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Christmas 2021 Recap: Of Food, Friends and the Spirit of Gifting

Anddddd just like that, another year has gone by.

I have much to be thankful for as I bid adieu to the old and welcome the new. Although it wasn’t a great start to 2021 – what with extended lockdowns due to the pandemic, job uncertainty and a general feeling of being stuck in limbo – things picked up towards the final quarter; the highlight being that my husband and I were finally able to reunite after almost two years apart from each other. He had to spend Christmas in quarantine, but we were able to usher in the new year together – and that for me has been the best present ever.

While waiting for the hubs to finish quarantine, I busied myself with preparations, finishing up work for my old job (I’m starting a new job tomorrow!), and catching up with old friends – which helped keep my nervous energy to a minimum. Here’s what I’ve been up to:

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November to December is typically monsoon season, and floods often occur on the east coast of West Malaysia, due to their proximity to the South China Sea. It is rare for serious floods to occur on the west coast, where I live, as we’re protected from most bad weather, thanks to the Indonesian islands. On 18 December, however, a continuous heavy downpour (it rained almost non-stop for more than 24 hours) caused by a tropical depression caused parts of Selangor and Kuala Lumpur to be inundated by floods.

The flooding was so severe that in some cases, homes in low lying areas were completely submerged up until the second floor. In total, 50 people across the different states lost their lives. People were extremely angry with the government, as they were ill prepared and the response was slow – leaving victims to fend for themselves, and some lost their lives while waiting for help that was too slow to come. But where the government failed, it was heartening to see how ordinary Malaysians from all walks of life banded together to help each other, with volunteers risking their lives and bringing their own boats to help with search and rescue.

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My brother and I did our own little part by volunteering to pack vegetarian food, to be distributed to victims at relief centres. The activity was organised by the Kuala Lumpur Chung De Confucian Association, of which my brother’s ex-lecturer is a member – that’s how we came to know about it. We were up early to head to May Yen Vegetarian Restaurant in Kepong, KL, where we joined a group of mostly young volunteers to pack 900 packets of lunch boxes.

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The kitchen was sweltering hot, and there was little space to maneuver about. It was a bit chaotic in the beginning, but once we had coordinated the roles, things moved quickly – there was a team assigned to ladling food (tofu, mock meat, vegetables and rice) into plastic containers, another team assigned to putting garnish and sealing off the lunch boxes, and yet another in charge of packing them into plastic bags for transport. We didn’t really have much chance to mingle as everyone was focused on completing their tasks as quickly as possible, but it was a good experience nonetheless.

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As of the time of this writing, flood victims are still in need of help, so it would be good to donate either monetary assistance or in the form of goods, if you’re not able to be on-ground for relief efforts.

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That aside, I’ve been taking time to catch up with old friends. Shopped for gifts for a few close friends, and also met up with G, a high school friend of mine whom I’ve been friends with for over 18 years. We don’t always get to hangout since she’s based in Ipoh, but we managed to have a quick catchup session. I think she badly needed some alone time that didn’t involve bringing her kid along.

Motherhood is an immense sacrifice – I think a lot of mothers give so much of themselves to their child, that they lose who they are as a person. I’m not here to judge, but that shouldn’t be how it is, even though society often expects it of mothers – and it’s sad that in Malaysian society, we still have this mentality. A healthy environment should involve a mother having the proper support to raise her child, but also the freedom to stay true to her own dreams.

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Anyway, I brought her to 1Utama and we ended up at Rocku Yakiniku, a Japanese-style BBQ buffet that offers free flow of various cuts of meat and seafood, including lamb, chicken, beef, pork, shrimp and squid. I’ve been here several times, including once solo for my birthday celebration (yes, I celebrated my birthday by gorging on a BBQ buffet alone. lol), and they’ve never failed to disappoint. This time was no exception, and I think we got back our money’s worth.

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We got to 1Utama pretty late, so I was starving. While waiting for the charcoal brazier to heat up, I got some quick bites – stir-fried udon, samosas, hams and fried dumplings. I know you’re not supposed to eat a lot of these at a buffet, coz they’ll fill up space in your stomach quickly, but the fried dumplings were exceptionally good.

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Two things that I recommend: the enoki mushrooms, and the scallops. They come served in small aluminium bowls that you can heat directly over the grill. The former has butter, which brings out the rich, natural sweetness of the mushrooms; the latter comes swimming in a clear, sweet broth, with sizable scallops that squirt juice forth with each bite.

