SMEs form a big part of the Malaysian economy, and they’re not just your tech start-ups or media agencies: they also include your neighbourhood kedai runcit and favourite hawker stall.
While people are encouraged to stay home more to avoid the risk of infection, there are still ways you can support your local business. If you’re taking a break from cooking, for example, you can da bao from your favourite hawker stall. Ordering meals from Grab / Food Panda is convenient, but remember that many of these small time traders don’t get a big profit because delivery providers take a significant cut from the total bill. You can read a very good explanation of the challenges businesses face with regards to this issue as told by Renyi, the founder of MyBurgerLab, here.
It has been nearly a year since the pandemic started – and the effects on the economy are apparent. The Star reported that over 30,000 SMEs have closed since the beginning of the Movement Control Order in March, and this figure is expected to rise if things continue as they are. Even for myself, the situation is precarious because I work in an airline-related industry, which has been one of the hardest hit by the pandemic. That being said, I’m still getting paid – so I’ll worry later about whether I’ll still have a job by the end of the year lol.
As for me, I’ve never really liked calling delivery: despite being a millennial, I’m quite old-fashioned when it comes to ordering things online. I much prefer popping out to a hawker stall nearby for food. There’s a really good Mee Jawa place that I frequent almost every week. Unfortunately last Friday, they were sold out even though it was still pretty early (around 11-ish). The lady boss told me that business was actually better than it had been during MCO, which is great news and I’m happy for her (because it means they’re less likely to close.. how else am I going to get my Mee Jawa fix lol).
I decided to try another stall which is located within the same kopitiam. Beverly’s Kitchen serves Western cuisine, grilled items, burgers and pasta. The stall is neat and clean, and it has an efficient layout ie you can see where they prepare the raw ingredients, the cooking station, etc. Prices are slightly higher compared to noodles or zap fan, but if you’re ever in the mood for pasta, this can be an option. Portions are hefty and they make our items to order. Some of the items on the menu include grilled chicken with oregano spaghetti/rice, fried chicken with french fries, bbq pork chop with rice, jumbo sausage, Hawaiian chicken burger, chicken wrap, and more.
Good thing about living in Malaysia? Even if you’re ordering ‘western’ food, you have an option for rice lol. I got the fish fillet with rice (RM14.90) which came with a side of salad, gravy and a couple of button mushrooms scattered on top of the rice.
The fish fillet was as large as my hand, and they gave me a mountain of rice, so I’d say it was pretty worth the price. Taste-wise it was okay – I wasn’t expecting anything fancy or authentic anyway. The meal would have been dry if not for the gravy, which was also decent.
If you’re craving something aside from the usual noodles and rice, Beverly’s Kitchen offers good variety. They also do deliveries on FoodPanda.
Inside Restoran Wai Wai, 149-G, Block J, Tanming Boulevard, Jalan Meranti Jaya 3/1, Taman Meranti Jaya, Puchong.
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When it comes to traditional Malay and Western fusion food served in a casual setting, Serai is a popular choice among urbanites in the Klang Valley. Their Jaya Shopping Centre outlet is crowded with office workers, business groups and Datin-types over lunch. We joined the throng for a farewell meal with a colleague.
Love the interior! High ceilings give a sense of space; space-efficient drawers keep cutlery away from sight, while white and dark frames contrast nicely with the warm wood furniture. Lots of natural sunlight filtering in from the glass windows.
The menu features local favourites such as Nasi Kerabu (their specialty) and rice/noodles alongside pasta, chops and steaks. Portions are also quite hefty.
Had a cool and refreshing Sirap Bandung to quench my thirst. Comprising a thick layer of sweet rose syrup and condensed milk, the drink has an attractive two-layered hue which quickly turns pink when you stir it.
Most of the colleagues ordered pasta. I opted for a ‘Portobello Mushroom Steak” – basically steak for vegetarians, since the mushroom has a texture close to meat (course, nothing rivals real meat!). Battered and deep fried, it came served on a bed of soft mashed potato and a smattering of gravy. The mushrooms were sizeable and crunchy, but I felt it needed just a bit more seasoning. Not greasy though so kudos to the chefs.
