Hey, everyone! We’re well into the first week of 2022 – how has the new year been for you so far? It has been pretty busy for me, what with the Hubs finally coming to Malaysia after 22 months of us being apart, me starting a new job, preparing to apply for the Hub’s spouse visa, etc.
I have a tonne of posts rolled over from last year still pending in drafts, but in the meantime, here’s one from when I went to buy lunch recently at Taman Meranti Jaya, Puchong. Whenever I’m craving for Ipoh-style Chicken Hor Fun, I usually pay a visit to Wai Wai kopitiam (this warrants a separate post!). I haven’t been this way for some time now, and I noticed a new canopy set up around the corner – which turned out to be a ‘cafe’!
Run by a young man named Jeshua, Cornerstone Cafe has apparently been open for several months now – serving handcrafted coffees, teas, and lemonades, as well as cookies and snacks. The setup is simple, so you can only get your orders to go, but service is warm and friendly, as befitting a neighbourhood coffee joint.
There aren’t any cafes serving coffee in this neighbourhood – unless you count kopi o from kopitiams and instant coffee from convenience stores – so it’s nice to see one serving ‘fancier’ items like lattes and cappuccinos. Prices are also extremely reasonable, given the quality, which is on par with what you get from proper cafes in Puchong Jaya or Bandar Puteri Puchong.
Homemade cookies and the trending item that everyone’s into these days – dalgona candy.
The cafe is open from Tuesdays to Fridays, and on Sundays, from 8.30AM to 3PM.
I got a cold Caramel latte (RM9), plus a dalgona candy (RM3). The drink was perfectly balanced; not too sweet nor bitter, and it was smooth and creamy. It was perfect as an accompaniment to the candy.
Anddddd I’m dead if this had been Squid Game.
Tanming Boulevard, Taman Meranti Jaya, 47120, Puchong, Selangor (across the road, a short walk from Wai Wai restaurant)
Earlier this year, Japanese discount chain store Don Don Donki opened its first outlet in Malaysia at Lot 10, Bukit Bintang, Kuala Lumpur. It was very well received, with people queueing up for hours just to get into the shop on the first day. I visited the store a month after its opening (read about it here), and it was a great shopping experience, with lots of interesting things to see and buy.
Fast forward to December 2021, and Don Don Donki has opened its second store at Tropicana Gardens Mall, Petaling Jaya. Covering over 42,000 square feet and spanning two floors, this is also the largest Donki in the country. Plans are in the works for a dozen other Donkis, but in the meantime, let’s see what this outlet has in store!
I came during a weekday, so there was no queue, and I was able to shop in peace without having to squeeze my way through crowded aisles.
The entrance to the shop is located on the first floor. You go up the escalator in the central area ,then make a U-turn to where Donki is. The signs are a bit confusing as they point to the far end of the ground floor, which is where the exit is.
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You’ll be greeted by CosmeDonki as soon as you enter the shop, which is a section that carries makeup, beauty, and wellness products. Not my thing, so I made a beeline for the food section next to it. This area has numerous dessert counters, with items such as souffle, pudding, jellies, mochi, sweet sando (sandwiches), basque cheesecakes served in cups, and more.
On this floor, you can choose from a wide variety of ready-to-eat meals, from sushi rolls and sashimi over rice, to fried gyoza, karaage (fried chicken), bento bowls, and more.
Aside from food, there is a section dedicated to sports and gym equipment, as well as hobbies and toys. Check out these adorable socks.
One thing I observed with this Donki outlet – they seem to be focused more on food. The Donki in KL has a wider selection of household products. But being a foodie, I’m not complaining! The aisles are also a little organised compared to Don Don Donki KL, in that they’re neatly sectioned according to category, so it makes it easier to shop. The design still has that characteristic Donki ‘feel’ though, with shelves piled high with products, loud and colourful posters and signages, and of course, their mascot Donpen.
After buying your snacks or ready-to-eat meals, you can pay for them directly and enjoy the food at a dining area nearby. There’s more to explore downstairs, though, so this can be like a ‘pitstop’ to your shopping.
