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Walking Tour: Things To Do at IOI Mall, Puchong, Malaysia

PS: This is not a sponsored post. I just feel like sharing my favourite mall with you guys, Enjoy!

Old but gold best describes IOI Mall Puchong. Opened in 1996 when Puchong was still a relatively small township, it was originally a modest three-storey building, the main tenant being a department store called JUSCO (now AEON).

Over the years, the mall has undergone numerous refurbishments to keep it fresh and relevant. Today, the building comprises of two wings: the old wing and the new, which has four levels. The mall also boasts a good mix of tenants, from big brand names like UNIQLO, Victoria’s Secret and Levi’s, to local businesses and chain restaurants.

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Being a Puchong-ite, I have very fond memories of the place, and I’ve seen how the place has transformed through the years. I rode on the carousel here as a kid, hung out with friends here as a teen, and more recently, gone on dates with my husband here. One thing I like about the mall is that it’s never boring – there’s always something to see and do. So if you’re an out-of-towner, here’s what you can expect on a visit to Puchong’s oldest mall:

Subscribe to my Youtube channel if you haven’t already! I post walking tours and anything that catches my fancy. #shamelessplug

GO SHOPPING (DUH!)

The new wing was built sometime in 2009 and has four levels. Most of the shops are at the old wing, but the new wing has a pretty good selection of stores as well. Here you will find mid to upper-mid fashion stores such as Victoria’s Secret, Levi’s, Elle, Hush Puppies, Dockers, Cotton On, UNIQLO and Pedro, as well as optical shops, pharmacies (Caring Pharmacy and Watsons), and jewellery stores (SIMS Jewellery). Over at the old wing, you have mid to lower-mid brands like Giordano, as well as local brands like Nichii and Voir. Beauty enthusiasts will want to shop at The Body Shop, the newly opened Bath & Body Works kiosk (I always get tempted with the candles!), Sasa and Elianto. There are also a few watch shops (AWG Fine Watches, G-Shock) and more jewellery stores (Poh Kong, Tomei). DIY lovers can get their fix at Acer hardware, or buy cheap household goods at DAISO.

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The concourse area at the Old Wing. The design features skylights that allow plenty of sunlight to filter in.

FEAST

No matter what you’re craving, chances are IOI Mall Puchong has something to satisfy those cravings. There are lots of F&B options, so diners will be spoilt for choice. There’s a whole Food Street on the first floor dedicated to restaurants and eateries. My favourite picks? For non-halal, there’s Thai mookata restaurant BBQ Plaza, homegrown mee xian noodle experts Go Noodle House, and Japanese hotpot buffet Sukishi with its unlimited refill of meat. Wong Kok Char Chan Teng and its HK-inspired dishes (think cheese baked rice and spaghetti with ‘sock’ millk tea) are a good choice too.

For halal options, a must-try is the newly opened Seirock-Ya ramen that specialises in toripaiten (chicken ramen). Suki-ya and Sushi King both offer affordable and tasty Japanese food too, while K-fans will want to head to Kyochon for their chicken wings. And then there are the usual fast food chains like KFC, Pizza Hut, McDonalds and A&W. Snack kiosks like J&G Fried Chicken, Empire Sushi, Shihlin Taiwanese Snacks, Chatime and Daboba offer something for diners to munch/sip on while they shop.

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Oh, and if you’re looking to have a Chinese wedding or celebration, there’s Dynasty Dragon. I almost had my wedding banquet dinner here but the prices were a bit steep so we ended up somewhere else.

The mall is constantly getting new tenants, so even I haven’t tried some of the newer places like Haidilao and Honeycomb BBQ (a Korean BBQ resto). I’m also looking forward to trying Putien (their outlet in Singapore has one Michelin star) someday.

WORK OUT

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The new wing’s second floor houses a Fitness First gym. It used to be on the ground floor at the old wing, before shifting to the new premises. Before FF, Puchong did not have gyms, so it was always packed with gym-goers. Things are obviously much quieter now coz of the pandemic.

BEAUTY AND WELLNESS TREATMENTS

There is a slew of aesthetic clinics at the new wing offering beauty treatments like slimming and facials (Dorra, Yunnan Haircare, London Weight Management) on the first and second floors. If you’re looking for a relaxing massage, there’s Manjakaki Spa (traditional Malay spa) and the premium-priced Thai Oddysey.

