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I Went For A Solo Buffet @ Rocku Yakiniku, 1 Utama

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If you can’t already tell, I am somewhat of a loner.

While I enjoy good company in small doses and in intimate settings, large crowds give me anxiety, and I need lots of me-time to recuperate after an extended period of socializing. This is probably why I’m comfortable dining alone: I’ve never really understood why other people would give me the ‘but it’s so sad!’ – because all I need is a good book / manga to read over my food.

I’ve never really gone for a solo buffet though – which I did for my birthday a couple of months ago at Rocku Yakiniku, 1 Utama.

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This is my third visit to the Japanese BBQ establishment. Not much has changed – the interior is still upbeat and edgy-looking, with Japanese-themed murals decorating the brick walls. The layout has been tweaked slightly to allow for more social distancing between diners, however.

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Meat is the main highlight at Rocku Yakiniku – you can choose from different cuts of beef and pork, and there is also a selection of fresh seafood.
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From past experience, the dishes from their buffet counter are so-so, so I went straight for the meat. Pork is always a good bet. Above is the pork platter with pork belly, bacon and collar. Cuts are thin enough to make it easy for grilling, but thick and meaty enough to satisfy.

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Oil the grill with a piece of pork lard before placing your items onto the grill. Rocku Yakiniku uses charcoal so you get a nice, charred/smoky taste imbued into the meat.
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The butterfish and squid were also very fresh.

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While the meat is good and all, my favourite is actually the scallops, which are served in small tin foil bowls swimming in a flavourful broth. The scallops are sweet and juicy with a buttery taste – extremely addictive – and the broth is delicious too. After demolishing seven bowls, 2 plates of butterfish, 1 plate of squid and a whole pork platter, I think I’ve gotten my money’s worth back lol.

Rocku Yakiniku is open for lunch and dinner. The lunch buffet on weekdays is RM39.90++, excluding drinks.

ROCKU YAKINIKU

F.355, F.356 & F.357, First Floor, Rainforest, No. 1, Lebuh Bandar Utama, Bandar Utama, 47800 Petaling Jaya, Selangor

Opening hours: 11AM – 11PM (Daily)

rocku.com.my

Halal BBQ & Hotpot – Seoul Garden 1 Utama

Can’t decide between barbecue or hotpot? You can have both at Seoul Garden, a Korean-inspired buffet chain from Singapore which offers a plentiful array of vegetable, meat and seafood dishes for the pot as well as the grill. Their outlet in 1 Utama has been around for years and is still going strong, judging from the lunch crowd. It’s also Halal-certified, so the colleagues and I came here for our farewell lunch with L.

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We got here early so the resto was still quite empty. Social distancing rules are observed with tables spaced far apart, and patrons are required to wear face masks and gloves when taking their food from the buffet counters.

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The lunch buffet is priced at RM46.20 for adults, which I think is reasonable for the location and the variety of items they offer.  Before you’re seated, you can choose from several soup bases, such as Kimchi Jigae, Milky Seafood, Ginseng Chicken, Ginseng Abalone and the fusion-style TomYum Kimchi.

Over at the meat counter, you’ll find a selection of marinated meats ready for the grill – including the unique Coffee Chicken. While it might sound unappetising, it actually has good flavour, with a fragrant coffee aroma and a hint of sweetness / smokiness to it. You’ll also find both spicy and non-spicy Bulgogi Beef, Kimchi Chicken, BBQ and Teriyaki Chicken, Black Pepper Dory, Tom Yum Squid, and much more. If you upgrade to Premium for an additional RM12, you’ll get access to the Premium counter which has smoked duck, salmon, lamb, sirloin and other mexclusive items.

