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Signature Pork Noodles @ Harbour Steamboat, Bandar Puteri Puchong

Harbour Steamboat in Bandar Puteri Puchong is known for its hearty, belly warming hotpot dishes, which are available for dinner. It’s not common to eat hotpot during the day though, so the restaurant has affordable rice and noodle dishes for the lunch crowd – and they serve some pretty darn good pork noodles.

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The restaurant is cosy and air conditioned, and has Japanese touches, with rows of Japanese sake bottles lining the walls. This is because the owners of Harbour Steamboat also run a Japanese yakitori place upstairs, called Minato Yakitori. (Also one of the best places in Puchong to get Japanese-style skewers!)

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Iced plum and calamansi juice; a refreshing thirst quencher
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The star for me is the signature pork noodles (RM14.90), which is what I order every time without fail. The portion is large and will easily satisfy big eaters. If you’re a small eater, you can even share the bowl between two people. Choose from a choice of different noodles such as kuey teow, mee, beehoon and meesua (my preferred choice).

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The noodles are soft and silky, but the winner is the soup. Chock full of ingredients, you get generous portions of pork belly slices, pork mushroom balls, offal (intestines, kidney, liver), tender minced pork, squid and shrimp, all swimming in a cloudy broth that is bursting with flavour. To top it all off: a smattering of deep fried pork lard, which really adds extra flavour to the soup.

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Not in the mood for noodles? You can always get the pork soup with rice.

HARBOUR STEAMBOAT 

G, 49, Jalan Puteri 2/3, Bandar Puteri, 47100 Puchong, Selangor

Opening hours: (daily) 11AM – 2PM, 5.30PM-10.30PM. Pork noodles available for lunch only.

Phone: +603 8063 5776

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Meal for One: Wong Kok Char Chan Teng, IOI Mall Puchong

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In Hong Kong, char chan tengs are a part of everyday life – the equivalent of a Malaysian kopitiam – where you can get fast, tummy-filling, affordable meals. The menu is often an eclectic mix of local favourites like rice and noodle dishes, and Western-style fusion cuisine the likes of cheese-baked rice, grilled chicken wings and toast.

Thanks to the popularity of Hong Kong culture which peaked in the 90s to 00’s among the Chinese diaspora here, there are several very popular Hong Kong char chan teng chains in Malaysia, such as Kim Gary, Chatterbox HK and Wong Kok Char Chan Teng.

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Among these brands, Wong Kok is my favourite whenever I’m craving char chan teng food. Named after the Wong Kok (literally, ‘golden/bustling corner/street) district in HK, the resto has been operating here since 2003 and serves up an enormous variety of dishes. There’s one at IOI Mall Puchong, which was where I dropped by for lunch after running some errands.

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No meal would be complete without ordering the iconic HK beverage – HK Milk Tea, also known as xi mut nai cha – so called because the tea leaf filter resembles a silk stocking. HK was once under British rule, and it was during that time that tea drinking became popular on the island. The tea is made from black tea leaves and condensed milk, so it is rich, sweet and has a silky texture. You can have it either hot or iced.

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One thing I always order whenever I come here: Cheese-Baked Seafood Rice with Portuguese sauce. This is another char chan teng staple and reflects Hong Kong’s diverse influences. Rice and seafood like crab meat sticks, deep fried fish and shrimp is covered with a layer of oozy, melty cheese on top, and baked together with Portuguese sauce.

Rice is a staple in Chinese cuisine, and the cheese, is, of course, a very Western ingredient. The Portuguese sauce, which is a thick creamy sauce with curry powder and coconut cream, is from Macanese cuisine. Despite all the seemingly different ingredients/styles, they blend together surprisingly well to create a harmonious dish that is hearty and delicious. The cheese gives it a gooey texture, while the sauce ensures that the dish is not dry.

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I mean, you can’t go wrong with cheese to be honest.

With over 200 items on the menu, it’s impossible to do a complete review of Wong Kok Char Chan Teng – but it also means you’ll never run out of things to try (if you try one dish every day, hypothetically it will still take you close to a year to order everything). But if you’re looking for good Hong Kong-style dishes at an affordable price, then this is a place to consider.

