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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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Flavourful Mee Pok @ SRK Borneo Noodle House, Desa Setapak

As a college student, I frequented the shops at Desa Setapak, as I often had lunch there in between classes, or before I hopped onto the LRT back home. One of my favourite eateries there was Fancy Mee Corner, which served pan mee. I have fond memories of the place, not only for its excellent food, but also the company: many an afternoon was spent there with my friends, either having a meal, chilling out, or doing assignments while we munched on fried snacks.

But times change – and a lot can happen within a decade, which is also how long I haven’t been back to this neighbourhood. I was nearby after dropping off a Christmas gift for a friend, and decided to make a stop for old times’ sake.

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The main thoroughfare (Jalan Genting Klang) was almost unrecognisable. You know how a place feels familiar yet strange, because it has changed so much? The LRT station is still there, but there are now two massive flyovers, and there are multiple new high-rise projects within the area.

I walked over to where Fancy Mee Corner used to be. Unfortunately, it’s gone – but there is another restaurant in its place, called SRK Borneo Noodle House. Apparently it is not the same as the popular SRK Noodle House, even though the names are very similar, and the dishes are almost identical: they specialise in Sarawak-style kolo (dry) mee.

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The decor, however, is familiar, as it has the same layout as how Fancy Mee Corner used to look like. Nothing fancy (pardon the pun), with wooden stools and simple tables. Not a place to ‘chill’, but to have a quick meal.

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They have a lunch option going for RM6.50.

You can choose from a variety of noodles, including kolo mee, which has a thinner texture, wantan (egg noodles), as well as mee pok, which is what I prefer – the noodles are flat and thick, so it gives a good bite. They come with different accompaniments: the basic version has minced pork and slices of fishcake, and there is also a version with fishball. I opted for the one with charsiew (roast pork) sauce, which has a sweet and savoury flavour.

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Iced milk tea

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The char siew mee pok has a distinctive orange hue. The dish was pretty good: noodles were cooked al dente, the char siew sauce was sweet but not overwhelming, and the portions were generous. The bits of fried pork lard added extra oomph.

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For sides, I got a bowl of bursting pork balls, which were filled with minced pork and broth. They were bouncy with plenty of bite.

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Another side of fried wantans. Again, decent – they were freshly fried, sizable, crunchy and flavourful.

The food was pretty good, and the flavour is similar to SRK Noodle House. I wonder if they’re a ‘branch’ of sorts – it’s common here to have two ‘rival’ restaurants selling the same items, one opened by the original proprietor and another by a disciple/family member who had a disgareement or something.

The service, however, leaves much to be desired, especially from the main wait staff who also manned the cashier. The difference in service provided to me and another group of customers was too blatant for me to pass it off as me being paranoid, lol.

When I entered the shop and asked if there was a table for one, the staff (let’s call him A) didn’t even bother to reply : he simply looked at me as if I was annoying him by asking the obvious, and nodded to an empty table. After sitting down, I was given the menu, all without a word of hello, or any sort of acknowledgment. Well, at first I was like whatever – I’m here to eat, not to make chitchat. But then another group of diners – consisting of young college students, with what society would call ‘pretty’ girls – came in.

The difference in service was astounding. A came to their table, laid out menus for them, gave them recommendations, made jokes, laughed, and was generally the perfect picture of a friendly waiter. When he carried their meals to them, it was with a ‘enjoy your meal’, “oh this is your bowl, you didn’t want the pork intestines, right?”

Meanwhile, my meal was served and A was practically throwing the box of cutlery on my table.

Well, I know I’m not a pretty young thang … but dude. Same thing went I went to pay at the counter. Unsmiling, not so much a thank you for coming. If Malaysia had a tipping system, you’d get a 0 from me, my friend.

And guess what? It was the foreign wait staff who was professional and courteous to me when I had to place my order. Kudos to you, foreign wait staff.

So yeah. Probably not going to come back here. Not coz the food is bad, mind you. At first I thought it was just me being sensitive, but I was looking up Google reviews while writing this, and apparently I’m not the only one to think so. 😛

Or, you know. If you have faith in your ‘looks’, (I think I look okay, but apparently I don’t qualify, lol), by all means, give it a shot.

SRK BORNEO NOODLE HOUSE

Lot 15, 1/27B Desa Setapak 53300 Kuala Lumpur

Opening hours: 9AM – 9PM

PS: I hope you liked this post! Please consider supporting my blog via my Patreon, so I can make more. Or buy me a cup of coffee on Paypal @erisgoesto.