BRING THE KIDS FOR SOME FUN

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IOI Mall’s star attraction when it opened was the carousel in its concourse area, complete with decked out horses, mirrors and bright sparkling lights. My brother and I have gone on many a ride in our younger years, and I always get a pang of nostalgia whenever I see it today. It gives me a fuzzy feeling knowing that some of my friends are bringing their kids on the carousel that they rode on in their younger years. Perhaps if I ever have kids, I’d bring them for a ride too.

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Not keen on the carousel? A train ride works too! You can go on this with your child just outside Popular bookstore.
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As a teen (and even during my college years), many an afternoon was spent at the arcade playing Rock Fever 3, shooting hoops on the basketball machine, dancing to DDR and shooting up zombies in House of the Dead. They’ve updated the machines so many of these games are no longer there, but it’s still a great place to take the kids for an hour or two of fun. The mall has two arcades; one at the old wing and one at the new.

CATCH A MOVIE

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IOI Mall’s Golden Screen Cinemas is where you can watch the latest movies. These days it is very quiet due to pandemic restrictions, but pre-pandemic, it was one of the most popular places in the mall, almost jam packed every weekend. The cinema spans two floors and parts of both the old and new wing.

SING KARAOKE

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Probably not the best time to go right now, but IOI Mall does have a Karaoke joint called Port. I hope they’ll last until everything tides over!

BUY GROCERIES

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For household goods and essentials, look no further than department store AEON. Aside from a section for groceries, they also carry everything from clothing and electronics to kitchen equipment, bedding, sports equipment, and more.

There are actually loads of other things you can get/do at IOI Mall. You can pay your phone bills or shop for gadgets at the old wing’s third floor, where they have all the flagship smartphone/telcomm operators like Digi, Celcom + Huawei, Xiaomi, Samsung, etc. You can sip on coffee at the Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf, ZUS, Coffea Coffee or get freshly baked goods from Donutes. There’s a chiropractor and a physical therapist centre as well.

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This is by no means a comprehensive list, but hopefully it can help you get a better idea of what to expect. IOI Mall Puchong may not be the biggest or nicest mall out there, but it’s certainly close to my heart.

GETTING HERE

IOI Mall sits next to the LDP Highway and is easy accessible by car. There is ample parking outdoors, in the basement at the new wing, and on the rooftop of the old wing. Those taking public transport can hop onto Rapid KL buses 506, 600, 602, 671, T600, T601, T602, T603, T604 and T605 servicing the route. The IOI Puchong Jaya LRT station (Sri Petaling Line) stops just next to the mall and is a 2-minute walk away.

ioimp.com.my

PS: I filmed this before MCO3.0. Please do not travel unless absolutely necessary – save a trip for when things are better and it’s safe to go around again!

Like this post? Please consider supporting my website by buying me a cup of coffee through Paypal. This will go towards hosting fees and ensuring that I can continue to deliver authentic content for your reading pleasure. You can also support me on Patreon. Thanks for stopping by!

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Eco Shop, Main Place Mall USJ : Everything For RM2.10

Dollar stores, also known as variety shops, are places that sell inexpensive household products for cheap, usually from lesser known brands.

In Malaysia, we have RM2 shops, which have risen in popularity in recent years. Consumers today are much more budget-savvy, and don’t mind buying from these shops if it translates to more savings. There are even viral tutorial videos on how to spruce up your garden or living space with RM2 shop items.

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One of the biggest players on the market is Eco Shop, which has over 150 shops nationwide. I recently checked out their outlet at Main Place Mall USJ, and I can see why they’re so popular. The shop has all sorts of products — and the cheap prices mean that the place is a bargain hunter’s dream.

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The store is pretty big and is neatly divided according to category for easy browsing. There’s the food and snack aisle, which carries a mix of well known brands you see in hypermarkets (Marie biscuits, Mamee monster, Bika, etc.) and lesser known, local brands. Some of the packaging is different as well, like with the instant noodles which come in smaller packs of 3 instead of 5. You can also find gardening equipment, kitchenware, hardware, decorative plastic plants, belts and accessories, plastic containers, and much more. I even glimpsed condoms placed discreetly near the checkout counter — I mean, I’m not even sure how much those would cost on the regular, but RM2.10 sounds pretty affordable to me (?)