WONG KOK CHAR CHAN TENG (IOI MALL PUCHONG)

G.00B3A, Ground Floor, IOI Mall, Batu 9, Jalan Puchong, Puchong Jaya, 47170, Puchong, Selangor.

Opening hours: 10AM – 10PM

Phone: 03-2141 8407

wongkok.com.my

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The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf Malaysia Presents Alice In Wonderland-Themed Treats This Festive Season

Holiday season is just around the corner, and after a year filled with challenges, I think we’re all in need of some festive cheer. To spark some holiday joy, The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf ® is presenting an array of whimsical Alice in Wonderland inspired treats, which are a feast for the eyes as much as they are delicious to eat.

Winter Wonderland
Winter Wonderland

For an unforgettable Christmas party with friends and family, the Winter Wonderland (RM250 for 3kg) makes a wonderful centre piece for any gathering, with its intricate, handcrafted gingerbread detail and delicate frosting on a base of chocolate fudge. Complete the setting with Hatter’s Winter Log (RM 13.95 per slice, RM139.90 for a whole cake), a delightful dessert featuring luscious chocolate mousse and ganache; Cheshire’s Cherry Bundt (RM 8.90 per slice, RM52.00 for a loaf), stuffed with cherries, lemon and butter cream; or Stollen of Hearts (RM 6.90 per slice, RM48.00 for a loaf) with its hearty mix of Swiss dark chocolate, almonds and hazelnuts. Of course, a visit to Wonderland would not be complete without The Red Queen (RM12.95 each), a luscious pastry filled with caramel, coffee and chocolate mousse concealed under a rich red crust of almond chocolate.

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The Red Queen and Minted Ever After cupcakes (left); Hatter’s Winter Log

There’s more for the sweet-toothed dessert lover: choose from an assortment of cakes such as Minted Ever After (RM 7.90 per cupcake, RM 50 per petite cake, RM139.90 for a whole cake), a decadent concoction of dark chocolate and mint topped with cream, fresh redcurrants and rosemary, and Velveteen’s Wish (RM 12.95 per slice, RM129.30 for a whole cake), a red velvet cake topped with crunchy cookie bits and cheese mousse.

Alice's Tea Party
Alice’s Tea Party

For a bit of everything, go for Alice’s Tea Party (RM109 for 20 pieces), a selection of bite-sized treats of Hatter’s Winter Log, Jolly Breadman, Tweedle Tart and Minted Ever After. Top-up as needed with Jolly Breadman (RM7.90 per piece) or Once Upon A Door butter cookies (RM9.90 per piece).

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CF & TL is known for its delectable beverages, and there’s no shortage of exclusive specials to try this season. Indulge in a Chocolate Cookie – a combination of premium espresso and decadent chocolate cookie notes – available in several varieties: the Chocolate Cookie Ice Blended® drink (small RM16.50, regular RM18), Pure Chocolate Cookie Ice Blended® drink (small RM16.50, regular RM18) or hot / iced Chocolate Cookie Latte (small RM16, regular RM17.50).

Cheshire's Cherry Bundt - whole (bg 1)
Cherry Bundt (whole)

Making a comeback for a limited time only is the ever-popular Double Chocolate Peppermint beverages, available as Double Chocolate Peppermint Ice Blended® drink (small RM16.50, regular RM18), Pure Double Chocolate Peppermint Ice Blended® drink (small RM16.50, regular RM18), hot / iced Double Chocolate Peppermint Latte (small RM16, regular RM17.50) and Peppermint Nitro Latte (RM15.95 at selected stores). Best of all, kids get to enjoy their own coffee-free version, as a hot / iced Double Chocolate Cocoa (small RM16, regular RM17.50) and tea lovers can enjoy the hot Peppermint Tea (RM9.60/cup or RM12.50/pot). While you’re sipping on your holiday beverage, upgrade to a complete meal by trying out the brand’s new Black Pepper Chicken Sandwich (RM19.80).

