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Admittedly, fried rice hasn’t been one of the sexiest hawker dishes in Malaysia. If you ask anyone of their favorite Malaysian hawker dishes, chances are that most people are going to say char kuih teow, laksa, prawn mee, mee goreng, and so on.

That being said, I think a plate of good old fashion fried rice is the perfect dish when you really want to have that stomach filled up good.

Restoran Hup Soon fried rice, Petaling Jaya SS3
Restoran Hup Soon fried rice, Petaling Jaya SS3

fried rice with the glorious fried egg
fried rice with the glorious fried egg

When it comes to good old fashion fried rice for lunch, one of the best places you can go to Restoran Hup Soon at Petaling Jaya SS3.

The operator from the stall that specialize fried rice is originally from Kedah and has been operating in the same stall for over a decade, serving up the same recipe from all those years.

egg with runny yolk is my favorite
egg with runny yolk is my favorite

A plate of fried rice comes with finely chopped long beans & char siu, egg, crunchy bean sprouts, and prawns. I’d also strongly suggest that you ask for an additional fried egg that’s perfectly fried with the egg yolk that remains runny.

The fried rice is also served with some chili padi for those who loves a bit of kick, tho I think it’ll really be perfect if there’s some proper Penang sambal here.

If you’re a fried rice lover, this is definitely a place to check out.

map to hup soon kopitiam, SS3

Address:
Restoran Hup Soon
7, Jalan SS 3/29,
Taman University,
47300 Petaling Jaya, Selangor
GPS: 3.095309, 101.611128
Hours: breakfast & lunch

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If you’re a fan of Japanese food, you should know about J’s Gate Dining at Lot 10 KL – a concept that is unlike any other when it comes to Japanese cuisine offering in Malaysia. As one of those fans myself, I was glad to be invited to the launch event and be one of the firsts to get a taste of what this place has to offer.

J's Gate Dining, Level 4, Lot 10 KL
J’s Gate Dining, Level 4, Lot 10 KL

J’s Gate Dining is located on level 4 of Lot 10 in Bukit Bintang. Head up the escalator now and you’d see 18 different Japanese restaurants taking up almost the entire floor space offering various different types of Japanese cuisine,centered around the concept of authentic Japanese cuisine and services.

J's Gate Dining launching, Lot 10 Level 4
J’s Gate Dining launching, Lot 10 Level 4

The  grand opening was officiated by Mr. Makio Miyagawa, Japanese Ambassador to Malaysia and Mr. Joseph Yeoh, Vice President of YTL Land & Development Bhd and YTL Hotels & Properties Sdn. Bhd., together with Mr. Naoki Yokoyama, Executive Officer of Sojitz Corporation, Chief Operation Officer of Retails & Lifestyle Business Division.

The opening ceremony is followed by a carving session of a 40.8 KG cultivated Bluefin tuna specially air flown by Sojitz Corporation all the way from Japan. We were then served the fatty tuna in the form of sushi after the event, and I may have returned for more than a few servings!

Bluefin tuna carving demonstration
Bluefin tuna carving demonstration

J’s Gate Dining is separated into two “sections”, with one side a food court type of set up offering all pork free Japanese dishes, and another section with individual restaurants, some with non halal dishes.

Here is the list of restaurants:

Restaurant Name Category
Tendon Kohaku Tendon
Menya Ichiyutei Udon
Kaisendon Kinme Seafood rice bowls
Shinanoji Soba
Fuji no Sakura Japanese hotpot
Bonta Bonta Eel rice bowls
TSUJIRI Matcha sweets
Cravebit Bar Bar
Mo-Mo-Paradise Sukiyaki/shabu-shabu
Torisakaba Hanazen Chicken izakaya
HACHI Traditional Kyoto cuisine
ViTO Café, gelato
Torikin Yakitori
Umai Sushi Kan Sushi
OSAKA Kitchen Teppanyaki, okonomiyaki
Kushiage Kinme Kushiage
YAYOI Set meals
Kaguraya Chicken ramen

On the same evening, a few of us were also invited to an exclusive tasting session to sample dishes from some of the restaurants at J’s Gate Dining. In the span of some 2.5 hours, we managed to visit these five restaurants:

Umai Sushi Kan - Sushi restaurant
Umai Sushi Kan – Sushi restaurant (pork free)

Umai Sushi Kan offers sushi & sashimi, perhaps the most familiar type of Japanese food for many of us. Again we got to have more of that cultivated Bluefin tuna sushi & sashimi, simply heaven. The rolls were pretty on point as well.

Torikin Yakitori (non halal)
Torikin Yakitori (non halal)

Next up was Torikin Yakitori. There’s a good selection of different skewers to choose from, from chicken tail all the way to pork belly, priced at RM 4 to RM 7 per stick. These makes for some really good beer food.

