Franco Malaysia – Japanese French cuisine @ 1 Utama

Franco Malaysia

French-Japanese cuisine? I must admit, it piqued my curiosity. My better half told me about Franco and we decided to pop over to 1 Utama and have dinner there. I’ve heard stories about long queues so I’ve largely given this place a pass since it changed its name from Miam Miam.


Franco sounds a lot more appealing than Miam Miam. They have a short, but sweet menu. It’s the total opposite of some F&B outlets who list around 100 items and do all of them badly. Franco only has a few pages in their menu and a LTO (Limited Time Offer) specials menu to go with it. Very French.

Matcha Smoothie

I ordered the Matcha Smoothie (RM 14.80) which was a really interesting drink. It’s topped with their homemade cream, tastes like proper matcha instead of cut-rate powder, blended with honey and there are red beans as a treat at the bottom. My dear went for their Oreo Banana Milkshake (RM 14.80) which is a variant of their Peanut Butter & Banana Milkshake.

Squid Ink Rice

Squid Ink Rice with Assorted Seafood & Omu Egg (RM 30.80)
This is my main! I thought it sounded like a nice concept on the menu so I ordered it. It turns out to be an even better dish! There were prawns, squid and even a mussel to go with the well-cooked rice (you can see individual grains). The squid ink rice was very flavorful – slightly salty and infinitely savory. The sweet omelet topping this dish is the proverbial icing to the cake. Delicious!

Lobster Bisque Pasta

Lobster Bisque Pasta (RM 31.80)
My dear had this one for her main. It comes with just one (1) tiger prawn but that’s not too bad considering my hometown charges even more for a similar dish (but with a very different species of prawn). The lobster bisque that the spaghetti was tossed with is perfect, and we both enjoyed this dish. The menu states that this contains traces of alcohol so I’m guessing this place isn’t halal.


Vanilla Soufflé (RM 17.80)
This is what my dear ordered. Franco is known for their desserts, it used to be a bakery cum café before its current incarnation as a restaurant. The soufflé was light and airy, pretty textbook but good. They also have chocolate and matcha versions but we decided to stick to the original for our first visit.

Berries Cheesecake Parfait

Berries Cheesecake Parfait (RM 15.80)
Our server complimented me on this order and I wasn’t disappointed. It really tastes like cheesecake! It’s not very overwhelming either since the acidic elements cut through the richness. There’s the roughly crumbled base (graham crackers) as the bottom of the parfait, layered with smooth Philadelphia cream cheese and topped with frozen yoghurt. There are also fresh berries scattered on top and I joked that if they were Driscoll’s the blackberries alone would cost RM 1. smirk

Franco Us

Overall, we had a great dinner at Franco – the service was excellent, helmed by Angel, our server/greeter. The food was surprisingly good, my expectations were very much exceeded. The meal cost RM 138.40 for two pax and that’s about the average price for dinner at a similar establishment. We’ll definitely be back!

Lot 146, Ground Floor
One Utama Shopping Center
Bandar Utama, Petaling Jaya

Yuzu Ramen @ Yamagoya Ramen, Publika Solaris Dutamas

yamagoya ramen kl

We’ve been hankering for some good ramen so my better half and I decided to drive down to Publika over the weekend so we can do some grocery shopping and satisfy our ramen craving at the same time. I actually don’t think about ramen much, it’s my dear who loves to eat it, so I try to accommodate her. <3

yamagoya ramen

Yamagoya Ramen has been open for a few years and it’s claim for fame is Hakata style ramen with their tonkotsu (pork bone broth) made with pork bones flown all the way here from Japan! Their black garlic ramen is pretty well known too and I wanted to order the flagship Mukashi Special Ramen (RM 24) before I was tempted by a Japanese flyer advertising some ramen made with citrus.

yamagoya ramen menu

I asked one of the waiters and he explained that it was their new yuzu ramen, made with that citrus fruit which is a hybrid of sour mandarin and Ichang papeda oranges. It has a pork broth that looks appealingly lime green in the picture and I was quite intrigued by it. They also have a lemon ramen if you’re so inclined.

