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Tau Foo Fah & Soyamilk @ Dao, Puchong Jaya

Back when I was still working at the newspaper, I did a business story on the gentrification of street food; ie, well-loved local hawker favourites such as popiah, oh-chien and nasi lemak being repackaged and sold in a ‘nicer’ setting (comfortable, with air conditioning), to serve a younger crowd. This was back in 2014, when the trend was just starting to emerge.

Fast forward seven years later, and such establishments are now the norm rather than the exception. Some of these, like Dao, are generational businesses, updated to suit modern times and palates. Founded by three siblings from Ipoh (their father is the owner of Woong Kee Dessert, a famous traditional tau foo fah shop in Ipoh), Dao draws from the siblings’ family recipes to bring soymilk-based desserts — with a twist — to KL’s urban folk.

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The Puchong branch is not their first; they also have outlets in SS15 Subang, Damansara Jaya and Kuchai Lama. S and I were in the neighbourhood recently when we walked past so we got some items to go.

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Of course, given the setting, the prices are slightly higher than what you get from the usual roadside stalls/ tau foo fah vans. A regular bowl of tao foo fah (Dao spells it as ‘dao fu fah‘) will set you back RM4.20, with a choice of ginger, brown or white sugar syrup. Aside from beancurd and soymilk, they also serve dao bing (shaved ice) and soymilk-based ice cream.

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Ready-to-eat gelato tubs.
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Dao uses Canadian soybeans, which are sourced locally from wholesalers, according to an article by Discover KL.
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The cafe’s interior features nostalgic elements and murals, with a modern touch.
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S got the tau foo fah. I was still feeling full from our yumcha session, so I bought a 500ml bottle of soymilk with white sugar. It comes in a slim bottle with minimal packaging. At RM5.30, it’s almost double of what you can get from roadside stalls, but this is to be expected. Tastewise, it was good — not too sweet, and the ground soybeans had a great fragrance — but I probably won’t get it to go next time. If I’m paying a premium, I want to enjoy the environment as much as the food.

DAO DESSERTS (PUCHONG)

4-G, Jalan Kenari 18, Bandar Puchong Jaya, 47170 Puchong, Selangor

Opening hours: 10AM – 10PM (closed Wednesdays)

facebook.com/dao.desserts/

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C’est La Vie – CLV Cafe Puchong

One of the newer kids on the block, C’est La Vie in Bandar Puchong Jaya is the latest to join Puchong’s list of Instagrammable cafes. It’s also pet-friendly, so patrons can enjoy good food and the cafe’s relaxing ambience with their fur babies.

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Polished concrete seems to be the in-thing these days, as can be seen from C’est La Vie’s statement wall, which is accentuated by warm yellow lights. There is a small open kitchen where diners can watch the chefs in action, as well as a bar area with elevated stools.

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The plants are a nice touch, giving the space a cooling pop of green
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An Instagrammable corner
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You can buy handmade accessories and other trinkets at the counter as well

The menu offers typical cafe fare, the likes of burgers and pasta. A signature here is the Dutch Baby, which has a big breakfast vibe: featuring beans, sausage, mushrooms and bacon.

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S and I were here for a tea break, so we only got drinks and snacks to share. I recommend the Lavender Milk, which is served warm. Frothy, light and just slightly sweet with a heady lavender fragrance, it’s perfect for afternoon tea. Better yet, pair it with cake and scones for the ultimate afternoon tea indulgence.

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S had the Rose Mocha (RM14 – iced)
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The Owls Cafe is my usual go-to place for waffle fries, but C’est La Vie’s version is a good alternative (RM10). Fried to golden brown perfection with nice crispy edges, the fries come in generous portions, with chilli and tomato dip. You can add on other sauces too, like cheese, Mongolian and black pepper.

Service is fast and friendly. Just a personal observation on something that happened while we were at the cafe: some patrons brought their dog, which is fine since the place is pet-friendly. The problem was that the dog ran to the middle of the cafe and did a no.1 on the floor. Then he circled around and did a No.2 — in full view of S who promptly lost his appetite lol. Pet owners were not apologetic and all and did not offer to clean up the mess, so the staff members were left having to clean the pee and poop after.

Usually, when my friend C brings her pet chihuahua Genie out, she’d put diapers on Genie. So perhaps this is something that the cafe can implement? Like have a ‘booth’ where they sell diapers for dogs at the entrance. That way you won’t have to turn away customers who don’t wear diapers for their dogs, and your staff won’t have to clean up the mess + it provides a more comfortable dining environment for other customers.

