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Things to Do@Tropicana Gardens Mall, Kota Damansara

Malls these days follow a cookie-cutter formula – if you’ve been to one, you’ve been to them all.

Once in awhile, though, you find neighbourhood places like Tropicana Gardens Mall in Kota Damansara. Despite being a stone’s throw away from well known malls like IKEA Damansara, 1Utama and The Curve, Tropicana Gardens holds its own with a unique mix of offerings and cool tenants; most notably Japanese discount chain store Don Don Donki, as well as the largest Starbucks Reserve in Malaysia.

Although it’s far from my house, I’ve been here a couple of times, mostly to visit Donki, but also coz it’s a nice mall to shop at, with everything under one roof.

If you haven’t had the chance to visit, here’s what to expect!

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The mall spans five floors, and has a star-shaped layout. It’s fairly new (the mall opened in February 2021), so the upper floors are quite empty – but there’s plenty to explore on the lower floors. A golden tree takes centre stage at the main concourse, and they spruce it up with different decorations for every season (this pic was taken over a Christmas visit).

SHOP FOR JAPANESE SNACKS AND GOODS AT DON DON DONKI

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One of the mall’s highlights is, of course, the Don Don Donki. This is the second Donki outlet in Malaysia and also the largest, covering nearly 4,000 sq m across two floors. There is a wide variety of goods to shop for here, from fresh produce and snacks, to cosmetics, gym equipment and toys imported from Japan. You can read a more detailed post here.

DO SOME READING AT BOOK XCESS

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Lifestyle bookstore Book Xcess, which sells most of its titles for half the price of what you get at normal bookstores (they’re able to do this as they sell remainder books — books that were overprinted and weren’t taken by conventional bookstores, but are brand new), has a branch on the 2nd floor. If you’re a bibliophile, you can wile the hours away browsing, or just soaking in the store’s cosy aesthetics. I especially like the floor to ceiling ‘wave’ book shelf that stretches from one end of the shop to the other.

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GRAB A BITE

Tropicana Gardens Mall has a fair selection of F&B tenants, from fast food chains to chic cafes. There is also an area called Pitstop which is inspired by the food truck concept — with food truck-shaped kiosks, open seating, and gas station-themed decor.

Personally, I would recommend Tendon Kohaku, which specialises in tempura bowls. Other notable restaurants here include Delay No More Crab Restaurant, Dodo Dimsum Bowls, Go Street Noodle, Ramen Bankara, Rakuzen, D’Italiane, and Sukishi. Don’t forget to check out the snack bars, cafes and bakeries such as Chizu, Park’s Bagels and Gula Cakery.

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GET A MAKEOVER

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The upper floors host a number of salons and beauty parlours where you can get your hair cut, washed and styled, or enjoy beauty treatments.

JOIN A DANCE OR SINGING CLASS

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Here, you can find Flow Academy, a creative school dedicated to the performing arts. They offer dancing and fitness as well as music and singing classes. Many of the academy’s students perform professionally, but you can sign up too if you’re looking to pick up a hobby.

PLAY AND BUY TRADING CARDS AND BOARD GAMES

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If nerdy stuff is more your thing (and I mean it in the best way, being a nerd myself), Invictus Force carries a wide selection of tabletop accessories, trading cards and board games. They also host events for games like Pokemon and Magic: The Gathering.

CATCH A FILM

I haven’t been to the theatres for over two years now, and probably will not in the near future — but for movie-buffs, the mall has a Golden Screen Cinemas on the top floor.

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The upper floors are quite empty at present.

SING KARAOKE

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Another activity that I haven’t done for years is karaoke — my college mates and I used to go every other week, as it was relatively ‘cheap’ entertainment (20 bucks for 4 hours — but this was back in the 2010s :P). Now that we’re all working, it has been hard to go for such activities, and even if we have free time we end up at a cafe anyway.

If you’d like to sing your heart out and belt out some Whitney Houston, Loudspeaker is on the same floor as the cinema.