Just before the escalator is a section selling street food. I adore this concept as they’ve designed the stalls (yatai) to look like Japanese railway stations, with the signs at each stall displaying destinations like Tokyo and Osaka. Each stall also sells a street food that is famous from that region; for example Taiyaki (fish-shaped pastries with filling) for Tokyo, Takoyaki (octopus balls) for Osaka, and Tako Senbei (octopus crackers) for Kanagawa.
On the ground floor, you’ll be directed past a section selling premium Japanese goods, such as handmade Ukiyoe soaps, frozen seafood from Hokkaido including giant hairy crabs and fat, juicy scallops, handmade crafts, teas, as well as kimonos.
Also in this area is the kitchen, where you’ll be able to see through a glass window the staff prepare sushi and sashimi, to be sold at the store.
You then exit from this small section and reenter through another entrance, which is where they have the fresh produce, such as vegetables, fruits, meat and seafood. Most of these are imported from Japan. Everything looks fresh and is beautifully displayed – but expect to pay higher-than-average prices, of course.
Of course, not to be missed is the fresh seafood section. Thick cuts of tuna, uni (sea urchin), salmon, tako (octopus) – you name it, they got it.
Moving on from the fresh produce section, you’ll come to the snacks section selling dry goods, including snacks, ramen, biscuits, drinks, and more.
Have you tried Ramune? I first had this carbonated drink in San Francisco’s Japantown, and the little glass ball in the bottle has always fascinated me. Apparently in the old days, before the invention of bottle caps, it was used to stopper the drink and prevent the carbon from escaping. In modern times, Ramune is a symbol of summer in Japan, where it is often enjoyed at festivals.
Anime fans are not left out, as you’ll also find anime-themed merchandise here, such as these Demon Slayer-themed snacks.
I was tickled to find the Sakeru Gummy candy, which was popularised by the hilarious series of ads featuring the Long Long Man character. And it was, indeed, true to the name, measuring 50cm. There was a short version too.
A lot of thought goes into packaging and presentation when it comes to Japanese products. I, at least, feel tempted to buy (and keep) them just for their looks lol.
After over an hour exploring the aisles, I finally settled on a couple of snacks, some chuuka idako (marinated baby octopus) and fried squid. Would have liked to get more, but my budget doesn’t allow for it. Check out was fast as they have multiple counters, and there are staff members to help you bag your purchases. But do note that they don’t provide plastic bags, so you’ll have to bring your own or buy their recyclable tote bags.
The squid was a bit rubbery since it had been fried early in the day, but it was well seasoned. The octopus was excellent and came in a sizable portion, considering the price.
And that was my trip to Don Don Donki Tropicana Gardens Mall! I actually enjoyed shopping here more than the KL outlet. Not only is it closer to where I stay, so I don’t have to brave KL traffic, they also have a larger section dedicated to food and snacks, which is what I prefer over household goods or toys anyway. Another plus point would be the organisation – it’s definitely more neatly organised than Donki KL.
To those planning a visit, I recommend coming early or on a weekday to avoid the crowds. Tropicana Gardens Mall is a good place to shop too, with lots to see.
DON DON DONKI (TROPICANA GARDENS MALL)
Lot CC-26, 27, 28 & Lot G-20, 20A, 21 Tropicana Gardens Mall 2A, Persiaran Surian, Tropicana Indah Petaling Jaya, 47810 Selangor
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Donburi – literally ‘rice bowl dish’ – is a staple in Japan, consisting of fish, meat, vegetables or other ingredients that are either simmered or fried, then served over a bed of rice. There are many different types of donburi, but the most well known are gyudon (beef), oyakodon (chicken and egg), katsudon (fried pork/chicken/beef cutlet), and of course, tendon (tempura). There’s a Japanese chain in Malaysia that specialises in the latter, called Tendon Kohaku (kohaku meaning amber) – and while I’ve seen the shop several times while at J’s Gate Dining in Lot 10 Kuala Lumpur, I only got to try their food recently at their second outlet at Tropicana Gardens Mall.
The eatery is small but cosy, with lots of wood furniture. You can view the chefs in action through a glass window.