PS2: Opinions here are entirely my own, and are not presented as fact. So if you’re thinking of suing me for a negative review, note that I’ve read up the relevant laws on libel. And hey – I did say your food is good, didn’t I?

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Tendon Kohaku, Tropicana Gardens Mall

Donburi – literally ‘rice bowl dish’ – is a staple in Japan, consisting of fish, meat, vegetables or other ingredients that are either simmered or fried, then served over a bed of rice. There are many different types of donburi, but the most well known are gyudon (beef), oyakodon (chicken and egg), katsudon (fried pork/chicken/beef cutlet), and of course, tendon (tempura). There’s a Japanese chain in Malaysia that specialises in the latter, called Tendon Kohaku (kohaku meaning amber) – and while I’ve seen the shop several times while at J’s Gate Dining in Lot 10 Kuala Lumpur, I only got to try their food recently at their second outlet at Tropicana Gardens Mall.

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The eatery is small but cosy, with lots of wood furniture. You can view the chefs in action through a glass window.

The menu is limited – it’s a specialty restaurant after all – but what few items they serve, they do extremely well. Their signature tendon comes with tempura prawn, squid, crab stick, chicken breast, french beans, baby corn, shiitake mushroom and pumpkin. Alternatively, you can go for the kakiage tendon (mixed vegetables and shrimp fritters), or the single item dons.

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I wanted noodles, so I went for udon instead of rice. As the restaurant makes each dish fresh to order, expect some waiting time.

My tempura shrimps (set of 5 – RM38) came to the table freshly fried and piping hot, alongside a belly warming bowl of udon noodles, some pickles and grated radish for palate cleansing, as well as a dipping sauce.

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The shrimps were sizable and deep fried to golden perfection. The mark of good tempura is in its batter, and Tendon Kohaku aced the test – it was crispy, light and did not feel greasy at all. The dipping sauce was light too; I would have liked it to be saltier, but it brought out the natural sweetness of the shrimp really well.

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The udon was excellent. These are ‘hoso udon’, or thin udon. They had a chewy texture, and the warm broth it was served in was very comforting. Portions were substantial. You can have these either warm or cold.

Overall, really satisfied with my Tendon Kohaku meal! Service was attentive and friendly. Food is on the pricier end, but I think it’s worth the splurge every now and then. Will be making a return visit to try their signature rice bowls!

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TENDON KOHAKU (TROPICANA GARDENS MALL)

Lot CC-25, Concourse Floor, Tropicana Gardens Mall, No, 2A, Persiaran Surian, Tropicana Indah, 47810 Petaling Jaya, Selangor

Opening hours: 11AM – 8PM (daily)

PS: I hope you liked this post! Please consider supporting my blog via my Patreon, so I can make more. Or buy me a cup of coffee on Paypal @erisgoesto.

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Review: Luckee Canteen, Puchong

One thing about living in Puchong? The food scene is never dull – and even as a Puchong-ite I’m always finding new spots to discover. In fact, if it wasn’t for a lifestyle article I read recently, I wouldn’t even have known about Luckee Canteen.

Opened earlier this year, this charming fusion cafe is tucked in a relatively quiet corner of Pusat Bandar Puchong (behind Lotus hypermarket) – which is probably why it doesn’t get as much traffic as the more commercial areas of Bandar Puteri and Puchong Jaya.

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The cafe isn’t difficult to spot: just look for a bright red food stand outside, where one of the chefs serves up toasty ciabattas.

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The outdoor seating area is cosy, and accommodates six to eight people. Bikes seem to be a theme here, as there’s one on the wall outside, and one inside. There are also a couple of mannequins and some skeleton(s) that make up part of the decor – it may sound odd, but the overall aesthetics go pretty well together.

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A vintage 1970s bike
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On the outside, the cafe looks like a single-storey building, but it actually slants to the back, so you get a very lofty ceiling. They’ve designed it in such a way to allow for plenty of natural sunlight to filter in, making the place bright and cheerful looking.

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Feeling ravenous? Luckee Canteen offers a brunch buffet for RM88 per pax, where you can get free flow of items such as salad, ciabatta sandwiches, meat and dessert.

Luckee Canteen offers a modest selection of fusion cuisine, including Asian-style rice bowls (like Minced Pork in Tomato Sauce rice, Teriyaki Salmon Rice), ciabatta sandwiches, and pastas. There’s also coffee and tea from Harney & Sons to go along with your meal.

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Iced lemon tea and Matcha Latte
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The rice bowl portions here are very generous. Moo ordered the Luncheon Meat with egg rice bowl, which came with a side of sweet and juicy cherry tomatoes and pickled cucumber, as well as a fluffy omelette atop a bed of rice. If you’re a small eater, I think this can even be shared among two people.