SHOOT STUFF UP AT THE ARCADE

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Or race some cars, play some drums, shoot a few hoops.

Last but not least…

GRAB SOME COFFEE AT THE STARBUCKS RESERVE

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The mall is home to Malaysia’s largest Starbucks Reserve (they’re essentially ‘high-end Starbucks’, carrying  ‘a selection of the rarest, most extraordinary coffees Starbucks has to offer’, prepared through different techniques such as Chemex, siphon and pour-over). I haven’t actually been inside (on my visits, I was always too full from eating at the other restos or stuffing my face at Donki, lol), but I’d like to drop by on my next trip. It looks impressive enough from the outside, where there is al fresco seating and an outdoor area with beautiful murals.

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If you have the weekend free, Tropicana Gardens Mall is worth a visit! There is ample parking (although the entrance is quite difficult to find — you have to go past the drop-off point in front of the mall, then make a U-turn when you’re almost at the exit), and alternatively, you can take the MRT and stop at the Surian station.

TROPICANA GARDENS MALL

29 No, Unit CC, 2A, Persiaran Surian, Tropicana Indah, 47810 Petaling Jaya, Selangor

Website

PS: This is not a sponsored post. Opinions here are entirely my own.

PS2: If you liked this post, please consider supporting my blog via Patreon, so I can make more. Or buy me a cup of coffee on Paypal @erisgoesto!

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Largest Don Don Donki in Malaysia @ Tropicana Gardens Mall, Petaling Jaya

Earlier this year, Japanese discount chain store Don Don Donki opened its first outlet in Malaysia at Lot 10, Bukit Bintang, Kuala Lumpur. It was very well received, with people queueing up for hours just to get into the shop on the first day. I visited the store a month after its opening (read about it here), and it was a great shopping experience, with lots of interesting things to see and buy.

Fast forward to December 2021, and Don Don Donki has opened its second store at Tropicana Gardens Mall, Petaling Jaya. Covering over 42,000 square feet and spanning two floors, this is also the largest Donki in the country. Plans are in the works for a dozen other Donkis, but in the meantime, let’s see what this outlet has in store!

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I came during a weekday, so there was no queue, and I was able to shop in peace without having to squeeze my way through crowded aisles.

The entrance to the shop is located on the first floor. You go up the escalator in the central area ,then make a U-turn to where Donki is. The signs are a bit confusing as they point to the far end of the ground floor, which is where the exit is.

Video here. Subscribe if you haven’t already!

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You’ll be greeted by CosmeDonki as soon as you enter the shop, which is a section that carries makeup, beauty, and wellness products. Not my thing, so I made a beeline for the food section next to it. This area has numerous dessert counters, with items such as souffle, pudding, jellies, mochi, sweet sando (sandwiches), basque cheesecakes served in cups, and more.

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Here, you’ll find Japanese condiments like bonito flakes and wasabi furikake.
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Onigiri with a unique packaging design! I assume it’s meant to be convenient, especially for salarymen on the go.
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We might not be able to travel right now due to restrictions, but you can still experience a taste of Japan, as Donki carries specialty items from the different prefectures.
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On this floor, you can choose from a wide variety of ready-to-eat meals, from sushi rolls and sashimi over rice, to fried gyoza, karaage (fried chicken), bento bowls, and more.

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To cater to Muslims, the store has a section carrying halal certified products.
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Aside from food, there is a section dedicated to sports and gym equipment, as well as hobbies and toys. Check out these adorable socks.

One thing I observed with this Donki outlet – they seem to be focused more on food. The Donki in KL has a wider selection of household products. But being a foodie, I’m not complaining! The aisles are also a little organised compared to Don Don Donki KL, in that they’re neatly sectioned according to category, so it makes it easier to shop. The design still has that characteristic Donki ‘feel’ though, with shelves piled high with products, loud and colourful posters and signages, and of course, their mascot Donpen.