One thing I noticed about the food at Serai – everything is prepared fresh to order, so even though there is a wait, the food arrives piping hot and tasty. No microwaving here lol. #GordonRamsayWouldApprove
SERAI (JAYA SHOPPING CENTRE)
G18, Jaya Shopping Centre, Jalan Semangat, Seksyen 14, 46100 Petaling Jaya, Selangor
Business hours: 11AM – 10PM
Phone: +603 79323070
There’s such a glut of hotels in KL that it’s hard to differentiate one from the other – if you’ve been to one high end hotel, you’ve been to them all.
The latest addition, Element KL, is a bit different though. For one, their newly opened restaurant, TRACE, is located on the 40th floor of the Ilham Towers, and the restaurant’s glass windows offer a beautiful view of the surrounding city skyline – including the iconic Petronas Twin Towers. For another, their food is actually really good. While the resto carries standard Western, fusion and local fare, they’ve made it unique by incorporating local produce as much as possible. The result? Fresh, well balanced meals that are wholesome and delicious. The prices are also very competitive (averaging about RM30-50 for lunch – which is affordable considering the setting).
Spacious and comfy, casual-business : great for lunch meetings or just for a catch-up.
One side of the resto faces the Petronas Twin Towers. There were some complaints about the upcoming Four Seasons Place building they are erecting next to it – apparently some people were concerned that it would ‘block’ the view of the towers.
We were there to try out their new ala-carte menu, and will you believe that we had dishes for breakfast, lunch and dinner in ONE seating? Even with the reduced portions and sharing, it was hard to finish. Started off with some warm bread with olive oil and tangy tomato chutney dip; perfect for whetting the appetite.
Since my own photos were too fugly, I’m sharing the beautiful shots by the hotel’s team here.
BREAKFAST : The most important meal of the day. You know you’re off to a good start when the very first dish they serve is amazing, right off the bat. Beans and Toast is a classic bfast dish, but the version here adds a local twist that works out perfectly for Asian palates. Inspired by a popular Johorean dish called Kacang Pool (spiced fava/broad beans cooked with minced beef, onions and kasturi lime – often used as a dip), the B&T here is warm, hearty and well flavoured, topped with a beautifully poached egg on top. The dip has a texture and flavour that is similar to an American sloppy joe, and goes really well with the toasted bread. I can literally eat this all day but I had to pace myself for the next dishes…
Of course no Malaysian breakfast would be complete without the customary nasi lemak, our national dish. The dish here, called Nasi Lemak Kelapa Dara, uses extra virgin coconut oil in the steamed rice, rather than regular coconut oil, so it’s less fatty but still retains that awesome creaminess. It was served with all the classic sides, including crispy anchovies, onions, peanuts and an egg omelette. The sambal tiger prawns were juicy and sizable, while the chicken roulade rendang combined a French technique with traditional ingredients.
Time to have a sweet one before moving on to our ‘lunch’ meals! The Homemade Granola of fruit compote, yoghurt, chia seed with hazelnut and berries granola was creamy without being cloying, and not too sweet so it doesn’t leave you feeling completely stuffed. They also add a smattering of chocolate chips into the bowl. We had a small portion, but if you’re getting the original size it’s good for a breakfast on its own.
LUNCH: The Live Well Salad was surprisingly light and refreshing, with a good mix of fruitiness from the orange segment, tomato, berries and peach, as well as a hint of savoury from the pickled beet and edamame beans. The candied walnut and croutons added a crunchy texture, while mango emulsion bound the whole dish together beautifully.
Hand picked Wild Mushroom soup came with hefty chunks of balsamic-glazed Portobello and crushed walnut, served with a side of grilled cheese petit croque monsieur. This wasn’t my favourite as I found the texture odd and the Portobello was too sweet.
DINNER – Next was Sous vide Baby Chicken. Sous vide is a common technique used in restaurants because the meat is vacuum-packed before being cooked in a water bath or steam, so the results are always consistent and the flavours are all sealed in. The inside of the baby chicken galantine boasted cheesy garlic boursin and basil pesto, and for sides, turkey ham hasselback potato gratin, asparagus spear and chassuer sauce. Healthy and delicious.