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Pops had one of the cafe’s signatures, namely the fried chicken rice bowl. The sides were similar to Moo’s order, except that the main protein was tender, juicy pieces of deep fried chicken. They were very flavourful, although Moo and Pops felt like it was a tad too salty for them.

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I had the Fish Ciabbata, which was served with a side of chips. Again, the portion was quite generous; the fish fillet was sizable and cooked perfectly, the vegetables were fresh, and the melted cheese complemented the natural sweetness of the seafood well. The fish was moist enough on its own that no sauces were needed, and the ciabatta was soft and fluffy, with a crisp shell. Solid dish!

Our meal for three came up to about RM70. Most of the regular mains go for about RM18 – RM20++, but they also have pricier dishes like lamb and what not.

Luckee Canteen has pretty limited seating (about 30). I think it’s still relatively ‘hidden’ for now, but you might have to queue up if the place gets busier. Service is friendly.

LUCKEE CANTEEN

6, Jalan Bandar 13, Pusat Bandar Puchong, 47100 Puchong, Selangor

Opening hours: 11AM – 10PM (closed Mondays)

https://www.facebook.com/luckeecanteen

PS: I hope you liked this post! Please consider supporting my blog via my Patreon, so I can make more. Or buy me a cup of coffee on Paypal @erisgoesto.

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Review: Wagyu More, Sunway Pyramid

Sukishi at IOI Mall Puchong used to be my go-to place for a cheap but decent hotpot buffet, but the quality has gone down of late (or at least during my last visit in October).

Luckily for me, my friend recently introduced me to another chain – and I think I might have just found my new favourite place. Originally from Hong Kong, Wagyu More is a Japanese shabu-shabu chain, that specialises in – what else – wagyu hotpot. They entered the Malaysian market in 2019, opening an outlet at The Gardens Mall in Kuala Lumpur, and later at Sunway Pyramid. It was at the latter that C, J and I met up for lunch last weekend.

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Wagyu More offers several buffet packages catered to different budgets. If you’re rolling in dough or just feel like celebrating a special occasion, the priciest option is of course the one with their specialty: All-you-can-eat Miyazaki A5 beef, priced at RM388++ per person. The slightly cheaper option is the Australian Wagyu Beef buffet – at a fairly reasonable rate of RM148++, this is ideal for diners who still want to indulge in wagyu beef, but don’t want to splurge. Fans of pork might want to opt for the Spanish Iberico Pork buffet (RM98++).

For the rest of us plebians, the cheapest option costs just RM38++ – a steal, considering that you get free flow of pork, beef, chicken, fish and vegetables. And if you feel like trying one or two ‘premium’ cuts, you can always go for an ala carte add-on.

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The resto gets quite crowded on weekends, so I recommend booking in advance on their website if you don’t want to wait. We didn’t, as C and I had to wait for J to finish an event, and we weren’t sure what time she’d be available (they give you a dining time limit of 2 hours per session). We managed to secure a table at 1.15PM (I was starving by then, lol), but thankfully the service was fast, and everything was served immediately after we sat down.

The interior is bright and cheerful, with Japanese-inspired touches. Tables are adequately spaced, and they require diners to wear their masks and plastic gloves (provided by the resto) when taking food from the counter.

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The main proteins. Basically everything at the top is available for the cheaper buffet, and you can go for ala carte ‘premium’ items at additional cost.

There are eight soup bases to choose from. We got collagen chicken and pork bone. In retrospect, should have gone for a more distinct flavour (like tomato or kimchi), because the two soups ended up tasting quite similar.

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While waiting for the soup to boil, I made a beeline for the hot food section. And *gasp!* – no photos! Because that was how hungry I was lol. They had fried rice, pork meat balls, and insanely addictive curry samosas, fried spring rolls, and sweet potato balls. I think I ate 10 samosas on my own. They were really crispy, but didn’t feel greasy at all, and the curry filling was not too spicy either.

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The section that I rarely go to in a buffet, but hey, here’s a photo. lol.

They have a good selection of vegetables, and even if you’re not a big fan of vegetables, they’re good for adding flavour to your soup base. Just remember not to take too much, as they do have a surcharge of RM10 for every 100g of food wasted.

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Salad and dessert counter.
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Processed items – pork balls, fishballs, cocktail sausages, seafood cheese tofu, and more. Also small plates of noodles, for those who need to get their carbs in.