The menu is limited – it’s a specialty restaurant after all – but what few items they serve, they do extremely well. Their signature tendon comes with tempura prawn, squid, crab stick, chicken breast, french beans, baby corn, shiitake mushroom and pumpkin. Alternatively, you can go for the kakiage tendon (mixed vegetables and shrimp fritters), or the single item dons.
I wanted noodles, so I went for udon instead of rice. As the restaurant makes each dish fresh to order, expect some waiting time.
My tempura shrimps (set of 5 – RM38) came to the table freshly fried and piping hot, alongside a belly warming bowl of udon noodles, some pickles and grated radish for palate cleansing, as well as a dipping sauce.
The shrimps were sizable and deep fried to golden perfection. The mark of good tempura is in its batter, and Tendon Kohaku aced the test – it was crispy, light and did not feel greasy at all. The dipping sauce was light too; I would have liked it to be saltier, but it brought out the natural sweetness of the shrimp really well.
The udon was excellent. These are ‘hoso udon’, or thin udon. They had a chewy texture, and the warm broth it was served in was very comforting. Portions were substantial. You can have these either warm or cold.
Overall, really satisfied with my Tendon Kohaku meal! Service was attentive and friendly. Food is on the pricier end, but I think it’s worth the splurge every now and then. Will be making a return visit to try their signature rice bowls!
TENDON KOHAKU (TROPICANA GARDENS MALL)
Lot CC-25, Concourse Floor, Tropicana Gardens Mall, No, 2A, Persiaran Surian, Tropicana Indah, 47810 Petaling Jaya, Selangor
Opening hours: 11AM – 8PM (daily)
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Puchong is known for its hipster cafes, no-frills dai chow stalls, and dimsum joints – but full-service restaurants are few and far between, especially ones serving pork.
Enter Cerdito, a casual but elegant resto that specialises in Iberico pork dishes. The place has been around since 2016, and I’ve walked past it many times, but never got down to trying it until recently.
The interior is spacious and brightly lit, with a bar occupying one side of the room. Mahogany tables with matching coloured chairs contrast nicely with the beige and nude walls.
So what is Iberico pork, and what makes it special ?
Iberico pork comes from the Black Iberian pig, a breed native to Spain’s Iberian peninsula. They are highly prized for their meat, which is considered far superior in quality than that of regular pigs raised in commercial farms. For one, Iberian pigs have a propensity to be fatter, with good marbling. They also feed on acorns, which gives the meat a unique, almost earthy flavour.
Because of this, prices at Cerdito are above average – but you get what you pay for, as the pork is imported directly from Spain. Their specialities include items such as Iberico Chuletas – Short Rack, Iberico Cabecero (made from pork collar on top of the loin), and Iberico Mango BBQ Loin Ribs (glazed with mango barbeque sauce before they are grilled). They also carry dishes such as the Pork Burger, German Sausage Platter, and Rosemary Honey Pork Belly.
The fam and I were on a budget, so we didn’t order the set for four, which will set you back RM330 (includes salad, ribs and other mains). We instead opted for the lunch sets, which are available daily and come with a soup appetiser and a drink. You can choose from three different types of carbo, namely pasta, mantou (buns) or rice.
I got the Roasted Pork Belly with Mantou(RM28), which was served with a side of vegetables tossed in a refreshing vinaigrette dressing. Each mantou was stuffed with two large pieces of roasted pork belly, cucumber, and just a smattering of spicy sauce.
The mantous were pillowy soft, encasing flavourful pieces of roast pork within. As for the protein, I could tell that it tasted different from regular pork – more pungent and flavourful, with an excellent meat to fat ratio. The fat was a tad chewy, but I like it that way. It would have been perfect if the skin was crispy, but unfortunately it was tough. Still tasty, though!
Bro got the Aglio Olio with Roasted Pork Belly (RM28). The portion was sizable, and the pasta was cooked well, although it was a bit more spicy than I was used to.
Pops being the typical Asian, had to have his rice – and since he’s not a big fan of pork, he went for the Fried Chicken Rice Bowl (RM20). What arrived at the table was a giant fried chicken thigh, sitting atop a bed of rice blanketed in a fried omelette.
