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BarBQ Plaza’s Unlimited Refill Is A Meat-Lover’s Dream

Mookata, commonly called Thai-style barbecue, comes from the words mu (pig/pork) and kratha (pan/skillet). Believed to have been inspired by Mongolian and Korean barbecues, the concept was first popularised in Thailand – and has since spread across Southeast Asia. In Malaysia, you will find many mookata joints, usually non-halal, that serve pork, seafood and meat, to be sizzled on a dome-shaped pan oiled with lard. All the juices from the grill then drips down into a shallow, surrounding ‘ring’ around the edges of the pan which contains soup – essentially flavouring it with whatever you’ve cooked and giving you an umami bomb unlike any other. Also, hotpot + grill in one? Genius idea.

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While mookata joints are now a dime a dozen in Kuala Lumpur, one of the pioneers to enter the Malaysian market was BarBQ Plaza. They have not waned in popularity ever since, and currently have 18 outlets across Peninsular Malaysia, including one in IOI Mall Puchong. H and I came here for a late lunch after work, and since we were both famished after skipping breakfast, we decided to go for their All You Can Eat Refill promo, which is only available on weekdays.

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There are two tiers: the Super Refill (RM46.90 for members, RM49.90 for non-members) lets you order everything on the menu, while the Happy Refill (RM35.90 for members, RM39.90 for non-members) gets you items on the bottom only. Personally, if you’re on a budget, I think the Happy Refill is good enough, but if you like a bit more variety, then the Super Refill is worth the extra 10 bucks. Both sets come with a ‘starter’ of either pork or beef; and then you can add on whatever you want, no limits. Drinks and desserts are also included, although you’re basically just limited to honey lemon, green tea, coke and ice-cream.

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H and I were on a mission: to satisfy our pork cravings. So we started off with the pork set, which came with a side of udon and some vegetables.

The thing about BarBQ Plaza is that the meat is always sliced really thinly (so that it grills easier), but that also means that you rarely feel satisfied, and it always leaves you wanting more. With unlimited refill, you get 90 minutes to pack as much protein as you can.

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The restaurant gave us generous amounts of lard to oil the surface and ensure the meat doesn’t stick.

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I know it’s super unhealthy (which is why you should eat this once in a blue moon, or for celebrations!), but I highly recommend getting the Mozzarella Bacon. The cheese sticks to the pan, so I suggest grilling one side of the bacon first before putting the topping on the other side, so you get nice, crispy edges and a gooey centre. Speaking of which, I like my bacon to be chewy rather than crispy, which the Hubs deems blasphemous. How do you like your bacon?

(Also pictured) Cheese tofu, smoked duck, regular bacon, pork slices.

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To break the monotony of meat, we also ordered squid and a couple of seafood items like clam, prawn and fish. They were out of everything though, except for the squid.

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Round 2: More Mozzarella bacon, more smoked duck, and Thai-style pork. There’s barely any sauce though so we couldn’t really taste the ‘marinade’.

BarBQ Plaza’s in-house special sauce is really something. I’m not even sure what they make it from, but it’s like crack lol. Especially when you add in garlic. It’s sweet and savoury, and helps to cut through the greasiness so you can eat more.

Now, I know that buffets sell you the illusion that you can get your money’s worth, since you’re basically limited to how much you can eat – but most people can’t eat that much, and buffets have done that calculation. How else are they going to turn a profit?

This time, though, I think it’s score one for Eris and H. Our bill came up to RM55 per pax, and I felt like we ate our money’s worth lol. It’s a shame about the seafood items. They also didn’t have dessert. Pro tip: come at 11AM; that way you can avoid the lunch crowd and they wouldn’t run out of items.

That being said, there are a couple of things that the IOI Mall outlet can improve on. They were understaffed, with only 2 servers on the floor, so it took some time for them to serve our tables whenever we requested for refills. Also, instead of telling us that some of the items had run out, the first server simply brought whatever they had out – so we kept thinking they had forgotten the items and kept ordering them on our next chit.