C’EST LA VIE PUCHONG

9-1, Jalan Kenari 17F, Bandar Puchong Jaya, 47100 Puchong, Selangor

Opening hours: Thurs (12pm-10pm), Fri-Sun (10am – 10pm), Mon-Tues (12pm -10pm). Closed Wednesdays

clvcafebar.wordpress.com

Menu

*This is not a paid review. Views here are entirely my own.

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Botanica Deli, The Vertical Bangsar South

Taking up a corner space on the ground floor of The Vertical in Bangsar South, Botanica Deli is as chic as cafes come. Spacious, bright and cheerful, tall glass windows allow plenty of natural sunlight to filter in, while the earth hues and wood interiors are accentuated by touches of green, to fit the deli’s greenhouse theme. Part of the Botanica + Co brand (you might have dined at the renowned Alila Bangsar outlet), the deli specialises in light meals and fuss-free meals with a gourmet twist, the likes of sandwiches, salads, soups, pastries, and of course, coffee and kombucha. Just across the shop is the Bangsar South branch of Bo+Co.

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Orders are made at the counter, where there is a selection of sandwiches/cakes/breads on display.
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You can purchase Botanica Deli’s house-made specialties, which include items such as olive oil infusions (red chilli, green chilli, Pahang Vanilla), spice condiments like garam masala and Togarashi, as well as fresh pestos and pastes.
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The deli also stocks ready-to-drink kombuchas and kombucha brewing kits from homegrown artisanal brand Wild.

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Went for a quick pick-me-up while waiting for the Moomins to finish her surgery: comprising a hot cup of cappucino (RM12) and salmon gravlax bagel (RM18). The coffee was a solid cup of joe; perfect ratio of milk vs coffee, frothy, not too bitter or strong.

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You can request for the staff to heat up your breads/pastries. I had my salmon gravlax bagel cold. The bagel was chock full of ingredients; featuring cucumber slices on one side and salmon gravlax on the other, a generous cream cheese spread, and capers to add a salty/tangy dimension. The bagel had a good texture as well. For small eaters, I think this is good enough as a light brunch/lunch meal.

Botanica Deli caters mostly to the office lunch crowd. Prices range average around RM15-RM20++ for most of the mains.

BOTANICA DELI

No, 8, GA3 Podium, The Vertical, Bangsar South City, Jalan Kerinchi, Bangsar South, 59200 Kuala Lumpur

Opening hours: 8AM – 9PM (Mon-Fri), 8AM – 3PM (Sat), closed on Sundays

botanica.com.my

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Review: Shin Class Cafe, Puchong Utama

It’s been awhile since the fam and I were able to dine out together (due to the 2-per-car restriction), but since this was lifted recently, we went to check out a place near my old high school called Shin Class Cafe. it’s a fitting name, since the cafe is within a kindergarten/daycare centre. The owner, Sarah, decided to convert the space upstairs into a dining/ chill out spot, since there aren’t as many students at the kindie these days.

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We had the whole place to ourselves, and sat in the front room which had low, round tables made from used tyres, cosy pillows and bar stools. The Christmas decorations were simple but cheerful. Service is friendly and attentive here – the staff who attended to us actually works as one of the teachers at the kindie.

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The menu offers fusion fare. Aside from the usual cafe-style drinks like coffee, ice lemon tea, ice-blended beverages and the like, you can also expect rice and pasta dishes. Prices are very reasonable.

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(Above) Ice-blended chocolate topped with whipped cream. The drink was not too sweet, and was creamy without being cloying.

I like the fact that this is a small, family-run business. Sarah’s daughter makes the drinks, while she cooks. She shares that she learned how to cook from her parents, who used to run a food business in Port Dickson.

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Moo’s Lemon Chicken with Rice (RM8.90), which was served with a sunny side up. Portions are generous, and the rice is fragrant as it incorporates butterfly pea flower.

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Pops had the Butter Cheese Chicken With Rice (RM8.90).

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Felt like having noodles, so I ordered the Creamy Pasta (RM9.90). Aside from the egg, it also came with some cocktail sausages, and loads of ham in the pasta. The pasta was cooked al dente, and the cream was not overpowering. It’s nothing super fancy, but tasty nonetheless – just comforting, home cooked food.

For vegetarians, Shin Class Cafe makes meatless dishes as well.

