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Review: Vegetarian Food @ Soul Kitchen, Puchong Jaya

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SOUL KITCHEN (PUCHONG JAYA)

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

Opening hours: 10.30AM -9.30PM (Daily)

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Bug’s Paradise Farm, Puchong – Organic Farm and Cafe by BMS Organics

Organic food has risen in popularity in recent years, as more people adopt a healthier lifestyle – but farm-to-table experiences are still relatively rare in Malaysia, as is awareness to the concept. BMS Organics, a popular local organic food and cafe chain, is aiming to change that – by bringing the experience to urban dwellers.

Video here:

Located within a quiet spot in Kampung Pulau Meranti Puchong, Bugs Paradise Farm is a relatively new endeavor, having opened in the later half of 2020. The compound houses a spacious open-air shop selling organic goods, next to a cafe and a plot of farmland where organic vegetables are grown. There is also an enclosure with small animals like rabbits, chickens and ducks. The cafe serves fusion dishes by day, and steamboat (hotpot) by night. PS: This is a vegetarian cafe, so most of their products are plant-based.

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Parking is free, but note that the parking area is not paved and spots are limited.
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The fam and I visited on a weekend and the place was not too busy. Most of the visitors were families with young children. There is plenty of space, so definitely a better option than crowded shopping malls. The cafe itself is a simple structure with attap roofing, which gives the place a rustic feel. The ceilings are high, so even though there is no air-conditioning, it’s quite cooling even in the afternoon.

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Kiosks serving hot cocoa and drinks, although these were not open during our visit.
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The menu has a variety of dishes, including rice and porridge meals, noodles and spaghetti, poke bowls and appetisers. Prices range from RM15-RM25 for mains.

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Visitors can go on farm tours, where a guide will share knowledge on organic farming and take visitors on a stroll around the farm, followed by lunch at the cafe. Pre-bookings are required. (RM38 per pax)

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Organic food lovers will be thrilled as there are lots of products available at the shop, from organic soybeans, quinoa and tri-millet, to fresh vegetables, kombucha, sauces, jams, and more. There’s also a frozen food section where you can buy pre-packed food that you can cook at home.

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As for the cafe, we had a hiccup during our visit. Orders are made by scanning a QR code, but for some reason, they did not register in the system. We ended up going to the counter, where the staff manually keyed in each dish into the computer.

Even so, there was still a mix-up, and all the dishes that came to our table were the wrong orders. The kitchen had to make our dishes again from scratch, and we had to wait about 50 minutes to an hour for them to arrive. It didn’t help when other people who arrived to the cafe later than us got their orders first. We inquired with one of the waitstaff, who took the receipt we had and disappeared to the back of the resto for a long time.

I think it was genuinely a computer error and miscommunication, as the items printed on the receipt were correct, but the orders came out wrong. Still, it would have been nice if they had communicated the situation/updated us on the status of our dishes, rather than have us wait for an hour unsure if we should remind them again in case they had forgotten our orders.

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Mom’s Herbal Soup with Yee Mee (RM16.90), which came served in a claypot. The soup had a good amount of red dates and wolfberries in it.

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Pops’ Herbal Soup with Multigrain Rice (RM15.90). You can opt to change to cauliflower rice at an additional charge.

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I ordered the Lion’s Mane Mushroom Wrap, which is essentially a vegan burrito. Inside was fresh lettuce, carrots, purple cabbage and mushrooms plus a creamy sesame sauce, which bound all the elements together. I don’t like vegetables in general, but these were fresh, sweet and crunchy, and the mushrooms had a nice meat-like texture to them.

Also got two half-boiled asthaxanthin eggs (not pictured). Asthaxanthin is an antioxidant that is present in many types of sea creatures like salmon, crabs, lobsters and shrimp, and is purported to have health benefits such as boosting the immune system and cardiovascular health. Chicken feed is mixed with it to get eggs rich in asthaxanthin – which is a good option for vegetarians who can’t consume seafood.

PS: When we made payment, the cafe gave us a free packet of veggies as an apology for the mix-up with our orders, which was a nice gesture.

