Okonomi @ Tokyo Street, Pavilion KL

Another day, another food adventure – this time at Pavilion KL’s Tokyo Street!

Much like J’s Gate Dining at Lot 10 Shopping Centre next door, Tokyo Street houses a slew of Japanese eateries, serving everything from shabu-shabu (hotpot) and sushi, to authentic matcha desserts. We had our sights set on Okonomi, a casual spot specializing in – what else – okonomiyaki.

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For the uninitiated, okonomiyaki is a Japanese savoury pancake, comprising shredded cabbage mixed with batter and items such as pork, shrimp, beef, or even cheese. It is flattened and cooked on a teppan (hotplate) before topping with okonomiyaki sauce, dried seaweed flakes, and katsuoboshi (bonito flakes).

The word is a portmanteau of okonomi (meaning ‘as you like’, or kinda like the ‘chef’s special’) and yaki (fried) – a fitting name, seeing as how the dish is basically a mix of different ingredients. Different regions in Japan have their own unique versions, but the one that is most common is Osaka-style, where it was popularised. Trivia: okonomiyaki is also nicknamed “Osaka soul food” !

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The shop is cozy, with wooden furniture and a warm, earthen colour scheme. A large section of the restaurant is dominated by the kitchen, which features a teppan (grill). The cooking area is separated from the dining area by glass.

The appeal of such a setup is that guests will be able to sit at the counter and experience the food with all the senses. It almost feels like a performance, as resident chef Takeshi Wada whips up dishes right before your eyes; you smell the aroma of food cooking on the grill, and hear the satisfying sizzle of more ingredients being added to the hotplate.

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For best value, order the set meals, which come with rice, side dishes, miso soup, and dessert. While okonomiyaki is the main attraction, there’s a good selection of other grilled items as well, such as yakiniku (beef), pork belly, and salmon.

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If you’re feeling fancy, opt for premium orders such as the wagyu sirloin and Iberico pork chop.

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Complimentary edamame as appetiser
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Our first order of the day was one of their signatures: Spicy yakisoba (RM20). This was da bomb. The wheat flour noodles were cooked perfectly and had a chewy, al dente texture, each strand coated in a sweet and savoury sauce.

We couldn’t place the unique flavour while we were dining, but I googled it later and apparently the ‘base’ is a Worchestershire sauce, which explains the rich, full-bodied flavour. In terms of freshness, you can’t get any fresher than noodles curling around on the plate like they were wriggling lol, because the heat was making the strands contract. To top it off, shavings of katsuoboshi and dried seaweed flakes.

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Unfortunately, after the star performance of the yakisoba, the okonomiyaki (shrimp and pork – they ran out of squid, so they gave us extra shrimp) felt a little underwhelming. It was still tasty, but the sauces and toppings were very similar in taste to the noodles, but did not pair as well. I also felt that the shredded cabbage had a bitter aftertaste, which sort of ruined the enjoyment for me.

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Last but not least came the fried omelette with pork belly (RM10). The omelette was fluffy and stuffed with tender slices of pork and onions.

Here’s an extremely thoughtful gesture: I ordered one dish, but was surprised to see that two portions came. At first I thought that the server mistakenly keyed in two orders, but it turns out Chef Wada made them so that the Hubs and I would each get an individual portion. Which I think is awesome; that he pays mind to these details. It reminds me of omotenashi, or the Japanese concept of hospitality which centres around going above and beyond to make sure guests are well taken care of.

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That being said, there’s one thing to remember when dining at Okonomi: be patient. During our visit, the shop was at full capacity (about 20 pax). Since Chef Wada was the only one preparing the food, and they are all made to order, our dishes took a long time to get to our table. But hey, good things are worth the wait!

If you want a taste of authentic Osaka-style okonomiyaki, Okonomi checks all the boxes. I do think they make good okonomiyaki – it’s just that I’m not a big fan of the dish itself; it has nothing to do with the chef’s skills.

As for the Hubs and I, we’ve already made plans to return for the phenomenal yakisoba.

OKONOMI BY TOKYO DON

Lot 6 . 24 . 1C, Level 6, Tokyo Street, Pavilion KL, 168, Jln Bukit Bintang, Bukit Bintang, 55100 Kuala Lumpur

Opening hours: 11AM – 9PM (daily)

Have You Ever Seen Kuala Lumpur This Empty?

With its glitzy array of shopping malls and eclectic mix of restaurants, cafes and entertainment outlets, Bukit Bintang is often dubbed the heart and soul of Kuala Lumpur. The main thoroughfare – Jalan Bukit Bintang – used to see a constant flurry of activity day and night, especially near Pavilion KL, one of the country’s premiere shopping destinations. Things are much quieter these days due to the pandemic.  Granted, it was drizzling during my visit – but it’s still odd to see this usually bustling spot devoid of tourists.

