‘Konbini‘ ( convenience store) culture has really taken off in Malaysia in the last couple of years – touting not just convenience, but alifestyle.
Family Mart has its popular oden counter (in Japan, it’s only available in summer, but you can get it all year round in Malaysia), ice blended drinks straight from the fridge, and soft serve ice cream. Meanwhile, Korean franchise CU and local brandMix.com.my carry a wide variety of imported snacks, with unique products like self-heating hotpot meals.
Despite being one of the OG konbinis in Malaysia, the brand has been slow in the uptake when it comes to attracting younger clientele. Most of their stores look dull and uninspiring, with generic products you can get at any supermarket or local kedai runcit. The only thing they have that other brands don’t is their Slurpee machine – and that doesn’t even work 9 times out of 10 lol. Which is sad, because I’ve been to 7-Elevens in Thailand, and they. are. awesome.
Someone in the Malaysian management must have thought the same, because they leveled up with a 7-Eleven flagship store in Bandar Puteri Puchong; also the brand’s largest in Malaysia. Spanning two storeys, it even has a cafe and a bookstore within. About time you upgraded, 7-E! And judging by the endless crowds here, it seems like they’ve finally figured out what makes their customers tick.
The ground floor is where they have the usual konbini stuff, but there’s a much larger variety of products available than the usual 7-E. Aside from snacks, ice cream, and beverages, they also sell frozen goods tgat you can cook at home such as fried chicken patties, nuggets, and the like. There’s also a counter with ready-to-eat meals including rice, pasta, onigiri, and sandwiches that you can request to be heated up.
There’s a cabinet selling 7-E merch – but unless you’re a hardcore 7-E fan, nobody in their right mind would pay RM99 for a tumbler lol.
Snacks aren’t the only thing at the store – toy enthusiasts can also find a nice collection of FunkoPop figurines.
Time to head upstairs! The first floor houses a cafe and mini bookstore, in collaboration with popular green tea cafe Niko Neko Matcha, and local bookstore chain Book Xcess, respectively. The space is beautifully designed – spacious, clean, and minimalist; with an island counter in the middle where baristas whip up drinks.
You can browse while you’re waiting for your orders.
There’s not a big selection, but it was enough to tempt me to get a couple of books (to join the rest of the unread pile at home, lol).
All in all, I enjoyed my trip to the 7-Eleven experience store – this is what konbinis should be about! According to this article by Marketing Interactive, it seems like the brand is planning to have more of these concept stores soon; so here’s to 7-E no longer being bland, boring, and blah!
7-ELEVEN FLAGSHIP STORE PUCHONG
No. 22A, Jalan Puteri 1/2, Bandar Puteri, 47100, Puchong, Selangor.
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The Korean Wave, which started in the 2000s, has only grown stronger over the last two decades – thanks to cultural exports such as BTS and dramas like Crash Landing on You and more recently, Squid Game. Korean food has also become increasingly popular, with Korean fried chicken joints and BBQ restaurants opening up every other week.
One recent trend is the cheese corn dog, a hot street food item in South Korea. What makes it different from the American corn dog is the batter (the Korean version uses rice flour or yeasted dough rather than cornmeal), and although they both feature hot dog centres, Korean corn dogs typically include cheese and other ingredients such as fish cakes or rice cakes.
I get my K-corn dog fix from Kaiju Crunch, which opened not too long ago at Lotus Bukit Puchong. The name can be a bit of a misnomer, since Kaiju is a Japanese term for the giant monster genre (the brand mascot is also a Godzilla-looking monster), but I’d like to think it’s all in good fun. You can choose to have your corn dogs in the outlet, but seating is rather limited.
Took this pic some time ago, so the pandemic was still quite serious then – so I thought it was a nice gesture of them to have this ‘food bank’ for the needy.
KaijuCrunch offers eight flavours. Some of them have the same filling, but with different coatings. Their signatures are the Kaiju Sausage(RM8.70), which is the basic hotdog with batter, and the Original MozaSausage(RM9.80), which consists of hotdog + mozarella cheese with batter.
You can request for different sauces to go with your corn dog, including cheese, mustard, mayonnaise, ketchup or chilli sauce.