Bug’s Paradise Farm is a good place to visit, especially now that interstate travel isn’t yet allowed due to the pandemic. Aside from the issue I mentioned above, which I think they tried their best to rectify, I enjoyed my time there. The food is slightly more expensive, but that is to be expected for organic ingredients. The location isn’t ideal, since it’s in an area surrounded by factories, but the fencing around the plot helps to block out the view.

Bookings for farm tours can be made here. Tours are in Mandarin or English.

GETTING THERE

Bugs Paradise Farm is located at Lot 46692, Jalan Pulau Meranti, Kampung Pulau Meranti, 47120 Puchong, Selangor. It is a 20 minute drive from the Puchong city centre (IOI Mall area), and about 20 minutes from Cyberjaya. Opens 12PM – 10PM from Wednesdays to Fridays, and 10AM – 10PM on weekends. Closed Mon – Tues.

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KFC Malaysia Released A “Zero Chicken Burger” – But It’s Not Vegan / Vegetarian-Friendly

You know what KFC is without the chicken?

Just KF.

…. Okay lame.

In all seriousness, woke up today and KFC’s icon on Facebook had turned green. Malaysians being Malaysians, there were many ‘mak kau hijau’ and ‘bila masa KFC dah join PAS ni?’ jokes. But it’s actually in conjunction with the launch of KFC’s new Zero Chicken Burger, a ‘chicken’ burger that – you guessed it – has no chicken. Singapore released theirs in January, so we’re a little late, but better late than never, right?

A collaboration between KFC and the meat substitute brand Quorn, the burger’s meat-free patty is ‘made with the original recipe of the 11 herbs and spices we know and love, topped with a slice of cheese and a splash of tangy BBQ sauce.’

Here’s the catch though: it’s neither vegan nor vegetarian. According to Singapore’s Today Online, the reason is because although the patties are plant-based (they’re made from mycoprotein from fungi) they’re fried in the same oil as some of KFC’s chicken products, and the mayonnaise is not vegan, since it’s made from eggs. It also has cheese.

Which begs the question: who is KFC targeting? They’ve made a meat-free burger, but people who don’t eat meat can’t enjoy it. The only answer I’m left with is people who think of it as a novelty. Because the only reason I go to KFC is, well, for the chicken. And if I wanted to eat vegan food, I’d go to a vegan resto.

Still, I think it’s a good attempt to introduce mock meat to the masses. When Beyond Burgers made headlines a couple of years ago, I was genuinely confused as to why it was such a big deal – Chinese restaurants have been making mock meat for ages; some of which taste almost like the real thing. But then I realised that there aren’t many people beyond the Chinese community who are actually aware of its existence. Especially in Malaysia, where there aren’t many people who adopt a vegan/vegetarian lifestyle (those who do usually do so for religious reasons > health reasons).

So for curious diners, you might want to give the KFC Zero Chicken Burger a try: the burger costs RM12.99 ala carte, and is available for a limited time only, while stocks last. The set goes for RM15.99.

As for me, I think I’ll stick with my chicks.

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Vegetarian Food in Puchong: Pure Heart Vegetarian Restaurant, Bandar Puteri

A couple of years ago, hipsters in the West sang praises about the “Impossible Burger” – a burger with meat patties made from plant-based ingredients. They supposedly tasted ‘just like the real thing’.

While I’ve never tasted this impossible burger, I didn’t quite understand what the hullabaloo was all about. We’ve had mock meat in Chinese cuisine for ages (tofu-based/mushroom-based items made into ‘chicken’, ‘fish’, etc.) – because many Chinese are Buddhists or Taoists, and observe a vegetarian diet on certain days or as a lifestyle altogether.

Famous chefs like Gordon Ramsay and the late Anthony Bourdain (as well as food critic/host Andrew Zimmern’s) have all been pretty critical of vegetarian/vegan food in the past. I am of course no world-famous chef, but I think that vegetarian food, when prepared right, can be pretty tasty (This coming from someone who dislikes veggies, lol).

Bandar Puteri Puchong has a couple of vegetarian restaurants. Most of them are still taking precautionary measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19, so they’re only offering takeaway. One of these places is Pure Heart Vegetarian, which we tried last Sunday (coincidentally the 15th of the month according to the lunar calendar, which is when most Buddhists/ Taoists observe a vegetarian diet).

