Pokok KL @ Mahsa Avenue Petaling Jaya – The Cafe In A Glasshouse

Tucked within the grounds of Mahsa Avenue in Petaling Jaya, Pokok KL is still hot on the list of most Instagrammable cafes, despite having opened over a year ago. The cafe is housed in a quaint brick and glass building, with floor to ceiling glass windows that allow for plenty of natural sunlight to filter in. Add to that an avenue of shady trees leading up to the place, and you have yourself a picturesque scene.

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Despite going early on a weekday, we still had to wait for a good 20 minutes to be seated. It was pretty warm so we didn’t want to sit al fresco, but if you don’t mind the heat, there is an outdoor patio where you can sit underneath the trees.

And here’s a quick video! 🙂 I’ve been trying to make more short and sweet vids – please subscribe to my Youtube channel if you’d like to see more!

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The inside is air-conditioned, but it can also get a little warm when sunlight hits your table. The design is an eclectic mix of rustic and modern,

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Orders are made at the counter. The cafe serves a selection of Eastern and Western dishes, from pastas and burgers to rice and noodles. There is also coffee, and cakes of the day.

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Our orders came to the table fast. Was still feeling full after a heavy breakfast, so I opted for a Mushroom Soup with Truffle Oil (RM15), thinking it’d be light. The serving was actually quite hearty, with two slices of bread. This wasn’t the instant stuff either – you can feel the texture and bits of mushroom within.

Fun fact: Truffle oil does not contain any truffle, and is actually made from synthetic compounds. They do a pretty good job at emulating that earthy, slightly funky taste of truffles though.. or maybe that’s just my messed up taste buds.

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Editor had Nasi Lemak (RM18). You can choose either chicken or beef. Rather than stringy rendang, the beef served at Pokok is cut into chunks and cooked until tender. I liked it, although it wasn’t to Ed’s taste. She also didn’t like the stir-fried vegetables that came with the dish, as it was rather unusual as an accompaniment to nasi lemak.

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For drinks, Ed had a mocha and I had the Rose Latte (non-caffeinated). It turned out to be strawberry soy milk so I was kind of disappointed because I was expecting something like rose milk.

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Also bought an apam balik cupcake (RM5) as a teatime snack in the office. The buttercream on top was tasteless and cloying, but the cupcake itself was alright.

The food at Pokok is decent, but then again we’ve only tried a couple of items and looking at the wait and steep prices, I don’t think I’d make a return visit. There are many other cafes out there with better ambience and more affordable prices.

POKOK KL

HALAL. 

MAHSA Avenue, Block B, Jalan Elmu, off, Jalan Universiti, 59100, Petaling Jaya, Selangor

Opening hours: 9AM – 9PM

facebook.com/pokok.kl

The Daily Fix, Melaka – Jonker Street’s Most Popular Cafe

As Melaka’s Chinatown, Jonker Street is one of the city’s most popular enclaves, filled with old temples, interesting museums, attractions and cool cafes. Highly recommended is The Daily Fix, a chic establishment hidden at the back of a souvenir shop called Next KK Sdn Bhd.

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Walk straight to the back of the shop and emerge to an Instagrammer’s dream. The design is reminiscent of British colonial Chinese shophouses, with an inner courtyard that extends up to the second floor, allowing for plenty of natural sunlight to filter in. Earthy hues, an abundance of plants as well as cosy couches and wooden furniture make for a relaxing and casual dining ambience. There’s also a rattan swing seat.

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The main dining area boasts warm, ambient lighting from modified lamps that feature old fans as decorative fixtures. The roof is timber, the brick walls deliberately left partially exposed for that vintage, retro vibe. Old school paraphernalia, such as clocks, weighing scales and lamps, adorn the shelves where baristas bustle about preparing coffee.

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More seating at the back, with a backdrop of trays sporting floral designs.

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The menu is a mix, with brunch dishes and light bites such as sandwiches and salad, heavier mains such as pasta, and desserts like pancakes and waffles. For drinks, there are flavoured coffees, smoothies, fruit juices and more. N and I get a Creamy Carbonara to share, as well as their Signature Salted Gula Melaka coffee.

The pasta, which has spaghetti with mushroom, chicken ham and crunchy smoked duck topped with a poached egg and shaved parmesan, is delicious. The noodles are cooked al dente, giving them a nice bite, and the sauce is creamy without being overwhelming. The beverage is excellent as well; the sweet, caramel-like intensity of the gula melaka (palm sugar) balancing out the more bitter notes of the coffee.

