Malaysian Food Blog, Travel, Diving & More

Category / Foreign Food

When I was growing up, burger was roadside Ramly stalls, with chicken or beef patty, fried egg wrapped the meat, a slice of cheese perhaps, couple slices of tomato, shredded cabbage, all drenched in excessive chili sauce and mayo. And for those who wants it a bit more “atas”, you’d go to TGI Fridays or maybe even Hard Rock cafe and pretend to have a bigger bank account than your neighbor (there’s also McD but it’s not relevant here).

Spade's Burger, Subang Jaya SS15
Spade’s Burger, Subang Jaya SS15

The burger scene in Malaysia has gone through a wave of expansion several years ago. Starting from those charcoal buns from MyBurgerLab and reaching a peak where you’d find a fancy burger outlet at every hipster joint all across the country, offering their own interpretation of how this American invention should look & taste like.

Alas, like every hype food that came and go, it eventually settled down to a plateau with a few brands that continue to thrive. One of such brands is Spade’s Burger, founded back in 2013 from my home town in Penang.

In fact, I was first told about Spade’s Burger by my brother quite a while ago, and finally managed to give it a try a couple weeks ago at their outlet in Subang Jaya.

Spade’s Burger offers a choice of pork, chicken, or beef as your choice of meat, there’s also salmon & mushroom options for those of you who prefer not to eat anything that can scream.

We went for the more traditional option of Dark Knight with pork, and BBJ with beef. These burgers are priced from RM 10.90 all the way to RM 17.50, you can also combo it up with unlimited refill for drinks and certain sides, we opted for fried bacon strips, salted egg fish skin, and mushroom wedges.

BBJ, Dark Knight, fish skin, mushroom, bacon fries
BBJ, Dark Knight, fish skin, mushroom, bacon fries

The pork patty here was so good it legit makes an almost indistinguishable replacement  for those who does not eat beef, both types of meat were very juicy and full of flavor. I really enjoyed the bacon bits and cheese crisp in Dark Knight, and thought that BBJ, while very good in itself, was perhaps s tad too sweet for my liking. Overall though, they were both way above average and certainly satisfying.

As for the sides, fish skin and mushroom wedges were on point, while those fried bacon strips were too thin and contained too much breading to allow the natural flavor of bacon to shin, a bit of a shame really.

Will be back to sample more of their other offerings, will miss the bacon fries next time.

map to spades burger ss15

Spade’s Burger
A5, Jalan SS15/4D,
SS 15, 47500 Subang Jaya, Selangor
GPS: 3.074872, 101.586446
Tel: +6 03 5612 0317

Always on the lookout for a good bowl of ramen, I was recently intrigued by taufulou’s rave reviews about Ichikakuya Ramen, probed into it a little bit and realized that it is located at UOA Business Park, that big office building across from SS15 over Federal Highway, which is quite a convenient place for me to get to, so I thought we’d give it a try.

ichikakuya ramen at the Podium, UOA Business Park
Ichikakuya Ramen at the Podium, UOA Business Park

The brand Ichikakuya is from Yokohama and is a relatively new establishment from only about 5 years ago, the branch at UOA Business Park is the first in Malaysia.

The menu is pretty straightforward, choose between normal or red iekei (spicy) soup that’s either soy or salt based, and you can also opt for more chasiu (pork), soft boiled eggs, spinach, bamboo shoots, green onions and such. Additionally, they also have a few types of rice bowls if ramen isn’t your thing.

What makes Ichikakuya stands apart from other ramen places is the ability to customize the taste and noodle doneness in the following way:

Noodle – hard, normal, soft
Taste – strong, normal, light
Chicken oil – extra, normal, less

soy sauce soup, red iekei ramen, gyoza
soy sauce soup, red iekei ramen, gyoza

We went for soy sauce soup and red iekei ramen, with normal noodle, strong taste, and extra chicken oil. I guess the “purists” will want to go for hard noodle, but to be frank I’ve never really enjoyed al dante noodle in pretty much any noodle dish.