While it’s definitely not a high-end ‘Instagrammable’ cafe, Shin Class Cafe is a charming little nook where you can enjoy a coffee and a hot meal in a cosy, quiet environment. What makes it such a nice place is the hospitality, though – the owner and staff are warm and friendly, and do their best to make you feel welcome. Prices are very reasonable, so come visit and you’ll be supporting a small local business with your patronage! 🙂

They also do delivery and take-aways. For orders, Whatsapp 012 218 7350, or contact Tony (011 36981071)

SHIN CLASS CAFE

1, Jalan PU 10/8, Taman Puchong Utama, 47140 Puchong, Selangor

Opening hours: 11AM – 7PM (closed every second Wednesday of the month)

facebook.com/SHINCLASSCAFE

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Sipping Corner @ Plant & Pot Studio Puchong

Hidden at the back of a plant shop in Bandar Puteri Puchong, Sipping Corner by Plant & Pot Studio might just be the greenest cafe in the city. Opened last year, the place has already gained a loyal following – and because of its small capacity (the place seats about 15 at most), reservations are encouraged to avoid disappointment.

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If you do manage to get a seat, you’ll be well rewarded with a cool and relaxing spot to chill and sip on a drink, surrounded by foliage. The Cafe offers a selection of coffees (espresso, long black, honey americano, latte, cappucino) and teas (blue mint honey, red roselle honey), as well as signature beverages (Matcha, Salted Gula Melaka Latte, Matcha/Hojicha Latte). Baristas are very friendly and accommodating.

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Grab a sweet slice to go with your drink. Cakes range from RM13 to RM15 per slice.

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I didn’t dine-in coz the Moo finished her shopping and we had to make a move – but I got one of their signature drinks, the Salted Gula Melaka Latte, to go. The palm sugar was creamy and sweet, but it was well balanced thanks to the hint of saltiness.

If you’re looking for a quick green respite, drop by for tea time – but make sure to call in advance.

SIPPING CORNER @ PLANT & POT STUDIO

 78G, Jalan Puteri 5/5, Bandar Puteri, 47100 Puchong, Selangor

Opening hours: 9AM – 6PM (daily)

Phone: 018-578 6311

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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

Beautiful Ice Cream Cakes @ Tanuki by Crustz, Taman Bukit Indah KL

Tucked within a quiet KL suburb, Tanuki by Crustz is certainly worth a visit nevermind your Waze taking you through suburban roads that lead to god knows where if you take a wrong turn. This delightful dessert café is sister to the popular Xiao by Crustz patisserie at Happy Mansion, and it serves creamy ice cream cakes and frozen treats, alongside too-pretty-to-be-eaten gateau offerings.

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The cafe looks unassuming on the outside, but venture in and you’ll find a cozy escape, with an open garden that offers plenty of natural light, and comfortable interiors with lots of wood and beige. Not to mention a beautiful display of cakes and ice cream cakes once you walk into the store. 🙂

WHAT’S THE SCOOP?

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A decade ago, there was no such thing as a ‘dessert café’: if you wanted swanky, you’d go to Haagen Dasz or Swensen’s.

These days, there is no shortage of places where you can go to satisfy your sweet-toothed cravings, thanks to a boom in café culture. Tanuki by Crustz is one of them, but rather than serving ice cream scoops, they’ve differentiated themselves with their ice cream cakes. These are not your Baskin Robbins variety either: they’re a reflection of owner Koh Xiao-Ly’s deep passion for desserts. Drawing from her experience with Xiao by Crustz, Koh’s creative cakes often feature multiple elements and layers, such as compote, jelly, cream, crumble and biscuits topped with sorbet and gelato.

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Fans of Xiao by Crustz can also enjoy the brand’s signature gateau at Tanuki, so if you live in KL, you won’t have to go all the way to Happy Mansion! 🙂
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Aside from ice cream cakes and petit gateau, you can also enjoy cool beverages, which are often visually appealing and just begging for an Instagram photo lol. (Above) the Strawberry Milk (RM16) comes with dollops of preserved strawberries, a thin wafer and strawberry sorbet topped with a meringue piggy. The sweetness and tartness is wonderfully balanced.

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The Peach Passion Sparkling Float (RM16) is a sour and refreshing soda and works perfectly if you’re pairing it with a sweet dessert. It comes with a cute animal-shaped meringue biscuit and passionfruit sorbet.

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The gateau cakes are so pretty, you’ll feel almost sorry to dig in.