BARBQ PLAZA (IOI MALL PUCHONG)

Lot FS09- FS11, 1st Floor, IOI MALL, Jalan Puchong, Bandar Puchong Jaya, 47100 Puchong, Selangor

Business hours: 11AM – 10PM (daily)

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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

Izakaya-Style Dining: Minato Yakitori, Bandar Puteri Puchong

In Japan, izakayas are popular after-work haunts that serve alcoholic drinks and snacks, such as grilled items on skewers and small appetiser plates, finished off with a more filling portion of rice or noodles. Unlike traditional restaurants that serve course-meals, you order as you eat and the chefs prepare it a la minute – so expect to spend a substantial amount of time when dining in.

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Japanese restos are a dime a dozen in the Klang Valley, but izakaya-style eateries that serve food on skewers are rare. In Puchong, there’s Minato Yakitori, a cosy establishment located above a steamboat restaurant. I’ve only been to an authentic izakaya once (in Nagoya), and Minato recreates the atmosphere well – the open kitchen where you can watch the chefs in action, the smoke, smells and sounds coming from the grill – even the bustle of diners chatting and enjoying their meals.

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Technically, though, Minato Yakitori is not a pure izakaya – as it also serves dishes like Ebi Tempura Don, Curry Rice, katsu and even sashimi. This is good news for big eaters, as the yakitori items aren’t really filling, and you can rack up a hefty bill if you’re only eating skewers.

For starters, we got a bowl of thinly sliced, cold marinated jellyfish. It was marinated well and had a salty, sour tang, with a crunchy texture.

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Pops had the Ebi Tempura (fried shrimp) set, which came with rice, miso soup and salad. Portions were generous for the price, as he had a good five pieces of largish shrimp, fried in a crispy batter with moist and springy insides. The Bro had a Chicken Katsu Don.

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Moo and I ordered skewers and steamed rice. They took a pretty long time to come since everything is grilled to order. The skewers average about RM3 – RM10, depending on what you’re ordering.

I was actually kinda disappointed with the size. I know they’re meant to be snacks, but the squid, for example, looked small and shriveled. Even the dollop of mayo that was served on the side was super tiny. Although, I can’t fault the flavour and the quality of the food – the squid tasted fresh, and I liked that it had a slight char on the edges.

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Moo’s Pork with Spring Onions. The meat had a nice sweet taste, like glazed soy sauce and sugar, which complemented the natural sweetness of the spring onions.

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I also ordered: bacon-wrapped enoki mushrooms, scallops and chicken liver. The latter two were the best of the lot: the scallops were plump and juicy, while the chicken liver was intense and gamey – not for those who don’t like the taste of offal. The bacon-wrapped mushrooms were good too, just the portion was small and the bacon slice was so thin I could have used it as a ring around my finger lol.

Our bill for 4 came up to just under RM100. If you’re looking for a tasty, filling meal, go for the sets. If you want the izakaya experience, order the skewers. Expect a wait as they grill the items to order. Reservations are recommended, especially on weekends.

MINATO YAKITORI 

First Floor, No. 49, 1, Jalan Puteri 2/3, Bandar Puteri Puchong, 47100 Puchong, Selangor (Above Harbour Steamboat) 

Opening hours: 11AM – 2.30PM, 5.30PM – 10.30PM  (closed Mondays)
Non-Halal

 

Review: Wingstop @ Nu Sentral Kuala Lumpur

When Wingstop opened its first outlet in Malaysia, I remember being extremely excited, because we don’t have that many places serving good buffalo chicken wings here. I even braved the evening traffic to Mutiara Damansara just for it – something I would never do under normal circumstances lol. But I guess it was because I had set my expectations too high, that when I actually got to try them, I was sorely disappointed. You can read the review here.

This time around, I was bumbling around KL after a trip to the art gallery and came across another Wingstop, this one a branch at Nu Sentral. It just so happened I had a craving for fried chicken, and decided to give them a second chance…

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Ordering mechanics were pretty much the same as the last time I went to a Wingstop – self-service via tablets, after which they give you a round buzzer that lights up when your order is ready. Gotta say their service was really good though! A staff member is on hand to explain how to order if it’s your first time.