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We also get a Blueberry Cheesecake to round off the meal. It comes topped with a candied Mandarin orange, which is a nice touch. Despite being a cheesecake, the cake is surprisingly light, and is only mildly sweet.

The cafe is apparently famous for their Pandan Pancakes, but we did not try them during our visit.

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There’s always a long line at The Daily Fix, so we recommend coming as soon as they open (9AM – for breakfast/brunch), or mid-afternoon when the lunch crowd has thinned. Else, be prepared for a wait.  Prices average from RM18 – 25 for mains.

THE DAILY FIX 

55 Jalan Hang Jebat, Melaka
Opening Hours: 9am – 11.30pm (Mon-Fri), 8.30am – 11.30pm (Sat-Sun)

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Hipster Things @ RIUH September 2018

Hey guys! This is a long overdue post, but as the saying goes, better late than never, right? 🙂

When the Boy came to visit KL last month, I brought him to RIUH, a monthly curated platform featuring pop-up stores, food stalls, creative workshops, shows and live performances. Up until recently, it was held at APW Bangsar, but they switched up the venue this time. Working with local developer YTL Land, the historic, abandoned Sentul Depot was transformed into an edgy, creative space:

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Located within the grounds of Sentul Park, the depot dates back to 1905, where it was once one of the finest engineering workshops in the world, serving the Federated Malay States Railways and then KTM until the early 2000s. It was then abandoned for years, before being revived by YTL Land. I really like how cavernous the space is – and the fact that they left some of the buildings untouched to give it that raw, edgy feel.

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An old building facade that was partially restored.

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There’s plenty of space – more than 200,000 square feet of it – and some parts were not open to the public for the festival, but still made for great photos. The depot features numerous brick buildings and metal sheds, which were previously used as railway depots, engineering workshops and storage areas for steam and diesel locomotives and railway cars.

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Crowds enjoying live performances

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Since the event was in conjunction with Malaysia Day, there were loads of patriotic activities. (Above) an art exhibition depicting the faces of Malaysia made with what Malaysians love best – food.

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A landscaped area just next to the main depot building. We ordered beef brisket and cheesy nachos from some of the food stalls. The nachos were pretty darn good.

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A minibus. These were very popular up until the late 90s, after which they were replaced by newer, larger buses. They weren’t air conditioned and drivers drove with long shift sticks that looked like it was a hassle to get into gear.

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Stalls selling all kinds of everything, from local titles from indie publishers, clothing from local designers, arts and crafts, handmade candles and soaps, bags, and more.

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Intriguing light fixtures

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Traditional wooden house replica.

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Fun Malaysian phrases on T-shirts.

Foreign friends, let’s test your knowledge of “Manglish” and see if you can decode this:

“Aiseyman, so expensive! Can cheaper ah bos? I really pokai leh” 😀 

An awesome video by the Riuh team.

The next RIUH, running from 17-18 November, will be held at a different location, namely 2 Hang Kasturi, which is where local urban regeneration organisation and think tank, ThinkCity, is headquartered. Would love to go but have to see if there’s time. One thing about RIUH is that there’s always so many people going that it’s notoriously difficult to find parking space anywhere – which is probably why they encourage people to take Grab.

riuh.com.my

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Review: Blackwood Cafe & Chocolate, Kangar, Perlis

Big city girl that I am, I admit I was a bit on my high horse when I went to Perlis, expecting this boring, quaint little town where shops close at 8 and everyone goes to sleep at 10. I mean, they don’t even have a cinema ffs (Perlisians have to cross the border into another state to catch a movie, all the way in Kedah).

So when our hosts brought us to Blackwood Cafe and Chocolate in Kangar, I was floored (and a little humbled). This is the coolest, hipster-est place ever. If it was in KL there’d be scores of people try’na hog all the Instagram-worthy spots.  But because this is Perlis, the ambience was cosy and quiet – how a good cafe should be.

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Visitors are immediately greeted by a warm, colourful blend of knickknacks, from feathery dreamcatchers and mismatched couches to a giant urn/fountain and larger than life kangaroo. Walls are lined with art work and portraits of Perlis royalty, as the shop belongs to a member of the royal family. There is also a shop selling souvenirs such as polo/T-shirts, bags, hats, caps and keychains.