Making each cake is a laborious process that can take days. Take for instance the Sunny Side Up (RM17), which features yogurt mousse with mango passion fruit jelly, milk chocolate ganache and vanilla sponge on a sable viennois biscuit base. “It’s not like regular cakes where you bake a whole cake, then cut it into slices. Here we make individual cakes and there are many different layers within. It gives you a nice mix of textures and flavours, but there’s also a lot of work involved,” says Koh.

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My personal favourite is Miso (RM17), which is only available on Sundays. The cake is made with layers of miso caramel cream, miso crème brulee, white chocolate mousse, almond sponge and chocolate sable Breton. The miso lends the dessert a slight saltiness, so the sweetness is not overpowering.

There are plenty of other desserts to try at Tanuki. Koh constantly changes the menu to keep her offerings fresh, especially during the festive season. Although the prices are slightly above average, I think they are fair seeing as how much work goes into making these delectable creations.

TANUKI BY CRUSTZ

26, Jalan Selera 1, Taman Bukit Indah, 58200 Kuala Lumpur, Wilayah Persekutuan Kuala Lumpur

Opening hours: 12 – 6PM (Fridays to Sundays)

If you’d like to read about how this young and passionate pastry chef started her business, you can check out my interview with her for Fireflyz Magazine – Page 42 (click for fullscreen):

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Cool Cafes In Puchong: 10 Gram Cafe, IOI Boulevard

[UPDATED 11.10.20 – second visit]

My neighbour is currently doing major renovation works, and it can be hard to WFH when you have to sit through intense drilling from 8am – 5pm every day. (It’s not against the law to start work that early.. but it certainly makes you an asshole -__-)

Monday was one of those days, and I had a few important deadlines to catch. Since I didn’t feel like driving all the way to the office, I thought of checking out 10 Gram at IOI Boulevard, on the recommendation of a friend.

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10 Gram is a popular cafe chain, with branches in Kuantan, Bandar Mahkota Cheras and Cyberjaya. The Puchong outlet is the latest feather in its cap, serving a fusion of Eastern and Western dishes at relatively affordable prices.

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The cafe interior is spacious, with floor to ceiling glass windows that allow for plenty of sunlight to filter in. Wood, black accents and warm cosy lighting complete the setup.

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Needed a boost, so I ordered a Honey Espresso (?) (I forgot the name of the beverage :P). 10 points for presentation – the drink was served on a wooden platter with a glass of coffee cubes and ice, a beaker of a warm milk and a tall shot of espresso. It definitely kept me awake… until 3am, in fact!

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Strong, rich and smooth, with a good balance between bitter and sweet.

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There are plenty of dishes to choose from at 10 Gram, from Western favourites like pasta, pizzas and chops, to local delights such as noodles and nasi lemak.

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Chicken tenders (RM9.90). They were pretty tasty, and came in generous portions.

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Ordered a second drink (Honey Milk) because I was sitting there for too long and didn’t want to be one of those people who order just one drink for the entire day. 😛

The cafe was full during lunch time, but otherwise it’s a nice place to have a cup of coffee and work. There is free Wi-Fi and power outlets for your devices. Service is pretty slow, however, so expect a wait during peak hours.

[second visit] 

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Made a return visit with the fam on a weekend night – we were originally hoping to try Uncle Don’s, but the place was already full at 6pm! Since 10 Gram is just a few steps away, we popped in here instead. Ordered a carrot milk as a thirst quencher. It was okay – but you can tell it was made with a fast blender and all the flavor had been leeched out and destroyed (reason why a cold press is always preferable).

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Bro’s spaghetti alfredo was nice and creamy, packed with mushrooms and slices of ham. Granted, no Italian in their right mind would call it actual alfredo but for its price, it’s tasty and value for money.

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Dad’s fried rice came in a humongous portion and was topped with a sunny side up. Tasted pretty good too.

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Unfortunately the soy garlic chicken with rice which I had expected to be similar to the Korean version, was anything but (the illustrations in the menu were deceiving). The sauce was extremely salty to the point of almost being inedible, if not for the rice.  I ended up swapping this with the Moo.

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‘Portuguese’ chicken which Moo originally ordered before realising it was spicy. Like the soy garlic chicken, it was extremely salty and sour. Chef has to go easy on the flavours.

Price wise, 10Gram’s items are quite affordable for the setting – although service is slow. I would stick to their Western dishes over the Asian ones.

10 GRAM (Puchong) 

Block F, IOI boulevard, Jalan Kenari 5, Bandar Puchong Jaya, 47100, Selangor

Business hours: 10am-10pm
Phone: 0380718214