Japanese department store ISETAN recently announced that they will be closing their 1Utama outlet in April 2022 – much to my dismay, as one of my favourite udon places, Miyatake Sanuki Udon, is located within the store. The closure is still months away, but I still took the chance to have one last hurrah (just in case I’m busy and don’t manage to go in the coming months).
There are a few Japanese restaurants within Isetan, including a ramen place and a Tonkatsu by Ma Maison (which serves one of the best tonkatsus in Malaysia, in my opinion). Miyatake Sanuki Udon is sandwiched in between, and comprises of a no-frills dining area with minimal decor, and a counter where you can make orders for takeaway. Aside from udon, which is their specialty, you can also get rice bowls (tendon) and set lunches. Prices are very reasonable, considering the location.
Choose from chicken, pork, or beef udon, or get cold udon for a refreshing change. Rice bowl options include shrimp, pork and beef.
For my mains, I went for the Kamatama Udon (RM11.80 – Regular). This is a simple udon dish where the noodles are boiled, and instead of running them through cold water, are immediately served together with a dash of spring onions, soy sauce and dashi broth, as well as a raw egg (the word ‘tama’ is short for tamago, meaning egg). The egg coats each strand of noodle, making them rich and silky smooth.
Of course, we can’t miss the sides! Miyatake Sanuki Udon offers a respectable variety of fried snacks and appetisers. I recommend getting the beef bowl (RM5), which features tender slices of beef in a sweet broth, and the fried enoki mushroom (the tempura batter is crispy but not greasy). For me, a must order is the fried chicken karaage. They’re sizable, but cooked thoroughly, the outside is well seasoned, while the meat is moist and juicy.
So if you’re craving for good, relatively affordable udon, consider dropping by Miyatake Sanuki Udon – before they close in April. I’m definitely going to miss the food!
MIYATAKE SANUKI UDON
1 Utama Shopping Centre, Food Paradise [2F, Central Park Avenue, Bandar Utama, 47800 Petaling Jaya, Selangor
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: I absolutely adore dumplings. I mean, what’s not to love? They’re basically small parcels of happiness, each containing wondrous filling. And they’re extremely versatile: you can have them boiled, deep-fried, pan-fried, steamed, etc. Because they’re relatively easy to make, places selling dumplings are a dime a dozen – but they might not always be up to par. Gyoza for Life, though, has proven itself a winner.
I stumbled across their Instagram shop by chance, and since I had a hankering for dumplings, the timing couldn’t have been better. At the time, they were offering four flavours: Original (pork and chives), Mala (spicy), and the rather unconventional Bak Kut Teh (herbal soup) and Japanese Curry. Intrigued, I ordered two packets of BKT, which were delivered a couple of days later via courier.
What can I say? I really enjoyed the dumplings. I pan fried them, and they turned out nice and crisp on the outside, and the meat still retained its moist juiciness on the inside. The bak kut teh flavour was mild, with a tangy, herby aftertaste. I’ve eaten lots of dumplings, and I think Gyoza For Life has one of the best dumpling skins I’ve tasted. It’s not flour-y, and it has the perfect thickness, so that you get just the right amount of crispness/chewiness, depending on how you’ve cooked them.
The second time around, I tried out their Japanese Curry gyozas. Again, these did not disappoint. Consistent quality! Personally, I prefer this flavour over BKT (they’re both good, though), but that’s because I like the mild and gentle sweetness of the Japanese curry flavour, which seems to spread around the inside of your mouth as you chew.
Another thing of note are the portions. Each dumpling has a uniform size, which makes them easier to cook evenly, and they’re neither too big nor small. In fact, six pieces might be sufficient for a small eater, so you can portion out your order over a few meals. Me being me, of course, would rather go through an entire box (12 pieces) in one go.
My lunch of Japanese Curry gyozas with… curry. 😀
So if you love gyozas, give Gyoza for Life a try! You’ll be supporting a homegrown business, but more than that, their gyozas are really tasty, they’re handmade with love, and the prices are extremely reasonable (each box of 12 are priced between RM14 to RM18). They’ve recently added a new flavour to their menu, namely the Sawadee Kra Pao, so I might try that next.
You can order here. They offer free delivery to selected areas within the Klang Valley.
PS: This is not a sponsored post, I just really like their gyozas.
PS 2: If you like my blog, please consider supporting it via my Patreon, or by buying me a cup of coffee on Paypal @erisgoesto.