Loved the presentation of the Smoked Loch Fyne Salmon. Prawns with sour cream and chives sat on a bed of buckwheat blinis, beautiful garnished with fennel, red radish slaw and balsamic pearl, surrounded by dots of mango hazelnut dressing. In the glass jar, which looked like an edible terrarium, was the salmon – and when we opened it the smoke wafted out in drifts.
Another great one – the Alaskan Black Cod (look at that beautiful sear!), crusted with sundried tomatoes and olives, carrot puree, capreses salad, cilantro green-chilli sauce and basil oil. The fish was tender, flaky and juicy, and the fresh seafoody flavour was brought out even more by the accompanying condiments and sauces.
Last but definitely not least, Nasi Kukus Ayam Rempah – steamed fragrant white rice served with spiced rubbed honey-glazed fried chicken, stir fried asparagus belacan, curry gravy, pickled vegetables acar and spicy egg omelette. My favourite was the chicken, which was crisp on the outside and juicy on the inside. The curry gravy was also insanely addictive and great with rice.
We were stuffed to the brim by the end of our courses, but like they say, there’s always room for dessert! The Exotic Fruit Lava Carrot Cake, a freshly baked homemade exotic lava carrot cake beautifully decorated with fresh berries, was warm and oozy, with just the right balance of sweet and sour. For those who prefer a lighter dessert, I suggest to go with this because the other is super decadent…
Behold, the Earl Grey Chocolate Sphere – an earl grey cremeux served with warm lemon cream. The appearance itself was already quite dramatic (I’m reminded of dishes contestants had to prepare on MasterChef), but wait til the waiter comes over and pours the warm lemon cream over it: we watched as the thick liquid bathed the sphere in a wonderful golden glow, eventually melting the top to create a crater. Spooning into it, I was rewarded with a fluffy chocolate mousse on the inside and a crisp and delicate outer chocolate shell.
Element KL’s resident chef and his team!
Aside from the ala carte menu, they also do buffet breakfasts/lunch and dinners.
*Photos not watermarked are courtesy of Element KL
IOI City Mall Putrajaya is a haven for food lovers, with a variety of restaurants, snack kiosks and eateries just waiting to be discovered. You can come back here dozens of times and have something new to savour at each visit! 🙂
Evelyn and I were here recently for a catchup session. Since she’s vegetarian, we hunted around for a place with vegetarian options and finally decided on Kakatoo, which dishes out Nyonya and Western fare. This is their third outlet, after Ativo Plaza Bandar Sri Damansara and Kepong.
The main ‘characters’ here are the cockatoos and parrots adorning various nooks and crannies within the restaurant, which is painted in a colour scheme similar to the beautiful birds. Blue is a prominent shade, while the waiters wear matching yellow shirts. The furniture is wooden and reflects the Straits Chinese heritage, with patterned covers and intricate place mats.
Evelyn had clear soup noodles, which came with an assortment of mushrooms, veggies and fried shallots.
I had their signature Nasi Lemak with sambal sotong. The rice is cooked in coconut milk for a fragrant flavour and tinged blue from the petals of butterfly-pea flowers, a natural food colouring. Loved the rice as it was fluffy and separated well into individual grains. The squid was fresh and springy, with spicy sambal sauce clinging to each piece. The dish was served with the standard nasi lemak sides of boiled egg, crunchy anchovies and cucumber, with an extra dose of spicy sambal. Definitely one of the better nasi lemaks that I’ve tried 🙂
To cool down from all that spiciness, Evelyn and I got a Cendol to share. The mountain of shaved ice is topped with sweet green jelly strands (cendol), gula melaka (palm sugar) syrup, condensed milk and mashed red bean. Great for hot days!
Kakatoo also serves Western dishes like chicken chop and pasta, as well as Asian dishes like rice and noodles.
LG-78B & 78C, IOI City Mall Putrajaya, 62502 IOI Resort City,
Wilayah Persekutuan Putrajaya, Malaysia
Opening hours: 10AM-10PM
Update: This restaurant is permanently closed.