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After buying your snacks or ready-to-eat meals, you can pay for them directly and enjoy the food at a dining area nearby. There’s more to explore downstairs, though, so this can be like a ‘pitstop’ to your shopping.

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Try your hand at a capsule machine!
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Just before the escalator is a section selling street food. I adore this concept as they’ve designed the stalls (yatai) to look like Japanese railway stations, with the signs at each stall displaying destinations like Tokyo and Osaka. Each stall also sells a street food that is famous from that region; for example Taiyaki (fish-shaped pastries with filling) for Tokyo, Takoyaki (octopus balls) for Osaka, and Tako Senbei (octopus crackers) for Kanagawa.

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On the ground floor, you’ll be directed past a section selling premium Japanese goods, such as handmade Ukiyoe soaps, frozen seafood from Hokkaido including giant hairy crabs and fat, juicy scallops, handmade crafts, teas, as well as kimonos.

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Also in this area is the kitchen, where you’ll be able to see through a glass window the staff prepare sushi and sashimi, to be sold at the store.

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You then exit from this small section and reenter through another entrance, which is where they have the fresh produce, such as vegetables, fruits, meat and seafood. Most of these are imported from Japan. Everything looks fresh and is beautifully displayed – but expect to pay higher-than-average prices, of course.

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Wagyu beef, thinly sliced for grilling or the hotpot.
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Of course, not to be missed is the fresh seafood section. Thick cuts of tuna, uni (sea urchin), salmon, tako (octopus) – you name it, they got it.

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Uni. Which I still haven’t tried to date, by the way, due to its expensive price tag.
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Sashimi cuts, complete with sauces for dipping.
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Fish roe
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Unagi (eel)
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Moving on from the fresh produce section, you’ll come to the snacks section selling dry goods, including snacks, ramen, biscuits, drinks, and more.

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Have you tried Ramune? I first had this carbonated drink in San Francisco’s Japantown, and the little glass ball in the bottle has always fascinated me. Apparently in the old days, before the invention of bottle caps, it was used to stopper the drink and prevent the carbon from escaping. In modern times, Ramune is a symbol of summer in Japan, where it is often enjoyed at festivals.

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Anime fans are not left out, as you’ll also find anime-themed merchandise here, such as these Demon Slayer-themed snacks.

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I was tickled to find the Sakeru Gummy candy, which was popularised by the hilarious series of ads featuring the Long Long Man character. And it was, indeed, true to the name, measuring 50cm. There was a short version too.

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More unusual products – giant serving of noodles
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A lot of thought goes into packaging and presentation when it comes to Japanese products. I, at least, feel tempted to buy (and keep) them just for their looks lol.

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After over an hour exploring the aisles, I finally settled on a couple of snacks, some chuuka idako (marinated baby octopus) and fried squid. Would have liked to get more, but my budget doesn’t allow for it. Check out was fast as they have multiple counters, and there are staff members to help you bag your purchases. But do note that they don’t provide plastic bags, so you’ll have to bring your own or buy their recyclable tote bags.

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The squid was a bit rubbery since it had been fried early in the day, but it was well seasoned. The octopus was excellent and came in a sizable portion, considering the price.

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And that was my trip to Don Don Donki Tropicana Gardens Mall! I actually enjoyed shopping here more than the KL outlet. Not only is it closer to where I stay, so I don’t have to brave KL traffic, they also have a larger section dedicated to food and snacks, which is what I prefer over household goods or toys anyway. Another plus point would be the organisation – it’s definitely more neatly organised than Donki KL.

To those planning a visit, I recommend coming early or on a weekday to avoid the crowds. Tropicana Gardens Mall is a good place to shop too, with lots to see.

DON DON DONKI (TROPICANA GARDENS MALL)

Lot CC-26, 27, 28 & Lot G-20, 20A, 21 Tropicana Gardens Mall 2A, Persiaran Surian, Tropicana Indah Petaling Jaya, 47810 Selangor

Open daily

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Pavilion Bukit Jalil, Kuala Lumpur

The pandemic has put a damper on many plans — but with things now easing up a little, it looks like the economy is getting back on track, with the opening of new malls and entertainment spots. The latest to join the fray is Pavilion Bukit Jalil, which opened its doors on December 3. A ‘sister’ mall of sorts to the iconic Pavilion Kuala Lumpur, it spans five floors and has over 1.8 million sq ft of retail space, making it one of the largest malls in Malaysia.