Kushiage Kinme - deep fried skewers
Kushiage Kinme – deep fried skewers (non halal)

If yakitori isn’t your cup of tea but you still love things in skewers, hop over to Kushiage Kinme. Over here you get fresh ingredients deep fried with light batter in skewers. There’s prawns, quails’ eggs, pork, and even asparagus, my favorite is gindara (cod).

I highly recommend some cold sake with these, which was what we did.

Hachi Traditional Kyoto cuisine, we had waygu beef here
Hachi Traditional Kyoto cuisine, we had waygu beef here (pork free)

If you prefer traditional Kyoto cuisine, Hachi could be your destination of choice at J’s Gate Dining. We sampled the wagyu set here that came with wagyu steak, roast beef, wagyu cutlet, bulgogi, roast vegetable, and rice, miso & edamame. A complete meal that should satisfy any beef lover.

Vito Cafe & Gelato
Vito Cafe & Gelato (pork free)

Our fifth and final stop for the night was Vito Cafe & Gelato, where we had a sweet ending to the day. Vito also serve coffee in addition to gelato.

map to Lot 10, KL

Address:
J’s Gate Dining
Level 4
Lot 10 Shopping Mall
Jalan Bukit Bintang
GPS: 3.146462, 101.711758
Tel:  03-2110 6850
Webwww.js-gate.com

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Back in late 2015 I was involved in The Star R.AGE food fight competition, it was one of the highlights of my online writing career to stand along the likes of Chef Wan & Chef Darren Chin as one of judges of the cooking competition. One of the finalists of the competition was Ahong Yeang, who was already running a small restaurant at University Hospital then.

Sometimes around Q3 21017, Ahong moved on from his previous joint and opened Grub by Ahong & Friends at Seksyen 17. I finally visited a couple weeks ago.

Grub by Ahong & Friends, Petaling Jaya, Seksyen 17
Grub by Ahong & Friends, Petaling Jaya, Seksyen 17

Grub by Ahong & Friends is located at the small rows of shops right behind Happy Mansion (possibly the birthplace of hipster food in PJ?). Parking can sometimes be a bit challenging for those who can’t walk more than a couple dozen steps, but alas, the walk back to the car after a good meal can be a healthy exercise.

Grub serves a selection of Western dishes at very reasonable prices. The restaurant itself is minimalist but comfortable, with a few tables and open kitchen at the ground floor, and more seating area upstairs. Yes, there’s air conditioning.

beet root salad & wine
beet root salad & wine

To keep prices low, Ahong came up the system of ordering by pencil & paper as well as self-serviced drinks you pick up from the counter where you also find cutlery, plates, and glasses. Corkage is RM 7 per pax but if you spare a glass for the good chef then that is waived. Grub also carries a small selection of wine.

We started the night with beet root salad (RM 13.50) that came with roasted beetroot, fresh fruits, feta cheese, rockets, honey, and nuts. A simple mesh up that leaves me wanting more.

local seafood bouillabaisse, wagyu steak
local seafood bouillabaisse, wagyu steak

For main I picked steak, the picture above is wagyu rump, wagyu ribeye is priced at RM 145 but they ran out that night. Again another spot on execution with no fuss and great ingredients.

My partner in crime picked the local seafood bouillabaisse (RM 25) which is served with grilled white fish, clams, squid & prawns in lightly spiced seafood soup with pasta & sourdough bun. A comforting dish if you’re looking for something lighter. Also their sourdough bun was actually very good as well.

carrot cake, chocolate tart, fruits in ice, Ahong
carrot cake, chocolate tart, fruits in ice, Ahong

We rounded up dinner with carrot cake (RM 10) and chocolate tart (RM 12), and were also served Grub’s signature fresh fruits in tear-drop ice that is on the house.

Overall it was a great no-fuss dining experience. We ended up spending another couple hours chatting with Ahong until his staffs lowered the shop grill half way. Fantastic night and will definitely go again.

map to Grub by Ahong & Friends

grub by Ahong & Friends menu grub by Ahong & Friends menu 2 
grub by Ahong & Friends menu 3
 grub by Ahong & Friends menu 4

Address:
Grub by Ahong & Friends
608, Jalan 17/10, Seksyen 17,
Petaling Jaya, 46400 Selangor
GPS3.122187, 101.635438
Tel016-923 2983

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When it comes to Chinese tai chao restaurants, you often find very conventional names that usually involves someone’s surname or places of origin. XFrens Cafe & Restaurant though, likes to be a bit different, so I was looking at a map and this name came up, I’d have thought that they probably serve good pastry and maybe some warm pies…

Restaurant Xfrens, Subang Jaya SS18
Restaurant Xfrens, Subang Jaya SS18

Well, I have no idea what went through the owners’ thought process when they came up with the name, but we’re here for the food, and in this regard they definitely put in more thoughts than the naming exercise.

