Rolling Daruma x Olfactory Bulb, Kota Damansara

If you like creative Japanese cuisine, alcoholic desserts, and inventive cocktails, Rolling Daruma x Olfactory Bulb hits all the right spots, served in a cozy setting ideal for intimate get-togethers. The Hubs and I stumbled on this place purely by chance: we were hunting for dinner around Kota Damansara and saw their menu on the sidewalk; our interest piqued by offerings of Japanese tapas, donburis, and ramen.

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Two red darumas greet visitors at the entrance, where the bar is. The space is mostly black and grey, with warm lights and concrete accents, giving it an industrial look. I especially like the decorative cracks on the wall, which are varnished to create a glossy look.

The menu is pretty extensive, but since we were not very hungry, the Hubs and I decided to share a main, a Japas (japanese tapas), and a drink.

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Our choice of Japas was Bourbon-Peach Pulled Pork on Deep-Fried Mantou Bun (RM16), featuring pork shoulder loin, slow cooked til tender for eight hours in balsamic vinegar and peach and bourbon sauce. The taste of the bourbon is mild, but it lends a rich depth to the soft, melt-in-the-mouth pulled pork. The fried mantou is crisp on the edges and soft on the inside, so you have a nice medley of flavours and textures.

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We also got their signature Gyoza Ramen in Sake Pork Bone Broth (RM24). I was expecting the gyoza to be served on the side and was surprised to find them swimming in the soup, which also came with egg, a smattering of seaweed, corn, and spring onions. Some ramen dishes come with rich soup; this was mild but still flavourful, so you don’t feel overwhelmed. The noodles were too soft for my liking, but otherwise this was a decent bowl of ramen.

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No libations for me, but the resto serves plenty of non-alcoholic drinks too such as mocktails and shakes. We got a Salty Yuzie-San (RM16), a refreshing mix of lemon, kaffir lime leaves and yuzu sauce balanced with pandan syrup, brown sugar, and soda water. Perfect for quenching your thirst on a hot day, or just to cut through any greasiness from the food.

Service was friendly with most of the servers, but the one assigned to our table was probably having a bad day because he looked tired and sounded disinterested when taking our orders, and seemed to heave a visible sigh when we requested for an extra bowl. I hope you have a better day, man!

There are still many things we have yet to try at Rolling Daruma x Olfactory Bulb; and I’d like to make a return visit when I’m in the neighbourhood again to try their other items – reviews seem to be stellar for their desserts and coffee.

ROLLING DARUMA X OLFACTORY BULB

15-2, Jalan PJU 5/13 Dataran Sunway, Kota Damansara, Petaling Jaya 47810, Selangor

Phone: 03-61511108

Open: Wed-Fri (5.30PM – 11.30PM), Sat-Sun (11.30AM – 11.30PM). Closed Mondays and Tuesdays

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Food at IKEA Malaysia – What Do You Usually Get?

We went to IKEA Damansara last month to buy a new desk— and hopefully have The Hubs try their famous meatballs — but the food court was so packed we just got the furniture and had lunch somewhere else. Which was a shame, as I was looking forward to enjoying the food again (the last time I had their meatballs was in 2016!)

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Last weekend, we thought of trying our luck again over lunch. It’s the Ramadhan month and our Muslim friends are fasting, so we presumed that the crowd would be less.

WRONG.

Despite being early (we got there around 11.30am), the queue at the food court was exactly the same as it would have been prior to Ramadhan; only filled with people of other races. I guess the appeal of IKEA food transcends all. To be fair, the line moved pretty fast, so we only had to wait for about 20 minutes to get to the ordering counter.

If you haven’t been to IKEA Damansara, here’s how the system works: you grab a trolley for your trays and wheel it down the line, where there are ‘self service’ stations. If you’d like a free-flow drink, you can grab one of the cups or glasses (you can choose between coffee/tea or cold juices/carbonated beverages). Further along are shelves with lighter meals such as salads and cakes. You then come to the ‘mains’ counter, where you place an order with the staff (all of the food is ready so they’ll just load it up for you). Before coming to the cashier, there are more light snacks to choose from: bread rolls, pastries, hot dogs, fried items, mushroom soup, etc. Finally, past the cashiers are the cutlery and drink stations.