Out looking for grub with the fam at Setiawalk Puchong last weekend! The initial plan was to have Vietnamese food, but after walking around we decided to try a restaurant next to it instead. Lucky Star prides itself in serving flame-grilled items, pizzas and pastas, and Western-style fare like chicken and pork chops.
Minimal deco, but comfy enough. There were a couple of booths for more privacy. Staff was efficient and friendly. You order by writing them down on a piece of paper.
Bro ordered a Spaghetti Americiana (?? Not sure how to spell) set, which came with a side of salad, chips and what they called garlic butter pizza but was really more like peanut-covered naan.
His pasta was light and garlicky, with slices of chicken sausage. Yum! 🙂
Moo’s pesto spaghetti with grilled chicken add on. The noodles were super green and came with a few pieces of soft boiled brocolli. Veggie lovers will love this because it has a strong, veggie flavour – reminded me of Chinese luk cha. The cream didn’t overpower everything either. Considering that my mum is such a small eater, it was a feat that she finished the whole bowl on her own.
Pops had grilled teriyaki chicken with rice, served with egg and salad. They flame grill the chicken, so it had this great smokey flavour. Good stuff ! Teriyaki sauce had just the right balance of sweet.
I got their Deluxe Flame-Grilled Chicken set (RM19.90), which came in a big portion with all the works – fried egg, sausage, ham slice, garlicky sauteed mushroom, baked jacket potato with cheese and sour cream, and a whole flame-grilled chicken thigh with black pepper sauce. Everything on the plate was good, especially the chicken meat. Tender and juicy, with smoky, slightly charred skin. They used a lot of pepper in the sauce – none of that watered down stuff you find in some cheapskate cafes. Overall, a meal worth the price.
They brought the Setiawalk ducky out to play again! 🙂
I-07-1, Level G, Block I, Setiawalk, Persiaran Wawasan, Puchong, 47160, Selangor, Malaysia.
Opening hours: 11AM- 11PM
Update:Buns & Meat is now permanently closed.
A thick, delicious slab of meat between round, toasty buns…. hmmm hmmm. 😀
….I’m talking about burgers, of course! It’s utter, porky goodness at (the rather cheekily named) Buns & Meat at Lakefields, Sungai Besi in KL. An absolute haven for all things porcine, the menu features an impressive selection of meaty burgers, pizzas, pastas and more in a cool yet family-friendly setting.
The place is about 15 mins away from my workplace so colleagues and I came here for lunch last weekend.
Blue’s the word.
Located at a corner shoplot, the dining space is spacious, clean and comfy with cool looking decorations that make eating here comfy and a nice place to chill for hours.
Guests can play with the dart machines while waiting for their food / after a meal. (Right) ‘Book’ decorations on a round circular shelf.
More cool decos of random bottles, alarm clocks and stuff.
Bar area for drinking sessions at night. 🙂
My glass of fresh milk. 🙂 Yeah I know I’m an adult.
My Big Breakfast – which was served on a wooden tray. The portion was substantial: a piece of toast, eggs, salad tossed in vinaigrette, half a baked tomato seasoned with black pepper, two pork sausage links, pork bacon on a bed of sauteed mushrooms, beans, and a hash brown.
Whew. That’s a lot of stuff!
Tastewise, it was good enough but I wouldn’t say it was the best big breakfast I’ve ever had – but it’s definitely value for money.
Their signature is the Runny Mess Burger – oozy, homemade cheese sauce covered a beautifully poached egg, bacon and pork patty, served with crinkly fries. Apparently the side salad wasn’t fresh and taste sour, so the outlet actually gave us a complimentary piece of cake to compensate.
What is this sorcery
Pork cheeseburger… look at dat bacon doe
There were still many items I didn’t get to try here so I think I’ll be making a return trip next time. 🙂
BUNS & MEAT
I joined a contest on Facebook for Kronenbourg 1664 (A French beer), and was chosen as one of their lucky 25 pairs to be in the running for an exclusive Dinner in the Sky event on Wednesday. Why mid-week? Coz the guys at Kronenbourg are all about celebrating ‘work-life’ balance – hence the rushing home from Balakong at 5pm, speed showering and changing in 15mins, popping over to Carmen’s, and then speeding off to KL in peak rush hour. Despite leaving early, we were almost late coz of the traffic!
