few other popular restaurants, a futsal court, gym facilities, and more. Touting itself the ‘first Okinawa style izakaya in Malaysia‘, diners can expect something different from the usual sushi, ramen, udon, and rice dishes that most people associate with Japanese cuisine.
PS: Miyako-jima is an island in Okinawa prefecture, some 300 kilometres southwest from Okinawa’s main island.
I love the shop’s design and aesthetics. Most Japanese restaurants carry an elegant look and feel, featuring lots of wood, dark accents, orderly tables and chairs, tatamis, and the like. Miyako Land, on the other hand, is a vibrant medley of colours and cutesy knick knacks: reminiscent of a tropical beachside hut, but with a Japanese vibe.
There’s a gazebo of sorts with rolled up bamboo blinds and noren (small banners that are hung on the exterior of traditional izakayas), bright and colourful posters of beer/soda ads, wooden tablets, as well as manga on shelves. The TV plays a travel show promoting Okinawa’s specialties, and there’s even a stand with imported Japanese magazines and newspapers.
And here are some of Miyako Land Izakaya’s menu items:
While the menu does carry some of the usual favourites such as ebi tempura (fried shrimp), you also get some not so conventional ones likeGooya (fried bitter gourd) andbeni shouga(red ginger tempura). We wanted to try the signature Nankotsu karaage(chicken soft bone) but they had run out for the day, so we went for Mimiga (fried pig’s ears) instead.
For the mains, again, some typically seen dishes like prawn tempura soba and curry udon – but also lesser known items like Ginger Tempura Udon, Natto Udon, Miyako Soba, Somen Champuru, ham and egg onigiri, and pork miso onigiri.
And more dishes I have never seen or heard of before, like the Chi Bi Teh (slow cooked pork leg in Okinawa style), Ra Fu Te (braised pork belly with Okinawa sugar), and Goya Chan Puru (bitter gourd omelette).
I don’t know about you, but they sound quite similar to Chinese cuisine (chi bi teh reminds me of bak kut teh!). This is perhaps influence from when Okinawa was part of the Ryukyu kingdoms, and had a distinctly separate identity/culture from that of the Japanese mainland.
For some reason, there is also a page on the menu dedicated to cheeses – crispy / grilled camembert, crispy cheese sticks, cheese crackers, and cheese korokke. But hey, I’m not complaining: it’s cheese!
Some desserts as well, if you’re looking to finish off strong.
Of course, being an izakaya, there are plenty of drinks to go with the snacks and munchies. Both alcoholic and non-alcoholic options are available.
To match the whole ‘tropical holiday’ vibe, I got a Melon Cream Soda (RM14). The beverage came fizzing in a tall glass; the liquid a bright, almost acid-green, topped with a dollop of vanilla ice cream. It tasted sweet and syrupy, with an obviously artificial melon taste – but it was not unpleasant. Pretty refreshing, actually.
I wanted noodles, so I ordered the Yakisoba. Ordinarily it comes with vegetables, but I requested for none. It was good; the noodles were chewy and had a nice texture, and they were generous with the pork slices. But it lacked wok hei, and I didn’t enjoy the red strips of pickled ginger either. If you want outstanding yakisoba, I recomend Okonomi. Still, Miyako Land’s version is pretty decent.
The Hubs had Miyako Soba, a traditional pork based noodle. We ordered the half size (RM15) coz we got a couple of dishes to share, but you can go for the full (RM25) if you want something more filling. The soup is flavourful without being too rich, and you can really taste the goodness of the pork.
We both agreed that the stars of the show were the small bites. I’m not an alcohol drinker, but the Hubs commented how well they would go with beer. The Sumi Yaki Buta (charcoal grilled pork belly) was excellent – glistening with juices and fat, with a smoky, slightly charred exterior. It was served with a slice of lemon, and the sourness actually elevated the flavour of the pork. Our only qualm was that the portion was pretty small for RM13, and you’d probably have to order several plates to feel satisfied!
