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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)

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Sushi Zanmai @ Quayside Mall, Telok Panglima Garang

Dropping in with a short and sweet entry!

You might recall a previous post where I did a walking tour of Quayside Mall, a relatively new mall located in the twentyfive.7 township at Kota Kemuning South. While there isn’t much going on in the neighbourhood, the mall is pretty well equipped and has everything from a higher-end grocer to restaurants, mobile and internet service providers, and a convention centre.

After our trip to Immigration to sort out N’s papers, the bro, N and I stopped by the mall for lunch, where we decided to go for Sushi Zanmai.

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Like its other branches, the Sushi Zanmai here has the same aesthetics: spacious and airy interior, with lots of wood and tall windows for natural sunlight. Service was efficient and friendly; we were promptly seated at a booth and since the menu is now paperless, we made our orders by scanning a QR code at the table.

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For appetisers, the chuuka idako is a must. I like that they don’t skimp on the portions, and the octopus is well marinated and flavourful.

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If you like wasabi, try the tako wasabi (octopus with wasabi). It’ll clear any blocked sinuses immediately! It might take some getting used to, though, as the octopus has a slimy texture which not everyone might find palatable.

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We also got some sushi, like the tuna inari (tuna with rice stuffed in sweet beancurd).

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For mains, Sushi Zanmai offers a selection of rice and noodle dishes, as well as other options like sukiyaki (hotpot). You can opt for regular sized meals, but if you’re a small eater, the small portions are good enough (plus they’re very affordable!)

I got udon in a soy sauce broth served with crispy tempura vegetables and prawn; the Bro had rice with fried fish fillets. The tempura was excellent: lightly battered and crispy; it paired really well with the chewy noodles.

Overall, I enjoyed the food and service from this Sushi Zanmai branch, and wouldn’t mind stopping by again if I’m in the area! Prices are quite affordable too for the setting and quality.

SUSHI ZANMAI

GF-06, Ground Floor, Quayside Mall Persiaran Freesia, Gamuda Kemuning 25.7, 42500 Telok Panglima Garang, Selangor

Opening hours: 10AM – 9PM (daily)

Online delivery available. Order here

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Review: Ticket To Korea, Setiawalk Puchong

Setiawalk Puchong has seen better days. Once the hottest hangout spot in Puchong, the place has been on a decline, especially in the last few years. There aren’t many restaurants left, but one that has been around since the mall’s inception is Ticket to Korea. Despite having been to Setiawalk many times, I have never thought to try them out — so a recent lunch date with my friend H was as good a time as any.

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The restaurant’s interior is brightly lit by natural sunlight and the space feels cosy and welcoming. A young couple whom I assume to be the owners greeted us enthusiastically, and we were quickly given menus. Aside from authentic Korean fare the likes of bulgogi and pajeon (pancake), diners will also find popular fusion dishes like Korean-style pork ribs with cheese, hot plate cheesy corn, and kimchi quesadilla.

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H ordered a bibimbap bowl, which came in a huge portion — I think it was good enough for two small eaters. It was beautifully presented, with generous heapings of vegetables, grilled pork belly, shredded cucumber, carrots and seaweed, topped off with a fried egg. It was delicious; the sweet and savoury sauce brought everything together really well.

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Despite the sweltering heat outside, I went for the Kimchi Ramen (because I’m masochist that way lol).

The bowl looked fiery red when it came to the table; there were soft slices of tofu swimming within, and the soup’s colour contrasted nicely with the enoki mushrooms and spring onion garnish on top. The soup was the bomb. Some places cut corners and add more kimchi paste, which means you get watery, ‘flavoured’ soup — but with this, I could really taste the texture of fibrous, blended vegetables, and there was a good amount of kimchi within as well. It was thick and sour, perfect for whetting the appetite, and the slight viscosity meant that the soup clung to each strand of ramyeon for maximum flavour. Did I also mention that the pork slices were super tender and had a great ratio of lean and fat?

The owners kept popping by to our table to check if I was okay with the heat. The soup was rather spicy, but hey — what’s pleasure without a bit of pain? *wink wink

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To wash everything down, a cold glass of coffee with condensed milk.
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We had a nice surprise at the end, compliments of the house — ice cream, served on a cold stone plate. They were drizzled over with what tasted like honey, and cookie shavings. Definitely a sweet end to a satisfying meal.

There are lots of good things to say about our dining experience here: the service was impeccable, the dishes that we tried tasted excellent, and prices were not too steep (our meal for two came up to about RM60). I wouldn’t mind a return visit !

PS: They have another branch at Tropicana Avenue, PJ.

TICKET TO KOREA

C-8-1, Block C, Setiawalk, Persiaran Wawasan, Jalan Wawasan 1/1, Taman Wawasan, 47160 Puchong, Selangor

Opening hours: 12PM – 11PM (daily)

facebook.com/tickettokoreafinedining

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This Might Just Be The Best Halal Ramen in Malaysia: Ramen Seirock-Ya, IOI Mall Puchong

Tonkotsu has always been my favourite type of ramen. I mean, what can compare to a bowl of chewy, al-dente noodles, swimming in a rich, savoury pork broth?

