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While the breath of Japanese cuisine kept advancing in Malaysia, there’s a segment of this food that alienate majority of the population here in Malaysia. See, you can find sushi, sashimi, and yakotiri that are suitable for most everyone to consume for the most part, but when it comes to proper Japanese ramen, the pork free or halal version proved to be a bit of a challenge to locate.

Kogura Chicken Ramen, Lot 10
Kogura Chicken Ramen, Lot 10

The good news is, we now have Kagura at J’s Gate Dining in Isetan KL.

Kagura Chicken Ramen is hailed from Tokyo with the name of Seimenka Kaguraya, and even back in Tokyo, the recipe has always been pork-free and lard-free. Rare but still pretty popular at the same time.

There’s a selection of different soup base and ingredients, ranging from RM 12.88+ to a maximum of RM 22.88+. When it comes to proper Japanese ramen at these type of set up, I’d say they’re very competitively priced.

While the base is chicken, there’s a choice of shoyu, miso, and “rich” soup. They also serve gyoza, fried rice, and a limited choice of tempura (menu below)

Kagura Chicken Ramen
Kagura Chicken Ramen

So how do they taste like?

We tried the “rich” and shoyu ramen together with their dumplings, and I gotta say that the soup base rivals the pork based ramen, with a slightly less greasy note. They also did a good job with the chicken base chasiu, but I do feel that the texture of pork chasiu is still superior. Overall though, this is a more than decent version of ramen that certainly did not make me regret having it for sure.

The dumpling though was sort of average, I guess perhaps it’s the lack of fatty bits that failed to bring it to my expectation.

fancy some dumpling to go with your ramen?
fancy some dumpling to go with your ramen?

Skip the dumpling unless you are way too hungry, otherwise, this ramen is fit for anyone who loves ramen, even if you’re not specifically avoiding pork for whatever reason.

Happy eating!

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

Before we start, I have a confession. I must admit that of the various ASEAN countries I’ve visited (all except Laos & Cambodia), Filipino food is ranked pretty low on the index of cuisine that gets me excited.

Tambayan At Kainang Filipino, Api Api Center, KK
Tambayan At Kainang Filipino, Api Api Center, KK

I’ve been to the country three times – to cover Asean Basketball League, volunteer for Operations Smile, and an awesome diving trip to Anilao. Neither of these trips got me real excited with the local cuisine, nor was my experience at the now defunct Filipino restaurant at BU Centrepoint by the name of Cagayan back in 2009.

That being said, it is always important to keep an open mind, so when my Kota Kinabalu makan buddy suggested that we try Tambayan at Kainang Filipino for dinner, I thought, why not? Maybe 5th time is the charm.

After that initial time, I’ve since returned to the place twice, I’m sort of a convert.

Tortang Talong, Pinakbet, Pork Adobo
Tortang Talong, Pinakbet, Pork Adobo

Tambayan at Kainang Filipino is located at Api Api Centre, a commercial area at the capital city of Sabah just a short walk away from Marriott & Prominade hotel. The restaurant itself isn’t particularly fancy and usually not overly crowded.

The menu (check the pics below) is pretty extensive for a restaurant this size, there are set meals, noodle, pasta, single rice dish, as well as various cook-to-order dishes separated into different categories of pork, soup, beef, vegetable, seafood, and so on.

dinner for two on different visits
dinner for two on different visits

Over the different visits, I’ve tried their pork adobo (RM 12.80), sinigang shrimp (a sour soup, RM 12.80), lechon kawali (crispy pork loin RM 10.80), pinakbet (mixed vege, RM 8.80), ampalaya con carne (stirfry bitter gourd, RM 8.80), and tortang talong (eggplant omelette RM 8.80).

pork, vege, adobo, bitter gourd, adobo, eggplant omelet
pork, vege, adobo, bitter gourd, adobo, eggplant omelet

The adobo were quite flavorful, with the sauce carrying a bit of sourish taste that was also rather savory, vege dishes comes with a strong dose of fish sauce and are generally quite well cooked, I enjoyed them quite a bit.

As for crispy pork, I do feel that this is less crunchy and perhaps does not carry that sodium goodness compared to our Chinese siu yok.

However, the dish that I ended up always ordering is that awesome eggplant omelette. It is basically just your basic purple colored eggplant sliced open and have a fried egg engulfing the whole thing, wouldn’t have expected it to taste so good!

with my KK makan buddy
with my KK makan buddy

So if you’re at KK and have an open mind to trying out food that’s of lesser popularity in Malaysia, head to Tambayan at Kainang Filipino. You may like it, you may not, but it’ll be a different gastronomical journey nonetheless.

Happy eating!

map to Tambayan at Api Api Center, Kota Kinabalu

Address:
Tambayan At Kainang Filipino
Block 3, Ground Floor, Api-api Centre,
88000 Kota Kinabalu, Sabah
GPS: 5.975185, 116.070327
Tel: 016-818 2008
Hours: 12.00 pm – 12.00 am

While many restaurants boosts a certain unique selling point that draws customers with fancy dishes, deco, or exciting new tastes, there also exists those that are none of those – a place that is seemingly running in exactly the same way the day it was established, and through various decades, staying on as a sort of time capsule.