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The Crown Prince of Perlis is a big fan of Coca-Cola souvenirs, and you’ll find an extensive collection housed here: Limited edition cans and bottles, Coke paraphernalia, vintage posters and commemorative items, etc.

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We paid a visit to the second floor, which is an art gallery that is not yet opened to the public. There was a collection of elephant drawings which looked childish at first, until the manager told us that they were done by real elephants, using their trunks in place of hands. Let there be no doubt about the incredible intelligence and sentience of these creatures. And we call them animals.

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Great selection of cakes!

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Cutesy decorations ! One side of the wall near the counter was plastered over with Polaroid photos of staff/customers.

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Loved the lanterns and the lights juxtaposed against the dark ceiling; it was almost like dining under the stars.

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We were ushered into a separate room reserved for functions, surrounded by beautiful paintings done in different styles. There were also bright, colourful traditional wau (kites) on the ceiling.

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My Rainbow Crepe looked too pretty to be eaten!

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Eat it I did in the end. Tasty and rich, without being cloying. The layers were fluffy yet soft.

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Washed it down with a toasty mug of hot chocolate.

If you’re ever in Perlis and thinking about having a nice cuppa at night, Blackwood is a good place to go. There is also a branch in Arau, and branches in Kedah and Penang.

BLACKWOOD KANGAR 

Galeri 28, 6/8 Persiaran Jubli Emas, 01000, Kangar,Perlis

Tel: 0196307579

Business Hours: 12 pm – 11.30 pm

blackwood.my

 

Review: The Cafe that was a Brothel – Merchant’s Lane, Petaling Street Kuala Lumpur

I admit it. Despite this being a (mostly) food blog, I’m not the most up-to-date when it comes to food trends or new cafe openings – there always seems to be new ones mushrooming up somewhere or other, and not enough days to try them out (not to mention… not kind on the wallet. lol). 😀

So even though I’ve heard many good things about Merchant’s Lane in Petaling Street, it wasn’t until last week that I got to visit the place with N. It was an awesome experience – not just because of its nostalgic, atmospheric vibe, but also coz of the food and service.

There are no visible signboards proclaiming their location. Instead, we had to hunt for the cafe entrance, which was shielded by a bamboo shade in front of Kiat Leong Stationery and Trading. There we found green doors, and a narrow stairway leading up to the second floor.

The stairway was bathed in a sleazy red light – perhaps a throwback to the days when the place used to be a brothel. Walls were intentionally left chipped and flaking, with posters plastered over for events, open-mic nights and other artsy happenings galore. We got there around 1-ish and there was a short line, but we got a table for two fairly quickly.

Old school/vintage paraphernalia decorated the shelves, along with artsy items that would satisfy any hipster’s wet dream.

The main dining area was spacious and airy, with a high sloping ceiling and plenty of natural light filtering from above. Rattan chairs, paired with stainless steel tables and the blotchy concrete walls created a nice blend of modern and nostalgic, of industrial meets old-school charm.

Restaurant is popular with the urban crowd; mostly young, but also families.

Orders are made at the counter, where they have shelves lined with teas and coffees. Loved the fluorescent lights within the caged counter top design.

While waiting for our food to arrive, I did some snooping around. 😀 Haven’t seen these calendars in a long time.

Like most pre-war buildings, the space is longer than it seems, belying its external appearance. Beyond the main dining area is an outdoor patio (smoking) with several more tables and lots of shrubbery. Bunches of dried herbs and bulbs hang from the wooden beams, while a faded wall that would have looked ugly on its own is spruced up with vintage posters and flower garlands.

At the very back is a cosy nook, with incense coils acting as ceiling decorations, and large tapestries featuring vivid and colourful flower paintings. Old school wall-mounted fans spun around lazily as guests engaged in intimate conversation, snuggled on low rattan chairs. It was less crowded and noisy in this space: I can imagine spending a whole afternoon here having a cuppa with friends or the s/0.

   

Merchant’s Lane definitely scores points for ambience, but it would be poor fare if the food didn’t live up to expectations.

Thankfully, the few items we tried were satisfactory, with some clear winners. My hot Rose Honey Milk (RM12) looked too pretty for consumption : the bed of flower petals scattered over the froth was like an exquisite work of art. Finally took a sip and was pleased; milky with just a hint of honey sweetness, complemented by the subtle fragrance of flowers.