The chicken was brined before deep frying, so it was very flavourful (bordering on salty, depending on one’s taste buds), but the inside was moist and perfectly cooked.
Last but not least was Moo’s Pineapple Maple Pork Belly (RM35). This is an ala carte option, by the way, and not part of the lunch sets.
This was my favourite dish, and not just because other people’s food always looks better than one’s own after you’ve ordered, lol. The pork was extremely tender and flavourful, having been marinated overnight in a blend of pineapple juice, maple syrup and soy sauce, the enzymes of which would have broken down the proteins further. Grilling the pork gave it a nice, smoky aftertaste, and the mashed potatoes that were served as sides was also done well. Everything came together on the plate perfectly.
Our bill came up to RM122, which I still find reasonable given the setting and the quality of the food. Service-wise, waiters were attentive and friendly. My only qualm was the timing in which they served the food; my Bro, dad and I got our food first, and were nearly finished eating before Moo’s dish was served.
Parking and traffic in the area (or anywhere in Puchong, for that matter) can be a btch, but I think it’s well worth a trip if you’re a pork lover.
G-11, Kompleks Kenari, Jalan Kenari 19a, Bandar Puchong Jaya, 47100 Puchong, Selangor
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: I absolutely adore dumplings. I mean, what’s not to love? They’re basically small parcels of happiness, each containing wondrous filling. And they’re extremely versatile: you can have them boiled, deep-fried, pan-fried, steamed, etc. Because they’re relatively easy to make, places selling dumplings are a dime a dozen – but they might not always be up to par. Gyoza for Life, though, has proven itself a winner.
I stumbled across their Instagram shop by chance, and since I had a hankering for dumplings, the timing couldn’t have been better. At the time, they were offering four flavours: Original (pork and chives), Mala (spicy), and the rather unconventional Bak Kut Teh (herbal soup) and Japanese Curry. Intrigued, I ordered two packets of BKT, which were delivered a couple of days later via courier.
What can I say? I really enjoyed the dumplings. I pan fried them, and they turned out nice and crisp on the outside, and the meat still retained its moist juiciness on the inside. The bak kut teh flavour was mild, with a tangy, herby aftertaste. I’ve eaten lots of dumplings, and I think Gyoza For Life has one of the best dumpling skins I’ve tasted. It’s not flour-y, and it has the perfect thickness, so that you get just the right amount of crispness/chewiness, depending on how you’ve cooked them.
The second time around, I tried out their Japanese Curry gyozas. Again, these did not disappoint. Consistent quality! Personally, I prefer this flavour over BKT (they’re both good, though), but that’s because I like the mild and gentle sweetness of the Japanese curry flavour, which seems to spread around the inside of your mouth as you chew.
Another thing of note are the portions. Each dumpling has a uniform size, which makes them easier to cook evenly, and they’re neither too big nor small. In fact, six pieces might be sufficient for a small eater, so you can portion out your order over a few meals. Me being me, of course, would rather go through an entire box (12 pieces) in one go.
My lunch of Japanese Curry gyozas with… curry. 😀
So if you love gyozas, give Gyoza for Life a try! You’ll be supporting a homegrown business, but more than that, their gyozas are really tasty, they’re handmade with love, and the prices are extremely reasonable (each box of 12 are priced between RM14 to RM18). They’ve recently added a new flavour to their menu, namely the Sawadee Kra Pao, so I might try that next.
You can order here. They offer free delivery to selected areas within the Klang Valley.
PS: This is not a sponsored post, I just really like their gyozas.
PS 2: If you like my blog, please consider supporting it via my Patreon, or by buying me a cup of coffee on Paypal @erisgoesto.
It’s been awhile since I last had anything from Burger King, but they recently launched new menu items – ie the Japanese Curry Whopper and the Japanese Curry Chick’N Crisp – which looked pretty promising. Since there’s a Burger King at the place where I shop for groceries, I got the chicken version to go (ala carte: RM12). You can also get the sets, which come with the standard fries and a drink.