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You can call them up to place an order, or order online and arrange for a pickup. It is recommended to call two hours prior, as they can get pretty busy. We were lucky as our order was ready within 30 minutes. They’re very stringent on hygiene; all meals are kept sealed in boxes and only taken out when you’re ready to pick up your items. They have several contactless modes of payment such as Maybank E-Wallet, Touch N Go and Boost. While you can still pay in cash, this is discouraged.

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Pure Heart offers a variety of rice and noodle dishes, as well as ala carte items. Portions are very generous. (Above) Moo’s ‘Chicken Rice’ – consisting of fried ‘mock’ chicken and fragrant turmeric rice.

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Bro’s salted ‘fish’ fried rice, packed with peas, carrots and beansprouts.

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Portuguese-style fried mushroom with rice, essentially fried oyster mushrooms on a bed of salad, served with a creamy, spicy sauce. I’m not sure why it’s called Portuguese style, but I’m guessing it’s from Macanese cuisine ie from Macau near Hong Kong, which has Portuguese influence. The sauce has birds eye chilli and tastes like spicy buttermilk. Oyster mushrooms are crispy and nicely battered, but moist on the inside without being greasy.

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Pops had braised vegetable rice, a warm and hearty gravy of veggies, tofu and egg poured over white rice.

Overall, I felt that the food from Pure Heart Vegetarian was pretty tasty – so it’s definitely an option for vegetarian and vegans in Puchong. View the full menu and order at https://puchong-pure-heart-vegetarian.business.site/ or call 03-5879 9871. 

PURE HEART VEGETARIAN 

G-40, Jalan Puteri 4/8, Bandar Puteri, 47100 Puchong, Selangor

Opening hours: 11AM – 3PM, 5PM – 7PM (9PM On Saturdays) – daily

 

Chinese New Year Promotion @ Chin Swee Vegetarian Cuisine Restaurant, Genting Highlands

Celebrations almost never stop in multicultural Malaysia, where you have some sort of festival every other month. Now that the (Western) New Year has passed, it’s time to gear up for the next – Chinese New Year, which falls on January 25.

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Celebrate the reunion dinner differently this year with a vegan or vegetarian meal at the Chin Swee Vegetarian Cuisine Restaurant in Genting Highlands. Located within the Chin Swee Temple, mid-hill to Resorts World Genting, the restaurant offers scrumptious Chinese dishes, with stunning views of the surrounding mountains and lush virgin tropical rainforest.

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For CNY, the restaurant has rolled out their Prosperous Golden Rat Year set menus, catered for two or more people. The couple set consists of herbal steamed soup, Chinese yam, brinjal and organic ladies’ fingers in ‘san bei’ sauce, prawn with crispy oatmeal, special pumpkin rice and luxurious Tieguanyin Chinese tea.

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Larger set meals begin with vegetarian yee sang and include the special pumpkin rice. The set for three to four persons (RM368 nett) features vegetarian sharks’ fin soup, stewed tofu, claypot lotus root with dried tofu, mixed vegetable curry, and homemade dessert, while the RM568 nett menu for five to six diners will have stir-fried black fungus with Chinese yam, stir-fried lily bulbs, broccoli and lotus root, sea cucumber and scallops with ‘san bei’ sauce, and fried knuckle with house sauce.

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The seven to nine-person menu, priced at RM738 nett, will serve up claypot chicken with herbs, steamed organic ladies’ fingers with pumpkin, sea cucumber and scallops, deep-fried wawa yu with XO sauce, mixed vegetable curry and Wuyi narcissus tea.

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The most exquisite of the set meals is the RM798 nett menu for ten to 12, featuring yam basket with kung poh hericium, stir-fried lily bulbs, broccoli and lotus roots, Chinese yam, brinjal, and organic ladies fingers with ‘san bei’ sauce, ‘cod fish’ with creamy sauce, ‘fried knuckle’ with house sauce, ‘claypot chicken’ with herbs, green tea pudding and Wuyi narcissus tea.

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Other items to look out for are the little dim sum and dessert sets, clay pot and hotplate selections, herbal soups, rice and noodles.