I mean, what can I say? Solid corndog. You get melty, stretchy Mozzarella cheese and hot dog on the inside, and a nice crispy batter on the outside. Best eaten hot, but if you must take away, you can pop it into the microwave and voila!
Another one I tried was the Ramyeon MozaSausage (RM10.90). The filling’s the same, but the fried noodle coating adds an extra layer of crunch.
Other items you can order include the Cornflake MozaSausage and Korean Spicy MozaSausage. If you like sweeter stuff, opt for the Honey Almond Cornflakes, or Mozacocoreo.
KaijuCrunch offers a small selection of drinks as well. I like their Choco Crumble Milk. It’s pretty sweet because of the honeycomb candy, but I like it that way. Else, go for drinks like the Strawberry Fizzy with Popping Boba, Lychee Fizzy or Korean Melon Milk for a more refreshing taste.
Gotta get that cheese stretch!
KaijuCrunch has another outlet in Batu Caves.
Lot G28. No. 1, 1, Jalan BP 7, Bandar Bukit Puchong 2, 47120 Puchong, Selangor
Been meaning to blog more, but like the stereotypical millennial, I’ve been making poor life choices lately (like staying up until 3am every day. To play Witcher 3.)
But I digress.
This post was inspired by a recent hotpot dinner, where I ordered century eggs. Whenever I have them, I’m reminded of a good friend of mine and how horrified he was when I sent him a picture of my “rotten” dinner (century eggs with porridge). This coming from a Finn, who eats blood cakes for lunch and enjoys salmiakki as a treat lol.
Jokes aside, I can see how food in some cultures can be viewed as gross to others. Before sushi was popularised in the West, many considered the idea of eating raw fish downright unhygienic / disgusting. But as with everything else, cultures and attitudes can change – and I think people are much more adventurous these days when it comes to food. So without further ado: here’s a fun list of ‘bizarre’ foods (I love that show, by the way) that I’ve tried. Let me know what you think and if you’d be willing to try them!
For those who have never seen a century egg, it’s understandable to think it’s rotten – especially since the yolk is completely black and the albumen takes on a translucent, jelly-like appearance. A traditional delicacy in China, they are typically made from duck, chicken or quail eggs preserved in a mix of ash, clay, salt, quicklime and rice hulls for up to several months. The eggs have a pungent odour of hydrogen sulfide/ammonia, which comes from the preservative mix.In Malaysia where there is a large Chinese diaspora, century eggs are pretty common, and you can get them at the local market or Chinese grocers.
How it tastes: The jellied part tastes just like regular hard boiled egg but saltier, while the yolk has a rich and creamy consistency that is almost like avocado. Traditionally, century eggs are eaten together with slices of ginger (to cut through the pungency), but I like having it chopped up in porridge or served with noodles.
If there’s one food that epitomises the saying ‘its bark is worse than its bite’, it would be stinky tofu – a popular snack at night markets in China, Taiwan and Chinese-centric areas in Malaysia. As the name suggests, stinky tofu is, well, stinky. The best way I can describe it is if you mixed unwashed socks with the smell of wet dog and sewage, lol. The odour is a result of the tofu’s fermentation: traditionally, the tofu is marinated in a brine made from fermented milk, veggies and meat (recipes vary), and left to soak for several days to months. It is then served in soups, steamed or deep fried.
How it tastes: If you can get over the vulgar odour, stinky tofu is actually quite tasty, with a crispy exterior and light, fluffy insides. Here in Malaysia, it is usually served deep fried with a topping of chilli and various seasonings like soy sauce, which helps to mask the smell a little. It also has a somewhat… addictive quality. You know like how stinky feet is stinky but you’re still sort of drawn to it against your will ? …. or is that just me?
Yes, yes, we Chinese do love our preserved/ fermented food stuffs – but you have to understand that most of these were created in a time before refrigeration existed, so people had to come up with all sorts of ways to keep food edible for months, sometimes years. Fermented beancurd is commonly used as a condiment in Chinese cuisine, and there are several varieties, most of which have strong, pungent flavours (see a pattern here?). They are also nutritious, since tofu is very high in protein and contains virtually no cholesterol. Think of it as Chinese cheese.