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I went to the mall a week after its opening. Manage your expectations if you’re planning a visit, as not all the shops are open yet. Once they do, however, I imagine it’ll be super busy, as there are many popular brands, including familiar ones that you can find at Pavilion KL (plus point for us living in South Klang Valley — we won’t have to drive all the way to the city centre for the Pavilion experience!)

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The design of Pavilion Bukit Jalil is similar to Pavilion Kuala Lumpur, with the ground floor dedicated to restaurants and eateries. Food options at the time of this writing include Secret Recipe, Grandmama’s, Shihlin Taiwanese Snacks, and a non-halal food court called Eight Avenue.

Here’s a semi-walking tour of the mall. Subscribe to my Youtube channel if you haven’t already!

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As a foodie, I think a visit to Pavilion Bukit Jalil is worth it for The Food Merchant alone. Located on the ground floor, this premium grocer offers a wide selection of local and international food products, from fresh produce and dried goods, to cookies, snacks, wines, and more.

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The space is intuitively designed, making it easy to navigate across the different sections. As soon you enter, you’ll be greeted by cheerful Christmas decor, and the “Vineyard” section that sells wines and alcoholic beverages. Further along are the fresh vegetables, seafood, and meat and poultry sections. There is a small dining area to the left, where you can rest and grab a bite. There are sections dedicated to organic items, as well as products from particular countries, such as China, Australia, Thailand, and Korea.

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Was tempted to get these ‘mystery boxes’ for gifting. Tis’ the season, after all
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The Food Merchant has a wide selection of produce that you might not necessarily get from your local pasar or hypermarket. Some of the more unusual things I found were Chitose melons from Japan (RM100 each), and banana blossom (jantung pisang) — which I know Malays and Indians like to use in their cooking, but I have rarely seen being sold in supermarkets.

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Locally grown jalapenos
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The grocer plays its part in providing environmentally-friendly options, such as this section with dried goods where you can bring your own containers to measure out the amount you need. This helps to reduce plastic and avoids wastage.

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I love the butter and cheese section. So much variety! Got some hummus.
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I was very tempted to buy this giant bottle of coffee (RM50). It was the length of my forearm and at least twice the width.
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Just past checkout is a Mahnaz Food store, a chain that specialises in Middle Eastern and Mediterranean snacks, like dates, nuts and honey. What intrigued me, though, were the long rolls of colourful desserts on display. Ladies and gentlemen, these are the elusive Turkish Delights — if you’ve read or watched the Narnia series, you’ll know that the Snow Queen conjured up some for Edmund Pevensie; and I’ve always wondered what would taste so good that you’d betray your family and friends for it lol.

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So I tried a Honey and Almond one. They’re wonderful. Chewy like nougat, with bits of crunchy nuts within, all wrapped in a sticky sweet layer of sugar and honey. I understand you now, Edmund.

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Time to check out the Concourse Area! The design is very similar to Pavilion Kuala Lumpur, down to the iconic red ‘Spanish steps’. Christmas decor is in full swing, with giant baubles hanging from the ceiling, a snow tunnel, Christmas trees and a carousel. It’s really festive and great for photos. They do have crowd control, though, so you’ll have to queue up to enter the concourse.

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Parkson is another anchor tenant in the mall. Other notable stores that are open include a Harvey Norman, Toys R’Us, HOHM, and Mr DIY. Expect a Dadi cinema and karaoke too in the coming months.
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All the walking around made me hungry, so I stopped at Dai Cha Dim for a late lunch. It’s one of the few proper restaurants that are open in the mall, so it was still quite busy even around 4PM. The restaurant specialises in Cantonese cuisine, the likes of roasties, wantan noodles, dim sum, and steamed rice bowls.