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There are close to a dozen flavours to choose from, and you can also opt for different cuts, such as boneless, tenders or classic. I went for the 8 pc classic with two flavours; Buffalo and Garlic Parmesan. The set also came with a fizzy drink and a side (onion rings).

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Verdict: Slightly less disappointing this time around, but still not the best American-style wings I’ve had (that goes to Frankie’s). I know buffalo wings are supposed to be sour because of their vinegar base, but the sourness was a little overwhelming. The parmesan cheese on the other hand was underwhelming, with a thick, hard batter. Not to mention the chicken was greasy. It wasn’t terrible but again, I guess I had high expectations for it and it just didn’t hit the mark. Chicken was greasy as well, couldn’t finish eight pieces. The only thing they did well (again!) was the onion rings, which were tasty and crisp.

All in all, a ‘meh’ experience, although it did fare a little better compared to my first visit. Would I come back again? I know they say three strikes, you’re out, but with WingStop, perhaps two is all there is.

WING STOP (NU SENTRAL BRANCH) 

No. L4.11, Nu Sentral, 201, Jalan Tun Sambanthan, Brickfields, 50470 Kuala Lumpur

Opening hours: 10AM – 10PM

 

Review: BBQ Plaza, IOI Mall Puchong

Love barbecue and hotpot? You can have the best of both at BBQ Plaza, a popular mookata chain with various outlets across Malaysia.

Originally from Thailand, mookata (or mu kratha – literally pan/skillet pork) combines a Korean-style raised barbecue plate with a Chinese-style hotpot on the edges. BBQ Plaza is one of the pioneers of this style of cooking in Malaysia, although now it’s quite easy to find mookata everywhere.

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The bro wanted to treat us, so we went to the branch in IOI Mall Puchong. The place is always packed for dinner, so be sure to go early!

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Spacious interior with exhaust fans over each booth for ventilation.

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Service was fast and efficient. While we were lining up they were already taking our orders to speed up the process. Difference between this and the recent unpleasant experience at Yuan Le is like heaven and earth.

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Supreme Pork (Family Set) came with thinly sliced pork, bacon, chicken, shrimp, assorted hotpot goodies like meatballs, crab meat sticks and tofu, butterfish slices, shrimp, squid, fish paste noodles, udon and vegetables.

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We also added on a Bacon with Mozzarella (no pic coz too busy eating lol) which was DA BOMB – although the cheese had a tendency to get stuck on the grill. I suggest scraping the cheese off first, grilling one side of the bacon then topping the other with the cheese.

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Everything was fresh and tasty! Loved how thinly they sliced the pork, and there was a nice balance of lean and fat to accommodate different tastes. The portions are enough for a family of 3 – 4 if you add rice.

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Part of the fun of BBQ is the cooking process – watching the meat sizzle, inhaling the aroma, before finally rewarding yourself with a slightly charred, smokey piece of meat.

Our meal came to a total of RM102, plus drinks and 6 bowls of rice between the four of us. Pretty reasonable for such a setting.

  • Food: 4/5
  • Ambience: 4/5
  • Staff: 4/5
  • Price: Rm100+ for family of four

BBQ PLAZA (IOI MALL PUCHONG BRANCH) 

Lot FS-09 – 11, IOI Mall Puchong, 47100 Puchong, Selangor

Opening hours: 11.30AM – 10PM (daily)

Food Review: Chiang Mai Mookata & Thai Street Food@ Skypod Square Puchong

UPDATE: This outlet is permanently closed.

Moo-kata, or Thai style barbecue, is all the rage these days: judging by the increasing number of outlets popping up in and around the Klang Valley. What I like about it is that you can barbecue AND boil your food on the unique stove at the same time! My first experience with it was in Phuket in 2015. I. Was. Hooked. Even today, I can still recall the taste and experience (read on my Phuket Mookata experience: here)

Local foodshow HoChak recently featured this place in Puchong called Chiang Mai Mookata & Thai Street Food, so the fam and I went to try it last weekend. We expected it to be crowded since that’s usually how it is after a foodshow introduces a resto, but it was relatively quiet during our visit. SkyPod/IOI Business Park itself is usually deserted anyway lel. 