Yuzu Ramen (RM 26)

yuzu ramen

I was expecting an intensely overpowering yuzu flavored broth. I was wrong. It was perfectly balanced. The tonkotsu was seasoned with a reasonable amount of yuzu citrus fruits and it actually tasted really good!

I ordered it as a lark but it turned out better than I expected. The char siu (pork belly slices) I got with my ramen had a nice and distinguished layer of fat together with the lean meat and it was a wonderful bowl of ramen that I’ll go back for.

Roasted Char Siu Ramen (RM 24)

roasted char siu ramen

My better half got this and the broth was a lot more hearty and robust compared to mine. The thickness of the roasted char siu is commendable too – one slice is easily more than ½ inch which makes one piece of her char siu equivalent to 3-4 of mine.

It has a nice char (smirk) on it too – the roasted flavors comes through forcefully and considering there are 3 slices of the roasted char siu inside this bowl of ramen, it has a rather generous amount of protein for a ramen dish. It’s worth the RM 62.65 bill for two.

yamagoya ramen us

There was a Japanese family next to us who used the sesame seed dispenser *liberally* and I tried that too. It turns out that it works very well with the flavors of ramen. You can also order a bowl of rice to eat with your leftover broth if you want. The correct way to eat it is to take a small scoop of rice from the bowl before submersing it into your leftover broth and finally putting it into your mouth.

sesame seed ramen

I read that while researching for our Japan trip. Haha. It’s actually a good way to finish up the leftover broth instead of ordering the usual additional portion of ramen noodles.

Yamagoya Ramen
A2-G2-8, Solaris Dutamas
1, Jalan Dutamas 1,
50480 Kuala Lumpur

Waddap cuz

My cousin is here on a business trip and I had dinner with him to catch up. I actually just met him in Singapore a couple of weeks back, but that was just to pass him some stuff from my sister’s condo. It was about to rain so we didn’t have much time to talk.

poh poh
L-R: Mr. Poh, Mr. Poh.

Interesting fact:
My dad is the oldest son of my grandfather and I’m his youngest son.
My cousin’s dad is the youngest son of my granddad and he’s the oldest son.

Guess how far apart our ages are?

It’s surprisingly not far apart. He’s only older than me by *one year*.





I wish!

I’m kidding. He’s 24 and I’m 31. That makes it a 7 year difference. My grandfather also beget 7 offspring, which is totally coincidental and has nothing to do with this at all.

This is what I usually order when I have Japanese food nowadays. I’m a huge fan of unagi (eel) but due to my unhealthy diet I’ve taken to ordering this pretty consistently when I’m out. It’s assorted sashimi on sushi rice for RM 30.

chirashi jyu

I actually like this version – best I’ve had so far. The selling point was the fatty raw salmon – it’s creamy and delicious! They don’t serve coffee (boo) but however this place has a 4sq special where you can get a green tea ice cream for free when you check-in.

BTW, my cousin is single and available. Heh.

…and that concludes the Book of Numbers in my family scripture for now. ;)

Santouka Hokkaido Ramen @ Tokyo Street Pavilion

santouka ramen pavilion

I headed down to Santouka Hokkaido Ramen in Tokyo Street at Pavilion a couple of days ago to check out their acclaimed premium pork cheek and ramen goodness.

santouka ramen

Santouka Ramen is an actual franchise from Hokkaido in Japan and I heard a lot of interesting anecdotes about it from Julian and Inggrid.

roasted premium pork cheek

Roasted Premium Pork Cheek (RM 17)
This came heated in a ceramic mesh. Santouka Ramen also has the same treatment for char siu but I found the pork cheek to be slightly better. It still maintains its juiciness despite the thin slices and the tender pork cheek comes encrusted in charcoal goodness.

santouka roasted pork cheek

Next up came the parade of the different ramen they have:

shio ramen

Shio Ramen
This is translated as “salt” although it is best described as the original taste of the pork infused ramen base. It’s my favorite, hands down. It comes with a small ume (plum) on top.

santouka gyoza
An side order of gyoza to go with your ramen.

