Business agility helps Yen Shabu Shabu to sustain itself

Business agility helps Yen Shabu Shabu to sustain itself

When Yen Shabu Shabu restaurant started in Bandar Menjalara in 2010, the owners had intended it to be an authentic Japanese restaurant. However, local taste buds were not ready for it, so Yen Shabu Shabu adapted itself to suit the local tastes.

After nearly eight years, business is still good. On an ordinary weeknight, the restaurant was still packed from as early as 7pm when we were there to check out the place.

Surprisingly, most of the tables were occupied by young people in groups of threes and fours who came for the buffet dinner. By the time we were about to leave, there were already guests waiting to be seated.

Although it can no longer claim to be a Japanese restaurant, its owner, Jack Chan says the restaurant runs on the concept of shabu shabu, which is common to both Japanese and Korean diners.

It is not the usual steamboat, because guests can either pick the set plate for three or four adults, go on buffet or pick their choices from the conveyor belt (similar to some Japanese restaurants).

Their set plate is priced differently for the lunch hour at RM29.50 (Nett RM31) while dinner time its signature set for two pax is priced at RM37.99 (Nett 39.90). Individuals can also ask for their set lunch from RM9.90 or set dinner from RM11.90. Buffet is at RM39.90 nett per pax.

They also have snacks including golden buns (RM1.30), BBQ honey pork or chicken satay (RM1.30), chicken wings (RM5 for two pairs), Penang lobak (RM1.30), which are served on trolleys, reminding me of the dim sum restaurants.

This is what makes Yen Shabu Shabu stands out from the rest of the steamboat restaurants.

They use warm light to create a nice cosy feeling of the restaurant. It is eating in style that I guess is the reason why young people are attracted to it.

Besides that, unlike most local steamboat restaurants, this one is airconditioned which makes its ambience more comfortable to dine in – a real plus point for me especially since I have the tendency to perspire a lot when taking something spicy.

Unlike the steamboat ingredients sold in supermarkets which come from one same supplier, Jack and his food tasters specially selected some of the best ingredients from different suppliers to serve their clients.

For the soup, there are four choices to pick from – imitation abalone, tom yam, Chinese herbal or Dong Yan and Qufeng pepper soup.

Yen Shabu Shabu is located at Unit 1-02.10, Jln Menjalara Idaman 1(1/62A), Bandar Menjalara ,52200 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia .

Tel/ Whatsapp: 011-2685 4790 / 016-338  7237

Business hours:
Sun – Tue (5.30pm – 12.15am)(Lass call 11.15pm)
Wed – Thu (11:30am – 3pm; 5.30pm – 12.15am) (Last call 11.15pm)
Fri (11:30am – 3pm; 5.30pm – 3am)(Lass call 1.45pm)
Sat (5.30pm – 3am)(Last call 1.45pm)

MIDO Korean BBQ is authentic Korean

MIDO Korean BBQ is authentic Korean

The taste buds of the Koreans can tell better than most Malaysians do when it comes to picking which is authentic Korean restaurant and which is not.

I sought the help of a Korean lecturer, Dr Lee Chul Woo to help out with our Authentic Korean food trail.

With the background information that he is providing about the Korean culture, we hope that Malaysians can better enjoy it the way the Koreans enjoy their cuisine a few thousand kilometres away from home.

We kicked off the food trail with MIDO Korean BBQ in SS2 Petaling Jaya. Its managing director, Cho Youn Ho, a young 30 plus year old man, is in fact, an engineering graduate from Taylor’s University who now sees his greater passion in the food and beverage business.

 

With Malaysia as his second home, Youn Ho decided to return to Petaling Jaya to set up the MIDO Korean BBQ. When we met with Youn Ho, we were already half way through the meal; he had arranged for his staff to serve us with some of his signature dishes.

The evening started off with some cold Shikye, which is a traditional Korean drink. The drink is a great way to chill away especially after a hot day. The drink is simply rejuvenating and refreshing.

A fellow student friend of mine, Chua Eng Keong managed to join us to try out some of the Korean cuisine. Chua is also a foodie fan. He particularly finds the Ginseng chicken soup (RM48) to be one of his favourites.

The chicken leg and pork BBQ (RM28) is served alongside with the lettuce. Without Dr Lee’s guidance, we would have just taken the chicken leg and pork BBQ meat separately only to find out that the meat was to be eaten together and wrapped in the leafy lettuce. What a healthy way to eat!