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First, an appetiser of fried wontons. They were fried to golden brown perfection, and unlike places where all you get is wrapper skin, these were sizable, each holding a whole juicy piece of shrimp, plus minced pork meat, within.

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For my mains, I had roasted pork (siew yok) with soy sauce. This technique of double cooking (roasting the pork, then stir-frying it again in soy sauce) gives it a deep and intensely rich flavour. If you like fatty pork, this will be right up your alley — the fat didn’t feel greasy at all, and it had a melt-in-the-mouth consistency. One can easily polish off bowls of rice with this.

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To wash it all down, a bottle of HK Milk tea, served in an ice bucket so that the drink remains cold without diluting its flavour. PS: Dai Cha Dim is located on the first floor.

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So how was my overall experience at Pavilion Bukit Jalil?

Pleasant, as it was not crowded, but there really isn’t much to see at the moment, except The Food Merchant and the Christmas decor. Parking is cheap, considering the location, and getting here is easy by car and LRT (you’ll still need to take a Grab from the Bukit Jalil station, though, as it’s far to walk — about 3KM). I’ll make a return visit when more shops are open next year, and I’m especially looking forward to Filipino fast food chain Jollibee, which will be opening here in March 2022.

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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May 2021: Another Bath & Body Works Haul

Once in awhile, you come across a deal that’s just too good to pass up.

At least, that’s how I felt when I saw that luxury and lifestyle conglomerate Valiram was having a sale for brands under its wing, including Bath & Body Works. Last Christmas, I went overboard with my shopping so I still have a tub of body butter to finish, but I couldn’t resist getting more lotions – because you don’t get deals like these too often. “But aren’t you just spending money for things that you could have done without?” you ask. Perhaps, but since I AM going to use them, I don’t think they’re a total waste of money, so shush. 😛

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The order came pretty fast and was nicely packaged.

Video if you’re lazy to read. Have you subscribed yet? #shamelessplug
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Of course, buying things on sale means you won’t be getting the latest products or much variety, but I think that’s a fair trade – and if you haven’t tried something before, isn’t it essentially ‘new’? At their regular price, each bottle costs RM75, so 3 would have been around RM220+, but I got all of these for just RM56 (excluding shipping) – which means a 75% discount. Don’t you think that’s a steal?

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The Winter Candy Apple has been a Christmas staple since 2014. If you like fruity scents, this one will be right up your alley, with fragrance notes of red apple, winter rose petals and candied orange, formulated with shea butter and added vitamin E.

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My favourite among the bunch is the Lovely Dreamer, which has notes of fluffy musk, clean woods and fresh bergamot. The delectable concoction is whipped to luxurious perfection with coconut oil, shea butter and vitamin E.

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Last but not least, we have Forever Red. This is perfect for those romantic dinner dates (well, when we can go out again anyway), with top notes of fiery pomegranate, rare French peach and luminous apple, mid-notes of red peony, night marigold and red osmanthus, and dry notes of rich vanilla, velvety marshmallow and oak wood. If you’re envisioning a dessert of some kind, you’re not the only one. Dabbing some on before you sleep can help with relaxation; almost like aromatherapy.

With this, I am all set with my body care needs for the next 6 months!

Or at least until Christmas sale.

If you’re keen on grabbing some lotions, body shower gels or other pampering items, Valiram’s sale is still ongoing at valiram247.com. You can also shop for other luxury and lifestyle brands under their umbrella, including Michael Kors, Montblanc, Godiva, Victoria’s Secret, Tory Burch, Swarovski, and more.

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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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!

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Review: Shopping At Malaysia’s First Don Don Donki Store @ Lot 10, Kuala Lumpur

Earlier in March, Japanese discount chain store Don Don Donki opened its first outlet in Malaysia at Lot 10 in Bukit Bintang, Kuala Lumpur. Needless to say, the crowds were massive, with people queueing for hours just to get into the shop.