Shoyu Ramen
This is the soy sauce version, which tastes pretty good if you like a bit of saltiness to your ramen. I still prefer the shio though.

Miso Ramen
Yup, you know what this is…it’s just like what you’ll expect – ramen in miso (fermented soybean) soup.

kara miso ramen

Kara-Miso Ramen
This adds a twist by adding a bit of spice into the miso soup. It’s quite interesting but can be overwhelming to the palate if you’re looking for more subdued ramen bases.

Each of the ramen bowls comes with char siew and a sprinkling of sesame seeds – the number of slices and amount of noodles differ according to the size you’re ordering. The prices are RM 22.50 (Small), RM 25 (Regular) and RM 29 (Large) except for Kara-Miso Ramen which runs slightly higher (add RM 2).

premium pork cheek ramen

I highly recommend you order Santouka Ramen’s specialty – Tokusen Toriniku Ramen. That’s Premium Pork Cheek Ramen and they only have a limited quantity per day since you can only harvest about 200 to 300 grams of pork cheek per pig.

premium pork cheek

The Premium Pork Cheek Ramen (RM 36 for Regular) comes with a side of tender and decadently fatty pork cheeks slices. It’s different from the roasted premium pork cheeks and I found that I enjoyed this one more. The pork cheek slices goes well with the ramen and absorbs the flavors of the ramen base perfectly.

komi tamago

Don’t forget an order of their famous Komi Tamago (Flavored Boiled Egg – RM 2). This decadent slice of heaven is a boiled egg that has a semi-runny yolk. The flavor and texture is orgasmic and you have to order at least one or two to go with your ramen. Guaranteed satisfaction for all egg fans.

santouka us

Thanks for the lunch! I will definitely be going back for the melt-in-your-mouth pork cheek, shio ramen and komi tamago (the breakfast of champions).

Interesting facts:

  • The broth gets tested every single day coz the amount of fat per pig is different
  • The ramen at Santouka Ramen is “al dente” coz that’s the way it’s supposed to be in Japan
  • The komi tamago had more than 50% wastage when they first started making it
  • Santouka Ramen actually had the owner and chef from Japan come over to ensure quality control
  • The chopsticks are even tested to make sure it doesn’t have a smell and grips the ramen properly
  • Each bowl of ramen is prepared individually
  • The char siew meat must face you when they serve the ramen
  • It started 23 years ago and Santouka Ramen has the same bowls and pretty much tastes the same all over the world

tori karaage
Tori Karaage – some good ol’ fried chicken as the appetizer.

Santouka Ramen
Tokyo Street, Pavilion KL
Lot 6.24.03, Level 6, Pavilion,
168 Jalan Bukit Bintang,
55100 Kuala Lumpur,
Tel: +603 2143 8878

santouka food

Want dessert? Head over to Suchan for some awesome cakes. I actually bought the previous offer from MilkADeal and the cakes are superb!

RM25 instead of RM48 for Award-winning 5″ x 5″ Cake at Suchan Bakery Specialty Cakes, Jalan Universiti. Choice of Tiramisu, Moist Chocolate Cake or Eggless Chocolate Cake [48% OFF]

Grab the offer while you can! :)

Japanese Curry with Beef Lung, Pork Loin and Eryngii Mushrooms

japanese curry dish

I wanted to cook something Japanese this weekend coz Aud got me this souvenir from Mount Hakone in Japan – a pair of chopsticks. It just so happens that my friend had Japanese Curry at home and she came over with a carrot and potatoes while I went shopping for the rest of the stuff.

You will need:


Japanese Curry mix
Sumo rice
Pork loin block
Beef lung
Peas in a pod
Dutch mushrooms
Eryngii mushrooms
Seaweed and sesame rice flavoring

japanese curry chop

First off start slicing/cubing/peeling/dissecting/massacring all your vegetables, meat and fungi (except for the Eryngii mushroom ).

pork loin 

The pork loin block should be disciplined with your knife until they become cubes.