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The food court has a huge capacity and operates semi-self service style: you’re expected to return your trays and trolleys to a designated area once you’re done—which keeps the place clean and reduces the need for a lot of staff.

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As usual, when you’re hungry, you tend to order more than you need—which was what happened to us lol. In retrospect, I think one plate of meatballs would have been enough between us, and we could have gotten a wider variety of lighter items to try.

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The meatballs (RM16.50) came in a generous portion; each plate had 17 pieces, a dollop of lingonberry jam, creamy mashed potatoes, and buttered vegetables, all drenched in a brown sauce. The sauce didn’t have that much of a taste, but what elevated the meatballs was the sour/sweet lingonberry sauce, which went surprisingly well with the meat. I also enjoyed the mashed potatoes, which was creamy and flavourful.

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Another winner for me was the mushroom soup. It was creamy but not cloying, had generous amounts of mushrooms in it (none of that watery shit you get from some restos), and was overall just warm and comforting, especially when enjoyed with the bread roll.

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As for extras, I grabbed a bit of everything to try—so there was fried popiah, chicken sausage, fried wontons, and a chocolate roll. Hubs didn’t like the popiah and the chicken sausage, as he said the former was too sweet, and the latter had a plasticky feel, but I felt both were decent enough lol. The chicken wontons were bit hard on the outside, but there was a lot of filling.

While many people come here for the meatballs, their other items like the fried/grilled chicken wings, salmon, and plant-based dishes such as the rendang burger, are also popular. And if you haven’t had your fill of the food here, you can also buy frozen versions to enjoy at home!

What do you usually order at IKEA?

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Uncle Don’s @ IOI Boulevard, Puchong Jaya

Uncle Don’s is a popular resto-bar chain with close to 30 outlets in Peninsula Malaysia. The brand is known for its relatively affordable Western and Asian fusion cuisine, served alongside draught beers and other alcoholic beverages. It also has a catchy tagline, ie “Dine like a Don Everyday!”

There aren’t too many affordable bistro-style eateries around, (the only other one I can think of is The Brew House), so Uncle Don’s outlets are always packed. I hate queuing up for food, so up until now, my first and only experience with the chain was at their SS2 branch, where the food was okay but the service abysmal. But I recently decided to give it another try at their Puchong outlet, which is tucked within IOI Boulevard in Puchong Jaya.

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Uncle Don’s is usually packed in the evenings with office workers grabbing some drinks with colleagues, or youngsters hanging out, so the place is very lively. You can come in the afternoon if you want a bit more breathing space. The Puchong outlet sports the signature Uncle Don’s look — wooden tables, a dark colour scheme, brick walls, and a sleek bar counter.

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The menu is extensive, with a broad selection of appetizers (mostly bites that go well with beer, like buffalo wings, nachos, and keropok), pastas, pizzas, burgers, as well as rice and noodle dishes. Not sure if they employ Filipino chefs, but there is a sole Filipino dish on the menu — sizzling sisig.

The Hubs ordered this, and it came served with rice and a side of keropok and some vegetables. It tasted pretty good, but I think it would have been better if the bits weren’t chopped so fine. Nothing wrong with it of course, just personal preference — because I think bigger bits would have given it a better texture. I also like that they didn’t include mayo, as some versions do (like the one at The Narra).

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My Seafood Maggi Goreng (I requested for no vegetables) was extremely spicy and had me sweating even within the air conditioned premises lol. Nevertheless, the dish was flavourful and they were generous with the portions, and there was a good amount of squid and shrimp with the noodles. Good wok hei as well.

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Both of our meals were part of the set lunches, which came with a choice of soft drinks or iced lemon tea. The set lunches are priced below RM20.

All in all, my second experience at Uncle Don’s was a pretty pleasant one! The service is much better at this outlet as well. I recommend coming for the lunches if you don’t like crowds, and during dinner/supper if you prefer a livelier atmosphere with drinks and music.

UNCLE DON’S (PUCHONG)

19, Jalan Kenari 6, Bandar Puchong Jaya, 47100 Puchong, Selangor

Open daily from 12PM – 12AM

uncledons.com.my

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Peri-Peri Chicken @ Nando’s, D’Pulze Cyberjaya

Founded in 1987, Nando’s is a South African restaurant chain specializing in peri-peri style chicken, which has a distinctively tangy taste, thanks to its blend of lemon, pepper, and vinegar used in its marinade. In Malaysia, Nando’s has numerous outlets – including one at D’Pulze Mall in Cyberjaya, where N and I dropped by for lunch recently.

