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A couple weeks ago I was approached by the good people from PrimeWorks Studio (a company owned by Media Prima – ala TV3) to see if I’d be interested to participate as a judge in a cooking competition – Versus 1001 Rasa by Baba’s. I agreed pretty much immediately right after figuring out that I could fit it into the calendar, which also coincide with the 13th anniversary of this blog!

Also almost immediately regret the decision since the program is in Malay language, but alas, I was able to cope. 12 years of Malaysian education did not disappoint at the end. *phew*

with my fellow judges, and celebrity chef hosts
with my fellow judges, and celebrity chef hosts

We shot 2 episodes of the program in the same day, both hosted by Chef Kamarul & Chef Adu. I was also joined by Aiman from EatDrinkKLNorshalina from Baba’s QC & Halal department.

There are two contestants for each episode, challenging each other by cooking two dishes that are drawn from a recipe box by their respective mentors.

shooting in progress
shooting in progress

The contestants are given ingredients, including Baba’s product, to come up with the dish to impress the judges while being guided by their mentors. All this is done within the stipulated cooking time, which is dependent on recipe. For the episodes that I was a part of, each dish was given an hour’s time to prepare.

When the time is up, we the judges then gets invited to taste them and gives point to the dish based on predetermined criteria of taste, ingredients used, uniqueness, presentation, and completeness.

dishes from the contestants for judges to sample
dishes from the contestants for judges to sample

It was overall quite an interesting experience. Quite a bit different from my previous experience as judges at R.AGE Food Fight and Blogger MasterChef Challenge. The three judges have the final say without input from the hosts or mentors, and everything is audited. I thought that was very genuine.

I’m not going to announce any spoilers here, but if you have access to TV3, do try to catch the program when it comes out and see how I struggle with our national language.

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For those who loved the old first generation Jalan Batai char kuih teow (Damansara Height’s Seng Lee kopitiam) back in the days, you’re in luck! You can now find the original uncle manning the stall at Sen Kee White Coffee kopitiam at Taman Sri Muda, Shah Alam.

Sen Kee White Coffee at Taman Sri Muda, Shah Alam
Sen Kee White Coffee at Taman Sri Muda, Shah Alam

I was first informed about this place by another ckt seeking friend who originated from Penang. Naturally, I decided to check it out the very next day.

According to the operator, he’s been operating at this location for about two months now, while his daughter is still running the show at the previous place.

char kuih teow with duck egg
char kuih teow with duck egg

Like any proper char kuih teow places, they serve only char kuih teow and nothing else, but you do get a choice between normal chicken egg, or my usual choice when available – duck egg.

The CKT was just as I remembered, plenty of wok hei, with pretty decent size prawns for Klang Valley standard, and all the necessary ingredients such as bean sprouts, cockles, and chives. However, in replacement of lap cheong, you get fish cakes, which is something that’s not 100% ideal but acceptable in my book.

So for those of you who used to love a proper plate of char kuih teow from the uncle who used to operate at Jalan Batai, this is a place to go. There’s also a second generation Batai CKT now at Klang for anyone who’s curious.

do you recognise this char kuih teow uncle?
do you recognise this char kuih teow uncle?

map to Sen Kee white coffee kopitiam, Taman Sri Muda

Address:
Sen Kee White Coffee
33, Jalan Mewah 25/63,
Taman Sri Muda,
40400 Shah Alam, Selangor
GPS3.030874, 101.535499

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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