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Another thing about Rocku Yakiniku: the shrimps are huge. Just eating the shrimps alone will give you your money’s worth, since shrimps of this size are usually expensive. They’re not marinated, but they’re fresh and juicy, and the grill highlights the meat’s natural sweetness.

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The meat selection is great too, especially if you eat it with fresh lettuce, which cuts through the greasiness.

Our meal for two came up to RM120, inclusive of drinks. Quite a reasonable price, given the amount we ate, the variety, and the service.

ROCKU YAKINIKU (1UTAMA)

F.355, F.356 & F.357, First Floor, Rainforest, No. 1, Lebuh Bandar Utama, Bandar Utama, 47800 Petaling Jaya, Selangor.

Opening hours: 11AM – 10PM (Daily)

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Dropped G back at her house and took the chance to play with her cats.

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And that was how I spent my Christmas! It was a great one, all things considered.

Here’s to a great 2022 ahead!

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Merry Christmas!

Christmas has always been my favourite time of the year. Although I don’t celebrate it religiously, I just like the cheer and excitement that comes with the season – the beautiful Christmas decorations, the splendid feasts and festive dishes, the gifts and the gatherings.

The pandemic has certainly put a damper on things, as many people are unable to celebrate the holiday season with their loved ones due to safety/health concerns, work, or travel restrictions. I had been looking forward to my first proper Christmas with N, but since he’s still stuck in the Philippines, we have no choice but to be patient and hope things get better soon. The important thing is that we’re both healthy and safe.

While I wasn’t able to celebrate Christmas with the husband, I still got a bit of low-key celebrating in with a couple of friends. So here’s what I’ve been up to!

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I met up with some ex-colleagues for Christmas brunch, and bought them some pampering items from The Body Shop as gifts.

My office used to have a tradition where we’d all go for a Christmas dinner – usually a buffet at a hotel – where we’d eat and exchange gifts. It’s true what they say about not knowing what you’ve got till it’s gone – I never realised how much I’ve come to enjoy them. It feels a little weird that the company started off with 11 people this year… and now I’m left all by my lonesome. 😦

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More gifts, but for a different group of friends.
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Also took the chance to grab some pampering masks: ChrisZen was having a sale – only RM1 per mask!
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Also, finally managed to clear out the office a couple of days before Christmas. My ex-colleague was supposed to help before he left, but he dropped the ball so I was left to do all of it alone lol.

The main problem was the boxes of electronics and files I had to ship to our main office in Singapore. There were two huge Apple monitors, and I couldn’t find boxes that were big enough to fit them (lesson learned: NEVER throw away your original box). Custom-made boxes are expensive, and it would take time to make them to the required specifications.

In the end, my ex-designer was a lifesaver – she came to the office with two of her friends who do prop-making on the side. They basically cut and put together smaller boxes to make a big one so that the monitors would fit. They also helped to dismantle the wooden cupboard and shelves we had in the office, so I didn’t need to get a lorry service to cart them away. Thanks guys!

I still had to throw a lot of stuff away; 10 boxes of keychains, luggage tags, old magazines, cardboard boxes and stuff. I’m not young anymore so it was torture lugging all the stuff to the big dumpster outside the mall, four floors below. A good workout but my back was killing me for days after lol.

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Rewarded myself for all that hard work @KFry, 1Utama
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Met up with a high school friend, G, who’s back from Ipoh for the holidays. She has three adorable cats. They’re triplets, so they have the same orange and white pattern.

Cats are like people and have unique personalities: which is the case with these three. The oldest, Big Bean, is friendly, playful and affectionate; she loves pets and rubbing on your legs. The middle child, Zhong Fen (Mandarin for ‘centre parting’ – because she has a pattern in the middle of her forehead) is quiet, haughty and antisocial: she shot me a distrustful look when I put out my hand for her to sniff, then promptly turned around and showed me her butt. She also dislikes being manhandled, and protested loudly when my friend’s son tried to hug her.

The youngest, Small Bean, is calm and cool, and likes to observe. The first thing she did after being let out from her cage was jump on top of the fridge, so that she’d have a good view of the surroundings.

I think G’s doing an excellent job with her cats, despite being a first-time owner. They’re all fat, fluffy and clean.