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Just like all its other outlets, the one at Cyberjaya boasts a fun and vibrant design reflecting its South African and Portuguese roots (the Portuguese were one of the first Europeans to land in South Africa. Peri-peri chicken is also a popular dish in Portugal!). The Nando’s logo is a rooster, which is a symbol of Portugal based on the folktale “The Rooster of Barcelos”. Geometric patterns adorn the walls, while the ceilings feature colourful drapery in festive shades.

While the resto looks fairly clean, I think the booth seating can do with a replacement for its covers. The fabric looked worn and there were patches and stains all over them.

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Of course, the chicken is the star here. First, choose the part you like (thigh or breast). Then pick from four levels of spiciness, namely “lemon & herb“, “mild“, “hot“, and “extra hot“; and a selection of sides which include garlic bread, chargrilled vegetables, corn on the cob, wedges, peri-peri chips, coleslaw, Mediterranean rice, and Spicy rice.

N ordered the thigh part with wedges and garlic bread, basted with hot sauce. The portion was humongous, and frankly, would have been enough for the both of us. The chicken was cooked well; it was tender and flavourful, and the hot sauce gave it an extra kick. N liked it and said it would fit well with Filipino taste buds, on account of the lemon/sourness from the vinegar marinade.

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I personally prefer roast chicken from Dave’s Deli, but Nando’s is a pretty solid choice too. It’s especially good if you eat it with their signature sauces, which are also sold by the bottle as condiments.

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I was excited to see Chicken Livers and Portuguese Roll on the menu, because not many places serve chicken livers or even makes them well. The version here is decent; ie the liver has a nice, creamy consistency, and did not have an overly offal-y smell. However, the sauce was EXTREMELY salty. I ended up ordering a bowl of mushroom soup to dip my Portuguese roll in.

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Our meal for two came up to about RM50. Overall, pretty satisfying! You can get a bottomless drink for extra. We were debating if we could just order one drink and share it between the two of us but decided we didn’t want to be assholes. 😛

NANDO’S (Cyberjaya)

 Lot G-25, DPULZE Shopping Centre, Lingkaran Cyber Point Timur, Cyberjaya, 63000 Cyberjaya, Selangor

Opening hours: 11AM – 9PM

https://nandos.com.my/

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KL’s Hottest Culinary Playground: Tiffin At The Yard @ Sentul Depot, Kuala Lumpur

Tiffin made its debut back in 2016 as a culinary pop-up called Tiffin Food Court, which ran for a month or two each time at various spots around town. It quickly made a name for itself as ‘the’ hottest makan spot – thanks to its unique “Malaysian food court with a twist” concept, featuring fusion dishes and experimental flavours from some of the country’s top chefs and culinary talents. Tiffin’s event spaces were also a reflection of its crowd (think neon lights and cool art installations) – all catering to a young, urban, and affluent crowd.

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Even a pandemic hasn’t stopped the brand’s growth: it now has a permanent space called Tiffin at the Yard, which covers some 22,000 sq ft of space within the historical Sentul Depot in Kuala Lumpur. Formerly a railway engineering workshop, this 110-year-old heritage building has been revitalized as a lifestyle destination, with Tiffin being its main F&B hub. Visitors can expect 15 rotating and permanent vendors, serving an eclectic mix of offerings the likes of Afro-Carribean, Middle Eastern, and Asian fusion cuisine.

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I’ve been meaning to check this place out since it opened in November 2021, but the crowds were massive from the hype at the time lol. It seems to have thinned a little now, as there were plenty of seats during our visit on a Saturday afternoon.

Not that there’s much to worry about – the space seems to have been designed with social distancing in mind; the seats and stalls are spaced far apart, and there’s plenty of room to move around. The building is enclosed – but the high ceiling and skylights, which allow for good natural lighting, provide a lofty sense of space. Add to that the nicely landscaped trees and greenery within, and it feels like you’re dining in a premium, open-air food court.

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Parts of the depot’s original interior, such as the exposed brick walls and cement flooring, have been preserved, which lends to the whole ‘post industrial’ feel of the place. It’s hip, it’s chic, and it’s very Instagrammable.