In case you’re wondering what Dinner in the Sky is…
It’s a dinner table which seats 22 people, held up 150ft in the sky by a crane. They’ve organised it all over the world and this month, KL was chosen as it’s next destination. The space in the middle allows a chef to serve you while you’re strapped into your chair. A five course meal is served, and you can enjoy the view of KL while wining and dining for RM600 per pax.
And the answer is no, they don’t have toilets up there.
We registered at the counter and were ushered into a cramped tent, where we got to redeem free beers and stand around tiny cocktail tables. Me being me, and Carmen being Carmen, we didn’t ‘mingle around’ like the other guests – we took selfies, talked amongst ourselves, and waited for the selection process to begin.
The host kept singling us out, saying that we looked ‘bored’ and ‘expressionless.’ “Are you not enjoying yourselves?” asked this particular curly-haired specimen. “Why are you so quiet?”
You did not just ask that question. How would you like it if I asked you “Why are you so talkative?” in a social situation, in front of other guests? Rude much? You’re not making me feel welcomed here, and it’s going to be even more awkward to socialise when you have pointed out that we are not socialising.
You see, this is the problem with #restingbitchface. It’s not the first time people have come up to me and be like “Why are you quiet?””Are you bored?””Are you shy?””Do you not like…?
It’s not that I’m bored or expressionless or being haughty. It’s just my face. So. Stop. Asking. I’m an introvert by nature, and I don’t believe in talking when there is nothing to talk about. The thing about many extroverts is they want to push you into becoming like them, but introverts take their own time and pace to open up, and it makes us very uncomfortable and awkward when you put us in the spot like that.
Anyway, we didn’t get selected. We didn’t mind as much at first because we had canapes, but they were served slowly and everyone was hungry and there wasn’t enough to go around. Having beer on empty stomachs was not a good idea, and the host (god knows why) singled us out again, saying ‘our two friends here are so expressionless’. I had enough of him by then, so I poked Carmen and we went to redeem our six bottles of free beer and left for some real food.
Thanks Kronenbourg 1664 for the invite and all, but… maybe get another host next time? It just ruined everything for us, and we were having fun before that despite how ‘expressionless’ we appeared to be. Your host needs to work on being more professional.
Anyway, the guys who were selected seemed to be having loads of fun, so good for them. 🙂
It was 9pm by the time we got to our own party. We decided to go to The Ship, a restaurant modeled after… you guessed it, a ship. Built like the interior of an old ship’s cabin, the place was decorated with 20th century nautical items. The red booths each had lamps on the corners, while the walls were adorned with faded oil-on-canvas paintings. The servers are all dressed in cabin crew uniforms.
Bar area. Despite being late on a weekday night, the restaurant was packed with tourists and families.
The Ship is famed for their steaks!
Service was prompt and friendly. Each meal comes with a complementary basket of rolls and butter. The rolls were fluffy and toasty, and the butter melted right into them.
This was my second time having escargots. The first was in Paris while on my Europe tour. If you can get past the fact that you’re eating cute, slimy snails, they taste like chicken lol okay no they taste like clams. Chewy, springy and tasteless on their own, but the cheesy garlic butter sauce that came with it was amazing. Sopped it up with bread and even our salad until you could have used our plate as a mirror.
Carmen’s sizzling steak, which was served with thick fries and tomatoes in a brown sauce. They give you a napkin to tuck into your front so that you don’t spatter it all over your clothes.
I had fillet mignon – served with fries, mixed vegetables and a thin slice of ham in thick, savoury brown sauce. The generous slab of meat was big enough to satisfy my carnivourous cravings, and was done medium rare (requested). I don’t have much experience eating steaks so I thought medium rare would be good, but it was a tad too bloody. Must order ‘medium’ next time. The meat was prime grade though – juicy, tender, seared on the outside and pink on the inside.
So what started off as an evening at a free event turned into our private party instead. While I appreciate that the organisers invited us to come for the lucky draw, I didn’t appreciate the host singling us out like that and it just made the whole experience rather… shitty.
I had a lot of fun catching up with Carmen though. 🙂