Earlier in March, Japanese discount chain store Don Don Donki opened its first outlet in Malaysia at Lot 10 in Bukit Bintang, Kuala Lumpur. Needless to say, the crowds were massive, with people queueing for hours just to get into the shop.
It’s been a month and the hype has died down a little – so I thought it would be a good time to check out what they have in store.
I went on a weekday afternoon, and thankfully there was no queue. The entrance is on the second floor, so you’ll have to go up a couple of escalators. I suggest parking at Fahrenheit 88 nearby and walking over. It’s also advisable to go to the toilet beforehand, as there is no toilet inside the store and the toilets at Lot 10 have a 50-cent charge.
For the uninitiated, Don Don Donki (or Don Quijote as it is known in Japan) is a popular Japanese discount chain store with over 160 shops nationwide, and a strong presence in Asian Pacific markets such as Thailand, Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan and now Malaysia. They are known for being open till late (some shops are open 24 hours), and for having a distinctive retail concept which features aisles packed from floor to ceiling with goods.
I have been to a Donki store in Tokyo, and it can be overwhelming for a first-timer – what with the explosion of colours, loud posters and merchandise everywhere. The Malaysian outlet has a similar design, with narrow aisles filled with all sorts of products imaginable, from toys and clothing, to cosmetics and snacks, most of which are imported from Japan. Unlike hypermarkets where there are clear signages indicating the sections, Don Don Donki’s layout is a jumble: everything here seems to vie for your attention.
If you’re lazy to scroll, here’s a video! And while you’re at it, don’t forget to subscribe. 🙂
Entering the store, you will come to the household goods and kitchenware section, and an area selling gym equipment and Donki merchandise such as plushies, toys and bags. The kitchen is located on this floor as well, and you can watch the staff preparing the food through glass windows.
The aisles here are very narrow, so even when there aren’t too many people, the place can feel cramped and claustrophobic. I don’t think SOPs were followed strictly (or should I say, it can’t be enforced due to the tight space?). At the snack aisles, for example, there was only room for 2 people to walk through, and I had to back-peddle out of the aisles several times whenever I saw people coming from the other end – there was simply no room for me to squeeze through.
Cosmetics section with vanity mirrors.
The second floor wasn’t really my thing – I was more interested in the first floor, which is where they sell fresh produce and food items. When going down the staircase, the Don Don Donki staff will ask if they can help with your basket or trolley, which is a nice gesture.
There is a wide selection of produce to choose from, including meat and vegetables, and of course, seafood. Following the design theme, every inch of this floor is packed with products – even the ceilings are filled with decorations. They also have these giant monitors playing interviews with farm owners / fishermen, which may tell you more about how the seafood was caught, or how crops were cultivated before they ended up in store.
The ready-to-eat section is an island counter laden with items such as chicken karaage, kaki furai (fried oyster), tori nanban, donburi bowls, fried squid, and more. The food is kept under heated lamps to keep them warm, but you can also reheat them upon checkout. Some of the food contains alcohol (such as the unagi don), so remember to check the labels if you’re unable to consume alcohol.
Moving on to the ground floor, there are more food items including a section for fruits and dried goods.
The aisles before checkout are also packed with easy-to-grab goods, to get customers to get a couple more items before payment. There are a lot of checkout counters, so payment is fast. They also bag up your items for you. If you’ve purchased food, you can proceed back up to the first floor, where there is a dining area outside the shop.
Coming here is an exercise in self control. There are so many interesting things to buy, but if you’re not careful, it can blow a big hole in your wallet. I wanted to keep my budget below RM50, so I only got the above: the most expensive item was the tonkotsu instant noodles (RM12+), followed by the baked cheese cake snacks (RM9.90), the caramel corn snacks (RM8.50) and two cream puffs (RM5.90 each).
So how was my experience at Don Don Donki Malaysia?
While the selection of products is not as extensive as their outlets in Japan, I think there is still plenty to see and buy here, especially food items. Prices are premium, but that is to be expected, given that most of the goods are brought in from Japan, and you do get some unique things that you won’t be able to find in local grocery stores or hypermarkets. The displays are very colourful and attractive, but it can get tiring after awhile due to the visual and sensory overload.
That being said, there are a few things that the shop can improve on. The aisles are narrow, so getting people to follow SOPS is a challenge. It’s also not comfortable to take your time and shop, as it can get crowded and stuffy. I would suggest coming on a weekday, if possible. If not, then maybe come earlier on the weekend. Store opening hours are from 8AM – 12PM.