My personal favourite? The Mimiga (fried pig’s ears). It is cut into narrow strips, battered, then deep fried and lightly seasoned. The winner here is the texture. Pig’s ears are usually crunchy, and because of the batter, it was double the crunchiness, but with a layer of hardness to within (kind of like when you’re biting on cartilage). It was a workout for the jaw, but also strangely addictive. The mayo was creamy and had a hint of lemon and pepper, which cut through the greasiness.
There are so many interesting dishes to try at Miyako Land – which is why I think the place warrants another visit soon! Prices are on the steep side for the portions, but service is good, and the food is excellent.
Come check out the place and its Okinawan cuisine if you’re ever in PJ!
MIYAKO LAND IZAKAYA
Lot 4, B Land, 2, Jalan 51a/225, Seksyen 51a, 46100 Petaling Jaya, Selangor
Fun fact: Marco’s owner-cum-chef graduated with a degree in information tech. A far cry from his current role as head chef of a Western-inspired kitchen, to say the least.
But it wasn’t unexpected. As a child, Chef Daren Leong grew up tasting sumptuous dishes the likes of roast turkey, roast pork, and Christmas pudding while visiting his grandparents, who ran a holiday bungalow in Fraser’s Hill catering to British tourists. This love for food eventually culminated in him joining the culinary world, and opening Marco Creative Cuisine in 1 Utama.
Marco’s chic interior features lots of white with green and blue chairs providing pops of colour, giving the space a cool, calming vibe. A partition in the middle of the restaurant provides privacy for diners, but I opted to sit closer to the entrance so I could people watch. The kitchen window also gives you a glimpse of the chefs hard at work within. Wait staff are friendly and attentive to your needs.
The Hubs was still at work, so I came here to ‘celebrate’ my birthday. This isn’t my first solo birthday outing. A lot of people might find it odd, but I actually enjoy the solitude.
I decided to splurge by ordering the New York Strip Steak (200 – 250g) (RM78), done rare. What came to the table was a humongous slab of Australian grain-fed striploin, with a side of salad and sauce. You can also choose to have fries if greens aren’t to your liking. For the sauce, I went with the steak sauce, a smooth and buttery conconction that paired extremely well with the beef.
I don’t eat steaks often because they’re pricey, but the few times I’ve had, they rarely (haha! geddit? Sorry, couldn’t help it) get it right.
Glad that Marco’s version was perfect ! The meat was beautifully pink on the inside and juicy, while the exterior was smoky and well flavoured. The sauce elevated its taste as well.
Even after that giant slab of meat, I felt like there was still room for more. So I ordered the Wild Mushroom Ravioli (RM45 – 5 pieces). The dish was decent, but there was a crunchy type of mushroom mixed into the ravioli (I think it was woodear fungus) which I didn’t enjoy, as it clashed with the otherwise excellent taste of truffles and cheese. If I return to Marco, I think I’ll try the Ravioli in Cream Sauce instead.
Finishing off the meal on a sweet note, I got the Parisian Chocolate (RM18), which contained 63% dark chocolate, white chocolate, and fresh milk, topped with loads of whipped cream. Oh-so-sinful, but oh-so-delightful.
I had a very satisfying meal at Marco. The food is tasty, and the service is prompt and impressive. It kind of feels like having fine dining cuisine, but not as ‘frilly’ and at a much more affordable price.
Aside from steaks, their best sellers also include pastas, gourmet burgers, pork wellington, elevated rice dishes, and lovely starters like risotto balls, pork pate platters, and charcuterie.
MARCO CREATIVE CUISINE
Lot G146, Ground Floor (Old Wing), 1Utama Shopping Centre, 47800 PJ, Selangor, Malaysia, 47800 Petaling Jaya, Selangor
A couple of months ago, I lamented about the price increase at my (formerly) favourite place for udon, Miyatake Sanuki Udon. Following their relocation to a posh neighbourhood in Mont Kiara, they seemed to have also ‘upgraded’ their menu, no longer offering the casual, self-service style of cuisine that was their signature at their old ISETAN 1 Utama outlet.