Eryngii mushrooms

Cook the Eryngii mushrooms in a pot of boiling water and set it aside.

japanese rice

Next, start cooking the rice. The Rule of Thumb Index Finger (TM) applies in cooking rice. It is an agarration (TM) method if you lack cups or other standards of measurement.

rule of index finger

Basically what you do is pour in the rice, rinse once with water and add water until it comes up to the first joint of your index finger. It should be noted that the tip of the index finger should be resting on the top of the rice, not the bottom of the rice cooker.

japanese curry prepare

After that is sorted, it’s back to the Japanese Curry! Add some extra virgin olive oil and start frying your ingredients.

frying pan

I added in the pork cubes before frying the onions – a mistake on my part. It would have tasted better to fry the onions before putting the rest of the stuff in.

japanese curry ingredients

Everything you have amassed up to this point (except for the Eryngii mushrooms) should be added into the frying pan in batches and given a good once-over. My frying pan is a bit on the small side so it kinda overflowed.

add water

Transfer the contents of the frying pan into a pot and add approximately 500 ml of water.

japanese curry pot

I eyeballed it and added probably 700 ml or so of water so the curry wasn’t as thick as it was supposed to be. However, I put the leftovers in the fridge and reheated it for lunch just now and the consistency was perfect!

The meat and veggies should be boiled for about 30 minutes with the lid on before the Japanese Curry powder chunk and sachet of chilli powder is added in.

japanese curry done

Wait for the Japanese Curry powder to melt and permeate the pottage before putting the lid on and let it simmer for an additional 20 minutes.

japanese curry serve

It’s now ready to serve!

japanese curry

We scooped the rice into a plate and added seaweed and sesame rice flavoring. The curry is spooned into the side of the plate and decorated with a Eryngii mushroom.


Japanese Curry tend to be a bit on the mild side but the chewy texture of beef lung contrasted with the lean pork loin and the medley of vegetables makes this dish work out very well.


iichiko mugi shochu


iichiko mugi shochu
is a 100% barley shochu from Japan. Japanese shochu is usually made from either sweet potatoes, rice or barley and though it’s difficult to differentiate between the three, I tend to prefer barley fermented drinks.

iichiko mugi shocho
weighs in at a respectable 25% alcohol and in the new format of alcohol reviews, this is done vlog style, complete with fake Japanese accent. ;)

Shabu shi by Oishi review

shabu shi

Shabu shi is a unique “shabu-shabu and sushi buffet
in Kaiten style” restaurant located right smack dab in the middle of
Pat Pong in Bangkok. The place charges 199 baht (about RM 20) for an all-you-can-eat buffet of shabu shabu (not that kind, the Japanese steamboat) and sushi. The name “Shabu shi” is a contraction of the words “Shabu shabu” and “Sushi“.

shabu shi interior

My gf was pretty hungry at the time (you don’t want to be near her
when she’s hungry) so we went in and got seated. It turns out that
there was a long line of people there – it’s a very popular place with
the locals. I tried bribing the attendant with 1000 baht (RM 100) to
“bump up our position in the queue” (that’s how scary she is when she’s
hungry) but he didn’t bite.

shabu shi train

It took us a good 15 minutes of waiting before we got out turn.
Shabu shi has bar style seating and table style seating arrangements,
both of which are connected to a sushi train (conveyer belt) like
contraption that has colored plates depicting the different dishes
available for the steamboat and also sushi.

shabu shi place

Shabu shi lays out the table with a bowl, a plate, eating
instruments, dipping sauce and wasabi. There is an indention in front
of every person which is where the shabu shabu (Japanese steamboat)
goes into. The 199 baht admission price also allows you to a free flow
of drinks ranging from tea to sodas as well as ice cream for dessert.

shabu shi japanese steamboat

The water was set to a boil by using an individually controlled heat
sensor located at the bottom of the place and we started to get plates
of food to put into the boiling broth. Shabu shi has a wide range of
Japanese steamboat ingredients ranging from clams to pork slices.

shabu shi plates

I dumped the stuff I like into the indented pot of boiling broth and
waited for it to cook. The proper way to eat shabu shabu is to swish it
around (shabu shabu literally means “swish swish” in Japan)
but I couldn’t be bothered and I wanted to batch eat. ;) I had a really
heroic amount of empty plates stacked up too, but the overtly
industrious people and Shabu shi kept on taking them away.