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Tonkotsu has always been my favourite type of ramen. I mean, what can compare to a bowl of chewy, al-dente noodles, swimming in a rich, savoury pork broth?
The answer: Tori-Paitan, aka Chicken ramen.
Up until recently, I had not heard of this type of ramen – but apparently it’s quite popular in many parts of Japan, especially Osaka, where it is said to originate from. Just like tonkotsu, the broth is simmered for hours with chicken bones and meat, until it’s bursting with umami flavour.
Now, Malaysians can also indulge in this scrumptious fare at Ramen Seirock-Ya, a ramen restaurant specialising in Tori-Paitan. Founded in Tsukuba City in 2009, the brand has been expanding to parts of Southeast Asia with a large Muslim demographic, including Malaysia and Indonesia. It’s excellent news for our Muslim friends out there who love ramen (which is normally made with pork), since the brand is halal-certified by JAKIM.
The signature is, of course, their Tori-Paitan ramen, which comes in several variants including Extreme (the must-try), Shoyu (soy-sauce based), Shio (salt-based) and Miso. You can also decide if you want the basic, or with additional egg or chicken slices. The noodles come with a slice of lemon – the servers recommend savouring the original flavour of the broth first, before adding the lemon, which gives it a slightly different taste.
The noodles are good – well cooked, al dente and springy – but the broth is the real star here. After being boiled for hours, the flavour of the meat is condensed into the lip-smacking broth, and the taste is further accentuated by fried shallots and spring onions. Despite the amount of oil swimming on the surface, it does not taste greasy at all.
On another visit, I ordered a plate of pan-fried chicken gyoza. They were crispy and slightly brown on the outside, and juicy and moist on the inside with lots of vegetables – no complaints here.
If you’re not keen on the signature, also on the menu are items like Tan-Tan Men (a Japanese take on Chinese Sichuan dan dan mian), Tsukemen (cold noodles dipped in hot soup), Japanese curry rice, katsu don and chahan (fried rice) among others. Prices are actually more affordable than my favourite ramen place (which, sadly, has become so popular now that it’s impossible to dine-in without at least a 45-minute wait), ranging around RM18 – RM30 for most mains.
RAMEN SEIROCK-YA (IOI MALL PUCHONG)
1F Food Street, IOI Mall Puchong, Bandar Puchong Jaya, Puchong, Selangor Tel: +603 5882 1262 Business Hours: 10AM – 10PM (last order 9.30PM)
*Opinions here are my own. Feel free to agree/disagree with my taste buds.
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Back when I worked in PJ, I used to frequent Sushi Zanmai at Jaya Shopping Centre, which was just a 10-minute-drive from my office. I went there so often the server could anticipate my order even before I placed it (one plate of fried mushrooms, one bowl of rice and one portion of chuuka idako. Lol.) Unfortunately, I haven’t been back since transitioning to a fully WFH setup, which means that I haven’t had Sushi Zanmai for… well over a year.
I didn’t realise how much I’ve missed it until I walked past the Sushi Zanmai outlet at Main Place Mall in USJ recently. Of course, memories of my favourite mushroom-rice-octopus combo came flooding back, and I had to stop by for lunch. It was a weekday afternoon so the place was empty and service was fast.
I’m a creature of habit, so of course…
For some reason, the chuuka idako (baby octopus) came in a bigger portion than I remembered. Not that I’m complaining. The seafood was well marinated in a savoury sauce that brought out its natural sweetness, enhanced with a sprinkling of sesame and served atop a bed of salad.
One great thing about Sushi Zanmai is the consistent quality between outlets; so you get pretty much the same taste from one outlet as you do at any other.
Not forgetting my favourite fried shimeji mushrooms, served with a small dollop of Japanese-style mayonnaise. The batter was perfectly crispy and salty, but the mushrooms retained their moistness on the inside.
There’s something about eating fluffy white rice with fried items, be they mushrooms or fried chicken wings; perhaps not the healthiest option, but oh-so-satisfying nonetheless.
To switch things up beyond my usual trinity of orders (also because I haven’t had Japanese food for some time), I ordered kaki furai (fried oysters) and soft shell crab inari. They did not disappoint; the oysters were fresh, nicely battered and not greasy, while the inari and soft shell crab offered a great blend of textures and sweet and savoury flavours. Solid sushi!