XFrens is located at Subang Jaya SS18, with few busy shops around the same short row of shop houses in the evening, parking your car is usually a relatively painless process. However, do plan to get there early as the place usually gets rather busy and fetch quite a long queue on weekend busy dinner hours. I’d say anytime before 6:30 or 6:45 pm and you should have a table immediately.

The menu at Xfrens is pretty comprehensive, with different sections offering dishes involving poultry, seafood, vegetable, tofu, and such.

For the group of 6 of us over dinner, we ordered five dishes to share.

"siong thong" lala, pumpkin tofu, paku with chili padi
“siong thong” lala, pumpkin tofu, paku with chili padi

Siong Thong Lala was a pretty decent dish that provides some spicy soup to open up the appetite, the shellfish was of decent size and freshness.  Pumpkin tofu was one of their signature dishes, and one that provides a nice contrast in texture and taste, crispy on the outside with stronger tasting sauce, while soft and mild within.

I was also very glad that we ordered paku with chili padi, one of my favorite type of vegetable that should be more popular here (as they are in Borneo). This is one vege that I’ll order again.

garlic pork, teow chew style steamed red snapper
garlic pork, teow chew style steamed red snapper

Garlic pork is another must-order at Xfrens, and it is what we’re here for. The dish was basically a dish of deep fried pork with many, many cloves of garlic. It was as simple as it was tasty, the combination was an assault to the senses in the best ways.

The last dish we shared was steamed red snapper teow chew style. This dish was executed rather well, with ingredients you’d expect from a typical toew chew steamed fish – tomato, tofu, salted vegetable, garlic, ginger, cilantro, and chili. I enjoyed this quite a lot too.

The dinner came to be around RM 40 per pax including drinks, a fair price considering the fact that we ordered quality fish as well as lala. Would definitely come here again.

map to XFrens Subang Jaya ss18

Address:
Restoran XFrens
51, Jalan SS 18/1b, Ss 18,
47500 Subang Jaya, Selangor
GPS3.072748, 101.584083
Tel: 03-5611 0488
Hours
: Lunch & Dinners

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Growing up on an island and having relatives who were fishermen definitely does instill some love for seafood in me from a young age. Hence, Crab Factory being one of our destinations for the short food trip to Johor Bahru definitely helped encouraged me to participate in this fun little blogger get-together.

Crab Factory at Little Paris, Johor Bahru
Crab Factory at Little Paris, Johor Bahru

I’ve been to the original Crab Factory outlet at PJ SS2 about a year prior and enjoyed the experience tremendously, so the expectation was certainly up there for this visit down south.

The restaurant is located at Little Paris, JB’s attempt at replicating the famous city in France with tastefully thought out architecture, I must say overall the small development area looks rather neat.

For the afternoon, we sampled three different sauces – Signature Southern Bang, Creamy Lemak, and seemingly flavor of 2017 for many dishes these days – Salted Egg.

crab, shrimps, or squid?
crab, shrimps, or squid?

For those who hasn’t tried the Louisiana style seafood dining before, the experience can be quite fun. Your seafood is basically poured directly on the table and you use your bare hands & fingers to dig in. There’s no bowls, plates, or forks & knifes, but thankfully, a little hammer & clamp is provided for those pesky crab claws.

pour it all on the table and lets get messy
pour it all on the table and lets get messy

As for pricing, there are 3 different value meals to choose from – Crab Lover Shiok (2-3 pax), Crab Lover Party (4-5 pax), and Crab Lover Giler (7-9 pax) priced at RM 49.90 or RM 59.90 per pax. Pretty decently priced for the experience and premium ingredients I thought.

what's your favorite sauce?
what’s your favorite sauce?

Having sampled all three sauces, I find myself gravitate towards the classic Southern Bang, with it’s cajun spice, lemon, garlic, and herbs contributing just enough to the fresh seafood. Creamy Lemak makes for good sauce base if you love to have some deep friedmantao with. As for the Salted Egg sauce, well, could perhaps be a bit stronger to give it that extra kick.

To be honest though, I also kinda missed the original butter garlic sauce, of course you could order yours that way.

map to Crab Factory, Little Paris, Johor Bahru

Address:
Crab Factory
G14, Block B,
jalan jaya putra 1/1,
Bandar Jaya Putra,
81100 Johor Bahru, Johor
GPS1.567581, 103.776728
Tel: 07-351 4062
Web: http://www.crabfactory.com.my
HoursTues-Sun: 12pm – 10pm, closed on Mondays