N tried their signature Hongkie Beef Stew (RM22), which is slow cooked Cantonese beef with mash and gravy. This was well done: the beef was tender and flaked apart easily, while the mash on the bottom was smooth and creamy. The sauce on first try tasted good, but after a bit it got too sweet for my liking. Could have done with a bit more texture, but overall, still a decent dish.

The Italian Chow Mein (RM21)  was a fusion of east and west: stir fried pasta with chicken Rendang. I liked the al-dente texture of the noodles, and the slightly spicy Rendang sauce with tomato (not spicy enough imo!). Again, first few bites were good but it tasted increasingly sweet towards the end for some reason. Wouldn’t say it’s the best pasta I’ve ever had, but I’d still give it a 7.5/10.

To round off the meal, we ordered the cheekily-named Better than Sex (RM18) – four thick rolls of Pandan flavoured roti jala with melted cheese, served with signature kaya toast ice cream and drizzled over with gula melaka sauce, a handful of almonds and slices of strawberry.

THIS.

The roti jala was soft and fluffy, perfect to go with the sweetish-salty ice cream and the gooey cheese. Almonds added a much needed crunch, and the thick, caramel-ly gula melaka brought everything together in perfect harmony. A good dessert to say the least!

Is Merchant’s Lane worth visiting? 

Yes, especially if you love cosy little hole-in-the-wall nooks and too-good-to-eat-looking dishes.

Food: 7.5/10 (9/10 for the dessert!)

Service: 8/10 (fast and friendly)

Ambience: 9/10 (-1 point because a bit crowded/noisy on weekends)

 

MERCHANT’S LANE 

First Floor, 150, Jalan Petaling, Off Chinatown, Kuala Lumpur.
Opening hours: (daily) 12PM – 8PM

 

 

Books, Bread and Ice Cream at Miyahara Optometry, Taichung

Nope, you read the title right. Your eyes aren’t playing tricks on you lol sorry I’m not that good with puns.

In the central district of Taichung City, an old eye hospital built in the 1920s is now a one-of-a-kind gourmet destination. Miyahara Optometry, established by Japanese ophtamologist Dr Miyahara Takeo during the Japanese occupation of Taiwan, was once the largest eye clinic in Taichung. After the Japs left, the two storey red brick building was converted into a Health Center, but was left vacant for years after it was identified as a dangerous post-earthquake building. Just five years ago, the place was bought over, refurbished and turned into a bakery-cum-ice-cream store. Needless to say, the crowds have been non-stop ever since.

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Stepping into the place is like coming onto a Harry Potter set.. or is it that library we see in Beauty and the Beast? Walls are stacked from floor to ceiling with wooden shelves packed with books, while wooden staircases jut out from the side (they look like they can almost swivel around magically, just like at Hogwarts!)

Now known as Dawn Cakes Flagship Store, visitors can find a myriad of candies, chocolates and their ever famous pineapple cakes – not to mention a range of yummy-licious ice cream flavours next door. Even if you’re not buying anything, a trip here is worth it just for photos!

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Taiwan shares a lot of similarities with Japan when it comes to food trends ie they have things that look too cute to be eaten. Teddy-bear shaped chocolates, for example.

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Cakes, wafers, cookies and candies are wrapped in book-shaped boxes, complete with legit-looking, fancy covers.

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The second floor houses the Moon Pavilion Restaurant, which was closed during our visit.

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The arched passageway on the outside, overhung with old-looking lamps, was packed with people queueing up for ice-cream next door. Observation: Taiwanese are hardcore foodies, and won’t hesitate to line up for hours to get their fix of whatever snack they’re craving. At all the famous food spots, we had to line up for a good half an hour or more.

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Dozens of flavours to choose from! Here, one will find the basic types like Vanilla and Chocolate, but also rather unusual combinations and local flavours, like Pineapple and mango, and even Chinese tea.

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Our set of two scoops with wafer and three condiments (150NT). Opted for Salted Caramel and Tieguanyin (Chinese tea). I liked the salted caramel better because it had an addictive, salty-sweet quality. Tieguanyin was pretty good too, although a tad bitter. The sweet and fragrant flower-shaped floral cake, butter teddy cookie and raisins balanced everything out with some sweetness.

PS: The menu is all in Chinese. If you, like me, can’t read Chinese characters and you don’t have a translator, you can always point ! xD

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Other buildings in the vicinity are not so lucky.