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Zhong Fen
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“Gib pets”: Big Bean
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Christmas Day was spent playing with my DIY candle kit, which I ordered from Lazada. Now, I’m not very good with arts and crafts (or anything that requires working with my hands lol). But the process was actually fairly simple, and I’m happy with the result. Will detail this in a separate post! 🙂

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And finally, I met up with another friend, H, for lunch. It was good to catch up and walk around the mall. Felt almost normal again. The mall was surprisingly empty (we went to Sunway Velocity) – a far cry from how Pavilion KL was over the weekend. The crowd there was crazy. I think people aren’t even worrying about the pandemic anymore. You can’t blame the government when they announce 2,000+ cases if you’re not even practicing social distancing.

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H said: “You’ll probably laugh when you unwrap my present”. Sure enough, I did. It was just really funny that she gift wrapped the Super Rings But it was this simple gift and gesture that, to use the old-fashioned idiom, warmed the cockles of my heart.

So that was my Christmas! I initially wanted to bring a little festive cheer to the house by suggesting we get each other gifts, but was promptly shot down by the Moo. Not giving up though… there’s always next year.

How did you celebrate Christmas? 🙂

Yohoho!

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Sukiyaki @ Sushi Zanmai, IOI Mall Puchong (Revisited)

A breather from updating about Taiwan! Got a call from C over the weekend while I was still recuperating from staying up late gaming, asking if I could help her paint her house. I find it rather funny, because other girls ask their girlfriends to go out shopping on a weekend. I wouldn’t have it any other way,  though.

C came to pick me up and we had a quick breakfast at a food court nearby. Dish of the day: curry chee cheong fun, ie flat rice noodles swimming in a spicy broth and topped with various fried/boiled items such as fishball, meatball, pig’s skin and fried beancurd.

Got to the apartment, which she rents out. She was planning to rent it out to a new set of tenants so we had to clean up the mess left behind by the previous ones – dirty walls with handprints, double sided sticky tape, nails, etc. My ‘job’ was to help repaint the rooms with a nice fresh coat of white. Sounds easier than it looks, but it was a good workout! Took us a few hours, the prospective tenants came to have a look; then we sat around watching some Chinese DVD on the TV. By then it was already 6pm so we went to hunt for food.

Ended up going for Japanese at Sushi Zanmai in IOI Mall, Puchong. This is my second visit here, and like before, business seemed to be booming, with a queue of patrons waiting to be seated. We got seats fairly quick. C ordered garlic fried rice, which was fragrant but rather tasteless. Like many Malaysians, she peppered it with a mad amount of wasabi lol.

I was in the mood for some cold noodles; so went for the tempura soba. A popular summer dish, these buckwheat noodles are bouncy with an al-dente texture, usually served with a small bowl of soy sauce broth.

This is how you eat it: pour in the spring onion/shredded daikon into your soysauce-y broth, grab some noodles, dunk them in, and slurp them from the bowl. Apparently you are also supposed to slurp all of the strands in one go, and make a loud noise while you’re at it. It’s ‘polite’. 😀 Culture is a strange (and fascinating) thing.

Crispy tempura. The eggplant, long beans and shrimp were not too oily and had sealed its juices on the inside. 

For the finale, we had a Sukiyaki (hotpot) to share. The sweet broth was loaded with vegetables, mushrooms and tofu. We waited for it to boil before adding in the thin slices of beef.

Fresh egg is whipped and used for ‘dipping’. Some might find the idea of eating raw egg with cooked meat weird, but trust me, it’s awesome. The egg gives it a silky smooth texture, and also helps in ‘cooling’ down the piping hot meat.

The meat was just the right thickness to cook quickly, and was well marinated: flavourful, juicy and tender on its own. Possibly one of the better hotpots out there. Although, for someone used to free flow, the few pieces of beef weren’t enough 😛

SUSHI ZANMAI 

G18A, IOI Mall,
Batu 9 Jalan Puchong,
Bandar Puchong Jaya,
47170 Puchong, Selangor.

Business hours: 10am – 10pm (daily)

Previous blog post: Here

New Year’s Eve 2016 – Chilli Pan Mee SS2 / Snowflake Paradigm Mall

Hey guys! After all the reveling/partying over the holiday season, it’s time to get back to reality 😀 Here’s what I did on the last day of 2016. 🙂

Met up with Jo and Mabel for our New Year ‘countdown’! We had dinner at Super Kitchen Chilli Pan Mee in SS2. The place is famous for their chilli pan mee – thick hand-kneaded noodles topped with a sunny side up egg, fried onion shavings, chilli flakes, anchovies and minced meat.