shabu shi scoop

The cooking didn’t take long and I scooped up the stuff into the
small bowl for eating. I don’t really like tofu btw, in fact, I hate
it, but my gf dumped it into my soup anyway.

shabu shi bowl


Nippon Ichi Sushi Sdn. Bhd. Restaurant review

nippon ichi sushi

Nippon Ichi Sushi Sdn. Bhd. Restaurant is the
latest Japanese restaurant in Sibu. It also holds the dubious
distinction of being the first to have “Private Limited (Sdn. Bhd.)” as
part of the eating establishment’s name.

nippon ichi sushi stairs

Nippon Ichi Sushi Sdn. Bhd. Restaurant (Nippon Ichi Sushi restaurant
henceforth) is located on the second floor of a row of shop houses near
the Sibu Civic Center. The entire restaurant is glass paneled and the
entrance is via a small staircase to the side.

nippon ichi sushi stairs ads

The staircase leading up to Nippon Ichi Sushi restaurant has a
vacancy notice as well as the various Japanese fare available at the
restaurant in printed, full color photos adorning the otherwise dull

nippon ichi sushi entrance

Nippon Ichi Sushi has its entrance proper at the second floor,
complete with wood paneling and etched signboards as well as the
traditional Japanese cloth hanging on the doorway. The business hours
are also listed in a small notice to the side.

nippon ichi sushi tatami

The interior of Nippon Ichi Sushi is filled with new age tatami
style dining enclaves, with each area partially cordoned off for
privacy. There are approximately six tatami areas, which constitutes
the main seating arrangements of the eating establishment.

nippon ichi sushi bar

Nippon Ichi Sushi also has a sushi bar located at the reception…

nippon ichi sushi vip

…as well as a VIP dining room which was occupied when I went there for dinner just now.

nippon ichi sushi tatami cell

The tatami dining concept is unique as each tatami dining unit has
its own air conditioning and lighting, with a view though the glass
paneled walls. There isn’t much of a view to speak of, but I like the
cellular nature of the tatami units.

nippon ichi sushi tatami nu

Nippon Ichi Sushi doesn’t really have tatami mats for dining (thus
the new age comment above) but rather tatami style seating arrangements
with flat pillows for seats and a dug out (recessed pit) for you to put
your legs in, so you don’t actually need to learn the ways of the
Japanese tatami seating kung fu (which will cause leg cramps).

nippon ichi sushi green tea

The waitress will serve green tea (RM 2) as the default drink upon arrival, which is refillable (unlimited refills).

nippon ichi sushi idako

This is Idako Sashimi (RM 6) which is baby octopus with sesame seeds. We had this for the appetizer, as recommended by the waitress.

nippon ichi sushi nigiri

It is Sushi Day at Nippon Ichi Sushi so we has the Nigiri Sushi (RM 18) which is basically a sampler of sushi with tuna, salmon, swordfish, ebiko and several other sushi and maki items.

nippon ichi sushi dynamite

The waitress also recommended the Dynamite Maki
(Spicy Tuna Maki) which is their specialty. Dynamite Maki (RM 19) is
Spicy Tuna Maki topped off with chilli powder – it is indeed a blast,
pardon the pun. The maki is spicy and goes well with wasabi (spicy x 2).

nippon ichi sushi rainbow

We also had the Rainbow Maki (RM 13) which is a sampler of maki with octopus, yellowtail, tuna and fusions of sashimi cuts.

nippon ichi sushi rainbow 1

It truly earned its name as the Rainbow Maki…

nippon ichi sushi rainbow 2

…with the colors and ingredients…

nippon ichi sushi rainbow 3

…creating fusion and experimental maki.

nippon ichi sushi macha

The dessert came in the form of Macha Ice Cream (RM
8) which is green tea ice cream. This is the best dish from the entire
night and it probably came out of a small ice cream tub with “Made in
Japan” stamped on it.

nippon ichi sushi macha best

Still, it’s great macha ice cream…not sweet at all, with hints of
tea coming from the small granules hidden throughout the ice cream.