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I’m okay with buying most of the items in the store, but probably not cosmetics. These are made in China and at just RM2.10, I have to wonder what they put it them to keep the price low. Not going to put these on my face.

I won’t bore you with product pictures, so here’s a video walkthrough on the store:

This took a few hours to put together because I’m noob like that. Like and subscribe! #shamelessplug

If you’re not fussy about brands, and you love bargains, then Eco Shop might be something you want to check out for your household essentials. The quality isn’t bad for the price too. If you’re not keen to go out because of the pandemic (I find Main Place to be pretty quiet though, especially on weekdays), you can also buy their stuff online via Shopee.

ECO SHOP (MAIN PLACE MALL USJ)

2F-16 & 2F-17 Main Place Mall, Usj 21, 47640 Subang Jaya, Selangor

Opening hours: 10AM – 10PM (daily)

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Sushi Zanmai, Main Place Mall USJ

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.

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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.

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The aesthetics are pretty standard across all of their outlets – wooden dividers, lots of beige, booth seating for privacy, plush pleather seats, and an open kitchen where you can watch the chefs in action.

I’m a creature of habit, so of course…

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Did you imagine I’d order anything else? lol

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.

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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.

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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.

Opening hours: 10AM – 10PM

https://www.supersushi.com.my/mainplace.php

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Thong Kee Kopitiam, Puchong – One of Puchong’s Best Breakfast Spots

A classic Malaysian breakfast typically consists of toast with kaya and butter plus half boiled eggs, washed down with a nice cup of coffee or tea. You will find this and more at Thong Kee Kopitiam in Puchong. The shop also ups the ante with something you’d normally see in bakeries rather than kopitiams: croissants.

Video:

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Originally from Pahang, Thong Kee started off as a humble establishment in the small town of Bentong. Like many kopitiams, the fare served here has Hainanese origins (The Hainanese people emigrated to Malaya during the British occupation. Most worked as cooks for the British; hence the ‘Western’ style of breakfast ie toast with butter and jam + coffee that is often served at kopitiams today. It is a uniquely Southeast Asian thing which you will not find in the Hainanese community in China.) Eventually, the brand grew popular enough that they expanded to the Klang Valley, with an outlet in Seapark and another in Puchong.

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The early bird gets the worm, or in this case… the croissant.

All of their outlets enjoy brisk business, so it’s best to come as early as possible if you want avoid the queues. The fam and I came around 7.45AM on a weekend and the place was already quite packed. There is a huge open-air kitchen with dozens of staff preparing drinks and food.

Take note of your table number, give it to the cashier when you make your order, pay on the spot, and wait for your food to be served. Aside from toast with butter and kaya, you can also go for items like doughnuts, and croissants with various fillings (ham, ham and cheese, egg, otak-otak, etc.)

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The original Thong Kee is famous for its 1+1 – a blend of Hainanese coffee and tea – so I ordered a glass to try.

The drink comes served with a layer of foam on top, and the coffee is strong and fragrant. It is similar to Ipoh white coffee; ie sweet and aromatic. I think the tea helps to make the beverage smoother, but the coffee is pretty strong so I barely tasted any tea.

Trivia: Unlike Western coffee, making Hainanese coffee usually involves roasting the beans with salt, sugar and margarine, imparting it with a rich, robust fragrance with a distinctly caramelized flavour. The coffee is then filtered through a long sock-like cloth multiple times.

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Not forgetting the star of the show, we ordered a few croissants to share. The texture is superb – crispy, flaky, buttery and soft on the inside. The fillings are deceptively simple – ham and egg, or a slab of butter and kaya spread – but everything comes together perfectly.

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If you’re not in the mood for bread, there are other stalls at the kopitiam as well, selling dishes like nasi lemak and pan mee.

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If you’re looking for a quick bite to go, or something you can bring home, the shop also sells freshly baked loaves, homemade kaya and curry puffs.

The croissants are priced around RM7.90 +, depending on filling.