How it tastes : Tofu on its own has no taste, so the beancurd takes on the flavour of whatever it is brined in. The most common type is the white one which has sugar, salt, chilli and rice wine. If you think about the culturing, it’s not unlike kombucha. Personally, I prefer the red fermented beancurd (nam yu) which incorporates red yeast rice. It has a pleasant, thick and rich aroma – great for deep fried pork ribs!
FROG FALLOPIAN TUBES (?)
Sometimes I think this is why people say the Chinese eat all sorts of sh*t, lol. Officially it is called hasma (in Cantonese, we call it ‘suet kap’) – basically dried fatty tissue from the fallopian tubes of certain types of frogs, typically the Asiatic Grass Frog. It is whitish in appearance, has a slimy texture, and is used as an ingredient in dessert soups. Back in the day, it was a luxurious item that would only be served to emperors and nobles. When I was a kid, my mom would boil these because in traditional Chinese medicine, suet kap is believed to have multiple health benefits, such as being good for the skin and respiratory system. I guess if I was an adult and someone told me I was eating frog fallopian tubes, I’d be hesitant but since I literally grew up eating this it doesn’t seem so gross.
How it tastes : Like birds nest, hasma is tasteless on its own, and is usually flavoured with rock sugar in dessert soups.
Ah, the king of fruits. I’m not a diehard fan as some of my fellow Malaysians are – if you served me durian I’d probably eat it – but I wouldn’t go out of my way to look for it. Malaysians love durian though: we even have ‘durian buffets’ where you can eat to your hearts fill.
Durian has an extremely pungent smell. There have even been cases where buildings were evacuated due to ‘suspected gas leaks’ – turns out someone brought some durians on-site. Personally I don’t find the texture or flavour intolerable. BUT. I have been told that durians that have been shipped overseas taste gross, because of how it has been shipped / the durians are way past their prime. Then again, Andrew Zimmerns had a freshly opened durian in Asia, and he described it as having a ‘taste like completely rotten mushy onions’. So, if you ever get to try it, I’ll let you be the judge.
How it tastes : Heaven … or hell. There is no in between. For me, it has a texture and taste similar to sweet custard, but with a much stronger flavour.
Escargots are a good example of the powers of branding. How else can you explain why snails – something people usually see as slimy and icky – are considered a gourmet delicacy, served in fine dining restos and high-end establishments? Escargot is associated with French cuisine, but it is served in many parts of Europe. The snails are usually from the species Helix pomatia. Here in Malaysia, we have our own version, called balitong – small sea snails that are a pain to suck out of their shells and have a texture similar to a chewy clam, cooked in sambal/chilli.
How it tastes : I had escargot once, on my grad trip. It was cooked in garlic butter which made the dish very fragrant, and the snails had a bouncy texture which I enjoyed.
Weird as some of the items on this list may seem, I enjoy most of them – with the exception of salmiakki. Also called salty liquorice, it is a common confectionery in Nordic countries. The candy is flavoured with salmiak salt (ammonium chloride), giving it a strong astringent and salty taste. These days, you can find salmiakki flavoured ice cream, chewing gum and even alcoholic beverages.
How it tastes: My Finnish friend sent me a box of these. I love you bud, but by god. Our friendship was tested that day. It was not only extremely salty to the point of being bitter, for some reason it also reminded me of burnt rubber tyres – like if someone tried to make that into a flavour, it would taste like salmiakki.
You know shit is real when Japs, known for their extreme politeness, react this way lol.
Eating insects is considered taboo in the West, but here’s a fun fact: insects are eaten by about 80 percent of the world’s population, a practice known as entomophagy. In recent times, companies are trying to introduce insects into the Western diet as part of the sustainability movement, since they are extremely high in protein and available in abundance – making insect-eating much more environmentally friendly. For some countries, eating insects stems from a history of poverty; people had to make do with whatever they could catch. Deep fried insects, such as crickets and grasshoppers, are common street food snacks in countries such as Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia.
How it tastes : I don’t really like insects – how they look, how they crawl, etc. so it was difficult to get over that mental barrier of eating them. Took the plunge on a trip to Phuket. They didn’t taste bad or anything – it was just like eating crispy whitebait (I had crickets). The silkworms had a chewy exterior and crumbly insides, which I actually liked more than the crickets.