Coincidentally, a reader suggested I try a place called Kodawari Menya. The restaurant is also located in Mont Kiara, albeit within a small neighbourhood mall that sees a lot of Japanese expats. Aside from Kodawari, which specializes in udon, the mall also has a ramen place, a sushi joint, a shabu-shabu place, a proper Japanese restaurant, and even a clinic/dental practice with Japanese-speaking staff.
The mall is tiny, so it was not difficult to locate Kodawari Menya, which boasts a ‘patio’ of sorts with red umbrellas. Thanks to the glass skylight, it feels like you’re dining outdoors, minus the heat and humidity.
Like how Miyatake Sanuki Udon used to be like before they became a full service restaurant with table service, Kodawari Menya has a counter where you make your orders and pick them up immediately. Aside from a variety of udon (such as beef, curry, kitsune, and zaru udon), they also carry rice bowls (such as curry beef don, salmon teriyaki don, and more). The prices are surprisingly affordable, averaging about RM14 to RM18 for the noodles, and RM14 – 20 for rice dishes. You can also pick from a decent selection of tempura, with the usual favourites like ebi (prawn), fish fillet, ,and chicken karaage.
The Hubs and I both got the basic Kake Udon (RM14), which is basically noodles in a dashi broth. The dashi flavour was very pronounced; it had the natural sweetness of seafood, minus the unpleasant fishy aftertaste. The noodles were nice, thick, and chewy as well. I would say this is on par with Miyatake Sanuki Udon! The fried items were also good, the fish being soft and flaky on the inside, but perfectly battered and crispy on the outside. The Hubs even commented that the batter did not go soggy, despite having been dunked in the tempura sauce.
With its considerable portions, affordable prices, and tasty food, I think Kodawari Menya is a great place for a casual dining experience. I certainly think the drive here is worth it to get my udon fix once in awhile!
Level 1, L1-21A, 1, Jalan Kiara, Mont Kiara, 50480 Kuala Lumpur
What’s the best food to eat on a cold, windy evening?
If you answered hotpot, then great minds think alike! Nothing beats the warmth of a rich hearty soup, brought to a boil with slices of meat, vegetables, seafood, and other goodies within.
The Hubs and I thought it was the perfect time to try A Dragon Hotpot, a spot we pass by often while getting drive-through from the nearby McDonald’s.
The restaurant is located in a building on its own, complete with a patio where you can dine outdoors. It also shares a space with Ann Cafe, which serves drinks and desserts.
The interior is spacious, with peach pink walls, faux marble table tops and gaudy golden chairs. To the right is a bar counter where they serve drinks, and a fridge filled with alcoholic beverages + bottled Chinese teas.
Most hotpots I’ve been to offer buffet options or set menus. A Dragon Hotpot brings you the best of both worlds.
You get a bucket that you can fill with the items that you like. You can then bring it to the counter, and they’ll charge you by weight. I quite like this idea! With set menus, there are often ingredients that I don’t like (*vegetables* cough), while buffets encourage me to eat more than I should because I want to get my money’s worth – so this combined concept is just perfect.
Granted, there are some cons to the system. If you pick the processed stuff like meatballs, they tend to be quite heavy despite being cheap in price/value.
A Dragon Hotpot offers a good selection of the usual hotpot items: hotdogs, cocktail sausages, hams, tofu, fishballs, fresh vegetables, as well as mushrooms, seafood, and pork slices. If you prefer lamb or beef, they have pre-packed ones in the fridge that come at a standard price.
For carb lovers, you can choose from a variety of different noodles. These are not counted towards the weight of your food.
Once you’re done selecting your ingredients and weighing them, let the staff know what soup base you prefer. There were three available during our visit: mala (their signature; a very spicy soup filled with chillies, popular in the Szechuan region of China), tom yum, and pork bone broth.
We decided on the latter. It was served in a garish-looking pot which sported a dragon head on each end.
And here’s what we picked! Like a couple of kids, we left the greens out of our plates. 😛
The pork slices here are cut quite thickly, so they take a bit longer to cook. But it also gives you a more satisfying bite of meat. There are dipping sauces available at the counter, including favourites like soy sauce with garlic and chilli sauce.