THONG KEE (PUCHONG)

G-01 Puchong Square, Jalan Layang – Layang 5, Bandar Puchong Jaya, 47170 Puchong, Selangor

Opening hours: 7.30AM – 4.30PM

thongkee.com.my

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Sipping Corner @ Plant & Pot Studio Puchong

Hidden at the back of a plant shop in Bandar Puteri Puchong, Sipping Corner by Plant & Pot Studio might just be the greenest cafe in the city. Opened last year, the place has already gained a loyal following – and because of its small capacity (the place seats about 15 at most), reservations are encouraged to avoid disappointment.

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If you do manage to get a seat, you’ll be well rewarded with a cool and relaxing spot to chill and sip on a drink, surrounded by foliage. The Cafe offers a selection of coffees (espresso, long black, honey americano, latte, cappucino) and teas (blue mint honey, red roselle honey), as well as signature beverages (Matcha, Salted Gula Melaka Latte, Matcha/Hojicha Latte). Baristas are very friendly and accommodating.

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Grab a sweet slice to go with your drink. Cakes range from RM13 to RM15 per slice.

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I didn’t dine-in coz the Moo finished her shopping and we had to make a move – but I got one of their signature drinks, the Salted Gula Melaka Latte, to go. The palm sugar was creamy and sweet, but it was well balanced thanks to the hint of saltiness.

If you’re looking for a quick green respite, drop by for tea time – but make sure to call in advance.

SIPPING CORNER @ PLANT & POT STUDIO

 78G, Jalan Puteri 5/5, Bandar Puteri, 47100 Puchong, Selangor

Opening hours: 9AM – 6PM (daily)

Phone: 018-578 6311

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7 Off-The-Beaten Path Experiences in Selangor

The Malaysian government recently announced that interstate travel is allowed again. After months of isolation, many of us are understandably excited to finally be able to be out and about for leisure. Even so, we should still be vigilant – so here are seven off-the-beaten path experiences you can get in Selangor that are away from the crowds.

LEMON MYRTLE TEA PLANTATION, SEKINCHAN

TEA GARDEN SEKINCHAN 2 by @narztraveldiary
@Narztraveldiary

Lemon myrtle is a flowering plant endemic to Australia, where it is grown in abundance and used to make essential oils and tea. What you probably didn’t know, however, is that Malaysia has its own lemon myrtle plantation. Organic Lemon Myrtle Plantations has been around since 2010, and is touted as the first of its kind outside Australia. It has several nurseries, including one in Sekinchan.

The farm is usually open to the public, but is now indefinitely closed to visitors pending further updates from local tourism bodies and the government. That doesn’t mean you can’t make plans in advance, though: and visitors can expect experiences such a relaxing nap in hammocks, shopping for products made from myrtle tea at their on-site stall, and more, when the plantation reopens to the public.


PS: Prior to closure, the entrance fee was RM3 for adults and RM1 for children below 7 years of age. The plantation is usually open on Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays from 9am to 5pm. Stay tuned to their social media for more updates.

Address: Lot 16281, Jalan Tali Air 6 Sekinchan,Selangor Darul Ehsan

SEKINCHAN

SEKINCHAN by @marioncaunter
@marioncaunter

Paddy fields are not something city folk get to see very often, which is what makes a visit to Sekinchan a must for day trippers from Kuala Lumpur. Come during the September to November months to admire vast blankets of green as far as the eye can see, or in December for a sea of rippling gold. Learn more about how paddy is planted, harvested and processed at the Paddy Gallery, where you can also buy sacks of rice (pearl, basmathi, brown, you name it, they got it!)

SEKINCHAN PADDY 2 by @Narztraveldiary
@Narztraveldiary

Aside from paddy fields, the enterprising folk of this small agricultural and fishing town have also turned their traditional livelihoods into tourist draws. Stop by Ah Ma House, a quaint wooden shop at the edge of the fields which sells traditional Chinese snacks like biscuits, crackers, snacks and baked goodies the likes of pineapple tarts, kuih kapit and kuih bangkit.

For a detailed guide, check out my blog post on 7 things to do in Sekinchan.