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It has been seven months since I last caught up with C, and even more than that with J (no thanks to the pandemic!), so I didn’t take many pictures of the food. What I can say, though, is that the food is fresh and tasty; especially the pork belly. The meat cuts are thinly sliced so they cook evenly and fast. You can also dip them in your own condiment mix for added flavour: I made a simple one with shallots, chopped ginger and soy sauce. As for the broth, as mentioned earlier, I couldn’t really differentiate which one was chicken and which was pork towards the end – but it tasted good all the same; kind of like a naturally sweet meat broth that had absorbed all the goodness of the ingredients that were cooking in it.

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Rounded off the meal with some dessert. Mochi was a bit hard, but the cakes were soft and moist. There was also chocolate and matcha ice cream. To wash everything down, you can choose from several drinks such as iced lemon tea, Coke, and peach.

Our meal came up to about RM48 per person, which is extremely reasonable given the selection and the quality of the meats, even for the ‘lowest’ buffet tier. I think it’s also a one-up from Sukishi, which doesn’t have a hot food section, or desserts other than ice cream. Do note that the dinner buffet is slightly more expensive than the lunch one.

So if you’re looking for a relatively cheap hotpot buffet, consider Wagyu More! I’ve yet to try the wagyu buffet … perhaps one day when I’ve gotten a bonus from work, or I’ve hit the jackpot.

A girl can dream.

WAGYU MORE (SUNWAY PYRAMID)

G1.98C, LG 1 Floor, Sunway Pyramid, No 3, Jalan PJS 11/15, Sunway City, 47500 Petaling Jaya, Selangor

Opening hours: 11AM – 10PM

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Review: Vegetarian Food @ Soul Kitchen, Puchong Jaya

Among Buddhist lay-followers, the first and the 15th day of each month according to the lunar calendar is when we are supposed to observe a vegetarian diet. This practice is rooted in Chinese tradition and Buddhist belief, as in Chinese culture, these are important days that mark the new and the full moon. In modern times, these beliefs are not always followed – but the fam and I try to eat vegetarian food whenever we can on these days, as well as on special occasions such as Chinese New Year and Wesak (Buddha’s birthday).

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Puchong is home to quite a number of good vegetarian restaurants, such as Pure Heart, I Mushroom Culture, and VLite Cafe. We recently went to check out a relatively new place, called Soul Kitchen, in Bandar Puchong Jaya. This is their fourth outlet, as they also have shops in KL and Cheras, Selangor.

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I don’t quite get the style they are going with – there’s a chandelier in the middle of the resto, but the tables and chairs look simple and the wall decor is minimal. But it’s cosy and clean, and that’s the most important thing.

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Most vegetarian restaurants in Puchong serve Chinese cuisine, but Soul Kitchen also carries Western dishes the likes of pizzas and pastas, alongside the usual rice and noodle fare. It takes a good amount of creativity and skill to make vegetarian dishes on par with their meat-version counterparts – and I’m happy to say that Soul Kitchen delivers with aplomb. Prices are very reasonable too.

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Moo’s order of Stir Fried Sang Meen (one of their signature dishes) came in a generous portion, loaded with cabbage, carrots and a side of tempe (fermented soybeans). We could immediately tell it was full of wok hei from the smell of the dish when it came to the table. (Wok hei literally means ‘breath of the wok’, a term used in Chinese cooking to describe food cooked over a big flame and high heat, which gives it an intense, smoky flavour). Really enjoyed this one! The noodles were al dente, the dish was well flavoured, and of course, what really set it apart was the wok hei. It’s one of the things that differentiates Chinese cuisine from Western cooking. They don’t call it the cuisine of flames for nothing!

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I had a late breakfast, so I opted for a non-carb plate of fried mushrooms. Most places will just serve up battered fried mushrooms with either mayonnaise or tomato sauce, but Soul Kitchen’s version comes topped with loads of vegetarian floss. The mushrooms were perfectly fried, with a crispy exterior and moist insides, and the floss tasted remarkably like chicken floss.

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Pops had the Nasi Lemak. You can choose from three options for the accompanying main dish, namely curry, rendang or petai (stinkbean). It was also served with a fried egg, keropok, peanuts, sambal and a crunchy snack that looked remarkably like anchovies. It’s amazing how creative chefs can be when it comes to making vegetarian food that is as close as possible to meat or seafood, both in taste and appearance.

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Last but not least was the Brah’s pan mee. The noodles had a good texture, and Moo enjoyed the soup as she said it tasted ‘natural’ and didn’t seem to have MSG.

So that’s one more vegetarian food place to add onto the list! Even if you’re not Buddhist, this is good news for those living in the area who practice veganism or vegetarianism for a healthy lifestyle.