Between the pork and the chicken BBQ, all three of us prefer the chicken portion of it. The way it was done and the sauce that comes with the BBQ meat gives it just a perfect taste to the taste buds, coupled with the freshness of the lettuce.

Since this is a Korean BBQ restaurant, its signature dishes are mainly BBQ signature dishes. However, what I like is that they also serve vegetable salad in the house and it comes along with any BBQ dishes. I particularly like the Korean sauce that comes with the vegetables. This is all about eating healthy.

Typical of Korean restaurants, the banchan refers to a variety of dishes served in small portions. This is unique in Korean cuisine which helps to whet the appetite.

The banchan and an ice-shaven dessert known as Bing-su are also on the house when you dine at MIDO. Bing-su is the equivalent of our Malaysian ice-kacang but it has a different sort of ingredients and worth trying out.

What I like about MIDO is that it is not only to enjoy the food but children get to expose themselves to the Korean culture. Unfortunately, during the food tasting session, my children were unable to make it.

Before the meal, Eng Keong managed to put on the Korean traditional costume for a photography session. As a special request, he was allowed to pose with the costume enjoying the Korean cuisine.

To make it a more enriching experience for Malaysians, I am suggesting to Youn Ho to get his staff to adorn the Korean costumes themselves and speak a few simple Korean phrases.

MIDO Korean BBQ Restaurant is located at 11 Ground Floor, Jalan SS2/64, Petaling Jaya.

Tel: 03-7865 9779

Business hours: 11:00AM – 11:00PM

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/midokoreanbbq/

Waze location:  https://www.waze.com/livemap?zoom=17&lat=3.11922&lon=101.62052

Waltzing to J&D Espresso

Waltzing to J&D Espresso

Next on our Waltzing Matilda food trail, we waltz over to J&D Espresso in Bandar Utama, where they claim to serve ‘bloody good coffee.’

Located at the Mini Oasis Centre at the traffic light junction between Lebuh Bandar Utama and Persiaran Tropicana, I admit having passed by the place umpteen times, but never thought that behind the façade of what appears like a pub is, in fact, a cosy place with some good Aussie cuisine for breakfast and brunch.

They are closed in the evenings, but for those who can swing there before 6pm, the one thing that I can recommend is their Porky Lasagna. J&D’s Lasagna is one of the better ones that I have tasted around town. It gets my thumbs up. Besides me, two other invited guests also gave it the thumbs up!

Memories

Although I was looking for a real good Quiche Lorraine the way I liked it, without that, the lasagna would do to bring back memories as a student who would order almost the same items every day for two weeks in a row at the university cafeteria.

For me, a quick lunch was either the Lasagna or Quiche, or sometimes the German Shepherd’s pie, for just a couple of Aussie dollars back in the 80s. I hope the next round when I visit J&D, they would have their Quiche; it is worth tasting it, if you have never tried it before.

For a start, since most quiche is still not that popular in Malaysia, let’s begin by learning how to pronounce the word. It is not pronounced as ‘kuey-chi’ or ‘quee-cheh’ but ‘[keesh]’.

The next time you visit J&D, ask for Quiche Lorraine and let us know how you like the taste.

It is impressive that one of the invited guests, Raquel Ho, a young lady who has lived in Melbourne for a number of years when she was young, said that she “really likes the pizza”. I never expected her to also say that she likes the fries the way it is prepared.

Although a pizza serving in Australia is unusually larger and rich in ingredients by comparison, J&D’s Aussie with an Egg Pizza (RM25) which features pork bacon, cheddar, mozzarella and fresh farm egg, is good to try out.

Several guests including 11-year-old Ariel Mak, also enjoyed the pizza as well. I was not so much a pizza type of person while living in Australia; therefore, I would not comment much except to say that the first time I had a real good Italian pizza was many years down the road when I was on a holiday trip to Melbourne.

My auntie and I were staring at two “small” pizzas that we had ordered, which turned out a much bigger portion or as big as our “large” pizza here in Malaysia. Both of us had a tough time to finish the two small pizzas although they tasted great!

Fish and chips brought back memories of student days. During the summer vacation, when I had more free time, I would take a walk to the nearest milk bar at Morton Street (in a suburb known as Clayton, Melbourne) to pick up some fresh milk. I would then pick up my favourite packet of fish and chips from my favourite shop operated by a Greek couple.

For only A$3, I could get a nice big packet with a big slice of fish and lots of chips to have a sumptuous meal. Sadly, there is no way I can expect to taste the same favourite fish and chips, although I did try to look out for the same shop on another visit to Melbourne.