The answer: Tori-Paitan, aka Chicken ramen.

Up until recently, I had not heard of this type of ramen – but apparently it’s quite popular in many parts of Japan, especially Osaka, where it is said to originate from. Just like tonkotsu, the broth is simmered for hours with chicken bones and meat, until it’s bursting with umami flavour.

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Now, Malaysians can also indulge in this scrumptious fare at Ramen Seirock-Ya, a ramen restaurant specialising in Tori-Paitan. Founded in Tsukuba City in 2009, the brand has been expanding to parts of Southeast Asia with a large Muslim demographic, including Malaysia and Indonesia. It’s excellent news for our Muslim friends out there who love ramen (which is normally made with pork), since the brand is halal-certified by JAKIM.

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The outlet at IOI Mall Puchong is spacious and comfortable. You check off the items you want on a chit, make payment at the counter, and they’ll send the food to your table.
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The signature is, of course, their Tori-Paitan ramen, which comes in several variants including Extreme (the must-try), Shoyu (soy-sauce based), Shio (salt-based) and Miso. You can also decide if you want the basic, or with additional egg or chicken slices. The noodles come with a slice of lemon – the servers recommend savouring the original flavour of the broth first, before adding the lemon, which gives it a slightly different taste.

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The noodles are good – well cooked, al dente and springy – but the broth is the real star here. After being boiled for hours, the flavour of the meat is condensed into the lip-smacking broth, and the taste is further accentuated by fried shallots and spring onions. Despite the amount of oil swimming on the surface, it does not taste greasy at all.

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On another visit, I ordered a plate of pan-fried chicken gyoza. They were crispy and slightly brown on the outside, and juicy and moist on the inside with lots of vegetables – no complaints here.

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Order a side of fried chicken karaage – expertly marinated and deep fried to golden perfection – before washing down your meal with a cold (or warm) glass of green tea.

If you’re not keen on the signature, also on the menu are items like Tan-Tan Men (a Japanese take on Chinese Sichuan dan dan mian), Tsukemen (cold noodles dipped in hot soup), Japanese curry rice, katsu don and chahan (fried rice) among others. Prices are actually more affordable than my favourite ramen place (which, sadly, has become so popular now that it’s impossible to dine-in without at least a 45-minute wait), ranging around RM18 – RM30 for most mains.

RAMEN SEIROCK-YA (IOI MALL PUCHONG)

1F Food Street, IOI Mall Puchong, Bandar Puchong Jaya, Puchong, Selangor
Tel: +603 5882 1262
Business Hours: 10AM – 10PM (last order 9.30PM)

HALAL

seirock-ya.com.my

*Opinions here are my own. Feel free to agree/disagree with mtaste buds.

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Brunch & Japanese Fare @ Buranchi, Bandar Puteri Puchong

I’ve driven past Buranchi a couple of times before, but never tried it until recently. Suprisingly, it was the Moo who suggested we grab lunch there (she isn’t keen on dining out because of the high number of coronavirus cases here in Selangor).

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Buranchi is Japanese for brunch, a fitting name for a cafe that specialises in all-day breakfasts and Japanese and Western fusion cuisine. Expect items such as sausage puffs, omu curry rice, yakiniku don, potato salad, ramen and udon. They also offer a selection of coffee and cakes.

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The interior is bright and cheerful, and you’ll find cute touches like these Japanese daruma dolls all around the premises.

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Honey Coffee (RM9) for a caffeine boost.

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Moo’s Chazuke (RM13) had exquisite presentation.

Chazuke comes from the Japanese ocha (tea) and zuke (to submerge), and usually comprises rice topped with various condiments such as pickled vegetables and wasabi, and a dashi/tea/broth that is poured over the rice. The one at Buranchi is served with a side of grilled saba (mackerel). It’s a simple meal that is not too heavy, which is probably why it’s popular with the ladies.

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I prefer robust flavours, so I got the Tonkatsu Ramen (RM17), which is one of the cafe’s specialties.

I was very impressed with the quality of the ramen. The noodles were al dente, and it was served with slices of crunchy bamboo shoots, ajitsuke tamago (half-boiled egg) and nori (seaweed). The star was definitely the pork bone soup, which was rich, savoury and full of porky goodness (I emptied the bowl, lol). While I remain devoted to Menya Shishi Do, I think Buranchi’s version is not bad at all for its price, especially if you’re stuck in Puchong and can’t drive all the way to PJ to have your ramen fix.

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To round off the meal, the Moo and I shared a Sea salt Chocolate Mousse (RM10). It was smooth, creamy and luscious; the chocolate was not too sweet and still had a hint of the astringency you get from dark cocoa, while the slight amount of sea salt helped to balance out everything – sort of like the principle of salted caramel.

Buranchi certainly impressed me with its service, quality and price, which is reasonable for the setting. Will be making a return visit to try out other dishes!