The idea of eating a developing duck/chicken embryo sounds abhorrent. But if you think about it, balut is really just that – an egg. With a baby duck in it. And feathers. lol.
Commonly sold on the streets in the Philippines, balut eggs are boiled and eaten from the shell, with the eggs incubated for a period between 14 to 21 days. You crack it open and suck out the broth, dip it into some vinegar or salt, and eat the yolk and the chick.
How it tastes : I first tried balut in LA’s Filipinotown. I consider myself a pretty adventurous eater, but even I couldn’t stop the involuntary churning in my stomach as I cracked the shell open and saw the half-formed chick inside. When I finally summoned up enough courage to eat it, I was… surprised. It just tasted like egg / chicken (I mean, duh). Still, not something for the faint-hearted.
What are some dishes in your culture that other people might see as weird / exotic? Share them with me in the comments below! 🙂
Before the boba tea craze, there was the Taiwanese fried chicken craze.
I remember a time when Taiwanese fried chicken shops were popping up everywhere around Malaysia – Hot Star, Shihlin, Fried Chicken Master, J & G… but like many ‘trendy’ foods, of these, only a handful remain. Among them is Monga, a late entrant into the market which seems to be holding its own. There’s an outlet in Damansara Uptown which is pretty close to my workplace, so I’ve been dropping by for snacks every now and then during lunch break.
The name Monga is apparently based on a place name in Taiwan. They also have another branch in SS15, Subang Jaya.
One thing I like about the shop is that it’s impeccably clean. They are open for dine-in, but since these are snack foods, it isn’t much of a hassle to get your food to go.
What does Monga offer?
Well, their signature is the Taiwanese-style fried chicken fillet, featuring a boneless chicken thigh (Rm14.90). The price is on the steeper side, but the fillet seems huge. Aside from the Original, you also have the Seaweed and Chilli, and juicy Popcorn Chicken.
I actually have yet to try their signature because on both of my previous visits, I wasn’t looking for something heavy – but perhaps I’ll drop by for lunch proper one day!
The first time around I got Fried King Oyster Mushrooms (RM9.90). The portion was generous, and the mushrooms were lightly seasoned with salt and pepper, with a crispy batter enveloping thick yet soft mushrooms on the inside. I liked the texture as it had a meatiness and bite to it, and it still retained a lot of moisture even after deep frying. Highly recommended if you like mushrooms!
On my second visit, I got Fried Chicken skin (RM7.90) – an order I regretted lol. It’s not that it wasn’t good – I just felt really greasy and icky afterwards. If you’ve read my previous post about losing weight, I’ve been on a streak lately – I guess old habits die hard, and I’ve been stressed with work. I will try not to fall into these unhealthy eating traps again… or at least try not to do it so often.
With every purchase of a snack, you get to top up the meal with a drink for RM3.90. And ofc when you have Taiwanese snacks, you gotta have that Taiwanese boba ! The tea itself was quite tasteless and there was too much ice, so the sweetness only came from the pearls, which tasted decent.
MONGA (DAMANSARA UPTOWN)
66, Jalan SS 21/39, Damansara Utama, 47400 Petaling Jaya, Selangor
Before popcorn made its way to the masses in Malaysia, our parents and grandparents would have gone to the movie theater with a small white paper cone in hand.Inside, you’ll find an assortment of fried chickpeas, nuts, crisps and crunchy flour snacks flavoured with curry powder or other spices. This, ladies and gents, was kacang puteh.
Although we don’t have it at the movies anymore, kacang puteh has solidified its status as a perennial Malaysian favourite. Just like how Malaysians are made up of different races and religions, it’s difficult to pinpoint one particular ‘type’ of kacang puteh, because they come in all shapes, flavours, colours and sizes.
Kampong Kacang Puteh in Ipoh is supposedly where it all began.
Dating back at least four generations, the businesses were founded by Indian families who came to then British-ruled Malaya in the late 19th century. To supplement their income, they ran small shops selling snacks. Many of these items originate from southern India, such as Murukku, Pakkoda and Omapodi, but the shops today offer a wide assortment of locally-inspired flavours as well, such as tapioca chips and ice gem biscuits.