SOUL KITCHEN (PUCHONG JAYA)

15, Jalan Kenari 18b, Bandar Puchong Jaya, 47100 Puchong, Selangor

Opening hours: 10.30AM -9.30PM (Daily)

PS: I hope you liked this post! Please consider supporting my blog via my Patreon, so I can make more. Or buy me a cup of coffee on Paypal @erisgoesto.

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Last Hurrah: Miyatake Sanuki Udon, Isetan 1Utama

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).

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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.

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Choose from chicken, pork, or beef udon, or get cold udon for a refreshing change. Rice bowl options include shrimp, pork and beef.

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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.

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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

Opening hours: 10AM – 10PM

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Review: Cerdito Restaurant, Bandar Puchong Jaya

Puchong is known for its hipster cafes, no-frills dai chow stalls, and dimsum joints – but full-service restaurants are few and far between, especially ones serving pork.

Enter Cerdito, a casual but elegant resto that specialises in Iberico pork dishes. The place has been around since 2016, and I’ve walked past it many times, but never got down to trying it until recently.

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The interior is spacious and brightly lit, with a bar occupying one side of the room. Mahogany tables with matching coloured chairs contrast nicely with the beige and nude walls.

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So what is Iberico pork, and what makes it special ?

Iberico pork comes from the Black Iberian pig, a breed native to Spain’s Iberian peninsula. They are highly prized for their meat, which is considered far superior in quality than that of regular pigs raised in commercial farms. For one, Iberian pigs have a propensity to be fatter, with good marbling. They also feed on acorns, which gives the meat a unique, almost earthy flavour.

Because of this, prices at Cerdito are above average – but you get what you pay for, as the pork is imported directly from Spain. Their specialities include items such as Iberico Chuletas – Short Rack, Iberico Cabecero (made from pork collar on top of the loin), and Iberico Mango BBQ Loin Ribs (glazed with mango barbeque sauce before they are grilled). They also carry dishes such as the Pork Burger, German Sausage Platter, and Rosemary Honey Pork Belly.

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The fam and I were on a budget, so we didn’t order the set for four, which will set you back RM330 (includes salad, ribs and other mains). We instead opted for the lunch sets, which are available daily and come with a soup appetiser and a drink. You can choose from three different types of carbo, namely pasta, mantou (buns) or rice.

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I got the Roasted Pork Belly with Mantou (RM28), which was served with a side of vegetables tossed in a refreshing vinaigrette dressing. Each mantou was stuffed with two large pieces of roasted pork belly, cucumber, and just a smattering of spicy sauce.

The mantous were pillowy soft, encasing flavourful pieces of roast pork within. As for the protein, I could tell that it tasted different from regular pork – more pungent and flavourful, with an excellent meat to fat ratio. The fat was a tad chewy, but I like it that way. It would have been perfect if the skin was crispy, but unfortunately it was tough. Still tasty, though!

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Bro got the Aglio Olio with Roasted Pork Belly (RM28). The portion was sizable, and the pasta was cooked well, although it was a bit more spicy than I was used to.

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Pops being the typical Asian, had to have his rice – and since he’s not a big fan of pork, he went for the Fried Chicken Rice Bowl (RM20). What arrived at the table was a giant fried chicken thigh, sitting atop a bed of rice blanketed in a fried omelette.

The chicken was brined before deep frying, so it was very flavourful (bordering on salty, depending on one’s taste buds), but the inside was moist and perfectly cooked.

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Last but not least was Moo’s Pineapple Maple Pork Belly (RM35). This is an ala carte option, by the way, and not part of the lunch sets.

This was my favourite dish, and not just because other people’s food always looks better than one’s own after you’ve ordered, lol. The pork was extremely tender and flavourful, having been marinated overnight in a blend of pineapple juice, maple syrup and soy sauce, the enzymes of which would have broken down the proteins further. Grilling the pork gave it a nice, smoky aftertaste, and the mashed potatoes that were served as sides was also done well. Everything came together on the plate perfectly.

Our bill came up to RM122, which I still find reasonable given the setting and the quality of the food. Service-wise, waiters were attentive and friendly. My only qualm was the timing in which they served the food; my Bro, dad and I got our food first, and were nearly finished eating before Moo’s dish was served.

Parking and traffic in the area (or anywhere in Puchong, for that matter) can be a btch, but I think it’s well worth a trip if you’re a pork lover.

CERDITO RESTAURANT

G-11, Kompleks Kenari, Jalan Kenari 19a, Bandar Puchong Jaya, 47100 Puchong, Selangor

Opening hours: 11AM – 9PM (closed Mondays)

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