Stollen of Hearts (loaf & slice)
Stollen of Hearts

Even if you’re not dining in, there are plenty of new retail items to celebrate the season on-the-go, or in the comfort of one’s own home. Take your pick from dark-roasted Holiday Blend (RM55 /12oz), Peppermint Tea in a green tea blend (RM45/tin), Limited Edition 8oz Powders in French Deluxe Vanilla Powder, Peppermint Chocolate Powder and Hazelnut  Powder (RM40/tin). Also available are new designs for the Hydro Flask Series (RM205 each) and Frost Tumbler Series (RM128-138).  They also make for great gifts.

Jolly Breadman & Once Upon A Door [cookies]

In line with the season of giving, CB&TL’s popular Gift Tags return with new designs, with proceeds going towards the Caring Cup initiative. This year, the beneficiary is the Assunta Integrated Social Services programme by ASSUNTA Hospital, to help raise funds for equipment upgrades and essential supplies for their new mobile clinic. With the added support, they will continue to provide much-needed medical and healthcare assistance to marginalised groups.

For more info, visit http://www.coffeebean.com.my.

*Photos courtesy of Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf Malaysia.

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Korean Soy Garlic Chicken Wings @ K-Fry, 1 Utama

As a self-professed fried chicken connoisseur, I’m always on the lookout for the ultimate golden bird – whether it’s tangy and slathered in buffalo sauce, hand breaded with 11 herbs and spices, brined in buttermilk for maximum flavour… the possibilities are endless.

I do, however, have a soft spot for Korean fried chicken. Maybe it’s the double-frying that makes it ultra crispy. Maybe it’s the light batter, and the succulent, moist meat. In my search for the best “KFC”, I’ve tried numerous joints – Singapore-based Four Fingers, the ever popular KyoChon 1991 and NeNe Chicken – but I think I’ve recently found a serious contender for top spot… in the form of K-Fry.

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K Fry touts itself as a “homegrown Korean brand that specialises in authentic Korean Fried Chicken and hearty Korean food with an urban twist”. True to its theme, the outlet in 1 Utama Shopping Centre looks cool and trendy, and wouldn’t look out of place if it was a resto in Gangnam or Hongdae. The warm overhead lights, coupled with neon signs, plant decorations and a matching wood + dark colour scheme make this a perfectly Instagrammable spot.

Prior to this visit, I’ve walked past the place a couple of times and it was always packed pre pandemic. Now it’s much quieter, but that means you won’t have to queue up to dine in.

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If you’re dining at K Fry, it’s best to come in a big group as most of their dishes are designed for sharing, such as their signature Fried Chicken Bumbuk (RM58.90) – juicy boneless fried chicken dipped in Korean sweet and spicy sauce and savoury mozzarella cheese. Staff members prepare the dish at your table, so you can watch as they wrap melty, oozy cheese around each piece of chicken before serving. Other recommended items include the K-Fry Nude Chicks (RM28.90), which comprises 12 pieces of their signature fried chicken – as well as flavours like Snow Cheese (RM35.90 – chicken topped with cheddar cheese powder) and honey butter (RM32.90). Although chicken may be the star, K Fry is a full service resto, so you can also order ramyeon, rice balls, soups, dosirak (lunchboxes), banchan (side dishes), bingsoo (shaved ice) for dessert and mocktails.

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I think the benchmark whenever one goes to a K-fried chicken joint is to have the most basic flavour – soy garlic. K Fry’s version comes with 4 wings and 4 drummettes for RM21.90. Of course, the best feeling is to eat something deep fried with lots of rice, so I got a bowl of white rice to wolf down with my protein.

Usually, the soy garlic chicken at most places have a glossy, sticky sheen – the result of the chicken being tossed in the sauce after frying – so I was surprised I didn’t see any of this when the food was served. The chicken looked like regular fried chicken, with a crunchy batter. The wings/drummettes were decently sized though (KyoChon has tiny tiny wings), so that was one point right off the bat.

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Biting into the chicken, I had my next pleasant surprise. Despite the lack of sauce on the surface, the chicken was delicious and packed with flavour. It seemed like the sauce had been condensed somehow, its flavour seeping into the skin, which was extremely crispy. The meat inside was also moist and juicy, which according to K Fry’s website is because they never use frozen chicken, only chilled ones, to maintain freshness and quality. The chicken was perfectly fried and did not taste greasy at all. I’d give it a 9/10!