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Jo’s chilli pan mee.

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I had the Hakka fried pork pan mee. The noodles were tossed in a savoury sauce, served with fried foochuk (beancurd) and slabs of meat. Wasn’t the best item they had, but decent tasting nonetheless. Especially liked the fried beancurd because it was crisp and crunchy without being too oily.

SUPER KITCHEN CHILLI PAN MEE (SS2 branch) 

42, Jalan SS 2/10, SS 2, 47300 Petaling Jaya, Selangor, Malaysia

Open daily: 9AM-10PM

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Went to Snowflake dessert shop to kill time while we waited for our 10.30PM movie, The Great Wall, at Paradigm Mall Kelana Jaya.

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Matcha (green tea) shaved ice with red beans, tapioca pearls and chewy sesame flavoured balls.

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Grass jelly shaved ice dessert, topped with condensed milk, sweet potato and yam balls.   20161231_203332-tile

SNOWFLAKE

Kelana Jaya 2F-33, Level 2, Paradigm Mall, No. 1, Jalan SS7/26A, Petaling Jaya, 47301, Malaysia

Open daily: 10AM-10PM

How did you spend your New Year’s? 🙂

Sundate – Of Fat Cats, IKEA, Awesome Canteen & Kaki-Gori Shaved Ice

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I had a big fight with my M on Saturday. The usual shit.

Didn’t feel like staying at home on Sunday, so I picked Evelyn up from her apartment and we went to her boss’ house to feed a fat cat. The name of the cat is Why Why…. appropriate, since I wanted to ask Why it was so unfriendly. Tried to scratch me when I put my hand out for it to smell…so I laid off any sort of petting. It then went to hide under the bed. Silly fat cat.

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Headed to IKEA for lunch. Note to self: Never go to IKEA on a Sunday afternoon. Wasted a good half an hour circling the area looking for a spot, and a further half hour lining up to get our food, then another 15 minutes looking for a clean table.

We got loads of food though. Salmon Gravlax with baby potato salad, warm, hearty cups of cream of mushroom soup, buttery croissants, and soft rolls.

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The gravlax got overwhelming salty after a bit, so it was good that there was bread so I could make it into a sandwich. The rest of the platter was delish – greens were fresh and crunchy.

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Two girls can put that much away? Believe it.

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Went to watch a Musical in KL (which I’ll blog about in another post), then headed for dinner at Taman Paramount in PJ. Evelyn is on a vegetarian diet, so she had the customary salad.

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The meat eater in me wouldn’t abate, so Beef Don it was. The generous bowl was topped with purple cabbage, onions, tender teriyaki-drenched slices of meat, poached egg and pickled radishes.

AWESOME CANTEEN 

19, Jalan 20/13, Taman Paramount,

46300 Petaling Jaya, Selangor, Malaysia

Hours: 11AM-11PM

Phone: +60 3-7865 8048

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There was still room for sweets, so we went to the much hyped about Kaki-Gori, along the same row. Here, they serve giant Japanese shaved ice desserts, in flavours such as matcha with red bean, and roasted soy bean.  It looks impossible to eat, but when you’re two girls with a tooth for sweets, the mountain of ice depletes pretty fast.

KAKI-GORI Japanese Shaved Ice Cafe 
25, Jalan 20/13, Taman Paramount,
46300 Petaling Jaya, Malaysia.
Tue – Thu (1PM – 10PM), Fri (1PM – 11PM), Sat – Sun (1PM – 10PM)
Phone: 03-7865 8999

DIY Mini Dreamcatcher from Typo

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On a normal day, I wouldn’t buy anything from Typo (its a branded arts/crafts store) coz everything so bloody expensive, but Mabel and Jo got me a box of DIY Mini Dream Catchers as a birthday present recently, so thank you, guys! ❤ Had some free time over the weekend to assemble it…

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The box said there were ‘instructions’ on the inside.. yeah right. They were basically useless and told me nothing about how to make anything beyond looping and tying random pieces of string on the hoops. I ended up looking for tutorials on Youtube. A useful one here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vmtkc7FOWLw

Anyway, there were two mini plastic hoops, some twine and smooth string, lace, decorative blue/white/teal feathers, and matching beads. Quality of the lace was the best; the feather tips were flaky and the bead openings weren’t complete – still had to poke a hard object through them to get the string through.