Address: Sekinchan Paddy Fields, Sekinchan, Sabak Bernam, Selangor

THE NATIONAL BOTANIC GARDENS, SHAH ALAM

TAMAN BOTANI NEGARA by @littlemisshappyfeet

You don’t have to travel far for a quick, green respite: just head to Taman Botani Negara Shah Alam (The National Botanic Gardens), a green lung located in the middle of Selangor’s bustling capital. The agro tourism park covers an area of over 817 hectares, part of it designated for leisure, the rest for research.

TAMAN BOTANI NEGARA by @maya_jaafar
@maya_jaafar

Go for a spot of forest bathing underneath the Seraya and Meranti trees which are found in abundance within the reserve, or go hiking along the paved trail to reach Bukit Sapu Tangan(200 metres above sea level), which offers panoramic views of Shah Alam. There are also cactus, orchid and spice gardens to explore, as well as an animal park and fruit gardens. The park’s famous attraction, the four season house, where visitors can experience spring, summer, autumn and winter,is currently closed and will reopen in early 2021.

The entrance fee is RM3 for adults,and RM1 for children (6 to 11 years old) and seniors above 55. Disabled visitors enter for free. Opening hours are from 7.30AM – 4.30PM, Tuesdays to Sundays.

Address: Taman Botani Negara, Bukit Cahaya Seri Alam, 40000 Shah Alam, Selangor

SELANGOR RIVER DAM, HULU SELANGOR

SUNGAI SELANGOR DAM by @ekstagram
@ekstagram

A dam might seem like an unlikely place to visit, but the Sungai Selangor Dam makes for an interesting destination, especially for nature lovers and photographers. The crystal-clear man-made lake is surrounded by picturesque hills, and visitors can also take part in fishing and cycling activities along the way. Night time sees a sky filled with stars, as the area is far from city lights and pollution.

SUNGAI SELANGOR DAM by @ekstagram
@ekstagram

Address: Lookout Point Sungai Selangor Dam, 55, 44000 Kuala Kubu Baru, Selangor

PAYA INDAH DISCOVERY WETLANDS, KUALA LANGAT

Paya Indah 4

For those who like peace and quiet, Paya Indah Discovery Wetlands in Kuala Langat makes for the perfect retreat. Filled with trees, large fields and natural plants such as waterlilies, the wetlands are home to over 300 species of animals, and is also a great spot for bird watching.

Paya Indah 3

Family-friendly fun awaits, with various activities such as feeding rhinos, crocodiles and fish in their enclosures, as well as fishing, kayaking, jungle trekking and more. There’s also a Safari Insta Tour: a 45-minute ride on a truck to three scenic locations within the Wetlands, namely the Bamboo Trail, Lake Sendayan and Rumah Melayu, a traditional kampung(village) house on stilts.

Entrance fee is RM35 on weekdays and RM45 on weekends. MyKad holders enjoy a 20% discount. The Paya Indah Discovery Wetlands is open daily from 8.30am – 4.30pm.

Address: KM 4, Jalan Dengkil, Banting, 43800 Dengkil, Selangor

SELANGOR FRUIT VALLEY, KUALA SELANGOR

Selangor Fruits Valley

If you like local fruits, then a trip to Selangor Fruit Valley should be on your list. The agricultural attraction offers many types of local fruits such as rambutan, papaya, starfruit and guava, which you can enjoy for free (it’s included in your entrance fee!). Aside from the fruit orchards, there are also other attractions such as a mini petting zoo, agricultural centre, traditional houses, and deer and kelulut honey farms.

Don’t feel like walking? Hop on a tram service which takes you around the park, no hassle. When you’re thirsty, drop by the coconut stall to quench your thirst with fresh coconut water. Entrance is RM15 for adults and RM10 for seniors (above 60), children (4 – 12 years old) and the disabled.

Address: Selangor Fruits Valley SFV, Rawang, Berjuntai Bestari, Selangor, Malaysia

PULAU KETAM, KLANG

Pulau Ketam 3

Although the name means ‘crab island’, Pulau Ketam is not an actual island; more an amalgamation of homes and buildings built over water. Located off the coast of Port Klang, the place was originally founded by Chinese fishermen in the 1880s and has since become a thriving community. To reach Pulau Ketam, visitors take a ferry (RM14, two-way) or speed boat (RM20 two-way).