BURANCHI

72A-G, Jalan Puteri 5/5, Bandar Puteri, 47100 Puchong, Selangor

Opening hours: 830AM – 4PM (closed Mondays)

non-halal

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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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Chewy Japanese Noodles! @ Miyatake Sanuki Udon, ISETAN 1 Utama Shopping Centre, Petaling Jaya

My favourite udon joints seem to be closing one by one. First it was Marufuku Udon in Jaya One, then recently, Hanamaru Udon in Sunway Pyramid. Thankfully, I’ve found a new place to satisfy my chewy noodle cravings – and it’s close to my new workplace.

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Miyatake Sanuki Udon has roots in Kagawa, Japan, where they have restaurants and their own noodle factory. They opened their first outlet in Malaysia at ISETAN 1Utama in 2019.  The resto looks like your typical Japanese casual dining joint: lots of wood, attractive photos of the food, and Japanese-style buntings you usually see at sushi spots and robatayakis. Orders are made  for at the counter, and you can also pick your side dishes like chicken karaage, enoki mushrooms, crab sticks, chikuwa, and more.

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It goes without saying that their specialty is udon, and there are several varieties, such as plain, with curry, with thin slices of beef, and with onsen tamago (soft boiled egg). Went for the latter, which featured a full, yellow yolk that sat atop a bed of silky, chewy noodles.

Miyatake Sanuki Udon’s noodles are well known for their quality, and it is also sold in supermarkets around the world. The noodles are made from wheat that has been carefully selected and milled at their factory in Sanuki, giving them a sumptuous, strong-bodied flavour. You can taste the fragrant aroma of wheat, and it is by far one of the chewiest udon noodles that I’ve tasted. If you like chewy noodles, this will be right up your alley.

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Ordered sides of chicken karaage and fried enoki mushrooms.

Enjoying the different textures – crunchy and crispy, soft and chewy – is the ultimate satisfaction! Dip your fried snacks in tempura sauce for extra flavour.

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The onsen tamago was literally perfect: tried lifting it up and the membrane didn’t even tear.

An average bowl of udon here ranges from RM11 – RM20. My meal with two sides and a drink came up to RM25. Green tea is refillable, but the price is steep at RM4.

MIYATAKA SANUKI UDON (non-halal) 

Food Paradise, 2F, 1 Utama Shopping Centre, Central Park Avenue, Bandar Utama, 47800 Petaling Jaya, Selangor.

facebook.com/udonwon

Oodles of Noodles @ Kai Xin Restaurant, Taman Wawasan Puchong

I’ve lived in Puchong nearly all my life, but I still haven’t been to the Ayer Hitam Forest Reserve. It’s a popular hiking spot on weekends, and there are usually loads of cars parked near the entrance. Just next to it is a row of single storey shoplots with a few cafes and eateries where visitors can go to for breakfast / brunch / lunch after their hiking excursion. One of these is Kai Xin Restaurant, which specialises in simple, homemade noodles. The place has probably been around for some time, judging from the faded signboard which we had to squint at to make out.

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Typical of casual kopitiams, the interior is sparse and no-frills. While some customers seem to be hikers, judging from their attire, the rest are likely from the surrounding neighbourhood. The menu is limited, namely serving Wantan Mee, Pan Mee, Ginger Wine Noodles, Pork Trotters in Vinegar, Curry Noodles, Pork Noodles and Har Mee. You know what they say about good food spots though – quality over quantity!

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The curry noodles are ‘Melaka Nyonya style’, according to the boss who took our orders.

Hawker fare is typically served in a sloppy mess, but this was beautifully presented and came chock full of ingredients: tofu pok, sliced egg, fish cakes, beancurd sheets and charsiew, topped with a dollop of spicy sambal. The curry offers a spicy kick, and you can really taste the fragrant flavours of lemongrass and galangal. Curry noodles in KL tend to be creamy and heavy on the coconut milk, but this is very clear and light.

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Pan Mee is another one of the restaurant’s specialties. You can choose to have it in a soup, or dry / tossed in dark soy sauce. You can also pick from either thick, thin or hand cut noodles. Personally I prefer thick noodles as the extra thickness / bite just adds to that extra mouthfeel / al dente satisfaction! Both the soup and dry versions come with crunchy fried anchovies, minced meat and wood ear fungus.

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Round off the meal on a sweet note with some sweet Chinese desserts, the likes of red bean soup, black sesame soup or barley with pumpkin. 

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Was surprised that our meal for four came up to under RM40 (inclusive of the desserts and 2 drinks), which is very reasonable by today’s standards. Each bowl of noodles is only RM6. Good cheap food in a casual setting – can’t really fault that! So if you’re hiking at Ayer Hitam Forest Reserve, drop by Kai Xin for a nice and filling lunch. 🙂

KAI XIN RESTAURANT 

No. 31, Jalan Wawasan 5/1, Pusat Bandar Puuchong, 47100 Puchong, Selangor

Opening hours: 9AM – 3PM (Tues – Sun). Closed Mondays.