First impressions: Sizeable. With fast food joints, sometimes you get really sad-looking, deflated burgers that looked as if an elephant had sat on them lol. This burger came with not one but two crispy chicken patties and a slice of cheese in between, and these were topped with a generous amount of vegetables and onions, sandwiched between two fluffy sesame buns.
They were also very generous with the Japanese curry sauce, mixed with mayo. The sauce is the winner here; mildly sweet with a hint of spice, and it binds all of the elements in the burger really well – you get a flavourful mix of sweet and savoury, paired with the crispness of the patty, the juicy moistness of the chicken meat, the soft and pillowy buns, plus the crunch from the onions and veggies. A solid burger: I’d give it an 8.5/10.
Aside from the chicken, there’s also BK’s signature Beef Whopper, but with Japanese curry sauce. The sets go for RM15.90 (chicken) and RM16.90 (beef), and are available for a limited time only.
A couple of months ago, I wrote about Ramen Seirock-Ya, an up-and-coming halal ramen chain that specialises in toripaitan (chicken ramen) – and how it might just be the best halal ramen that I’ve tasted. Well, my opinion hasn’t changed – but this time, I’ve made a vlog about it. And in Malay, no less!
The video clips have been in my folder for some time now, but I just couldn’t find the time/energy to edit them. But better late than never, right? PS: This was filmed before the Movement Control Order 3.0 came into effect, when dine-in was still allowed. Fret not, though – you can order from them online here.
BTW, this is the first time that I’ve vlogged in Malay. Language gets rusty if you don’t use it often, which is the case with my Malay, and that’s why I wanted to at least practice it a bit in my vlog.
“But aren’t you Malaysian?” my non-Malaysian readers might ask. “You should be fluent in Malay, since you live there.”
Well, technically, I am fluent. I learned it for 10 years in school. I even got a “Best in BM” award in high school, which is a pretty good achievement if I say so myself, seeing that I’m Malaysian Chinese.
Here’s the thing though. It’s complicated. Malaysia is a pretty odd country. You have all these different races living together in relative harmony, but racial (and religious) polarisation has been on the rise in recent years, and it’s no longer surprising to find people who aren’t that fluent in Malay, even though they are citizens. My parents, for example, can speak in Malay relatively well. But they tend to mix English words into their conversations, and if you asked them to speak purely in Malay, they would find it difficult. Would that be considered ‘fluent’?
As for myself, well, being stuck at home means I only speak Cantonese and English (my first language) most of the time. And to be honest, my Malay has been on a downward spiral ever since I graduated from high school, because I don’t have that many Malay friends (or friends in general *cough cough*) who speak to me in Malay. The only occasions where I have to dig up my long-lost BM vocab are when I have to visit a government office.
Anyway, I hope to make more vlogs in Malay. I’m already an outcast when it comes to Chinese (I can’t read Chinese characters and I’m not fluent in Mandarin. Third culture kid problems), so I don’t want mastery of my second best language to go down the drain.
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Despite having a sizable community here, Filipino cuisine is still (imo) underappreciated in Malaysia. Unlike Thai or Indonesian restaurants, which are ubiquitous all over the country, Filipino restaurants are a bit more difficult to find, and their patrons are usually Filipinos, rather than Malaysians. There is one thing to be said about that, though – it usually means that these are the places that serve authentic food for those who crave a taste of home.
One of these restaurants is The Narra Filipino Resto Lounge, tucked within Dataran Millennium in Petaling Jaya. When searching for the best Filipino restaurants in KL, The Narra regularly tops the list – and for good reason. They have a wide variety of dishes from different parts of the Philippines, service is good, and prices and portions are fair. I’ve been here several times, and even celebrated a birthday here with the Hubs. Since my parents have never tried Filipino cuisine, I thought it’d be a good idea to bring them here for dinner on Sunday.
The decor is pretty much the same from my previous visit: neat, with clean white tables and chairs, and a small stage where a live band performs on weekends. There is a display of baked goods and cakes at the counter, as well as a couple of shelves stocked with Filipino treats and canned goods. It was quiet during our visit, so we didn’t have to wait long for our food.