Pulau Ketam 1

While the ‘island’ itself is not very big, there are plenty of things to do. Being a fishing village, there are many seafood restaurant where you can take your pick of freshly caught seafood prepared in a variety of ways (salted egg, chilli, kam heong, etc.). Another popular activity is to rent a bike and cycle around the village, which has roads just wide enough for bikes and scooters (there are no cars in the settlement). Aside from colourful murals (a rather recent addition to attract tourists), visitors will also find small but beautiful old Chinese temples and quaint self-built homes made from wood and concrete.

For a more detailed guide, check out my blog post about Things To Do in Pulau Ketam.

Address: Jalan Foreshore, Kawasan 20, 42000 Pelabuhan Klang, Selangor

So there you have it! Which place in Selangor are you looking to travel to next? Remember to always maintain social distancing and adhere to standard operating procedures during your visit.

More information at selangor.travel.

**Photos courtesy of Tourism Selangor.

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If you enjoyed reading this, please consider supporting my website. Contrary to popular belief, I do not make big moolah from writing – and this will go towards hosting fees and ensuring that I can continue to deliver authentic content for your reading pleasure. Thanks for stopping by!

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Meal for One: Wong Kok Char Chan Teng, IOI Mall Puchong

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In Hong Kong, char chan tengs are a part of everyday life – the equivalent of a Malaysian kopitiam – where you can get fast, tummy-filling, affordable meals. The menu is often an eclectic mix of local favourites like rice and noodle dishes, and Western-style fusion cuisine the likes of cheese-baked rice, grilled chicken wings and toast.

Thanks to the popularity of Hong Kong culture which peaked in the 90s to 00’s among the Chinese diaspora here, there are several very popular Hong Kong char chan teng chains in Malaysia, such as Kim Gary, Chatterbox HK and Wong Kok Char Chan Teng.

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Among these brands, Wong Kok is my favourite whenever I’m craving char chan teng food. Named after the Wong Kok (literally, ‘golden/bustling corner/street) district in HK, the resto has been operating here since 2003 and serves up an enormous variety of dishes. There’s one at IOI Mall Puchong, which was where I dropped by for lunch after running some errands.

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No meal would be complete without ordering the iconic HK beverage – HK Milk Tea, also known as xi mut nai cha – so called because the tea leaf filter resembles a silk stocking. HK was once under British rule, and it was during that time that tea drinking became popular on the island. The tea is made from black tea leaves and condensed milk, so it is rich, sweet and has a silky texture. You can have it either hot or iced.

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One thing I always order whenever I come here: Cheese-Baked Seafood Rice with Portuguese sauce. This is another char chan teng staple and reflects Hong Kong’s diverse influences. Rice and seafood like crab meat sticks, deep fried fish and shrimp is covered with a layer of oozy, melty cheese on top, and baked together with Portuguese sauce.

Rice is a staple in Chinese cuisine, and the cheese, is, of course, a very Western ingredient. The Portuguese sauce, which is a thick creamy sauce with curry powder and coconut cream, is from Macanese cuisine. Despite all the seemingly different ingredients/styles, they blend together surprisingly well to create a harmonious dish that is hearty and delicious. The cheese gives it a gooey texture, while the sauce ensures that the dish is not dry.

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I mean, you can’t go wrong with cheese to be honest.

With over 200 items on the menu, it’s impossible to do a complete review of Wong Kok Char Chan Teng – but it also means you’ll never run out of things to try (if you try one dish every day, hypothetically it will still take you close to a year to order everything). But if you’re looking for good Hong Kong-style dishes at an affordable price, then this is a place to consider.

WONG KOK CHAR CHAN TENG (IOI MALL PUCHONG)

G.00B3A, Ground Floor, IOI Mall, Batu 9, Jalan Puchong, Puchong Jaya, 47170, Puchong, Selangor.

Opening hours: 10AM – 10PM

Phone: 03-2141 8407

wongkok.com.my

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Spices – Indian Claypot Rice (Sattisoru) @ Restoran Try To Eat, Rawang

Claypots have been used in traditional cooking for centuries and across many different cultures. It is said that the porous quality of clay helps to retain the food’s nutritional value, whilst also giving the dish an earthy aroma and deeper flavours.