It’s been a month and the hype has died down a little – so I thought it would be a good time to check out what they have in store.

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I went on a weekday afternoon, and thankfully there was no queue. The entrance is on the second floor, so you’ll have to go up a couple of escalators. I suggest parking at Fahrenheit 88 nearby and walking over. It’s also advisable to go to the toilet beforehand, as there is no toilet inside the store and the toilets at Lot 10 have a 50-cent charge.

For the uninitiated, Don Don Donki (or Don Quijote as it is known in Japan) is a popular Japanese discount chain store with over 160 shops nationwide, and a strong presence in Asian Pacific markets such as Thailand, Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan and now Malaysia. They are known for being open till late (some shops are open 24 hours), and for having a distinctive retail concept which features aisles packed from floor to ceiling with goods.

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I have been to a Donki store in Tokyo, and it can be overwhelming for a first-timer – what with the explosion of colours, loud posters and merchandise everywhere. The Malaysian outlet has a similar design, with narrow aisles filled with all sorts of products imaginable, from toys and clothing, to cosmetics and snacks, most of which are imported from Japan. Unlike hypermarkets where there are clear signages indicating the sections, Don Don Donki’s layout is a jumble: everything here seems to vie for your attention.

If you’re lazy to scroll, here’s a video! And while you’re at it, don’t forget to subscribe. 🙂

Entering the store, you will come to the household goods and kitchenware section, and an area selling gym equipment and Donki merchandise such as plushies, toys and bags. The kitchen is located on this floor as well, and you can watch the staff preparing the food through glass windows.

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Don Don Donki’s mascot is a blue penguin called Donpen.
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Be prepared to have the Don Don Donki theme song stuck in your head after your visit. They play it on an infinite loop through the loudspeakers.
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The aisles here are very narrow, so even when there aren’t too many people, the place can feel cramped and claustrophobic. I don’t think SOPs were followed strictly (or should I say, it can’t be enforced due to the tight space?). At the snack aisles, for example, there was only room for 2 people to walk through, and I had to back-peddle out of the aisles several times whenever I saw people coming from the other end – there was simply no room for me to squeeze through.

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Some of the more unique items on sale. Be prepared to shell out a premium.
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Cosmetics section with vanity mirrors.

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The second floor wasn’t really my thing – I was more interested in the first floor, which is where they sell fresh produce and food items. When going down the staircase, the Don Don Donki staff will ask if they can help with your basket or trolley, which is a nice gesture.

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There is a wide selection of produce to choose from, including meat and vegetables, and of course, seafood. Following the design theme, every inch of this floor is packed with products – even the ceilings are filled with decorations. They also have these giant monitors playing interviews with farm owners / fishermen, which may tell you more about how the seafood was caught, or how crops were cultivated before they ended up in store.

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The store carries many common ingredients seen in Japanese cuisine, but may be more difficult to find in local hypermarkets.

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Assorted beef cuts. They also carry wagyu platters.
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The ready-to-eat section is an island counter laden with items such as chicken karaage, kaki furai (fried oyster), tori nanban, donburi bowls, fried squid, and more. The food is kept under heated lamps to keep them warm, but you can also reheat them upon checkout. Some of the food contains alcohol (such as the unagi don), so remember to check the labels if you’re unable to consume alcohol.

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 They import the seafood here from Toyosu Fish Market in Tokyo. Inset is Yasuhiro Yamazaki-san, the company president of Yamaharu Co., Ltd, whom I interviewed for an assignment a couple of years ago.
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The sushi and sashimi section. They have otoro (tuna belly) here, which is quite rare to see outside of premium Japanese restaurants.
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Uni (sea urchin)
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Humongous oysters, scallops and octopi
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Moving on to the ground floor, there are more food items including a section for fruits and dried goods.

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The aisles before checkout are also packed with easy-to-grab goods, to get customers to get a couple more items before payment. There are a lot of checkout counters, so payment is fast. They also bag up your items for you. If you’ve purchased food, you can proceed back up to the first floor, where there is a dining area outside the shop.

