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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

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A couple weeks ago I was invited to a short weekend trip to Johor by some blogger friends. I gotta admit that I’m absolutely not familiar with the food scene in JB, having only been there a few times mainly for work where mobility for meals is pretty restricted.

October Japanese Restaurant, JB
October Japanese Restaurant, JB

Our first destination of the trip was October Japanese Restaurant, located near Mount Austin, a more upscale area in Johor Bahru. The restaurant is a converted residential unit with nice lush lawn and plenty of parking spots at the back.

While we may still be in December, October Japanese Restaurant already came up with their Chinese New Year dishes, and we were lucky enough to sample some of them.

Prosperity “Yee Sang” Assorted Sashimi with Wasabi Sauce
Prosperity “Yee Sang” Assorted Sashimi with Wasabi Sauce

We started out with the Prosperity “Yee Sang” Assorted Sashimi with Wasabi Sauce (RM 68/RM 108 nett) that came with generous slices of – Norwegian Salmon, Maguro (Tuna) and Hamachi (Yellow Tail). They’ve also added fried Gyoza Skin and Roasted Almond Flakes to give the dish more crunchiness. A good alternative to consider for your “lou sang” session.

Auspicious Flaming Nabe
Auspicious Flaming Nabe

Then there’s the Auspicious Flaming Nabe (RM68.80 nett), with Norwegian Salmon and chicken breast mixing in with Shitake mushrooms, leeks and carrots to make a pretty sweet tasting miso based soup. Generous amount of “KaoLiang” Rice Wine and sake were used in this pot as well, which contributes to the whole flaming spectacle.

Fortune Sushi & Sashimi Platter, maki
Fortune Sushi & Sashimi Platter, maki

For those who likes it raw, there’s the Fortune Sushi & Sashimi Platter (RM58.80 nett). The dish is beautifully presented on a wooden platter and came with rather generous amount of fresh seafood including Maguro, Hamachi, Unagi, and Salmon.

We also tried the Flaming Salmon Aburi Maki (RM29.90++), with salmon and special crab stick plus spicy sauce.

Grilled Edamame, October Special Bento, Kushiyaki Moriawase
Grilled Edamame, October Special Bento, Kushiyaki Moriawase

Grilled Edamame (RM9.90++) is a good starter if you like your edamame with a kick, which I think will go really good with beer.

For those who likes bento, October Special Bento (RM59.90++) is a worthy option and comes with a little bit of everything, including salmon sashimi, unagi, and more.

And if you like it grilled, Kushiyaki Moriawase (RM44.90++) comes with scallops, Shitake Mushroom, Enoki Niku Yaki and other greeneries on skewers, and you’ll also find bacon in this platter as well, which makes this one of the few non-halal Japanese Restaurants in JB.

 

map to October Japanese Restaurant, JB

Address:
October Japanese Restaurant
No. 6a, 1, 8, Jln Jaya Putra 3/15,
Bandar Jaya Putra,
81100 Johor Bahru, Johor
GPS1.574499, 103.776892
Tel011-1426 5993
Hours: 12pm – 11pm daily

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Sarawak Laksa seems like the flavor of the year, so before the end of 2017 I decided to give yet another highly recommended Sarawak Laksa place a try – SALTed at Mutiara Damansara.

SALTed, Mutiara Damansara
SALTed, Mutiara Damansara

As it turns out SALTed does stand for something – Sarawak Authentic Local Taste Extra Delicious!

The restaurant is located quite deep within Mutiara Damansara, and while it is perhaps only 5 minutes away from IKEA and Curve, you can’t really get there by walking from the big furniture shop.

The Sarawak laksa comes in three different versions, basic (RM 6) comes with chicken stripes but no prawns, original (RM 9) comes with normal prawns, and special (RM 15) gets you some cuttlefish as well as three pretty large size sea caught “meng har” (明虾) prawns.

Special version of Sarawak Laksa with extra prawns & cuttlefish
Special version of Sarawak Laksa with extra prawns & cuttlefish

I went for the “special” and happy to report that the dish definitely did not disappoint. The broth was thick and flavorful, and the seafood perfectly compliments the meehun and all other ingredients. I also enjoyed the pretty hot sambal as well. Will definitely put this in place in my list of recommendations (which I need to create, I think)

simple menu at SALTed
simple menu at SALTed

Other than laksa Sarawak, the restaurant also offers kolo mee, belacan meehun, and mee Jawa Sarawak. .My mission was only for the laksa, so no I did not try any of these dishes.

map to SALTed, Mutiara Damansara

Address:
SALTed
30-1 Jalan PJU 7/16a,
Mutiara Damansara,
47810 Petaling Jaya, Selangor
GPS3.159828, 101.602412
Tel: 03-7733 4566
Hours: 10 am to 3:30 pm