nippon ichi sushi bill

Nippon Ichi Sushi disappointed me with their
mediocre Japanese fare and it wasn’t until I paid the bill (RM 74.48)
that I realized why – the waitress told me that the sushi chef was on
leave and a junior apprentice took his place!

nippon ichi sushi decor

Nippon Ichi Sushi has great macha ice cream (and
amazing decor) and I like the tatami dining concept, but I cannot
recommend the place with good conscience due to its mediocre sushi. I
would have to check out the place again when the sushi chef is back,
but allowing a junior apprentice to serve food without warning patrons
in advance is simply unacceptable for a place of its stature.

It gets a rare two thumbs down from me.

Minoru Japanese Restaurant review

minoru japanese restaurant

Minoru Japanese Restaurant is an authentic Japanese
cuisine eating establishment in Kuching. It is supposed to be the best
place to go for authentic Japanese food. It’s located in Rubber Road
and it’s a cozy corner lot, relatively unknown, but a gem of a place if
you find it.

minoru interior

The interior of Minoru Japanese restaurant is furnished in classic
Japanese decor and there are various seating arrangements to
accommodate patrons as well as a sushi bar area where you can watch the
sushi chef prepare the orders.

minoru service

The service at Minoru Japanese restaurant is excellent – the
waitresses are accommodating, friendly and attentive…probably coz we
were the only ones there. ;)

japanese menu

There is a menu plastered on the wall with Japanese writing which I
can’t make sense of and I don’t know why it’s there since probably
0.0035% of the population here actually can read Japanese.

fish tank

I went there with Cherie before she left for Melbourne in the
afternoon and the place exudes an ambience of serenity. There is a fish
tank at the bar seating area (which used to have piranhas) – it’s very
tranquil, perfect for a quiet afternoon lunch.


There are various condiments interspaced with sake place cards every
meter or so on the bar seating area. The condiments are all imported
from Japan, unlike other “Japanese” eating establishments.

paper lanterns

The view from the sushi bar into the area is decorated with lighted
paper lanterns and the area behind it is full of Japanese paraphernalia.

sake selection

There is a wide selection of sake and shochu (including the ones in
the cardboard boxes – love them) and naturally, Asahi beer in bottles,
cans and mini cans.

fresh sashimi

The sushi bar has a transparent glass counter at eye level with the
fresh tuna and octopus as well as other provisions…all air flown in
from Japan.

sushi chef

This is the sushi chef behind the counter. Minoru Japanese restaurant also serves fugu (puffer fish) but the dish is seasonal.


I ordered Hon Nama sake (RM 35) which can be served
either at room temperature, chilled or warmed. It comes with a shot
glass so I decided to take shots instead of savoring the sake coz I have an alcohol problem I didn’t want to be pretentious.

california rolls

This is the California Roll (RM 20) which Cherie
recommended. It’s really good! Unlike other establishments, the Temaki
is filled with all sorts of premium ingredients right down to the
bottom of the roll. It’s a must have if you’re going to Minoru.

sashimi platter

This is the sashimi platter that we had. There is salmon sashimi (RM 25), shrimp sashimi (RM 22), octopus sashimi (RM 15), Ikura (RM 30) and Tobiko (RM 14).

exotic sushi

We also ordered Akagai sushi (RM 30) which is rare in Kuching. It’s fresh ark shell. The other one is Kazunoko sushi (RM 25) which is herring roe.

unagi eel

The Unagi (RM 25) with rice topped with seasoning
(RM 2) tastes great as well. I can’t resist eel with rice; it’s what I
used to eat in Melbourne.

chawan mushi

The Chawan Mushi (RM 6) in Minoru Japanese restaurant is good as well…it’s full of ingredients inside.

soft shelled crab

This is the soft shelled crab (RM 16) which we did not manage to finish coz it’s obvious that we ordered too much food. :)


The most interesting décor in Minoru Japanese restaurant is this
glass encased selection of miniature dishes that the establishment
offers. The bill came to about RM 300+ which is reasonable for
authentic Japanese cuisine.



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