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There’s something for every palate here. We wandered around the stalls for some time trying to decide on what to eat (it’s impossible to get everything in one go – which warrants a return visit!). If you’re interested in Afro-Carribean cuisine, KL’s famous Joloko has a spin-off stall here called Jojo’s. Conceptualised as a ‘Carribean beach shack’, expect to find sandwiches called ‘bakes’ with fillings such as jerk-spiced barracuda and carne guisada. Sweet-toothed alcohol lovers will want to pay a stop at Licky Chan for its alcohol-infused treats – and just indulge in their dairy and vegan alcohol-free options.

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For starters, we got some crispy bread and hummus (RM15) from Leen’s, which also serves Middle Eastern favourites such as kebabs and shawarmas. I love hummus and can probably eat it as my only dip for the rest of my life – so this was right up my alley. The crispy bread had the texture of chips/crackers, and was insanely addictive with the hummus.

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Moving on to something a bit more substantial, we ordered Udang Di Sebalik Brioche (RM20) from Red Red Botak Head. The dish’s name is a cheeky play on words on the Malay proverb “ada udang di sebalik batu” (there’s a prawn hiding beneath the rock – which means there’s a hidden plot or something unseen). Picture huge, juicy pieces of shrimp in a creamy, tangy sauce, topped with caramelized onions and sandwiched between a soft and fluffy brioche – and you have the UDSB.

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No points for guessing why the store is called “botak head” (baldie). Chef Liang works the kitchen, and is super friendly (not many chefs crack a smile while they’re working – at least not the ones I’ve encountered lol), and the staff is super warm and friendly as well.

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And finally, the Hubs and I shared a main of crispy noodles with roast duck (RM22) from Halley by Wondermama, which serves dimsum and roasties. The noodles were pretty good and came with bokchoy, egg, plus juicy and flavourful roast duck. I think there was a bit of preserved vegetables in it too which gave the broth a rich flavour and a slightly sour kick.

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Wanted to try TokyoRamen; unfortunately they were still preparing the food and I didn’t want to wait 30 minutes. Another trip then!

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There are many vendors that looked interesting but we didn’t manage to try them all on this visit. Some that caught my eye include The Bao Guys, featuring fluffy mantous sandwiched with everything from fried chicken to braised beef with spicy mala mayo; Taco King and its selection of authentic Mexican tacos; and Olivia’s Deli, which serves Valencian-style paellas. For alcoholic libations, visitors can head to Bar 44, while coffee lovers can indulge in cold brews and lattes from Kopenhagen.

Will definitely plan a return visit some time soon!

PS: All payments here are cashless so have your e wallets and debit/credit cards ready!

TIFFIN AT THE YARD

PT189-PT183-PT185 Jalan Strachan, Off, Jln Ipoh, Sentul, 51100 Kuala Lumpur, Federal Territory of Kuala Lumpur (or Waze to Tiffin at the Yard/Sentul Depot). Parking is free.

Opening hours: Thurs – Fri (5PM – 12AM), Sat-Sun (10AM – 12AM).

https://www.tiffin.my/

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Casual Korean Cuisine @ DubuYo Mini, Pavilion Bukit Jalil

Hey, guys! So I’m all better from COVID (yay)! There’s still a bit of a cough and phlegm + brain fog, but everything seems fine otherwise. Hopefully there won’t be any long-term side effects manifesting down the road.

More importantly, my appetite’s back–and after a week of steamed/bland/tasteless food while in recovery, I’m ready for something stronger. The Hubs and I ended up at DubuYo Mini, a casual Korean restaurant at Pavilion Bukit Jalil which serves up staples like bulgogi, jigae (stew), ramyeon, and Korean fried chicken.

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An offshoot of the popular halal Korean chain DubuYo, DubuYo Mini offers a smaller selection of the main chain’s signature items. It’s also not a full-service restaurant, so everything is self-service. You make your orders at the counter, then collect your food once your number is called via electronic display.

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The space boasts a cool, urban vibe, featuring loud colours that pop, as well as neon signs.

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The menu is not as extensive as DubuYo, but still offers a good selection.

