Organic food has risen in popularity in recent years, as more people adopt a healthier lifestyle – but farm-to-table experiences are still relatively rare in Malaysia, as is awareness to the concept. BMS Organics, a popular local organic food and cafe chain, is aiming to change that – by bringing the experience to urban dwellers.
Located within a quiet spot in Kampung Pulau Meranti Puchong, Bugs Paradise Farm is a relatively new endeavor, having opened in the later half of 2020. The compound houses a spacious open-air shop selling organic goods, next to a cafe and a plot of farmland where organic vegetables are grown. There is also an enclosure with small animals like rabbits, chickens and ducks. The cafe serves fusion dishes by day, and steamboat (hotpot) by night. PS: This is a vegetarian cafe, so most of their products are plant-based.
The fam and I visited on a weekend and the place was not too busy. Most of the visitors were families with young children. There is plenty of space, so definitely a better option than crowded shopping malls. The cafe itself is a simple structure with attap roofing, which gives the place a rustic feel. The ceilings are high, so even though there is no air-conditioning, it’s quite cooling even in the afternoon.
The menu has a variety of dishes, including rice and porridge meals, noodles and spaghetti, poke bowls and appetisers. Prices range from RM15-RM25 for mains.
Visitors can go on farm tours, where a guide will share knowledge on organic farming and take visitors on a stroll around the farm, followed by lunch at the cafe. Pre-bookings are required. (RM38 per pax)
Organic food lovers will be thrilled as there are lots of products available at the shop, from organic soybeans, quinoa and tri-millet, to fresh vegetables, kombucha, sauces, jams, and more. There’s also a frozen food section where you can buy pre-packed food that you can cook at home.
As for the cafe, we had a hiccup during our visit. Orders are made by scanning a QR code, but for some reason, they did not register in the system. We ended up going to the counter, where the staff manually keyed in each dish into the computer.
Even so, there was still a mix-up, and all the dishes that came to our table were the wrong orders. The kitchen had to make our dishes again from scratch, and we had to wait about 50 minutes to an hour for them to arrive. It didn’t help when other people who arrived to the cafe later than us got their orders first. We inquired with one of the waitstaff, who took the receipt we had and disappeared to the back of the resto for a long time.
I think it was genuinely a computer error and miscommunication, as the items printed on the receipt were correct, but the orders came out wrong. Still, it would have been nice if they had communicated the situation/updated us on the status of our dishes, rather than have us wait for an hour unsure if we should remind them again in case they had forgotten our orders.
Mom’s Herbal Soup with Yee Mee (RM16.90), which came served in a claypot. The soup had a good amount of red dates and wolfberries in it.
Pops’ Herbal Soup with Multigrain Rice (RM15.90). You can opt to change to cauliflower rice at an additional charge.
I ordered the Lion’s Mane Mushroom Wrap, which is essentially a vegan burrito. Inside was fresh lettuce, carrots, purple cabbage and mushrooms plus a creamy sesame sauce, which bound all the elements together. I don’t like vegetables in general, but these were fresh, sweet and crunchy, and the mushrooms had a nice meat-like texture to them.
Also got two half-boiled asthaxanthin eggs (not pictured). Asthaxanthin is an antioxidant that is present in many types of sea creatures like salmon, crabs, lobsters and shrimp, and is purported to have health benefits such as boosting the immune system and cardiovascular health. Chicken feed is mixed with it to get eggs rich in asthaxanthin – which is a good option for vegetarians who can’t consume seafood.
PS: When we made payment, the cafe gave us a free packet of veggies as an apology for the mix-up with our orders, which was a nice gesture.
Bug’s Paradise Farm is a good place to visit, especially now that interstate travel isn’t yet allowed due to the pandemic. Aside from the issue I mentioned above, which I think they tried their best to rectify, I enjoyed my time there. The food is slightly more expensive, but that is to be expected for organic ingredients. The location isn’t ideal, since it’s in an area surrounded by factories, but the fencing around the plot helps to block out the view.
Bookings for farm tours can be made here. Tours are in Mandarin or English.
Bugs Paradise Farm is located at Lot 46692, Jalan Pulau Meranti, Kampung Pulau Meranti, 47120 Puchong, Selangor. It is a 20 minute drive from the Puchong city centre (IOI Mall area), and about 20 minutes from Cyberjaya. Opens 12PM – 10PM from Wednesdays to Fridays, and 10AM – 10PM on weekends. Closed Mon – Tues.
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Rise and shine, folks! It’s our second day at DoubleTree by Hilton Penang, and you know what they say about great mornings – it always starts with a great breakfast.