The chicken oil and soy base soup reminds me of those equally good soup base from marutama, the wheat flour noodle carries a unique texture that went very well with the soup as well. The spicy version does come with a bit of a kick, not something that I’d call “hot” but should satisfy those who enjoys spicier food.

Overall, with the vege, seaweed, egg, and everything else, the ramen was as good as any I’ve tasted, well balanced and certainly delicious.

chasiu, egg, and soup all comes together
chasiu, egg, and soup all comes together

As for the gyoza, they were perfectly ordinary and would be something that I probably won’t order again. Price of ramen starts from RM 18.00 to RM 32.50 depending on how crazy you want to go.

map to UOA business park, shah alam

ichikakuya ramen menu (1) ichikakuya ramen menu (2) ichikakuya ramen menu (3)

ichikakuya ramen menu (4) ichikakuya ramen menu (5)

Ichikakuya Ramen
Unit 1-3A, Level 1, Tower 3,
The Podium, Uoa Business park,
No. 1, Jalan Pengaturcara U1/51a,
Kawasan Perindustrian Temasya,
40150 Shah Alam, Selangor
GPS: 3.086171, 101.586808
Tel: 014-958 3884

For this year’s CNY escape, my brother & I brought mom to Siem Reap for some Angkor Wat sight seeing. So naturally, we got to try some of the local foods.

I always thought it was a little strange that we can find many representations of South East Asian food in Malaysia – Thai being most popular, but you can also find Indonesian, Vietnamese, and to a lesser extend, Filipino food. However, I haven’t seen a single Cambodian hawker stall or restaurants in all of Klang Valley, and now I think I know why..

Old Market at Siem Reap
Old Market at Siem Reap

The short answer is – Cambodian food is just not very good.. or rather, they don’t appeal to the Malaysian taste at all. The biggest problem being that most everything ended up to sweet, even dishes that you never expect to have any sugar at all, they will add some just for kicks in Siem Reap.

So, if you order food there and specifically tell them not to put any sugar, things usually will turn out OK-ish.

Even though it’s the second biggest city in Cambodia, Siem Reap is really quite a small place, with population of only around 200 thousands. You can use local currency, but US dollar is accepted anywhere with a rate of around 1000 Cambodian Riel to 1 USD,  I’d suggest using US dollar for your travel here.

Our first meal was at the Old Market at the heart of the city, walking distance from our hotel (there are many around the area at varying price range).

Instinctively, we went for the busiest noodle/rice stall in the market.

brunch for three, rice or noodle for you?
brunch for three, rice or noodle for you?

We ended up ordering 3 different dishes – vermicelli with pork, “instant” noodle with beef, and a plate of chicken rice. Ordering wasn’t too difficult since they do have English menu, and each dish cost US $2. Probably cheaper for the locals? Not sure.

Taste wise they were pretty decent, I particularly love the pork blood and vege in the soup. The soup base however, was a tad too sweet, though still quite acceptable, unlike some of the other stalls we tried at later meals.

I’d not shy away from eating at this stall again.

the dessert stall is right next to noodle stall
the dessert stall is right next to noodle stall

Right next to the noodle stall is this very popular dessert stall operated by a lady who doesn’t really speak any English.

Since Siem Reap food is already too sweet, it follows the logic that they would be pretty good at dishes that should be sweet, right? And after having been convinced by some instagram friends who urged me to try it out, we did, and it was awesome!

desserts for three
desserts for three

We had no idea what these desserts were called, or what they really were other than knowing grass jelly, coconut milk, sago, banana, condensed milk and the likes were involved. These 3 bowls cost us 5,500 Riel, they were sweet, tasty, and absolutely satisfying.

If you’re at Old Market, check it out.

siem reap old market map

Old Market (Psar Chas)
2 Thnou St,
Krong Siem Reap, Cambodia
GPS: 13.353874, 103.855226

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

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

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

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