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Thirst quenchers: Ginger Tea and Aloe Vera Punch
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My recovering body still wanted something soupy, so I got the Seafood Soondubu Jigae (Spicy tofu stew) with cheese. The set came with rice and banchan (side dishes); in this case, kimchi, long beans, and beansprouts. The rice was excellent–there was some sort of sesame oil mixed into it, so it was flavourful and good to be eaten on its own. The jigae delivered a real kick plus the strong flavours that my tongue had been craving for over a week lol. It was spicy but comforting, and had a generous amount of seafood and tofu–solid bowl of jigae!

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Hub’s Spicy Seafood Ramyeon also came in generous portions, and was served with banchan. He regretted the order a little because the soup was fiery. But the flavours were good; the soup was sour and slightly sweet. Ramyeon had a nice bouncy bite to it too.

All in all, a satisfying post-recovery meal!

PS: Front counter service is friendly.

DUBUYO MINI

Lot 1.10.00, Level 1, Pavilion Bukit Jalil, No. 2, Persiaran Jalil 8, Bandar Bukit Jalil 57000 Kuala Lumpur.

Opening hours: 10AM-10PM

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Authentic Fish and Chips @ Cor Blimey, SS15 Subang

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It’s been awhile since I last had fish and chips from Cor Blimey — the last time was pre-pandemic, so it has been well over two years!

This is my favourite place for fish and chips as it’s the closest taste-wise to the ones in the UK. Since the Hubs is now here in Malaysia (and a trip to the UK is impossible atm), I brought him along so he could have a taste.

The shop’s interior has not changed much from my last visit: it still boasts a nautical theme with lots of blue and white, dark wooden chairs, and glass table tops with newspaper articles on the fish and chips industry in the UK.

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What makes Cor Blimey’s fish and chips ‘authentic’?

While the dish is not difficult to find in Western restaurants in Malaysia, the versions served locally tend to be bastardized: think breaded (gasp!), with a side of ketchup, cheap mayo, salad and store-bought fries.

Cor Blimey, however, has all the trimmings. At each table you’ll find malt vinegar, salt and pepper seasoning (how they’re traditionally eaten in the UK—although they also have ketchup and chili to cater to local palates), and the seafood is battered instead of breaded.

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We got fried calamari rings (RM15.90) as appetizers. The seafood was fresh, the batter was well done and crispy, and it came served with a tartar sauce dip.

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For the fish and chips, you start with a choice of fish, the most affordable options being Dory (RM25.90), Ocean Perch (RM28.90) and Cherry Snapper (RM30.90). Premium choices include Pacific Halibut (RM42.90), their bestseller the Atlantic Cod (RM47.90), and Haddock (RM49.90). Once you’ve picked your protein, you can then choose the batter (plain, lemon herb, onion garlic, chilli lemon, western curry) and two sides.

We opted for two Ocean Perch, which is descibed as ‘moist, medium-firm and mild-tasting with medium flake’. N had the lemon herb batter with a side of beans and chips, while I had the onion garlic batter with mashed potato. Our orders took awhile to arrive because they fry it fresh to order, but it was worth the wait as they arrived at our table fresh and piping hot!

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Everything was perfect: batter was so crisp, you could hear the crunch from a few tables away; and the fish was moist, flaky, and well seasoned. I’m glad their quality hasn’t changed from the first time I came here, and I hope they maintain it into the future.

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No trip here would be complete without their dips and sauces. In the UK, almost every chippy offers ‘chip shop’ curry dip, which I have yet to find anywhere else in Malaysia other than Cor Blimey. Legend has it that the curry with chips pairing came about in the 1970s, when many chippies were run by Asian families. But don’t expect a spicy kicker – English chippy curry is very much like Japanese curry, which is mild and sweet. I friggin’ love it, though: my friends and I used to go to this place called Chicken Stop back when we were students in Sheffield, and I always doused my chips in curry lol.

Cor Blimey’s other dips such as onion gravy, creamy herb, and garlic mayo (insanely addictive) are great as well.

If seafood isn’t your thing, the resto also serves other traditional British favourites, such as bangers and mash, pickled egg and gherkin, apple berry crumble pie with custard, and deep-fried Mars Bars, which is a Scottish chippy specialty.

COR BLIMEY (SS15)

23, Jalan SS 15/4, Ss 15, 47500 Subang Jaya, Selangor

Open: Tues – Thurs (5pm – 9.30pm), Fri-Sun (12pm – 9.30pm). Closed Mondays

http://www.corblimeymy.com/

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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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