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Exuding Chinese tradition and elegance, the restaurant is situated on level 12 – the same floor as the Goh Tong Hall residence or the main lobby of the temple. Diners can opt for a tour around the temple followed by a meal, or vice versa.

Make it a weekend getaway with the extended family with a trip up to Resorts World Genting, as the temple is easily accessible by cable car and hourly shuttle bus. Alternatively, accommodation is available on the Chin Swee Temple grounds.

Full menu here: 

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Reservations: website or call +603-61011613.

Opening hours: 8.30AM – 8.30PM

*Photos courtesy of Resorts World Genting

Review: Loving Hut Vegetarian Restaurant, Bandar Puteri Puchong

There are no shortage of vegetarian restaurants in and around Puchong, and one of these is Loving Hut, tucked in a corner shoplot in Bandar Puteri. The resto has a nice ambience, is air conditioned and offers a wide selection of vegetarian cuisine, whether its dishes made from mock meat, rice, noodles and even some Western items like spaghetti.

Loving Hut Vegetarian Restaurant Puchong

Cosy, white-themed interior. There is a small room at the back for private functions.

Loving Hut Vegetarian Restaurant Puchong

Drink: Rose Tea. Very mild milk foam on the top, with just a hint of sweetness and a strong aroma of rose syrup.

The dishes were on the pricier side, so we opted for individual meals.

Loving Hut Vegetarian Restaurant Puchong

Moo’s basil ‘steak’, served with rice, two vegetable sides and soup. The ‘steak’ was basically deep fried mock meat with a crunchy texture. The basil stir fry was surprisingly fragrant and flavourful, while portions were generous.

Loving Hut Vegetarian Restaurant Puchong

Pop’s had curry rice. Again, came with rice and two sides. The curry was pretty good, albeit a little ‘powdery’. The mock meat resembled mutton and had a chewy texture.

Loving Hut Vegetarian Restaurant Puchong

I had the Spaghetti, topped with chopped mushrooms and mock meat, alongside some potato wedges and broccoli. Although it lacked the flavour of actual meat, the mock meat + mushroom mix gave it texture and the tomato sauce was thick and tangy, leaning on the sweet side. Pasta was done al dente. The wedges weren’t crispy enough and mushy on the inside, but nothing much to complain about.

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Pop’s dessert of red bean soup.

All in all, decent food with large portions, and the individual set meals come at affordable prices. Another spot to add on the list of vegetarian restos in Puchong 🙂

 

LOVING HUT RESTAURANT 

15, Jalan Puteri 2/7, Bandar Puteri, 47100 Puchong, Selangor

Opening hours: Lunch / Dinner : 11AM – 3PM, 5PM – 10PM (closed Wednesdays)

Tel: +603-8062 7769

 

 

 

 

 

Review: VLite Cafe, Bandar Puteri – Healthy + Tasty Vegetarian Food in Puchong !

I’ll be honest with you: I don’t like vegetables. As a kid, the only reason I ever managed to eat my greens was because the Moomikins forced me to. When I lived outside in my college years, I sustained myself on a diet of potato chips, baked chipolatas and bacon from Tesco (they were super cheap in the UK, where I used to study).

The only veggies that I can tolerate are broccoli, as well as raw lettuce/green coral.They should always be accompanied by some meat and sauce to reduce the leafy taste. I don’t  get this at home unless I cook for myself because the Moomikins, being the quintessential Asian, thinks that raw, uncooked vegetables will cause ‘wind’ in the body. How true this is remains to be seen lol.

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Anyway, the fam enjoys vegetarian food once in awhile (bad news for my greens-hating self), and for our weekend lunch, we went to this place called VLite in Bandar Puteri, Puchong. True to their plant-based theme, the cosy and neat-looking cafe has green walls paired with sleek wooden furniture.

Now, there are quite a number of vegetarian restos in Puchong, but they’re mostly Chinese-style. VLite, however, offers fusion dishes like burgers, pasta and wraps! Yes, fellow meat eaters, food science has evolved sufficiently that they can create all sorts of mock ‘meat’, some of which closely resemble the textures and flavours of real meat!