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While waiting for your soup to boil and the grill to heat up, hit up the ready-to-eat counter, featuring various fried goodies (fried fish fillets, potato wedges, fried chicken), noodles and rice. For lunch service, they fry the stuff in advance so some of it might not be as crispy, but the flavour is still decent. PS: A general rule at buffets if you want your money’s worth – don’t load up on the carbs. They’re filling, so you don’t get to eat as much of everything else. Might just be me though; to each their own. 😛

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Soup’s boiling, grill’s hot – time to tuck in!

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Highlights: Being a meat eater, I enjoyed all of the meat items, especially the smoked duck from the premium counter, the tom yum squid, the black pepper dory and the coffee chicken.  The ingredients were fresh and tasty – none of that awful bloody/iron taste you usually get from meat / seafood that have been frozen and thawed countless times. The soup base we picked (milky seafood) was too salty, though. Other than that, no complaints. We ended our meal with ice cream, fresh fruits and pudding for dessert.

BBQ /Hotpot buffets can be pricey in the Klang Valley, so RM50+ is a reasonable price for me, for a buffet of this quality. There is a good variety of items, the space is comfortable and clean, and the service is friendly (albeit a little slow especially when you need them to change the grill plate / add soup).

PS: Birthday babies dine for free! If it’s your birthday month, simply come with 3 paying adults and your meal will be covered for. 

SEOUL GARDEN 1 UTAMA 

LG 345, Lower Ground Floor, Highstreet, 1 Utama Shopping Centre, Lebuh Bandar Utama, 47800, Selangor

Opening hours: 11AM – 10PM

Reservations: seoulgarden.com.my

 

 

Review: Thai Hou Sek, 1 Utama – Thai Food With A Twist

You need to understand Cantonese to get the cheeky wit behind Thai Hou Sek‘s name. Tai is a homonym for ‘very/too much’, and hou sek means delicious. It can therefore be translated as ‘too delicious’, or simply, ‘Thai food is delicious’.

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Ignoring the semantics, Thai Hou Sek prides itself in Thai food with a Chinese twist, served in a distinctive setting reminiscent of Bangkok’s colourful Yaowarat Road. Speakeasy vibes abound, accentuated by cosy lighting, a neon-lit elephant and a wall papered with newspaper clippings and vintage posters of Thai ads.  Across the room is a mural of King Bhumibol Adjulyadej – in shades. It’s a perfect representation of Thailand, a modernizing country that still holds dear to its roots and traditions.  Meanwhile, a bar at the back dishes out both non-alcoholic and alcoholic drinks, from creative signatures such as Thai Hou Yum (jasmine tea, assamboi, lime) and Sparkling Ribena Lychee, to cocktails like Lemongrass Mojito and Cucumber Sake Madness.

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The menu is extensive. Choose from mains to share if you’re in a group, or single rice and noodle dishes. The restaurant also offers lunch sets to cater to the weekday office crowd. While you can opt for chicken and seafood, it is clear that pork takes center stage. Expect classic flavours with a modern touch when you tuck into dishes such as Pad Thai with Seafood and Bacon, Pad Kra Pao Pasta, Papaya Salad with Luncheon Meat, and Siu Yuk Tom Yum.

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Despite the full house, service was fast and efficient during our visit. C had the classic Pad Kra Pao; stir fried minced pork with basil and chilli padi, served with steaming white rice, fried egg, and a side of crackers. Portion was generous.

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Also ordered one of their bestsellers: Siu Yuk Tom Yum. The dish is good enough for 2-3 people, and comes loaded with chunks of roast pork and juicy mushrooms. The soup is everything a good tom yum should be: sour and appetising, great with rice, and spicy with a kick.

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I got one of their lunch set options: Tom Yum Mama Noodles with Siew Yuk (RM16.90). The pork is served on a platter with a side of crackers, while the noodles are served in a bowl, topped with egg (look at that beautiful yolk!). Mama Noodles are the Thai equivalent of what Maggi is to Malaysians, and I like the springy, al dente texture. While the soup is not as thick as the Siew Yuk Tom Yum dish, it still packs a punch. Pork skin is crispy and crunchy, and the meat has layers of lean and fat that literally melts in your mouth. If you eat it on its own it might feel a bit greasy, but you can set this off by dunking it into the sour tom yum soup.