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It’s notoriously difficult to get a good shot of the fountain in front of the mall, since there are always tourists / visitors milling about. Now’s my chance!

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The walkway connecting Pavilion Kuala Lumpur to nearby malls ie Fahrenheit 88, Lot 10 and Sungei Wang. In all my years of coming to KL, I have never seen it this empty.

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Decorations are also subdued. There are a couple of trees at the front of the mall for the upcoming Mid-Autumn festival, but it’s pretty toned down by Pavilion KL standards.

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This current pandemic has had an adverse effect on everyone across the world, not just in terms of health but also the economy. Hopefully it’ll tide over soon.

If not, we’ll just have to learn to live with it.

 

 

Experience Star Wars This Christmas @ Pavilion Kuala Lumpur

As one of the largest and most popular shopping malls in the heart of Kuala Lumpur, one can always expect interesting Christmas decorations at Pavilion Kuala Lumpur come the year-end holiday season. Past celebrations have seen themes such as Christmas Ever After and a Magical Christmas with Disney (featuring hundreds of Mickey figurines). This year, the mall rides on a much-anticipated film releasing in December – Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker – transforming the Centre Court into a Star Wars-themed exhibition.

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The ‘Starry Christmas’ theme begins at the entrance with a giant pink Yves Saint Laurent tree and a star-shaped gateway. Once you step in, visitors are greeted with booths selling YSL Beaute’s Holiday Look 2019 High on Stars Collection, where you can shop for exclusive gifts for yourself and loved ones.

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The Centre Court is bathed in neon blues and reds to give it that intergalactic vibe. On the sides are giant light sabres rising up to the ceiling, while Sithtroopers guard the Spanish steps.

 

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The centrepiece is the iconic Millennium Falcon, propped atop a giant screen playing clips from the upcoming film.

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Royal Selangor, the homegrown pewter brand, has partnered with The Walt Disney Company Southeast Asia to come up with a Star Wars collection, featuring some of the franchise’s most beloved characters in pewter. You can drop by to view the exhibition, and if anything catches you fancy, buy some to take home.

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And who wouldn’t know this scene?

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Try your hand at the new Star Wars Jedi Fallen Order game at the PS4 booths.

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Or snap a pic in the Cockpit Access and Hyperdrive Tunnel.

As part of the experience, there will be shows and other programmes throughout the month of December, from appearances by C-3PO, R2-D2 & First Order Stormtroopers, Star Wars light shows, as well as the more conventional Santa meet and Greets, carolling, etc.

 

Review: Wing Wing @ Pavilion KL – Korean Fried Chicken From The UK

Update: This restaurant is permanently closed. 

There’s a new Korean fried chicken joint in town – and it’s now my new favourite place for fried chicken! Hailing from the UK, Wing Wing enters the arena with an outlet in Pavilion Kuala Lumpur, dishing out fresh, juicy fried chicken with some pretty interesting flavours.

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Already a cult favourite in its homeland, Wing Wing is a fusion of edgy London street culture, the pop of Asian spice and the European passion for pure quality ingredients. The outlet on Pavilion KL’s sixth floor is bright and cheerful, with funky colours, patterns and decor geared towards youth.

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There are currently three flavours available on the menu – the conventional soy garlic, spicy and something rather unusual – liquorice. Licquorice is an ancient Mediterranean herb used in food and medicine for thousands of years. You might have seen it in the form of candy in the UK, where it is quite popular. You can opt to order the standard wings and drummettes (set of six, 12 or 18), or drumsticks (3, 6 or 9 pieces). Each set can be upgraded to include fries and bottomless drink.

WW Chicken Wings & Drumettes Combo

Now I’ve had my fair share of Korean fried chicken, and different places do it differently. Wing Wing’s appeal lies in the chicken’s freshness, as the meat is delivered to the outlet each morning, then marinated, battered and hand-brushed with premium ingredients ie French flour and natural spices, before they are deep fried to order. The hand brushing technique creates a thin layer of coating over the basic marination, so you get a thin, crackly and almost transparent crust that envelops the juicy meat within. While all the flavours are great, I personally like the licquorice because it has this great, herbal-like flavour with a sweet aftertaste. The spicy will satisfy spice lovers as it packs quite a punch.

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If you prefer something healthier (ahem), opt for the salad which comes with generous chunks of boneless chicken meat on a bed of lettuce and dressing.

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For a hearty bite to-go, Wing Wing also offers chicken wraps – a tortilla stuffed full with fried chicken strips and vegetables.

