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Marco Creative Cuisine @ 1 Utama

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

Opening hours: 11AM – 9PM

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Korean Soy Garlic Chicken Wings @ K-Fry, 1 Utama

As a self-professed fried chicken connoisseur, I’m always on the lookout for the ultimate golden bird – whether it’s tangy and slathered in buffalo sauce, hand breaded with 11 herbs and spices, brined in buttermilk for maximum flavour… the possibilities are endless.

I do, however, have a soft spot for Korean fried chicken. Maybe it’s the double-frying that makes it ultra crispy. Maybe it’s the light batter, and the succulent, moist meat. In my search for the best “KFC”, I’ve tried numerous joints – Singapore-based Four Fingers, the ever popular KyoChon 1991 and NeNe Chicken – but I think I’ve recently found a serious contender for top spot… in the form of K-Fry.

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K Fry touts itself as a “homegrown Korean brand that specialises in authentic Korean Fried Chicken and hearty Korean food with an urban twist”. True to its theme, the outlet in 1 Utama Shopping Centre looks cool and trendy, and wouldn’t look out of place if it was a resto in Gangnam or Hongdae. The warm overhead lights, coupled with neon signs, plant decorations and a matching wood + dark colour scheme make this a perfectly Instagrammable spot.

Prior to this visit, I’ve walked past the place a couple of times and it was always packed pre pandemic. Now it’s much quieter, but that means you won’t have to queue up to dine in.

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If you’re dining at K Fry, it’s best to come in a big group as most of their dishes are designed for sharing, such as their signature Fried Chicken Bumbuk (RM58.90) – juicy boneless fried chicken dipped in Korean sweet and spicy sauce and savoury mozzarella cheese. Staff members prepare the dish at your table, so you can watch as they wrap melty, oozy cheese around each piece of chicken before serving. Other recommended items include the K-Fry Nude Chicks (RM28.90), which comprises 12 pieces of their signature fried chicken – as well as flavours like Snow Cheese (RM35.90 – chicken topped with cheddar cheese powder) and honey butter (RM32.90). Although chicken may be the star, K Fry is a full service resto, so you can also order ramyeon, rice balls, soups, dosirak (lunchboxes), banchan (side dishes), bingsoo (shaved ice) for dessert and mocktails.

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I think the benchmark whenever one goes to a K-fried chicken joint is to have the most basic flavour – soy garlic. K Fry’s version comes with 4 wings and 4 drummettes for RM21.90. Of course, the best feeling is to eat something deep fried with lots of rice, so I got a bowl of white rice to wolf down with my protein.

Usually, the soy garlic chicken at most places have a glossy, sticky sheen – the result of the chicken being tossed in the sauce after frying – so I was surprised I didn’t see any of this when the food was served. The chicken looked like regular fried chicken, with a crunchy batter. The wings/drummettes were decently sized though (KyoChon has tiny tiny wings), so that was one point right off the bat.

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Biting into the chicken, I had my next pleasant surprise. Despite the lack of sauce on the surface, the chicken was delicious and packed with flavour. It seemed like the sauce had been condensed somehow, its flavour seeping into the skin, which was extremely crispy. The meat inside was also moist and juicy, which according to K Fry’s website is because they never use frozen chicken, only chilled ones, to maintain freshness and quality. The chicken was perfectly fried and did not taste greasy at all. I’d give it a 9/10!

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Service at K Fry is impeccable. Staff members are friendly, accommodating, attentive and approachable. When I declined to order a drink, my server asked if I’d like water instead – free of charge.

K Fry gets a lot of Muslim customers, and they employ Muslim staff. They are not yet halal-certified however, as the local JAKIM certification process takes a super long time, but they source ingredients from halal-certified sources. The establishment is pork and alcohol-free.

K FRY (1 UTAMA)

LG 221A 1 Utama Shopping Center, Bandar Utama, 47800 Petaling Jaya, Selangor

Opening hours: 11AM – 10PM

Phone: 03-7624 0027

kfry.my

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Tonkatsu by Ma Maison, 1 Utama Celebrates 7th Anniversary – 50% Off All Sets!

Tonkatsu by Ma Maison is my favourite place to get authentic tonkatsu. I’ve dined at their Publika and USJ Main Place branches before, but never at the original in 1Utama (don’t ask me why – I just never did it lol). Recently I went back to the office to pack, and since the mall is nearby, I stopped by for lunch. It so happened that the outlet is celebrating their 7th anniversary and are offering 50% off all their sets (from 11am – 8PM) until November 30 – so I got an EXTREMELY value for money deal.

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The shop is tucked within ISETAN. It can be quite difficult to find because it’s hidden in a corner – just follow the signage when you get to the Japanese resto section.

Tonkatsu by Ma Maison was founded in Tokyo in 1976 by Akinori Terazawa  – who after failing to find the perfect tonkatsu, set out to make his own specialty outlet. To date, they have 16 outlets across Japan, five in Singapore and three in Malaysia.

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11am. First customer of the day!

The restaurant boasts a classy interior with cool grey walls, sleek wooden furniture and black and white photos/calligraphy. The aesthetics are standard across all of their branches.

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The highlight at Tonkatsu by Ma Maison is the Rosu Katsu (RM27.90) – a juicy 160g deep fried pork loin cooked to golden brown perfection. What makes it so addictive is the ratio of lean to fat, so you get a wonderful medley of textures in your mouth: soft and tender lean meat, melt-on-your-tongue fat, all enveloped in a crunchy, breaded crust. Each set is served with pickled ginger slices, cabbage and mustard to cut through the oiliness, fluffy white rice and warm miso soup. I don’t know about you, but there’s nothing more satisfying than shovelling down big spoonfuls of white rice with something salty and deep fried. (PS: they offer free rice, soup and salad refills!) For big eaters, go the whole hog and order the Jumbo Rosu Katsu (RM32.90), which weighs in at a hefty 250g.

If pork loin isn’t your thing, you can opt for hire katsu (pork fillet, which is leaner). You can also choose to get Miso Rosu Katsu/Hire Katsu, Kakifurai (deep fried oyster), Jumbo Ebifurai (deep fried shrimp), sakana (white fish), chicken or a mix of a few different fried items.

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The food is good on its own, but you can elevate it with various sauces. The spicy offers a good kick, while the sweet goes really well with the meat and balances out the saltiness. I usually put sesame dressing on the salad – but you can use it as a dip for your meat too.

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Thanks to the promo, my meal cost only RM16++ which is a steal for the portion and quality. The promo is available until the end of November 30 at the 1 Utama outlet only. Stop by if you’re in the area! 🙂

TONKATSU BY MA MAISON (1 UTAMA)

Level 2, Isetan, 1 Utama Shopping Centre, 1, Lebuh Bandar Utama, PJ, 47800 Selangor.

Phone: +603-7727 3337

Opening hours: 11AM – 10PM

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