Here in Malaysia, claypot chicken rice is very popular among the Chinese diaspora. It usually contains chopped pieces of chicken, salted fish, chives and Chinese sausage, drizzled over with dark soy sauce. The dish was traditionally eaten in Southern China as a dinner dish, and it was later brought over to Southeast Asia (Malaysia/Singapore) by Hokkien immigrants.

Indian-style claypot rice (sattisoru), however, is new to me. Perhaps it’s because I don’t eat Indian food often (blame it on my canto palate!), but I’ve been ignorant about its existence until recently, when I had to interview and write about a street chef in Rawang who sells sattisoru.

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You can find Spices Claypot Rice tucked within Restoran Try to Eat, a no-frills food court by the side of the road. Despite being the only Indian stall here, it attracts customers of all races. There’s a wide variety of dishes on offer, including their signature Claypot Mutton Masala (RM12), Chicken Masala, Prawn Masala and Chilli Chicken Masala. Less common ingredients like salted fish and sardine are also available, and there are vegetarian options for non-meat eaters.

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Spices is run by Janagaraju Arumugam, a young chef with a huge passion for food. Prior to opening Spices two years ago together with his wife, Jana worked as an engineer and had no F&B experience – so it was a big leap of faith.

“We started this as a part-time venture. My wife was a pharmacist and I was still working as an engineer. We’d only open our stall after we finished our day jobs, at 6pm,” he quips. Juggling two jobs was exhausting, but Jana keenly pushed forward. Eventually, he quit his job to run the stall full-time, and has since hired more people to help out at his stalls, of which there are four in the Klang Valley (aside from Rawang, he also has branches in Kota Kemuning, Selayang and Klang).

Why give up a cushy shop to be a chef-cum-businessman? Jana explains that as a boy, he used to help his mother out in the kitchen, and he recalls fondly how his mother’s love for her family shone through the dishes she made – something he is keen on preserving ever since she passed away. The dishes he serves at Spices are all based on recipes and techniques that were handed down by his late mother – and it truly shows in his cooking.

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Food photographer behind-the-scenes. It’s not easy taking shots especially when the chef is moving around – we had to retake some shots several times. Thank you Jana for your patience!

Cooking the claypot rice is an art in itself. Each order starts with a base of onion, potatoes, dried chili and masala paste, which is constantly stirred in the clay pot to bring out a mouthwatering aroma. Rice is
added last, after the liquid has simmered down, so it does not become soggy. Controlling the fire is also important, and because they are cooking it with a slow fire, it allows for a more even cooking process and the natural flavours of the ingredients to permeate through. Since everything is cooked to order, expect a wait of between 15 to 20 minutes.

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I tried two clay pot dishes – the mutton masala and the prawn masala. Between the two, I enjoyed the mutton masala more as the meat was tender and flavourful, having absorbed the flavours of the curry. The heat wasn’t obvious at first bite, but hits gradually and had me chugging down my sugarcane juice lol. Portions are hearty and can be shared between two people. You also get a whole boiled egg in each pot.

The masala paste is what makes the dish, as it contains over 20 spices such as cinnamon, pepper, coriander, cumin seeds and mace. The paste is ground in a central kitchen and distributed to the different stalls, so customers get a consistent quality and taste. It’s also free from additives, making it a healthier alternative to commercial mixes.

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More BTS. Photogs have it rough; they’re often the last to sit down (even after the journalist is done with the interview) because they have to take that perfect shot.

As for future plans, Jana is hoping to open five more stalls across Peninsular Malaysia, as well as a proper restaurant. All the best, Jana! Keep the passion alive. 🙂

SPICES CLAYPOT RICE

Restoran Try to Eat, 48, Jalan 1D, Taman Jati, 48000 Rawang, Selangor
Opening hours: 11AM – 11PM (daily)

facebook.com/spicesclaypotrice

Note: I interviewed Jana for the November issue of Fireflyz, the inflight magazine for Firefly Airlines. This article features a few tweaks and some additional info I wasn’t able to fit in to the story.

Help a Girl Out ! 

If you enjoyed reading this, please consider supporting my website. Contrary to popular belief, I do not make big moolah from writing – and this will go towards hosting fees and ensuring that I can continue to deliver authentic content for your reading pleasure. Thanks for stopping by!

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