Makan Kitchen is DoubleTree’s signature restaurant found at all of their hotels in Malaysia, and it serves mainly authentic Malaysian fare. The dining area is spacious, with plenty of seats and an alfresco dining area with views of the pool.
Breakfast featured the usual Malaysian favourites like roti canai, nasi lemak, char koay teow (wok fried glass noodles) and dimsum, but they also had a small selection of Western items like chicken and beef sausages, cold cuts and toast.
Breakfast of champions.
It was time for the official opening ceremony. The VIPs were welcomed with an energetic drum performance at the resort’s entrance.
Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng (centre) and senior management of DoubleTree Resort by Hilton, accompanied by the brand’s Cookie mascot.
We then went on a tour of the resort’s facilities.
(Above) the children’s pool, complete with slides and water fountains. In the background is the bridge leading to the beach across the road.
The resort prides itself in catering for families. Just next to the pool is the bright and cheerful-looking Kids Club, where the little ones can take part in activities, games and classes to keep them occupied while mom and dad chill out. Don’t worry – there is a member of staff on site to make sure things don’t get rowdy.
Business travelers can utilise the quiet space near the Axis Lounge to do some work or surf the internet, if they ever need a break from being cooped up in the rooms.
The resort has 316 rooms and suites in total – but the grandest has got to be their King Suites, available in one or two bedroom configurations. The one that we toured had a giant (very comfy looking) king-sized bed, a lounge bed for an extra guest, a separate living area, kitchenette and a swinging TV in the middle (so you can turn it to either the living area/the bed. Pretty neat!)
Bathroom had a bathtub with a clear window.
Seaview from the terrace. The terrace is large enough to fit a dining table for six with room to spare. Great for parties.
For all the fitness enthusiasts, being on holiday doesn’t mean you have to give up on your routine, as the resort has a well-equipped gym – with a gorgeous sea view to boot.
Took a dip in the pool in the afternoon. I liked that they had these large shaded cabanas where you can just chill and lounge around with a book and a drink. There was a sandy area with beach chairs as well.
Before dinner, also paid a visit to the spa! It feels exclusive and tranquil.
Very large room, complete with shower and toilet. The spa faces the sea, which you can catch glimpses of through the bamboo shutters. However, it is also close to the children’s pool, so you will hear children giggling and splashing throughout the spa session. I suggest coming in the afternoon when people are less likely to be outside due to the heat.
Items to pamper yourself.
My massage session lasted just over an hour. Before going in, they ask you about your strength preferences (how hard you want the masseuse to go) and any injuries that you may have. My therapist was good and professional, and really loosened up the tight knots I had in my shoulders.
Finished off with a spot of warm ginger tea.
Dinner time at Makan Kitchen. I felt like they could do with a bit more variety, but if you’re tired after a long day and don’t want take a bus to Georgetown or Gurney Drive, the place offers typical Penang street food (like assam laksa, curry mee) in a nice and comfortable setting. I really enjoyed the pasembur (below)!
All in all, DoubleTree by Hilton Penang is well catered to families and leisure travelers. Although their location is a wee bit aways from the central hub of Georgetown, it’s still easy to get there via free bus services provided by the hotel. Even if you’re not doing any sightseeing, it’s nice to chill around the hotel and enjoy its facilities, from the gym and spa to the pool. Also, don’t forget to check out the TeddyVille Museum, located within the resort.
Rooms average about RM300 for a one night’s stay.
You’re probably wondering why I chose to call it ‘once upon’, like it’s not anymore.
Well, that’s because it’s not. Not really.
Tourists may know it as Kuala Lumpur’s ‘Chinatown’, but the truth is that Petaling Street has long ceased to be one. The grand archway may have tiny red lanterns and a curved green-tiled rooftop, but the authenticity of the place ends there; having made way for a cheap flea-market-esque atmosphere. Bangladeshis, Myanmarese, Indian nationals, etc., are employed by Chinese bosses to peddle their wares. Some of the food stalls are still manned by the Chinese, but even these are slowly being replaced by foreign labour.
I’m not saying its a bad thing per se – many of Chinatown’s businesspeople have worked hard over the years and they deserve to enjoy the fruits of their labour in their twilight years, since many youngsters no longer want to continue the fam biz – but it is still sad all the same that this once glorious Chinatown’s culture and spirit have been eroded in favour of commercialisation.
Listen to me rambling! That isn’t to say that you shouldn’t drop by Petaling Street – there’s plenty to see and do if bargaining and shopping for (overpriced lol)ripoffs are your thing. And the place does have a rich history. You just have to dig a little deeper.