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Another one of their signature items is the Chicken Katsu Bao – an interesting fusion of Asian flavours. There’s the lightly fried Chinese mantao bun, paired with tender crispy chicken within and a hefty dollop of kimchi slaw. The flavours are well balanced, with the slight sweetness/savoury flavour of the chicken + the tangy, sourness/creaminess of the kimchi slaw.

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Got a sweet tooth? Fret not – Wing Wing offers a couple of dessert items as well, such as the Hot Bao Nuts (stuffed with ingredients such as Banana Caramel; Pineapple, etc.) and ice cream sundaes.

Prices for the chicken items start from RM15.90 onwards.

WING WING MALAYSIA

Lot 6.01.01, Level 6, Pavilion Kuala Lumpur, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Phone: 03-21103525

Business hours: 10AM – 10PM (daily)

*Photos not watermarked courtesy of Wing Wing Malaysia/Suppagood PR

Review: Omaya, Pavilion KL – Korean Honey Mustard Chicken with Cheese, Army Stew and more

Update: This outlet is permanently closed.

After all the street food we had in Ipoh and Jalan Alor, N and I thought it’d be nice to have lunch at a proper restaurant for a change. It was a toss up between Korean and Japanese food, but in the end, my craving for melted cheese prevailed and we found ourselves at Omaya in Pavilion KL, which specialises in items such as army stew and cheese dakgalbi.

Korean food fans will know the brand well. First opened in Malaysia in 2016, there were crazy long queues when their first outlet opened in Pavilion Kuala Lumpur. The restaurant itself has a ‘construction site’ theme, with black and yellow signs reminiscent of warning signs you find at a development project… except featuring woks, knives and illustrations of food. Steel pipes, silver aluminum+-like sheets and bricks make up part of the decor.

We ordered one of their specialties – the Army Stew or Budae Jjigae. This popular hotpot dish contains a mishmash of ingredients such as ramyeon and kimchi, rice cakes, tofu, vegetables such as carrots, mushrooms and beansprouts mixed with processed foods like hotdogs, sausages and ham. It was said that the during and after the Korean War, when there was a shortage of food, locals would use scrounged or smuggled surplus items from US army bases, throw them into a pot and cook everything together – hence the name ‘army stew’.

After mixing and bringing to a boil, the result was comfort food like no other – springy noodles that went well with all the different ingredients which lent the dish different textures and flavours, topped with a spicy kick from the gochujang (chilli paste). Although the version here couldn’t top the army stew I had at Gangnam 88 it was still decent nonetheless.

The real reason I came to Omaya – their Honey Mustard Chicken with Cheese. It came bubbling and frothing on a shallow pan which belied the amount of cheese on the plate. The chicken was sweet, salty and tender, but you have to wrap it up quickly if you want that gooey, stringy consistency. Cheese hardens after a couple of minutes, so work fast! Again, it was good but not awesome like ohmygodthisisheaven awesome.

For drinks, went for the gimmicky Cotton Candy Shake: basically normal mango concentrate but topped with a giant cotton candy. Eat this quickly or it’ll sink and melt into the drink, which was what happened with mine lol.

Food: 7/10 (decent although not the best Korean fare I’ve had)

Service: 5/10 (rather unenthusiastic)

Ambience: 7/10

Price: above average; expect to pay Rm50+ for two persons.

OMAYA (Pavilion) 

C4.02.00, Level 4,
Pavilion Kuala Lumpur Mall 168,
Jalan Bukit Bintang,
55100 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Phone:  03-2141 0122

Business hours:  10AM- 10PM (daily)

Christmas Ever After @ Pavilion Kuala Lumpur

Christmas is always a fun affair in Malaysia (albeit commercialised). While not as lavish as celebrations in Singapore, or as festive as the Philippines, most malls try to outdo each other with grand decorations and activities, such as Santa meet and greets, carolling sessions, and more.

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At the forefront is Pavilion KL, within the city’s Golden Triangle. As one of Kuala Lumpur’s most popular malls, Christmas deco is serious business – and they’ve come up with some impressive stuff over the years. In 2013, visitors got to experience ‘snowfall’ every night at the mall’s entrance, while last year they had a giant Swarovski tree. So what’s in store for 2016?

Well, for one, there’s a giant 70ft-tall Christmas tree at the entrance, right in front of the Crystal fountain. Great place for pictures! At night, the tree will be illuminated with LED lights and glittering ornaments. 🙂

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The theme for this year’s celebration is ‘Christmas Ever After’, inspired by the magic of fairytales. For their launching ceremony, performers dressed up as princesses, elves and other enchanting characters to entertain the crowd.

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The centrepiece is the Fairytale Castle, its semi-transparent walls lit up with different coloured lights – surrounded by ornamented Christmas trees, gold pillars and red flowers.