Many people have been saying that the economy in Taiwan has stagnated in the past decade. As an outside observer, I think this is partially true. There doesn’t seem to be many new projects going on, and ongoing ones seem to have been halted. While the city is certainly developed, buildings look old and decayed – like they’re badly in need of a fresh coat of paint.’

But I digress.

The Miyahara Eye Hospital is a sight for sore eyes, and a treat for the tummy. A must visit while in Taichung! 🙂

MIYAHARA OPHTHALMOLOGY DEPARTMENT (Dawn Cakes Flagship Store)

No. 20, Zhongshan Rd, Central District, Taichung City, Taiwan

Open: 10am – 10PM

 

 

Heritage Walk – Concubine Lane & Kong Heng Square, Ipoh

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Last year, Ipoh was listed as one of the Top 10 Places to Visit in Asia by Lonely Planet. It’s not hard to see why. The city has a quaint, laidback charm, with its colonial-style coffeehouses, beautiful architecture and unique, natural attractions. In recent years, the city has enjoyed a surge in popularity – especially among the younger crowd – and along with it came the hipster cafes, Instagram-worthy nooks and crannies, creative art murals, etc.

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One of these must check-out spots, a favourite hangout of youngsters, is Kong Heng Square. The term ‘old is gold’ never seemed more apt, as the cluster of restaurants, vintage stores and hip cafes are surrounded by giant trees with vines, buildings faded with age and overhung by carpets of ivy but revamped on the inside.

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Art pieces are displayed periodically to go along with permanent fixtures. During our visit, they had put up some pieces done by local art students, which used recycled items such as old bottle caps and CDs.

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Made from discarded bottle caps.

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Just a few steps away is Concubine Lane, which I’ve blogged about previously Here. Since it was a holiday, the street was packed with tourists. Stalls were selling all sorts of knick knacks, from souvenirs to handphone accessories, hair clips to biscuits and cookies.  The street was also decorated with red lanterns and hangings to suit the Chinese New Year mood.

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Literal jelly fish

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Also nearby are two museums – Hor Yan Hor (a local herbal drink) and the Han Chin Pet Soo, which I visited the last time I was in Ipoh (blog post Here). It’s a good idea to spend half a day just hanging around the Kong Heng/Concubine Lane area! 🙂

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Coffea Coffee IOI Boulevard, Puchong Jaya

Update: This outlet is permanently closed.

This might sound blasphemous to ‘real’ coffee lovers, but a couple of years back, Starbucks used to be my go-to-place for drinks (mostly for the chill atmosphere, and also coz I can spend hours there with a laptop with just one drink… yeah I’m cheapo like that). Since then, Starbucks has become so mainstream that going to one now is like entering a pasar malam – children running around shouting, babies crying… thankfully, with the advent of coffee culture, there are other options to hangout at. In Puchong, there’s Coffea Coffee at IOI Boulevard.

Coffea Coffee is multi-award winning establishment,  specialising in Specialty Coffee from farms around the globe, including in Brazil, Guatemala, Kenya, Ethiopia, Sumatra, Colombia, Costa Rica, Honduras, El’Salvador, Nicaragua, Rwanda and Yemen. They are known for their signature Maestro and Madonna roasting and blending styles.

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Locally, this multi-award winning establishment has outlets in KL, Selangor and Penang. They specialise in specialty coffee from twelve farms around the globe, including in Brazil, Guatemala, Kenya, Sumatra and Costa Rica. The Puchong branch is cosy and spacious, done in warm brick and wood tones with clean black and white surfaces.

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Beautiful cakes, pastries and sandwiches on display.

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Wanted to get a slice but already had dinner, so I’ll save it for next time.

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Packaged coffee beans

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Interior sports a lot of wood and clean minimalist lines. They have free Wifi so you can just chill and work on your laptop here all day.

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Ordered an ice blended chai (RM15 – regular, RM16 large). It was sweet but not cloying, with strong hints of spice such as cardamom and cinnamon.

Definitely putting this on my list of chill/hangout cafes in Puchong. 🙂

COFFEA COFFEE (Puchong) 

IOI Boulevard Puchong,, Jalan Kenari 5, Bandar Puchong Jaya, 47100 Puchong, Selangor, Malaysia

Open daily: 9AM-1AM (12AM on Sundays)

coffea.my