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You can get a drink with your set lunch for a few extra ringgit. Can’t have a Thai meal without iced Thai milk tea: sweet, cold and refreshing!

For dessert lovers, Thai Hou Sek offers a selection of classics like Mango Sticky Rice, Tab Tim Krop (water chestnut rubies, jackfruit, mango slices, served with vanilla ice cream and coconut milk) as well as Pumpkin Custard and Coconut Ice Cream Surprise. 

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed my first time at Thai Hou Sek – service is fast, warm and friendly, food’s great, and the ambience is cosy. It can get pretty crowded over lunch time though, so either come earlier or expect a wait. Prices are above average.

THAI HOU SEK 

S132, 2nd Floor, Old Wing, 1 Utama, Bandar Utama, Petaling Jaya, Selangor.

Tel: 03-7731-7933

Opening hours: 10AM – 10PM

 

Would You Try Indoor Skydiving? @ AirRider 1 Utama

**This has been lying around for ages but stuff is going to keep piling up if I don’t blog about it so here you go. 

It’s true what they say about doing the things you want when you’re younger.

More often than not, we put things off and end up with regrets later in life. Yeah I sound like an old person. My birthday month always puts me in a pessimistic, contemplative mood lol.

I’ve always wanted to go skydiving at least once, but a back injury in my mid-teens means that I have to avoid strenuous physical activity. Goodbye oh dreams of skydiving and bungee jumping. 

Nothing to say I can’t go watch other people skydive though…even if it’s indoors.

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Newly opened in 1Utama E, the mall’s extended sports-cum-entertainment complex in Bandar Utama, Petaling Jaya, AirRider is the only indoor skydiving facility in Malaysia. The place is home to a purpose-built vertical wind tunnel, where divers can simulate free falling for 50 seconds per session  = equivalent to an outdoor skydive from 14,000 feet!

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Couldn’t participate coz of the aforementioned back injury, but the editor went for it while I filmed. The session was conducted together with another group; a family of tourists with kids in tow, and a girl who was taking indoor skydiving lessons. Yep, they offer those as well! It’s also safe for people of all ages, provided you are in a good physical condition.

Did you know that indoor skydiving is a competitive sport on its own? Participants compete by performing tricks, flips and stunts in the wind tunnel.

At AirRider, professional instructors are on hand to assist your ‘flight’, so fret not!

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Suiting up in a loud orange jumpsuit before flying.

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The instructors make it look easy, but I could see it was difficult for newbies to get the right balance in one try. Even without the crazy flips and whatnot, it was a challenge for some to stay in the right position ( face down, like they’re falling from a plane) because they kept flipping over on to their backs. You definitely need more than one session to get the hang of it.

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For a more immersive experience, flyers can also go for the Virtual Reality package where they strap some VR goggles on you while you fly, so it feels like you’re really falling from the sky.

Vid I did for work (which includes other activities you can do in Bandar Utama):

More info including prices on airrider.my/ 

Happy flying!

 

Cheesy Wontons! @ Mak’s Chee Authentic Wonton, 1 Utama

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I was blog surfing recently when I came across an entry on Mak’s Chee, a new outlet in 1Utama Shopping Mall selling ‘authentic’ Hong Kong-style wontons and wonton noodles. They were having a limited time only promotion for new snacks; namely cheese-stuffed deep fried wontons and Muscular Man Milktea. The pictures looked so inviting that I decided to hop on over (despite the evening traffic!) and try it for myself.

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The restaurant is spacious and divided into several sections. At the front, guests can watch the chefs in action through glass panels. I liked how they made a little nook where single diners can be seated at their own private tables – basically tall wooden ‘cupboards’ that separates each diner. You will often find similar setups in HK-style char chan tengs, where a table faces the wall instead of having another seat across from it. This solves the problem of one person dominating a table for four.