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Bro literally has fried rice wherever he goes, I’m surprised he hasn’t gotten sick of it already.

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Pops had the Carbonara Pasta. Since some vegetarians don’t eat garlic and it’s such an essential item for fragrance, I was surprised to find that the dish was quite aromatic and had a nice, creamy consistency. The sauce had just the right thickness and was not too starchy, and the coating on each strand was even. It came topped with fried ‘chicken’ – deep fried battered and breaded mushrooms. Can’t say it tasted like chicken, but it was pretty good.

My VFC (vegetarian fried chicken) wrap order was spot on. Portions were generous but it felt light enough that I could indulge without the guilt. As you can see, the wraps were filled up with a compact layer of fresh lettuce, crunchy cucumber for texture, tofu and a ‘fried chicken’ centre. The chicken was the same as the kind they used on the pasta, with a crispy crumb crust. Mushrooms are usually used to make the mock meat since the stringy texture resembles strips of meat. To bind everything together, they used a dash of sesame dressing. This was one of those moments I didn’t mind having vegetarian food, since the sauce + ‘meat’ reduced the earthy taste of the veggies.

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For snacks, fried mushrooms. They weren’t oyster mushrooms but the server couldn’t name it in English and only told us it was ‘gai bei gu’ (literally chicken drumstick mushroom). They really did look like tiny drummettes! The batter was smooth rather than breadcrumbed, but it gave a crispy layer of protection to seal the moist juices within. A bit on the oily side but still tasty nonetheless.

Prices and portions are reasonable for their price. So the next time you’re thinking of vegetarian food, hop on over to VLite! I mean, if they can make a vege-disliker (hate is too strong a word) like me give them the thumbs up, you best believe they have some good stuff. 🙂

VLITE CAFE 

 22G, Persiaran Puteri 1, Bandar Puteri, 47100 Puchong, Selangor, Malaysia. 

Opening hours: Tues – Mon (730AM – 930PM), Sun (9AM – 9PM)

Phone: 03-5879 8798

 

Tasty Vegetarian Food @ Mushroom Culture, Bandar Puteri Puchong

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One of the best places for cheap and tasty vegetarian food in Puchong is at this place called Mushroom Culture in Bandar Puteri. I guess many Puchong-ites agree, judging from how packed it is on weekends and religious dates! Located in the center of a busy commercial district, the resto is no-frills – stuffed to the brim with wooden chairs and tables to accommodate more guests. Thankfully, they have air-conditioning so diners can enjoy their meals in comfort.

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While they have ala-carte meals such as fried rice and noodles, we usually go for the family set, which comes with a choice of four dishes with rice.

Vegetarian food doesn’t have to be boring, as proven by the wide variety at Mushroom Culture. Mock meats, often made from soy-based products and tofu, are cooked creatively – and some even resemble real meat!

(Above) Fried ‘fish’ in olive sauce. The skin is made from crispy seaweed, and the ‘fish’ has the added advantage of being boneless.What’s not to like?

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Deep fried salad ‘prawns’ with thousand island dressing. I am amazed at how closely the texture resembles real shrimp, as it has that firm and bouncy feel when you bite into it. Of course, real shrimp has a naturally sweet taste, which the vegetarian version cannot emulate. Still, good stuff.

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Regular stir-fried mushrooms (oyster, shiitake and enoki) with tofu and carrot. This was a bit bland but the flavours were there, just muted.

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My favourite, and a must-have every time I go to Mushroom Culture – the salt and pepper ‘kidneys’. I love stuff that has a crunchy and chewy texture (like squid), so this is right up my alley. Idk what they make it with (crack, maybe, coz it’s so addictive) but I can probably polish off a whole plate by myself. The salt and pepper seasoning is just right without being too salty and the ‘kidneys’ have a delicious, golden crisp on the outside.

So if you ever feel like taking a break from all that meat, head on to Mushroom Culture for tasty and affordable veggie fare. 🙂

MUSHROOM CULTURE

22, Jalan Puteri 2/2, Bandar Puteri,

47100 Puchong, Selangor, Malaysia

+60 3-8061 2252

Opening hours: 10.30am—3pm / 5.30—10pm / Full &New Moon 8am-10pm