So, when another invitee to the food tasting session, Sid Fong told me that he really likes the fish and chips at J&D, I told myself,

“Yes, I have done my job at introducing what a good dish the fish and chips really is!”

Although it is simple, the Vodka battered Fish and Chips (RM29) has brought delight to Sid’s taste buds. I wonder if it is the vodka, the batter or the dory which is served with herbed fries and salad.

Expatriates who miss their Aussie morning breakfast can try out J&D’s Big Aussie Brekky (RM34), where one can choose either the sunny side up, poached or scrambled egg. The plate comes with it pork bacon, smoked garlic sauce, cherry tomatoes, mushroom medley, baked beans, artisan bread and crispy mushroom croquet.

I picked “sunny side up” as it reminded me of how much we have failed to appreciate the sun, especially after being in a few days of gloomy winter days in Melbourne, where the weather is unpredictable and everyone in Melbourne knows that you can have four seasons in one day. The sunny side up also has a tale to it, because it reminds me of a phrase very popular during my Grandmother’s era,

“The sun is shining on your backside. You are still not awake yet!”

Now, about the Gourmet Pork Burger (RM25) which was another guest, Rich Joseph’s favourite. As Rich said, most people may think that the burger looks small, but it can be very filling indeed.

Besides the Aussie cuisine that I sought for, J&D also has its own creation. A more recent one is their Bacon and Eggs Pancake (RM25) which I kind of enjoy, as it is basically a fluffy pancake. I can actually do without the poached egg, but I would not barter the pork bacon, mushrooms and herbed spinach.

For most part of the day, I noticed that one or two older people walk into the café but it is mainly the young and upcoming professionals who come here because of the ambience, and I suspect, also for the food as well.

Check out the earlier restaurants on our Waltzing Matilda food trail: Bonfire. There are more to come. For more Australian outback songs, tune in here. Also, to read my article on the Waltzing Matilda Food Trail, click here.

J&D Espresso is located at
Oasis Business Centre BU11, Lebuh Bandar Utama, Bandar Utama, Petaling Jaya Tel: 03 78869693/ 017 3133931

Business hours: 9:00AM – 6:00PM

Whatsapp:  017-313 3931

The other articles on our Waltzing Matilda food trail series:

It’s Friends of Mine Café

It’s Friends of Mine Café

Whenever I am around in Mont Kiara area, I like going to my friend’s café.

Oops! Except for the way it is called – for which the correct name should be ‘Friends of Mine Café’ – most people would believe that the café is operated by some friends of mine.

No, I only came to know Lina Yeo and Elaine Lam, after checking out on their ginger pasta by chance several years ago when I strayed into the carpark just in front of Vista Kiara Condominium in Mont Kiara.

Pasta cooked with ginger is unthinkable, but wait till you try it out the first time. As far as I know it, pasta is usually cooked either in mushroom or tomato sauce, but as I was adventurous enough to try out their ginger pasta, I discovered that I soon fell in love with it.

It is the ginger that gives the same old pasta dish the new ‘oooumph’ that the tomatoes and mushrooms fail to provide.

Although it is no longer my favourite these days, as my taste buds have gotten used to it, it is still one of the favourite dishes I would recommend to people who want to check out the café.

Yeo, who is now a friend after so many visits, is not the typical chef that you expect to meet. Although she has a kitchen helper, Yeo prefers to cook most of the dishes herself.

At the latest food tasting session, I would rate their Chicken and Cranberry Sandwich (RM13) as No 1 or my favourite. It is not the kind of food that you would want to just taste, but something that you would not mind eating till you have your fingers licking good. Yeo confides with me that she uses her homemade mayonnaise.

No wonder it is also a best seller with the students from Sri Garden International School just across the road. Yeo’s other two dishes namely the Kung Pow pasta salad (RM19) tastes good mainly because its Kung Pow chicken cubes which taste unique, while her kampung-style fried rice is a matter of preference, whether you like it more spicy or less.

For foodies who want to try the food here, my only warning is to make sure that you call them before coming over. Since their business is mainly targeted at the international school just opposite the café, they can afford to close on most of the other days.

Even though the café is also my wife’s favourite and she had asked to eat there whenever we passed by, it is not easy to find a right time when I can bring my family there as the café is closed on public holidays and Sundays.

Friends of Mine Café Is located at:

Address: 7-3 Vista Shoppe, Vista Kiara Condo, Jalan Kiara 3, Mont Kiara.