Before Kuala Lumpur became the metropolis it is today, it was just another muddy ol’ spot with rich tin deposits. Seeking riches, the Chinese (mostly Hokkien and Hakka clansmen) came to work as coolies in the tin mines in the late 1800s. They were governed by Kapitan Yap Ah Loy, a rich Chinese businessman and prominent figure in the early founding days of KL. It was around this time that Chinatown was founded, playing host to tradesmen, farmers, restaurants and other businesses. If you go hunting around, you might still find some hidden gems like the Yook Woo Hin dim sum restaurant, which was founded in 1928 !
Lots of stalls set up all along the pedestrian pathways sell ‘bargain’ bags, clothes, toys, handphone accessories, etc.
This shop that sold fancy fidget spinners for RM15 uncle nei mou hui cheong
For me, the only authentic part of Petaling Street left are the food shops, which sell various local and Chinese favourites, like pastries, biscuits and baked buns. There is, of course, the famous air mata kucing shop (literally cat’s eye tears) which is a blend of monk’s fruit juice with longan.
Stalls selling bakchang (glutinous rice dumplings) for the Mid Autumn Festival.
An old uncle still making a living from his pushcart selling ‘dai gau meen’ (big face dough?) or apam balik, filled with bits of peanut and sweet corn.
Fresh sugar cane juice and coconuts.
So is Petaling Street worth a visit?
If you’re a first timer to KL, the place is within close proximity to all the attractions like Pasar Seni (Central Market) and Kasturi Walk (similar concept to Chinatown, but with more Malay traders). Bargain hunters or people who like to shop for cheap imitations might find a few gems here, that or food hunters, might also find the place good for a visit. If you’re looking for a slice of Chinese culture though, you’re better off looking elsewhere.
Opening hours: 10AM – late
Convenient if you’re taking the train; just alight at Pasar Seni LRT. Petaling Street is about 5 minutes walk away (next to Central Market).
Also read my other Chinatown experiences in:
Kuala Lumpur has a pretty quirky name. In Malay, Kuala refers to the spot where two rivers meet, and Lumpur means mud, so KL literally means ‘muddy confluence’. Not exactly classy, if you compare it to places like San Francisco (Spanish for Saint Francis) or Singapore (Lion City in Sanskrit). No matter though – KL remains my beloved city. I grew up on its fringes, and going to the city always evokes a sense of adventure and excitement. There’s so much to see and do (and eat!) here.
The heart of the city is where the two rivers – the Gombak River and the Klang River – meet. From a bird’s eye view, the point is a clear Y shape that comes together near Masjid Jamek, the 100-year-old mosque at the very centre of KL. It was said that in the old days, coconut and mango trees lined the banks, and the faithful would go down to the river to get water for ablution. A far cry from what it is in modern times: concrete, glass, steel, dammed on the sides to make a monsoon drain (although this was a necessary evil to prevent flooding, which was very frequent in KL before). With modernisation came unscrupulousness; it seemed that ‘progress’ only made people take a step back from civility. One finds all sorts of contaminants and garbage in the river’s polluted waters: plastic bags, bicycles, dead bodies…
A couple of years ago, the city hall came up with an ambitious plan to implement a billion-dollar project called the River of Life. The idea was that rivers are the ‘nadi’, or the pulse, of a place, and a national heritage that should be taken care of. The beautification project, dubbed River of Life and Blue Pool, was unveiled in late August 2017, to cover the stretch from Masjid Jamek to Daya Bumi. The idea was not just to clean up the river, but to make it a tourist attraction. Lights and wind machines were installed all along the banks, and new pedestrian walkways/bridges were set up so that visitors can stroll at a leisurely pace while enjoying the beautiful sights.
After the project was launched, S and I took the LRT downtown to check it out for ourselves. We alighted at the Masjid Jamek station, which is just a 2 minute walk from the riverbanks. The mosque was lit up for prayers during our visit and the overall picture was a pretty sight, with the building illuminated in blue lights. Water spurted out from little inlets throughout the sides of the riverbank.
The stretch covered about one kilometre. We walked from one end to the other, passing by the back portion of the Sultan Abdul Samad Building. The best place to take pix would probably be from this point on the bridge (pictured). You can see both sides of the bank, the Y shape of the confluence and the mosque in the centre.
They also built a bridge crossing from the area near the Panggung DBKL over to the mosque, so you don’t have to walk all the way to the bend. The place was actually much prettier than the shitty photos I took on my camera, so I suggest a visit if you’re in the area. Be prepared though because the river still has an odd smell. Guess it takes years to really clean it up. I hope people can be more civic minded when it comes to caring for our rivers !
PS: I lost my Touch N Go card while walking around. Cries.
Parking is limited, so it’s best to take the LRT (Kelana Jaya line) and alight at Masjid Jamek. There are adequate signs pointing you to Masjid Jamek, just follow the path and you’ll come to this area in no time.