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Service at K Fry is impeccable. Staff members are friendly, accommodating, attentive and approachable. When I declined to order a drink, my server asked if I’d like water instead – free of charge.

K Fry gets a lot of Muslim customers, and they employ Muslim staff. They are not yet halal-certified however, as the local JAKIM certification process takes a super long time, but they source ingredients from halal-certified sources. The establishment is pork and alcohol-free.

K FRY (1 UTAMA)

LG 221A 1 Utama Shopping Center, Bandar Utama, 47800 Petaling Jaya, Selangor

Opening hours: 11AM – 10PM

Phone: 03-7624 0027

kfry.my

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Ginger Wine Noodles: Imbi Pasar Mee Halia @ ICC Pudu, Kuala Lumpur

Here in Malaysia, wet markets are more than just places to get fresh ingredients and household essentials – they’re social hubs where people gather to shop or meet friends and neighbours (well, pre-pandemic, at least). This is why you will often find kopitiams and food courts close to or located within a wet market facility.

Pasar Baru Bukit Bintang (also known as Imbi Market) was one of these places. The market was an icon of Kuala Lumpur for over 60 years, and the food stalls there were equally legendary: you could get noodles, classic kaya butter toast with coffee, Nyonya Kuih and more.

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A couple of years ago, the market had to be relocated to make way for a building project, so they moved to new premises at ICC Pudu. The new building is much cleaner, has a better layout than Imbi and has proper facilities. While it lacks the chaotic charm of the old market, the hawkers are still the same – so you can still get that authentic taste.

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One of the stalls here sells a rather unique dish: mee halia, or ginger wine noodles. You don’t often find this dish sold commercially, as it is usually served at home to new mothers, especially during confinement (for my non-Malaysian readers, confinement is a traditional practice following childbirth whereby the mother stays at home to rest, and have to adhere to things like avoiding water, eating certain types of food to boost recovery, etc.). In traditional Chinese medicine, ginger is thought to have beneficial properties and it is often recommended to expel ‘wind’ from the body, improve digestion and reduce bloating. 

The owner-chef is 70-year-old Wong Mei Lan, who has been selling the noodles for over four decades. “There was a young mother in my neighbourhood who had just given birth. She asked if I could make her a dish, as she didn’t have money to eat the proper foods for nourishment,” she explains. “More women started coming to me after that, and then even men because they said it was tasty. That’s how I started my business,” she shares.

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Each bowl costs RM9 and comes with a large portion of rice noodles, swimming in a cloudy broth topped with egg that has been fried with minced ginger, as well as tender pork slices and fresh prawns. The broth is definitely the star – after simmering for hours, the ginger, rice wine and pork bone create a deep and complex flavour, and a warmth blossoms in your belly with each sip. Comforting is the best word I can think of to describe the taste. The proportion of the wine has to be done right in order to achieve this effect, and although Madam Wong doesn’t make it in-house, she gets it from old folks from Perak who mix it at home. Basically everything that you’re eating is homemade, rather than commercially produced.

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One of the things I love about Malaysian hawkers is that they often last generations: you can find century-old establishments that are now into their fourth or fifth generation in the business. And even though age has caught up to Madam Wong and she can’t move as fast as she used to, she’s glad that there’s someone to take up the mantle: her youngest son Lee Chee Wai. Now, just as Madam Wong used to cook for her customers and their kids, so will Chee Wai cook for a new generation – and keep his mother’s cooking traditions alive.

IMBI PASAR MEE HALIA 

G20, ICC Pudu, Jalan 1/77C, Pudu, 55100 Kuala Lumpur 

Opening hours: 6AM – 2PM 

Note: I interviewed Madam Wong and Chee Wai for the October issue of Fireflyz, the inflight magazine for Firefly Airlines. This article features a few tweaks and some additional info I wasn’t able to fit in to the story.