The processed items tasted pretty standard. I like to get cheese tofu, which has a springy, bouncy texture embedded with creamy bits within. I also enjoy the bursting pork balls, which contain a savoury soup within. That aside, the pork slices were fresh and thick, but the Hubs didn’t enjoy it as much as he said the odour of pork was pretty strong.
The winner for both of us, though, was the soup. It was rich and hearty, and I was smacking my lips from the collagen, which left a slightly sticky residue.
Our meal for two came up to about RM60+. I wouldn’t call it super value for money, but our bellies were filled, the food was tasty, and it was still cheaper than a buffet, without the wastage. Didn’t manage to try any drinks from Ann Cafe, but I think this place warrants another visit.
A DRAGON HOTPOT
12-G, Jln Puteri 7/13A, Bandar Puteri, 47100 Puchong, Selangor
Ask any KL-based BBQ pork lover where they get their fix, and chances are you’ll hear Down to Bones being mentioned. Started as a pop-up store that only ran on weekends, their Texas-style BBQ ribs proved so popular, they expanded to a proper shop in OUG. Today, the shop attracts long queues, especially over the weekends.
If you live in the South Klang Valley, you can get the same goodness, minus the crowds, as Down to Bones has a branch in Eco Sanctuary Mall. Apparently they opened three years ago, but I didn’t know the place existed until I Googled.
The resto can be empty, even on weekends. It’s not surprising, as the location is quite remote, all the way in Telok Panglima Garang. But the plus point is you get to enjoy your meal in peace and quiet, without having to hustle because someone else is hovering over your table!
We came here around 6-ish on a Saturday evening and had the whole place to ourselves. Service was fast, although the food took some time to serve since they cook it to order. Their menu is virtually identical to the one you’ll find at their OUG outlet. Aside from BBQ pork ribs, you can also get items such as buttermilk fried chicken and pasta.
The decor is also similar to their main outlet, albeit pared down. This has a more ‘canteen’ like feel to it, compared to OUG’s Instagramable aesthetics.
The Hubs had the signature Ultra Ribs (RM34), featuring two humongous sticks of ribs, drenched in house sauce and served with coleslaw and a sausage. I liked the sauce as it was tangy and spicy. The ribs were decent as well, especially the parts with fat which made the meat soft and tender. Some parts were rather tough and stringy though; not sure if that’s just how it is with ribs because I recall saying something similar in my previous review at their OUG outlet.
I wanted pasta, so I went for the Butter Sauce Spaghetti (RM24). The sauce tasted similar to the local dai chow buttermilk, with a hint of curry leaves and bird’s eye chilli adding some kick. The pasta was cooked al dente, topped with juicy pieces of fried pork, a beautiful egg yolk, and sliced pork sausages.
While I enjoyed the initial bites, the creaminess got cloying after awhile. The butter sauce was good, but there wasn’t much to cut through the greasiness ,and it tasted very bland for some reason – I could taste a hint of butter, but mostly it was just salty without depth of flavour. It’s not a bad dish, but I think it could have been better.
So my second trip to Down to Bones turned out a little underwhelming. Perhaps in my mind, DTB OUG gave me such a good first impression that this paled in comparison. To be fair, the food wasn’t bad – it is fresh, hot food. It just wasn’t wow. But I guess if we ever crave some ribs and don’t want to drive all the way to OUG or queue up for an hour, this place would tick the right boxes.
DOWN TO BONES
G-33&G-33A, Ground Floor, Sanctuary Mall, Lot 41296, Persiaran Eco Sanctuary, 42500 Telok Panglima Garang, Selangor
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PS 2: I wanted to update more often, but my health has been sucky lately and a physical condition has rendered it difficult for me to touch my keyboard for long periods at a time. It sucks. But I’m trying a new treatment, hopefully it’ll work out and I can get my health on track again! I’ve been so depressed I’ve just been eating shit and haven’t been working outor focusing on my mental health.