Tel: 03-62011482

Handphone: 012-2909568

Business hours: Mon – Fri: 7 am to 5 pm / Saturday: 10am – 4pm

Facebook: www.facebook.com/fomcafe

Waze location: https://waze.com/ul/hw286106qh

STEPHEN NG is an ordinary citizen with an avid interest in all sorts of gastronomical delights – Western, Middle Eastern and Asian.

A simple Penang Ah Meng’s Teochew restaurant in PJ

A simple Penang Ah Meng’s Teochew restaurant in PJ

Teow Chew Meng Restaurant in SS2 Petaling Jaya is a Teochew restaurant, while Ah Meng is just a common nickname in Penang.

For those who did not know, this was how the name of the restaurant came about. Simple, but it reflects beautifully the beginning of a restaurant that would serve just ‘the kind of food that you can’t find elsewhere,’ as its owner, Steven Seow puts it.

The restaurant which was set up as a family business by Seow’s father-in- law, Tan Thean Choon was among the first to popularise the signature Hokkien dish, known as the Mee Sua Tow.

In fact, there is a history behind the late Tan’s Mee Sua Tow which is still a bestseller after nearly 20 years. Strangely, for those who know, Mee Sua is always linked to the Hokkien, but why is this Teochew restaurant promoting the Hokkien dish?

For one, it is because there is hardly one Hokkien restaurant around the country. Secondly, it was a trip to China back in 1998, when Tan had tasted one of the best Mee Sua Tow in Xiamen.

Upon returning, he could not find a restaurant that could serve such good Mee Sua Tow that he decided he would start one selling it. This signature dish was what made Restoran Teow Chew Meng famous.

The original Mee Sua Tow that we know is plain and rather bland in taste, but with some creativity, Tan made it a lot tastier by adding sharkfin, garoupa, prawns and scallops in the Mee Sua Tow (now priced at RM13 per pax).

This was one of my favourite, especially when it is served hot and eaten with a little black vinegar. Normally, I would prefer the original tastes of things but in this case, without the black vinegar, it is somewhat incomplete.

According to Seow, who has operated the restaurant with his wife Siew Peng in SS2 Petaling Jaya since 2000, most of the dishes here are served in a big pot for between two to six persons.

This is to encourage family members to share from the same pot and enjoy a meal together. This is to promote the family camaraderie.

Their other signature dish is the stir fried spicy lai fun. This is the lai fun which is used mainly for preparing laksa noodles, but instead of laksa ingredients, they use prawns, scallops and some minced pork.

“The closest that you can get in terms of the taste of the noodle is the Japanese udon, but we do not use the same ingredients as udon,” Seow elaborates. “A lot of people also love this dish.”

Their Braised Oyster Noodle (RM15 per pax) is also another signature dish to try especially for those who love the taste of oyster sauce. And, based on the season and the availability, he would also serve baby optopuses on a plate (RM13 per plate).

They also have the seafood rolls (RM13 per plate and Prawn Pan (RM12 per plate) which are mainly for the children.

One other item worth mentioning is the “O-Nee”. Teochew guests who walk into this restaurant would be happy to learn that they also serve the yam-based “O-Nee”. “This allows our Teochew guests to show to their friends how a Teochew dessert tastes like,” said Seow.

“It is very tedious to make O-Nee, which is why most restaurants would prefer not to add this desert to their menu.”

What’s more important is that they do not use any MSG or artificial flavouring to the food.

“Therefore, in order to draw out the tastes from the ingredients the way the customers want it, we have prepare the stock fresh every day,” Seow said.

“Everything is cooked in slow fire for two hours every morning. By the time that the kitchen is open at about 8am, to about 10.30am, the first batch of stock would be prepared. We then remove the ingredients so that they are not left soaking in the stock.”

In order to preserve the consistency and tastes of the dishes, they would start cooking a separate batch by about 3pm for the evening crowd. “Therefore, when someone eats here in the morning, and later decides to come back for the same dish, he will not find the taste different,” he explained. “We do not just add water to the stock.”