Thye Huat at Berkeley, opens from Mon-Sat
Thye Huat at Berkeley, opens from Mon-Sat

A restaurant that brings you back in time with a sense of nostalgia and peace, if you would. In the era of quirky instagrammable cafes and fad based food, this is an increasingly a rare sight.

One of my favorites of such place is Thye Huat at Taman Berkeley.

yam cake anyone?
yam cake anyone?

Located at Lorong Lang, just a few minutes from the old Sungai Rasau toll area, this kopitiam certainly fits the bill. Floor with mosaic laid decades ago, a single stall offering different simple dishes on different days of the week, and even some nyonya kuih to boot.

In addition to the dishes such as curry mee, mee siam, laksa, prawn mee, curry puff and so forth, the half boiled eggs and coffee here is also one not to be missed. Expertly crafted by the old operator, the coffee carries an aroma and body that’s as good as some of the modern cafes.

simple breakfast makes for a great start of the day
simple breakfast makes for a great start of the day

I also never missed ordering those perfectly prepared half boiled eggs whenever I find myself here. They’re also cracked and served in the little old china cups for you.

A breakfast here reminds us of simpler days, one with less distractions and modern constant bombardment of “look at me” culture. Will we ever find those peace again?

map to Thye Huat, Taman Berkeley

Address:
Thye Huat
Lorong Lang, Taman Berkeley,
41150 Klang, Selangor
GPS: 3.056372, 101.464057
Hours: Mon-Sat for breakfast

When it comes to food that represent Malaysia around different embassies all over the world, satay is probably right on top of the list. Not only it is delicious, these meat on stick is also portable, easy to store, simple to cook, and super convenient to eat.

Satay Sri Melaka, Lembah Keramat
Satay Sri Melaka, Lembah Keramat

For most of us, satay usually means chunks of chicken or beef served on skewer that’s not unlike Japanese yakitori, but if you spend some time looking around, there are other varieties available that may surprise some of us – and for those who likes it a little different, take a look at Satay Melaka.

Satay Sri Melaka is located at Lembah Keramat, some 20 mins away from KLCC, closer to Zoo Negara area (makes for a great after-zoo early dinner spot if you ask me). This is a “lesser developed” area of KL, parking is a breeze, and prices aren’t overwhelming.

plenty of peanut sauce with sambal to go around
plenty of peanut sauce with sambal to go around

The selection of satay here should satisfy even the most picky of eaters, there’s beef, chicken, mutton, as well as various different innards – chicken heart, liver, gizzards, and even beef tripe.

I thought the chicken was perhaps a bit dry (would be great to have some chicken skin), but those innards were really lovely, with beef tripe being my favorite. For chicken satay my favorite would be Satay Ampang.

The peanut sauce and sambal was quite top notch and adds to the overall flavor in ways that every satay place should. Spicy, flavorful, and with just enough spice.

meat, chicken, liver, stomach, they've got it all
meat, chicken, liver, stomach, they’ve got it all

If satay is what you long for, this is a worthy place to check out for sure.

map to satay sri melaka

Address:
Satay Sri Melaka
74, 64, Jalan AU 4/6,
54200 Kuala Lumpur, Selangor
GPS: 3.201103, 101.756342
Tel: 011-1157 7115
Hours: 4pm to midnight

My day job brings me to Kota Kinabalu quite often these days, which is a bit of a blessing when it comes to work travel as this North Borneo city does offer a full package of beautiful ocean & beaches, the magnificent mount KK, and a host of rather unique hawker dishes not easily found this side of Klang Valley. I’m also particularly blessed to have friends who would bring me to explore these places.

Kedai Kopi Wah Juan, Kota Kinabalu
Kedai Kopi Wah Juan, Kota Kinabalu

During my last visit, I had to go offshore for a short stint. For Sabah, that meant using the old Terminal 2 at BKI airport (who has flown Air Asia flight via this side before?). On my return trip, my friend Yann May picked me up and we decided to stopped by this rather busy looking kopitiam located by Tanjung Aru, between Terminal 1 and Terminal 2 of the airport.

As it turned out, this was the famous Kedai Kopi Wah Juan that offers mixed pork (or pork offal) noodle which if I remember correctly, is an addiction of a friend who claimed to eat clean otherwise.

our lunch spread for two
our lunch spread for two

We ended up ordering a plate of noodle with roast &  bbq pork (as the lady doesn’t eat pork offal, WHYY!?), a bowl of beef ball soup, a plate of noodle with pork offal, and an additional small plate of pork offal.

Well, the result? It was awesome!

Can’t say much about those BBQ & roast pork, but the pork offal was on point, soft, flavorful, and properly braised to perfection. In addition, the home made noodle were superb as well, subtle in taste which compliments the other ingredients, and soaks up those sauce just nice. The beef ball soup too did not disappoint, and would be something I order again.

If I had to nitpick, they could do with slightly better chili paste, that’s about it.

pork offal noodle, roast/bbq pork, beef balls, pork offal (small)
pork offal noodle, roast/bbq pork, beef balls, pork offal (small)

If you’re at Kota Kinabalu and does eat pork innards, this is surely a place to check out.

map to Kedai Kopi Wah Juan, Kota Kinabalu

Address:
Kedai Kopi Wah Juan
Jalan Lee Thau Sang, Pekan Tanjung Aru,
88100 Kota Kinabalu, Sabah
GPS: 5.952751, 116.056229
Tel: 016-830 6160