Moo and Pops decided to skip on the Mookata (??? why?) and opted to have single portions of green curry chicken and braised pork with rice. The bro and I shared a set, which is good for two.

Sorry I don’t have better pictures – we sat outdoors (which was dark) because the ventilation inside wasn’t so good. The platter consisted of thin slices of marinated pork and chicken, sizable shrimps, pork balls and fake crab meat sticks and bacon, as well as veggies, vermicelli and an egg. The meat tasted decent after grilling, albeit a little salty/peppery. Thick chunks of lard (the white stuff on the plate) are used to oil the grill.

I’d recommend adding on the bacon wrapped enoki mushroom 🙂

Washed everything down with a glass of Thai milk tea.

The food was decent but it took forever to cook because the burner was really small and it was windy outside. But then again, meals like these are best enjoyed at a slow pace.

Damage for two rice meals + the mookata set + drinks = RM100.

CHIANG MAI MOOKATA PUCHONG

G-13, Skypod Square, Persiaran Puchong Jaya Selatan, Bandar Puchong Jaya, 47100 Puchong, Selangor.

Opening hours: 11AM – 11PM (Daily)

Phone: +60386014505

facebook.com/pg/chiangmaimookataa

BBQ Plaza, The Mines

For my ‘farewell’ lunch, the colleagues treated me to a meal of mookata / Thai bbq at BBQ Plaza, The Mines. Unlike traditional bbq, Thai-style has a shallow pot with a protuding hotplate in the middle so you can grill and boil things at the same time.

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We ordered the mixed family set (good for three small eaters) – which came served with a variety of meats, such as lamb, beef and pork + a tray of assorted goodies, including fish slices, shrimp, squid, fish noodles, chicken, bacon, pork balls and loads of veggies. The cabbage is refillable.

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Looks like a lot, but actually isn’t. Or maybe I’m just a big eater. The meats are very thinly sliced for easier grilling, but that also means it’s not very filling. Guests can opt to add on garlic fried rice to go with the meal. Tastewise, everything was okay – good but not great. I think it’s more of the novelty of being able to grill/boil at the same time.

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This was my favourite dish: Cheesy Bacon-wrapped needle mushroom and asparagus. The veggies on the inside were soft and mushy, complemented by the crisp and crunchy bacon on the outside, which had just the right amount of fat and lean meat. I had two plates 😛

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Marinated grilled pork belly. Fatty but good. Then again, it’s the fat that always tastes good, hm?

Our meal came up to RM120. Pricey, but we also ordered some add-ons of pork belly/pork slices.

BBQ PLAZA (Mines branch) 

L3-30, Level 3, The Mines,

Jalan Dulang, Seri Kembangan.

Opening hours: 10am – 10pm (daily)

bbq, One City USJ

Update: This branch is permanently closed.

N and I randomly decided to go for a movie after work. The best place to meet that was near for the both of us was One City USJ. It’s kind of a dead mall, but has some nice eateries and a cinema that’s always empty so you don’t have to worry about not getting tix.

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Beautiful sunset. Please do not drive and take pictures 🙂

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Dropped by bbqchicken. Dark, cosy interior, friendly waiters, rather empty restaurant.They specialise in chicken fried in olive oil, and a mix of Korean/Western dishes such as pasta, fried rice, pizza and Korean pancakes.

I ordered the Hot Hot Drum (RM15.90 – 2 pc, above) and a bowl of rice (RM3.50). Two fried chicken drumsticks were drizzled over with a sweet and spicy sauce. I liked the crunchiness of the skin and the meat was juicy, but didn’t really enjoy that weird olive oil aftertaste mixed with the sauce which was too sweet imo. It was better with rice.

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N’s Chicken Jerk (RM19.90) had fries, rice and a side of salad.

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Lot A-G-03, Ground Floor, One City@USJ 25, 47650 Subang Jaya, Selangor, Malaysia

We went to watch the new Jungle Book after dinner, but that’s for another post. 🙂