Main Place Mall is much closer to where I live, so I guess I’ll be coming here now whenever I crave my Japanese food fix.
Service is friendly and efficient, prices are above average. If you come on weekends there might be a wait.
SUSHI ZANMAI (MAIN PLACE MALL USJ BRANCH)
Lot No.21, Second Floor, The Main Place, Jalan USJ 21/10, Persiaran Kewajipan, 47630 Subang Jaya, Selangor Darul Ehsan.
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If you can’t already tell, I am somewhat of a loner.
While I enjoy good company in small doses and in intimate settings, large crowds give me anxiety, and I need lots of me-time to recuperate after an extended period of socializing. This is probably why I’m comfortable dining alone: I’ve never really understood why other people would give me the ‘but it’s so sad!’ – because all I need is a good book / manga to read over my food.
I’ve never really gone for a solo buffet though – which I did for my birthday a couple of months ago at Rocku Yakiniku, 1 Utama.
This is my third visit to the Japanese BBQ establishment. Not much has changed – the interior is still upbeat and edgy-looking, with Japanese-themed murals decorating the brick walls. The layout has been tweaked slightly to allow for more social distancing between diners, however.
From past experience, the dishes from their buffet counter are so-so, so I went straight for the meat. Pork is always a good bet. Above is the pork platter with pork belly, bacon and collar. Cuts are thin enough to make it easy for grilling, but thick and meaty enough to satisfy.
The butterfish and squid were also very fresh.
While the meat is good and all, my favourite is actually the scallops, which are served in small tin foil bowls swimming in a flavourful broth. The scallops are sweet and juicy with a buttery taste – extremely addictive – and the broth is delicious too. After demolishing seven bowls, 2 plates of butterfish, 1 plate of squid and a whole pork platter, I think I’ve gotten my money’s worth back lol.
Rocku Yakiniku is open for lunch and dinner. The lunch buffet on weekdays is RM39.90++, excluding drinks.
F.355, F.356 & F.357, First Floor, Rainforest, No. 1, Lebuh Bandar Utama, Bandar Utama, 47800 Petaling Jaya, Selangor
I’ve driven past Buranchi a couple of times before, but never tried it until recently. Suprisingly, it was the Moo who suggested we grab lunch there (she isn’t keen on dining out because of the high number of coronavirus cases here in Selangor).
Buranchi is Japanese for brunch, a fitting name for a cafe that specialises in all-day breakfasts and Japanese and Western fusion cuisine. Expect items such as sausage puffs, omu curry rice, yakiniku don, potato salad, ramen and udon. They also offer a selection of coffee and cakes.
The interior is bright and cheerful, and you’ll find cute touches like these Japanese daruma dolls all around the premises.
Honey Coffee (RM9) for a caffeine boost.
Moo’s Chazuke (RM13) had exquisite presentation.
Chazuke comes from the Japanese ocha (tea) and zuke (to submerge), and usually comprises rice topped with various condiments such as pickled vegetables and wasabi, and a dashi/tea/broth that is poured over the rice. The one at Buranchi is served with a side of grilled saba (mackerel). It’s a simple meal that is not too heavy, which is probably why it’s popular with the ladies.
I prefer robust flavours, so I got the Tonkatsu Ramen(RM17), which is one of the cafe’s specialties.
I was very impressed with the quality of the ramen. The noodles were al dente, and it was served with slices of crunchy bamboo shoots, ajitsuke tamago (half-boiled egg) and nori (seaweed). The star was definitely the pork bone soup, which was rich, savoury and full of porky goodness (I emptied the bowl, lol). While I remain devoted to Menya Shishi Do, I think Buranchi’s version is not bad at all for its price, especially if you’re stuck in Puchong and can’t drive all the way to PJ to have your ramen fix.
To round off the meal, the Moo and I shared a Sea salt Chocolate Mousse (RM10). It was smooth, creamy and luscious; the chocolate was not too sweet and still had a hint of the astringency you get from dark cocoa, while the slight amount of sea salt helped to balance out everything – sort of like the principle of salted caramel.
Buranchi certainly impressed me with its service, quality and price, which is reasonable for the setting. Will be making a return visit to try out other dishes!
72A-G, Jalan Puteri 5/5, Bandar Puteri, 47100 Puchong, Selangor
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
Help a Girl Out !
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