Restoran Teow Chew Meng is located at:

Address: 33 Jalan SS 2/30, Petaling Jaya

Tel: 03-78779298

Handphone: 012-2805387 (Steven Seow) / 012-4728387 (Siew Peng)

Business hours: 10am – 10pm daily

 

In Penang, they are located at:

Address: 6968, Jalan Ong Yi How, Kawasan Perindustrian Raja Uda, 12300 Butterworth

Whatsapp 012-274 3033

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/restoranteowchewmeng/

Website: http://teowchewmengkl.blogspot.my/

Waze location: https://waze.com/ul/hw2838qy4n

STEPHEN NG is an ordinary citizen with an avid interest in all sorts of gastronomical delights – Western, Middle Eastern and Asian.

Nothing beats the Vergine when it comes to fresh food

Nothing beats the Vergine when it comes to fresh food

At The Vergine (Italian for ‘Virgin’), they like things fresh from the oven.

Anything fresh and “virgin” such as the virgin olive oil and virgin coconut oil, is supposed to taste better.

In fact, after two years, The Vergine has decided to launch a fresh new set of dishes. This has brought delight to regular customers such as Jenny Ngiam, who has tried nearly every dish at the Vergine.

“Now, that they are starting to serve sea bass, I like the way they prepare the Pesto Mint Oven Baked Seabass (RM22.00) served with baked potatoes,” she said.

Taste is very subjective. I personally prefer their Lemon Dill Pan Seared Seabass (RM24.00) with sautéed vegetables and mashed potatoes. When I find the fish is too bland, I like some good gravy that goes with it.

The next new offering from the Vergine is their newly launched Vergine Cheese Burger (RM18) which comes with beefy patty, bacon, tomato, cheddar and mayonnaise with sautéed potato. The moment I tasted it, I know it appeals to the taste buds of my children but not enough to go for everyone.

The other new dish is the Lemon Honey Glazed Pork Chop (RM26.00) with sautéed vegetables and crinkled fries. Portion is a little too big for one person, but before long the whole piece was gone as different people had a piece each. The way it is prepared makes the pork chop a lot juicier than what I had expected on first impression.

For starters, I particularly like their Prosciutto Ham Crostini (RM14.00) which comes with wholemeal bread tomato, basil, pesto and ham. It is what gives me the oooumph for a salad, so if I decided for the day to eat nothing else, this would it! They also have from their old menu, the Tropical Salad (RM10.00) which is a mixed salad with a honey dressing, orange, dried cranberries and honey dew.

Worth trying out from the old menu which I hope will remain is their wild mushroom soup (RM10.00) which is rich in mushroom, which I thought would give me the real oooumph if they put a little more salt and perhaps pepper to it. But it is really up to one’s preference. For that same reason, given the new soup on the menu, I would go for their Minestrone Soup (RM15.00), because I also enjoy the way the croutons are prepared.

In fact, I think either one of these two soups goes well with their Creamy Pork Pot Pie (RM15.00) – where the pork sausage is served with mixed vegetables with cream. I give this the big thumbs-up, especially when it is still fresh from the oven and hot. As they always say, ‘The proof of the pudding is in the eating’ – wait till you try it!

The biggest disappointment I would say is that this signature dish had to be shared between three of us, but that means when I get to go back to this family restaurant at Desa Aman Puri again, I would order the same dish with no hesitation. This time I will make sure it is all for myself.

Jokingly and feeling nostalgic of childhood times, one of the food tasters said: “Pot Pie by Popeye (referring to the cartoon character of Popeye the sailor man) definitely tastes yummier than what Bluto could offer today! Darling Olive, I wonder if this will make me strong like the good old spinach.”

Children who have never watched Popeye should be given to the introduction to it, as the Popeye episodes are now available online to understand their grandparents’ era.

So, despite the launch of a new set of dishes last Sunday, their old repertoire of dishes remains, as they have already their own followings. I cannot agree more.

Good thing is that, according to one of the partners Patrick Tam, the new launches are only part of their soft launch.

“We are gathering feedback from our clients to further improve ourselves,” he said.

You should also try their Al Pesto Spaghetti (RM15) which comes with pesto, chicken and mushroom. Their Bacon and Potatoes (RM10.00) which comes as baked diced potatoes with bacon and rosemary can also be a good starter.

For lunch, when you feel like taking nothing but salad, try their Grilled Chicken Salad (RM15.00) which comes with chicken, capsicum, onion and honey mustard dressing, when you feel you have the appetite for something heavier, ask for their Lemon Thyme Chicken Chop (RM18.00).

The Vergine has two floors. It is located at Block L-3- 25A, Jalan Desa 2/4, Desa Aman Puri.

STEPHEN NG is an ordinary citizen with an avid interest in all sorts of gastronomical delights – Western, Middle Eastern and Asian.

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