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A breakdown of each bowl of noodles, ingredients and specialty.

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The brand’s history can be traced back to 1920s Guangzhou, China, from one Master Mak Woon Chee. Wanting to do something different from the usual pork wontons, he came up with his own recipe for fresh shrimp dumplings. His signature was so popular it attracted notable figures such as former leader of the Republic of China Chiang Kai Shek and his wife, First Lady Soong Mei-Ling.

In the 30s, the Mak family moved to Hong Kong and Chee’s son, Mak En. carried on his father’s legacy. After many years, the recipe was passed down to his lineal descendant, who founded Mak’s Chee Authentic Wonton Malaysia today.

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Available for a limited time only (until February 28 2017), the Champion Milktea (RM6) is a rich, strong and creamy brew in a buff man-shaped bottle. I like that it’s not too sweet; almost with a coffee-like hint. Comes served in a bucket of ice to keep it cold. You can also take the unique bottle home !

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Of course, my main mission today: Cheesy Wontons. You can order 6 pieces or 12 pieces. The beautiful golden parcels come served in a small basket with a sweet chilli dip. Each wonton is quite sizable, with crispy skin wrapped around fresh, bouncy sea prawn and melty Mozarella and Cheddar cheese. Too many places skimp on their cheese, so I was happy that they stuffed a generous amount into these. The cheese won’t be as melty after some time, so it’s best to eat it hot.

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Since their signature is wonton noodles, I got a small bowl (RM12.90) to try. The noodles were finer than the local version, thin and springy with an al dente bite. Soup was flavourful, and the wontons were juicy and fresh. I think I’ve found my favourite wonton noodle place!

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MAK’S CHEE 

Lot LG311D, 1 Utama Shopping Centre, 1 Lebuh Bandar Utama, Bandar Utama City Centre, 47800 Petaling Jaya, Malaysia
Business hours: Daily 10am-10pm
Tel: 03 7722 2788

Transformers: Autobots, Roll Out to 1Utama!

While I was pretty gender neutral when it came to watching cartoons, I never really liked robot animations – hence, I missed out on the Transformers animated series, as well as well-loved classics like Astro Boy *gasp!*, Evangelion *double gasp!* and Gundam *what blasphemy!!* 

What I did watch was Beast Wars, a spinoff of the original Transformers. But other than that, I only got familiar with the brand when the movies came out.

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Nevertheless, if you’re a fan of the cartoon/movie/toys by Hasbro, come check out the Transfromers on display at 1Utama Shopping Center, happening from now til June 5. And who says it’s just for kids? If you’re a collector or grew up watching the show in the 80s, it’s a good walk down memory lane. 🙂

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Transformers Platinum Edition: Dinobot’s Figure Pack. I’m impressed by the level of detail in the figurines. I am also impressed with the price, which can cost as high as RM30 for a small, simple figurine. Whatever happened to RM5 toys?

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RM34.90, wut? 

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As part of the launch, they also had Transformers PS4 games. I realise I am out of touch with today’s generation when my character repeatedly died by jumping off cliffs… because I wasn’t familiar with the controls. Meanwhile, 10-year-olds were playing with the skill and dexterity of master gamers, their fingers moving skillfully while their eyes remain glued on the screens.

Ah, to be young again. I remember a time when I was a master gamer with 64-bit games, which you had to plug into the TV with a console, playing the likes of Super Mario, Donkey Kong and Tank. Good times.

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Optimus Prime collection.

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There was also a demonstration called ‘Fast Fingers’, where participants put together different figurines and combined them into large Transformer-bots.

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Last but not least, special appearances by Bumblebee and Optimus Prime, as well as the unveiling of the yellow Camaro similar to the one used in the films!

The Transformers event is happening until June 5 at Centre Court, Old Wing, 1Utama Shopping Centre.