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Fried squid. Forgot to reheat it so I just had it cold. It wasn’t crispy anymore but the flavour was pretty good.
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Coming here is an exercise in self control. There are so many interesting things to buy, but if you’re not careful, it can blow a big hole in your wallet. I wanted to keep my budget below RM50, so I only got the above: the most expensive item was the tonkotsu instant noodles (RM12+), followed by the baked cheese cake snacks (RM9.90), the caramel corn snacks (RM8.50) and two cream puffs (RM5.90 each).

So how was my experience at Don Don Donki Malaysia?

While the selection of products is not as extensive as their outlets in Japan, I think there is still plenty to see and buy here, especially food items. Prices are premium, but that is to be expected, given that most of the goods are brought in from Japan, and you do get some unique things that you won’t be able to find in local grocery stores or hypermarkets. The displays are very colourful and attractive, but it can get tiring after awhile due to the visual and sensory overload.

That being said, there are a few things that the shop can improve on. The aisles are narrow, so getting people to follow SOPS is a challenge. It’s also not comfortable to take your time and shop, as it can get crowded and stuffy. I would suggest coming on a weekday, if possible. If not, then maybe come earlier on the weekend. Store opening hours are from 8AM – 12PM.

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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Shopping For Clothes Online At SHEIN

The pandemic has changed many aspects of our lives, including the way we shop. While it can be convenient to have things delivered right to your doorstep, there are some drawbacks as well, especially when it comes to items or products that require fitting, like shoes or clothes.

I don’t have the typical Asian build, and even before COVID, it was difficult finding clothes in physical stores that would fit me right, let alone online. This wasn’t much of a problem, since I rarely ventured out during quarantine anyway. During Chinese New Year, however, it is customary to get new clothes (it’s symbolic more than anything) — which is why I tried to shopping on SHEIN for the first time.

Founded in 2008, SHEIN is a Chinese company headquartered in Nanjing. With its forward fashion and cheap prices, it has managed to attract a surprisingly large Western customer base of millennials and Gen Zs. It’s not uncommon to see famous Youtubers doing SHEIN ‘haul’ videos.

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The website is responsive and intuitively designed, with neat tabs for the various categories, and further sub categories for different styles such as tops, bottoms, shoes, accessories, etc. Aside from Women, Men and Kids, there’s also a Curve + Plus section carrying plus-size clothing.

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The pages are easy to navigate, and there are helpful filters on the left to help users look for specific items, such as according to sleeve length, pattern type, size, style and material. Clicking in to a particular item will also display the approximate measurements for each size, broken down into sections for bust, shoulder width, sleeve length, etc. If you’re looking for some photo samples on real people, scroll down to the comment section where users can post reviews and photos of themselves wearing the selected item.

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After browsing around for what seemed like ages, I finally settled for a long-sleeved top (1XL) and a pair of shorts (0XL). The prices are fairly reasonable, but they’re not exactly the cheapest on the market. My orders came to about USD15.99, or about RM64.

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The orders arrived quite quickly, within the week. They were nicely packed in resealable plastic bags.

If for some reason you’d like to return the items (maybe they don’t fit, or they’re damaged, or they’re not to your taste), you can return them within 30 days in new condition, and the company will process a refund.

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The clothing runs big so you might want to order a size down from your usual. The shirt was quite comfy and warm, but it was too loose for me – I’ll probably wear this as pyjamas. The shorts were loose at the hips and tighter around the waist, but otherwise fit well.

So my first experience shopping online on SHEIN wasn’t too bad, but I wouldn’t say I was thrilled with the clothes, especially since I didn’t get to try them beforehand. RM64 isn’t expensive, but local brands like Padini can be much cheaper, and fit better as well. Still, they do have nice designs at relatively affordable prices, so it’s something you can consider when looking for your next outfit.

Have you purchased anything from SHEIN before? How do you find their clothes?

asia.shein.com