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Next to the Castle is the Swarovski Crystallised Merry-Go-Round. The carousel is decorated with sparkling crystals on its floor as well as on the horses. Visitors can go on it for rides, with part of the proceeds going to charity. All in the spirit of giving and sharing, right? 🙂

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There will also be pop-up stores in the centre court selling all manner of Christmas-y items, from gifts to souvenirs and ornaments. Better get that Christmas shopping in ! 🙂

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The best place to see everything is from the Spanish steps, which has aptly been dubbed the Theatre of Dreams – thanks to the two large red curtains ala an actual theatre on each side. Throughout the month, visitors will be entertained by various shows such as Santa’s Magical Band, Santa’s Bagpipe Performance, Magnificent Dance Show, Santa Meet & Greet and Spectacular Holiday Performance.

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The little ones will enjoy the Fantasy Train, running from now until January 1 for RM10 per ride at the mall’s main entrance.

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Lighting up the Spritzer Christmas tree !

So if you’re ever in KL over Christmas, go check out the lovely deco at Pavi KL, as well as the surrounding cloisters in Bukit Bintang. A very Merry Christmas to you, dear reader. 🙂

More info and showtimes @ pavilion-kl.com.

*pictures not watermarked courtesy of MilkPR & Pavilion KL 

 

 

My Rimowa Story: Designer Edit

Avid travelers and luggage enthusiasts will have heard of German brand Rimowa, which specializes in bags made from aluminium and poly-carbonate. Light but sturdy, they have a signature look and distinctive design that is easily recognizable anywhere.

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The brand recently launched My Rimowa Story: Designer Edit for Pavilion Pitstop, which saw four Malaysian designers putting their own touch to the bags – namely Khoon Hooi, Sereni and Shentel, Izrin Ismail and Johnathan Liang. Pavilion KL’s main atrium was transformed into a runway-cum-exhibition space, while guests mingled with cocktails and canapes.

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Khoon Hooi is a well known name in the local fashion industry. He won the 1997 Asian Young Designer Award in Japan, and even back in my teens, I used to read about him alot in the newspaper.

His Rimowa collection gathers inspiration from his grandmother’s Peranakan heritage. One of the bags features his trademark feathers, while the other is inspired by the idea of trendy luggage stickers, but in the form of detailed, handcrafted badges.

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Rimowa bags in different colours and sizes. Simple and classy! I imagine they are pretty easy to spot among the dozens of luggage bags while at the conveyor belt.

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Design duo Sereni and Shentel’s collection is a colourful medley of fun and quirkiness. The pair runs a successful Sarawak-based headband boutique and has incorporated their funky style into the Rimowa edit. On the outside, big cartoon eyes, ribbons and bows give it a girly touch.

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A showcase of rainbow headbands!

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Giant bunny ear headbands and fluffy pompoms on the side.

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Paris-based Jonathan Liang brings a dreamy, ethereal look to the Rimowa bags with feminine French lace and handcrafted blossoms, inspired by photographers Henry Gruyaert and Diana Thate.

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Last but not least, Izrin Ismail‘s collection brings batik to the forefront with a simple but elegant design on the outside, and full colours on the inside. The exterior is painstakingly hand painted, while the silk-lined interior bears her signature ‘cloud scallop’ motif.

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Models parading the Rimowa bags.

Check out the collection at myrimowastory.com, or get the Rimowa bags at their stores in Pavilion KL, Suria KLCC and The Gardens Mid Valley.

Ichiban Ramen, Pavilion KL

Update: This branch is permanently closed.

I was looking through some photos and realised I haven’t blogged about this Japanese place in Pavilion Shopping Mall before. Ichiban Ramen is a neat little restaurant tucked in one corner of Pavi’s Food Republic food court, but with its own dining area. They also have a branch in Sunway Pyramid, which is the one I used to frequent (back when I still went to Pyramid regularly).

One of their star dishes in my opinion is the fried ebi curry rice. I love Japanese curry because it’s not as spicy and it’s savoury taste + creamy texture is excellent with rice. The version here has thick but soft chunks of carrot and potato over warm, fluffy Japanese rice, and two large strips of fried ebi (shrimp). The shrimp is so crispy that you can even eat the tail!

Smallish dining area with lots of wooden furniture and accents, and an open kitchen area.

For sides: chicken karaage. Crunchy, juicy and just the right size for nibbles.

Note: Ichiban Ramen, like it’s name, actually specialises in Ramen, but I didn’t get to try it on this visit. Friens who came here before have praised the ramen, so if you’re a noodle lover, you might consider ordering a bowl.

ICHIBAN RAMEN

Lot 1.41.00, Level 1, Food Republic,
Pavilion Kuala Lumpur,
168, Jalan Bukit Bintang,
55100 Kuala Lumpur.
Tel : 03 2143 4199