Every time we come back to Ipoh, we buy a buttload to bring home and/or give away to friends and colleagues. There are several shops in town, but we often go to this one called D.N.S. Food.
Signs in multiple languages. The stuff is halal too so Muslim customers can enjoy them.
In Malay we call it ‘rambang mata’ ie ‘cross eyed’ because there are just too many types to choose from! My favourites are the fish murukku and the wheel-shaped snack that has no name lol but every Malaysian kid growing up in the 90s knows of.
If you’re buying in bulk, get these giant sacks of kacang puteh and eat to your heart’s content.
A small corner selling Indian sweets. I like them in small amounts because their desserts are just wayyyyy too sweet.
Very reasonable prices.
Nicely packed and sealed.
They’re not too expensive; you can get a big packet for a reasonable price. The next time you’re in Ipoh, be sure to stop by this area for your kacang puteh fix!
DNS Kacang Putih
No.46 Laluan Sungai Pari 4 Kampong Kacang Putih 30100 Ipoh Perak
Keropok lekor is a popular fried fish snack in Malaysia, and you’ll often find them peddled from makeshift carts or food trucks on the street, freshly fried on the spot in a bubbling wok of hot oil. There are two kinds – the ‘crunchy’ type (or Keropok Lekor Keping) which is hard, long and crunchy, and the ‘stick’ variant (Keropok Lekor Goreng), a long tube of fried fish paste with a crispy texture on the outside and a solid bite on the inside.
I recently discovered a place near my office that serves these addictive treats. The bright red food truck is usually parked at the end of Lorong 8/1E in Seksyen 8, Petaling Jaya in the afternoon – although this depends on whether or not there’s parking space, so they aren’t there everyday.
Will you look at those beautiful golden goodies.
Aside from keropok lekor, they also have other traditional Malay fried snacks such as Cekodok Pisang (fried banana balls), pisang goreng (fried banana fritters), kuih and currypuffs. A giant bucket of chilli sauce
RM2 for 8 pieces. I remember the days when it used to be RM1 for 5.. dang I sound old. Haven’t tried the crispy one yet, but I really like the traditional tube-shaped ones. I polished off 16, by the way. .__.” They’re light and crispy, slightly porous on the inside, savoury without the overwhelming fish smell. Perfect, basically. Not too greasy either.
The fact that they’re not there everyday makes me appreciate them more lol. Maybe it’s also a good thing; otherwise I’d be stuffing my face with lekor everyday. 😀
Growing up, I listened to Taiwanese music from Energy/F4/Jay Chou/ F.I.R and watched Dao Ming Si on Meteor Garden like everyone else – but I’ve never thought of setting foot in Taiwan. Partly, it’s the language barrier, since I speak elementary Chinese and it’d be difficult to get around. So when my cousin suggested that we go for a fam trip there (and that he’d be planning the itinerary!), I thought it’d be a good idea to see what the island nation had to offer.
We departed from Kuala Lumpur International Airport on a four hour Cathay Pacific flight to HK, where we’d then switch to Taipei. Seats were cosy and spacious, with lots of inflight entertainment. Alternated between watching Dr Strange and falling asleep. Also a nice brunch of egg omelette, beef sausage and tomatoes, fruit, bread and yoghurt.
Rushing to make the connecting flight at HKIA. The place is huge, we literally ran past dozens of boarding gates.
1.5 hours later, our plane touched down in Taoyuan International Airport in Taipei. The airport had impressive, uniform designs that were simple yet elegant. Since it was end-winter, weather was cold, hovering just below the 20s.
Coming from Malaysia where we get alot of different races, it was a little weird coz everywhere I turned were Asian faces, be they Chinese/Taiwanese/South Koreans/Japanese/Malaysian-Chinese or Singaporeans.
Had to wait for our coach to Taichung (which would take another two hours) so I popped into a convenience store for some snacks. I like how their 7-11s and minimarts have a section for hot food, featuring various snacks on skewers (fish cakes, fish balls, meat balls, sausages) as well as the mandatory herbal eggs.