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Tada! The web looked a little retarded coz the hoop was too small and I couldn’t follow the tutorial exactly, but hey, not bad for a first timer. Spent about four hours on it and felt a sense of accomplishment.

*While working on it, my mum comes into the room and was like ‘why spend so much time and money on making that? wouldn’t it be easier to buy it?’ lol, it’s not the same, mom..

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The left is a store bought one, vs mine. I’ve run out of places to hang my stuff btw.

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Also got this cute Totoro Powerbank from Carmen, Simon and Elyss, who treated me to a Korean BBQ meal.

A big thank you to everyone who has taken the time/effort to make my 26th birthday a special one. I appreciate every one of you. ❤

Fong Lye Taiwanese Restaurant, Sunway Pyramid

 

 

Hey, guys! I haven’t been blogging as often as I’d like to since starting my new job, coz travelling/work takes up most of my time – but I’m trying my best to squeeze in some blogging time. It’s 10.45 now, which leaves me about 15 minutes to write this before I hit the sack. I try to get 8 hours of sleep these days, or I feel really washed out in the morning…part of growing old. 😛

Speaking of old, I turned 26 recently. Yay, mid 20s….not. I don’t feel like a prune yet, but I don’t feel like a spring chicken either. Things really mellow down as you age. You might have had a lot of ‘friends’ in high school/college, but once you hit your mid 20s, the time you have for people just dwindles, and you’re left with the small circle that really counts.

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I met up with my ex-UK flatmates Mabel and Jo, as well as another college friend HP at Sunway Pyramid for dinner recently. It was to celebrate my birthday/new job + HP’s farewell as she’s leaving for a work/travel holiday to New Zealand soon. It was so sweet of them to plan it, even on a Friday evening where they had to rush there from work.

All the restos were packed. Mabel suggested a Taiwanese resto called Fong Lye. Service was quick and efficient; while we waited for tables, we placed our orders and most of the food was ready by the time we got a seat.

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Hot tea for two.

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I had a craving for noodles, so I got the innards meesua. It’s good to have noodles on your birthday in Chinese culture, it represents long life 😛

Meesua came in a thick broth. The flavour was just so-so though. Too salty, and the intestines weren’t cleaned well and still had a gamey smell to it. The meal came served with ‘banchan’-like side dishes of marinated eggplant, a sweet potato ball and tofu.

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Jo had rice with deep fried pork chop. The chop was marinated with namyue (fermented bean curd). It tasted weird to me xD

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HP also had pork chop, but hers tasted better as it was cooked in a sweet sauce topped with fragrant sesame.

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Mabel had dumplings and hot/sour soup. Dumpling skin was pretty thick and there was more chives > meat ratio. It tasted better with the soup.

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The real winners of this meal are their snacks. The deep fried mushrooms were thick and chunky, seasoned with spiced powder. Crispy on the outside, but moist and juicy on the inside without being too oily.

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Sweet potato balls were divine. Wish they had more, even though the serving was already pretty huge. Chewy and light, it had a porous texture with just the right amount of sweetness. Not too oily either.

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FONG LYE TAIWANESE RESTAURANT (Non halal) 

LG1.43A, Lower Ground 1, Sunway Pyramid Shopping Mall,

No. 3, Jalan PJS 11/15, Bandar Sunway,

46150 Petaling Jaya, Selangor, Malaysia

Phone: +60 3-5633 3699 

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Of course, everywhere we walked through the mall was held up by three people playing Pokemon Go.. myself included. Jo doesn’t play lol.

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Dessert time was at Caffe Bene, a Korean bingsu (shaved ice) chain.

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Pricey imo, and the texture of the shaved ice isnt really like the original bingsu, which is very soft and fluffy just like fine snow. This was chunky like our local ais kacang lol. The chocolate one was very sweet but it was offset by the ice. It was good for Instagram pictures though.

Would just like to say thank you to the girls for taking the time/trouble to celebrate my birthday with me. I got a neat present from them, but that’ll be for another post. Way past a 26-year-old’s bedtime. 😛

Toodles. xoxo