Bro and Pops ordered Calamansi juice while I went for Gulaman, which is a syrupy sweet brown sugar drink with a jelly like substance, similar to cincau or agar. It was a tad too sweet even for me, so you might want to skip this if you don’t like sugary drinks.
Of course, I had to get my favourite order, Sisig, consisting of chopped pig head with onions, chilli peppers, calamansi and egg, served on a sizzling hotplate. The parts of the pig’s head create a medley of interesting textures: you get the crunch from the cartilage, and soft and fatty bits from the jowls and cheeks. It’s definitely not a healthy dish, what with the fat and grease, but it’s oh-so-sinful.
I usually come here alone, so I haven’t had the chance to try dishes like the Pininyahang Manok, which is chicken braised in coconut milk, pineapples, carrots, potatoes and bell peppers. My parents found the flavour ‘very odd’, but I liked it because it reminded me of Chinese-style buttermilk, albeit with a slightly sour aftertaste. Not a fan of bell peppers in general, but I don’t think the taste was very pronounced. The chicken was cooked well, and the carrots were done just right; soft without being mushy.
Bro had Embosilog. The name comes from the dish’s three main components: Embotido (pork meatloaf), Sinangag (garlic fried rice) and Itlog (egg). Nipped a bit from his plate and was impressed. The fried rice was very fragrant and the meatloaf was tasty.
Grilled pork intestines for sharing. I know some people will find it off-putting but I actually enjoy the slightly gamey smell 😛
The chicken inasal (grilled chicken thigh) was humongous. Among all of the dishes, I think this was my least favourite. It wasn’t bad but it wasn’t exceptional either.
PS: If you’re wondering why we didn’t order Filipino signatures like sinigang (a tamarind-based stew) and adobo (pork cooked in vinegar and soy sauce), it’s because my mom has intestinal and stomach problems, and she can’t take spicy, oily, or sour food. Which ruled out many options because a lot of Filipino dishes are sour, and some of the good ones are oily (lechon, crispy pata).
Having been to the Philippines many times, I think I have a good grasp of Filipino flavours – but I think my parents found it quite foreign and unlike anything they had tasted before. My mom commented that the food takes some getting used to, while my brother said, “I’m not sure what to make of it. With Thai food or Malay food, you get a distinct flavour profile that is easily recognisable. But these dishes are hard to identify.”
They both make valid points. The Philippines has a unique culture, being the only country in Southeast Asia that was occupied by the Spanish for well over 400 years. The cuisine has strong Spanish and Latin influence, which is why you’ll find dishes like adobo, chiccharon, flan, picadillo and empanadas gracing the dinner table in Filipino and Latino homes. At the same time, it also has distinct Malay influences, as evidenced by the Pininyahang Manok we ordered, which uses coconut milk – a common ingredient in Southeast Asian cooking. There are also dishes like the kare-kare (beef tripe cooked in peanut butter, influenced by Indian cuisine), and lumpia (spring rolls, from Chinese culture).
For me personally, I like some dishes, and some other dishes not so much. The hubs says I blaspheme because I don’t like the taste of Choco Butternut, but hey, you can’t expect every single non-Malaysian to fall head over heels with nasi lemak, right? (although I have yet to meet someone who didn’t like nasi lemak, lol).
The Narra also sells imported products from the Philippines, such as corned beef, banana ketchup (mom: WHAT?) and Mang Tomas (pork liver sauce).
I usually get Piattos (they call it Jigs here in Malaysia – although it’s super difficult to find these days), but the restaurant was out of stock, so I got some Lucky Mee Pancit Canton to take home instead.
Our meal (plus my snacks) came up to about RM120. I think we went a bit overboard – could have made do with 3 dishes instead of four – but the price was fairly reasonable given the portions.
If you’re Malaysian and curious about how Filipino cuisine tastes like, The Narra is a good place to try authentic Filipino food. If you’re a Filipino residing in Malaysia, the dishes and the atmosphere (the servers sing Filipino songs while they go about their work, and the resto is always playing OPM) will surely remind you of home.
THE NARRA FILIPINO RESTO LOUNGE
G001 Dataran Millennium, Jalan 14/1, 46100 Petaling Jaya, Selangor
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