Our bus ride to Taichung, a bustling city in the middle of Taiwan, was uneventful. Upon arrival, we hopped into a cab and made our way to our hostel, located right smack in the middle of Taichung’s biggest night market – Feng Jia Night Market. ‘Busy’ is an understatement. The place was packed with people looking for supper – and boy oh boy, were they spoilt for choice. Steamed and fried dumplings, stinky tofu, grilled meats, boba tea, fried ‘popcorn’ chicken.. the market was a snack lover’s wet dream. It’s actually quite similar to the Malaysian pasar malam.
Large, colourful banners advertising each stall’s specialty hung overhead, fluttering slightly in the wind. The smells of food wafted into the cold winter air. We had to keep an eye on each other in the group so we wouldn’t get lost, as the interconnected streets were quite confusing. There weren’t too many street signs in English and the Taiwanese aren’t good at speaking it either, so if you don’t know Chinese you’re screwed lol.
Apparently Taiwan gets a significant number of Malaysian-Chinese tourists. We were tickled to find a Teh Tarik (Malaysian pulled tea) stall all the way here.
Assortment of grilled and braised meats. Taiwanese cuisine is often grilled, braised or fried.
Freshly grilled scallops.
Food stalls weren’t the only thing on sale. There were also lots of shops selling phone and camera accessories at overinflated prices – as is common with tourist spots.
One of the storefronts had two large vats with fishballs swimming in them, and the smell was super appetising so we stopped there for dinner. 🙂
Glutinous rice dumpling, which was quite similar to the bakchang we have in Malaysia. Its usually steamed with goodies inside; salted egg yolk, mushrooms and pork/chicken.
Mention Taiwanese food and chances are ‘Oyster Mee Sua’ would pop up. Meesua is a thin, silky noodle and the version here is cooked in a starchy broth with juicy oysters, then drizzled over with vinegar. A warm bowl of this just warms you up in cold weather! Also had a platter of braised pork intestines – chewy, salty goodness. Yes, I’m aware of the cholesterol levels, but one has to live to eat.
If crowds are a good indicator of how popular a restaurant is, then Mr Tuk Tuk in Sunway Pyramid certainly knows how to draw them in! During our visit for dinner on a weekday, a long line of hungry families and young working professionals could be seen snaking out from the shop, while every inch of spare space within was packed to the brim with customers. Even so, service was fast and efficient, and we got a seat within a few minutes (albeit, having to move tables around because they were packed so tightly we couldn’t enter lol).
With vibrant city scenes as wallpaper, cosy yellow lighting, road signs, wooden pallets and even a replica of a tuktuk at the shopfront, diners are transported to the bustling street food capital of Bangkok, Thailand. Not exactly a place to chill with a laptop and a drink, but perfect for sharing good food with good company.
Thai Iced Green Tea / Thai Iced Tea (RM7.80) were both cool and refreshing. The iced tea, with its distinctive orange hue, tasted exactly like the one I tried in Phuket! 🙂 Unlike cloyingly sweet milk tea drinks, Thai iced tea usually carries a balancing bitterness from orange blossom water and star anise, and a creaminess from the sweetened condensed milk.
Ordered the Tom Yum Goong Na Sai (Seafood) – a clear, spicy broth loaded with all sorts of goodies. Ingredients include limes, lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, mushrooms, tomatoes, fish sauce, cilantro, chilli peppers, tamarind paste, onions and chilli paste – giving the soup a salty, sweet, sour and spicy kick all at once. It’s great for polishing off bowls of rice. The version here came with medium-sized shrimps and chewy squid. While the flavour was good, it did get overwhelmingly sour and salty after a bit.
Side of fried chicken wings, which were crunchy and juicy without being too greasy.
Jo’s Thai Basil Chicken came with rice, fried egg and chicken wing sides. Portions were generous, flavours were there, and it’s only RM10.80. Very value for money!
To share – Thai Special Platter (RM23.90)prawn crackers, spring rolls, tender barbecued chicken, chicken basted with honey and mango salad with a peanut dip. My favourite was the honey chicken, as it had a nice sweet coating over smokey, grilled meat.
Overall, the portions were generous, service was fast and efficient, and the food was tasty. Prices were also very reasonable. It’s not surprising why they’re enjoying brisk business. Would come again to try something else next time 😉
MR TUK TUK
LG2.27, Sunway Pyramid Shopping Mall,
3, Jalan PJS 11/15,
47500 Petaling Jaya,