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Burgers, Wings and American Fare @ Mean Mince, Mutiara Damansara

Mention Mutiara Damansara and most will think of IKEA and The Curve – but venture further in to the housing area and you’ll find a hidden gem, tucked within a quiet suburban spot just next to the Mutiara Damansara police station. Opened two years ago, Mean Mince dishes out American fare the likes of juicy burgers, wings, onion rings and deep dish pizzas, and has made a name for itself among burger fans for its unique deep fried burger.

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The shop is appropriately Americana-themed, with American license plates and black and white photos of New York and the San Francisco Golden Gate Bridge, while the speakers blast diner music. Plenty of natural sunlight makes for a cheerful, well-lit interior, and the ‘bar’ (setup looks like one but they don’t serve alcohol) is lined with rows of soda bottles. 

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The restaurant’s specialties are its burgers, in particular the deep fried burger – but I didn’t feel like having one so I ordered some snacks instead. I have read rave reviews about the burgers though, so might be back again to try them!

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They give you a small bucket of light popcorn to munch on while you wait for your order.

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The Very Vanilla Shake (RM10) was done right – thick, sweet and cold, they don’t skimp on the ingredients. Perfect with fried finger food, or to wash down your burgers and onion rings.

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Their Buffalo Wings comes highly recommended. For just RM13.90, you get six pieces of succulent, deep fried to perfection wings, coated in a sour and spicy buffalo sauce and served with blue cheese aioli. The wings are literal perfection: crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside. The sauce is what really makes the dish pop, though – I’ve had buffalo wings at many places in Malaysia, and they somehow can’t live up to the ones I’ve had at BWW in LA. The ones at Mean Mince taste authentic.

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Also, the main reason I came to check the place out: Mozzarella sticks (RM13.90). I’ve been craving mozzarella sticks for several weeks now and Mean Mince turned up in my search while I was googling for places that sold them in PJ. Again, portions are very generous – the cheese is almost bursting out of its batter, and the tangy tomato salsa that comes with it helps to cut through the heaviness.

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Gotta do that cheese pull

Overall, Mean Mince is a great place for American food, and the service is fast and friendly. Will be making a return visit for the burgers!

MEAN MINCE

31-1, Jalan PJU 7/16A, Mutiara Damansara, Petaling Jaya, Selangor

Opening hours: 12pm – 9pm (Thurs – Tuesdays). Closed Wednesdays.

Telephone: 03-7733-2512

facebook.com/meanmince

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Tonkatsu by Ma Maison, 1 Utama Celebrates 7th Anniversary – 50% Off All Sets!

Tonkatsu by Ma Maison is my favourite place to get authentic tonkatsu. I’ve dined at their Publika and USJ Main Place branches before, but never at the original in 1Utama (don’t ask me why – I just never did it lol). Recently I went back to the office to pack, and since the mall is nearby, I stopped by for lunch. It so happened that the outlet is celebrating their 7th anniversary and are offering 50% off all their sets (from 11am – 8PM) until November 30 – so I got an EXTREMELY value for money deal.

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The shop is tucked within ISETAN. It can be quite difficult to find because it’s hidden in a corner – just follow the signage when you get to the Japanese resto section.

Tonkatsu by Ma Maison was founded in Tokyo in 1976 by Akinori Terazawa  – who after failing to find the perfect tonkatsu, set out to make his own specialty outlet. To date, they have 16 outlets across Japan, five in Singapore and three in Malaysia.

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11am. First customer of the day!

The restaurant boasts a classy interior with cool grey walls, sleek wooden furniture and black and white photos/calligraphy. The aesthetics are standard across all of their branches.

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The highlight at Tonkatsu by Ma Maison is the Rosu Katsu (RM27.90) – a juicy 160g deep fried pork loin cooked to golden brown perfection. What makes it so addictive is the ratio of lean to fat, so you get a wonderful medley of textures in your mouth: soft and tender lean meat, melt-on-your-tongue fat, all enveloped in a crunchy, breaded crust. Each set is served with pickled ginger slices, cabbage and mustard to cut through the oiliness, fluffy white rice and warm miso soup. I don’t know about you, but there’s nothing more satisfying than shovelling down big spoonfuls of white rice with something salty and deep fried. (PS: they offer free rice, soup and salad refills!) For big eaters, go the whole hog and order the Jumbo Rosu Katsu (RM32.90), which weighs in at a hefty 250g.

If pork loin isn’t your thing, you can opt for hire katsu (pork fillet, which is leaner). You can also choose to get Miso Rosu Katsu/Hire Katsu, Kakifurai (deep fried oyster), Jumbo Ebifurai (deep fried shrimp), sakana (white fish), chicken or a mix of a few different fried items.

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The food is good on its own, but you can elevate it with various sauces. The spicy offers a good kick, while the sweet goes really well with the meat and balances out the saltiness. I usually put sesame dressing on the salad – but you can use it as a dip for your meat too.

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Thanks to the promo, my meal cost only RM16++ which is a steal for the portion and quality. The promo is available until the end of November 30 at the 1 Utama outlet only. Stop by if you’re in the area! 🙂

TONKATSU BY MA MAISON (1 UTAMA)

Level 2, Isetan, 1 Utama Shopping Centre, 1, Lebuh Bandar Utama, PJ, 47800 Selangor.

Phone: +603-7727 3337

Opening hours: 11AM – 10PM

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Meal For One: Beverly’s Kitchen, Taman Meranti Jaya Puchong

SMEs form a big part of the Malaysian economy, and they’re not just your tech start-ups or media agencies: they also include your neighbourhood kedai runcit and favourite hawker stall.

While people are encouraged to stay home more to avoid the risk of infection, there are still ways you can support your local business. If you’re taking a break from cooking, for example, you can da bao from your favourite hawker stall. Ordering meals from Grab / Food Panda is convenient, but remember that many of these small time traders don’t get a big profit because delivery providers take a significant cut from the total bill. You can read a very good explanation of the challenges businesses face with regards to this issue as told by Renyi, the founder of MyBurgerLab, here.

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It has been nearly a year since the pandemic started – and the effects on the economy are apparent. The Star reported that over 30,000 SMEs have closed since the beginning of the Movement Control Order in March, and this figure is expected to rise if things continue as they are. Even for myself, the situation is precarious because I work in an airline-related industry, which has been one of the hardest hit by the pandemic. That being said, I’m still getting paid – so I’ll worry later about whether I’ll still have a job by the end of the year lol.

As for me, I’ve never really liked calling delivery: despite being a millennial, I’m quite old-fashioned when it comes to ordering things online. I much prefer popping out to a hawker stall nearby for food. There’s a really good Mee Jawa place that I frequent almost every week. Unfortunately last Friday, they were sold out even though it was still pretty early (around 11-ish). The lady boss told me that business was actually better than it had been during MCO, which is great news and I’m happy for her (because it means they’re less likely to close.. how else am I going to get my Mee Jawa fix lol).

I decided to try another stall which is located within the same kopitiam. Beverly’s Kitchen serves Western cuisine, grilled items, burgers and pasta. The stall is neat and clean, and it has an efficient layout ie you can see where they prepare the raw ingredients, the cooking station, etc. Prices are slightly higher compared to noodles or zap fan, but if you’re ever in the mood for pasta, this can be an option. Portions are hefty and they make our items to order. Some of the items on the menu include grilled chicken with oregano spaghetti/rice, fried chicken with french fries, bbq pork chop with rice, jumbo sausage, Hawaiian chicken burger, chicken wrap, and more.

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Good thing about living in Malaysia? Even if you’re ordering ‘western’ food, you have an option for rice lol. I got the fish fillet with rice (RM14.90) which came with a side of salad, gravy and a couple of button mushrooms scattered on top of the rice.

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The fish fillet was as large as my hand, and they gave me a mountain of rice, so I’d say it was pretty worth the price. Taste-wise it was okay – I wasn’t expecting anything fancy or authentic anyway. The meal would have been dry if not for the gravy, which was also decent.

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If you’re craving something aside from the usual noodles and rice, Beverly’s Kitchen offers good variety. They also do deliveries on FoodPanda.

BEVERLY’S KITCHEN

Inside Restoran Wai Wai, 149-G, Block J, Tanming Boulevard, Jalan Meranti Jaya 3/1, Taman Meranti Jaya, Puchong.

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