1 Utama Feed-The-Fish Go Green Campaign for Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre

Did you know that Sun Bears (Helarctos malayanus), the smallest bear in the world was actually first discovered in Malaysia? I didn’t either at first, which is why when I received the invitation to go on a Media familiarisation trip to Sandakan, Sabah, I promptly fired up my search engine to read up on Sun Bears. Like many other species of Bears, Sun bears are also facing many dangers including deforestation and poaching, which is why Mr Wong Siew Te founded the Bornean Sun Bear Conversation Centre.

Interestingly enough, the invitation came from 1 Utama, which by the way is the very first Eco-Mall in Malaysia that has embraced social sustainability since its early beginning. Here’s the thing: 1 Utama has been running their Go Green campaigns since 2004, one of them is called “Feed-The-Fish” Charity Campaign.

The mall has a few unique features, including its award winning Rainforest, that’s right; an actual rainforest build right in the middle of the shopping centre. There are over 3000 koi fish in the ponds, and 1 Utama sponsors and packages fish food for sale daily, and shopper can buy the food for RM1 per container to feed the fish. 100% of sales proceeds are then donated to a charitable organization they nominate.

Check out the beautiful koi fish.

Feeding the fish is a popular activity for family.

Previously, they have donated to Malaysian Nature Society to raise funds to protect the Temengor Forest Reserve in Perak, HOPE (Help Our Penyu) for sea turtle conservation, Zoo Negara to adopt Malaysian elephant Teriang, and WWF-Malaysia to help re-establish the fish population in Sabah’s Molleangan Island. To complement Feed-The-Fish at the Rainforest, 1 Utama also started a sister charity campaign called Recycle-A-Bottle in 2009. Giant bins shaped like bottles are constructed and placed around the mall so that shoppers can conveniently drop used plastic water bottles. The bottles are then collected by 1 Utama and sent for recycling.

This year, 1 Utama has nominated NGO Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre (BSBCC) in Sabah as its beneficiary. Which is why we were invited to Sandakan to witness the handling of the donation as well as to learn more about Sun Bears.

Mr Wong telling us all about Sun Bears.

One can easily see the passion Mr Wong has for Sun Bears; he initially flew to Sandakan to learn more about Sun bears and ended up staying there setting up the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre in 2008. Currently, the BSBCC houses more than 30 (capacity about 40) rescued sun bears in 2 bear houses and a quarantine facility. These bears are either orphaned because their mothers have been killed for body parts (claws and gallbladders mainly), or have been captured to be kept as pet (because they are uber cute when younger) but gotten too wild and out-of-control. Keeping the bears for pets is illegal, by the way. The centre works to rebuild natural skills of the sun bears, enabling them to return to the wild in the near future.

Sun Bears grows to about 1.3m and each of them have their own unique chest mark that’s either cream or orange colour with spots. Their claws are quite long, which enables them to grip on trees, dig/rip apart wood to reach termites, ants and beetle grubs (for food). They are essentially omnivores so fruits and honey are part of their diet.

One of the Sun Bears enjoying the corn

The official part of our visit included the cheque presentation ceremony. 1 Utama’s A&P General Manager Patrick So did the honour, handling the cheque to BSBCC’s CEO and Founder Wong Siew Te, total of RM12000.

“The funds will go towards purchasing essentials and medicine for the bears’ annual health check. The contribution from 1 Utama and its shoppers is a big help in covering these expenses to meet the costs of rehabilitation and better the lives of our bears” said Wong.

“Sun bears are in danger from threats of habitat loss through deforestation and poaching. There is an urgent need to conserve this protected species and 1 Utama is delighted to play our part. We have developed educational posters and videos of this project so that more of our shoppers are aware of their plight” commented So. “Since 1 Utama’s Rainforest was conceptualised to spread awareness on nature and to preserve the beauty of the rainforest, it is especially meaningful for 1 Utama to partner with BSBCC as an integral part of the mall’s ‘Go Green’ community projects. It is so heartening to see that our shoppers are still very supportive of Feed-The-Fish for the past 11 years.”

Here’s a video from The Star Online about the BSBCC, and you can get a closer look at the adorable bears.

After visiting the BSBCC, we also were brought to the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre to watch the feeding of Orangutan. This is another great place to visit if you love to be near the nature and the orangutans here also go through stages of rehabiliation with the goal of returning to the wild.

Of course, another huge bonus for me as a foodie during this trip is all the amazing food we got to enjoy. I swear I gained 2 kgs just in 2 days. The seafood in Sandakan is out of this world and needless to say, I’m returning just to do a food trail soon.

Crazy delicious Seafood Bak Kut Teh
Sandakan Central Market’s Famous Deep Fried Pork Kueh Tiaw.

Thank you 1 Utama for an unforgettable experience and I can honestly say that this is one of the most meaningful trip I’ve done. Of course, I was really glad to be near the nature and the wildlife. I hope to visit both centres again in the near future. Also big shout out to our fabulous tour guide Mr Johnny Lim, who’s extremely knowledgeable, passionate and not to mention humorous, keeping us thoroughly entertained. Everyone who’s visiting Sandakan should look him up!

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For more details on 1 Utama’s Feed-The-Fish and Recycle-A-Bottle Charity Campaigns,  contact the Customer Service Centre at Tel: 03-7710 8118 or Concierge Tel: 03-77255788
Websites: www.1utama.com.my | www.onecard.com.my  Social Media:  facebook.com/1Utama  | instagram.com/1utama/ | twitter.com


TGV Indulge, 1 Utama

If you love your movies and wouldn’t mind enjoying your favourite show with that extra dose of luxury, you might want to give TGV indulge a go. I generally do love going to the cinemas (given that I have time) but to be honest I prefer to be able to stretch out on a comfortable sofa (preferably while snuggling up with Kevin), and normal cinemas just lacks that comfort factor. However, after enjoying our session at TGV Indulge, I wouldn’t mind doing this more often, making this a special date night thing.
The reception/private ticketing counter is easy to spot with its pretty purple hue. Looking especially posh, you’ll feel like a VIP walking through the glass door. You can get your tickets through the counter, then proceed to the lounge to chill while waiting for your movie. The lounge also doubles as a restaurant serving pretty good food (we’ll get to that in a moment) and some drinks too, accompanied by soft lighting and jazzy tunes.
The dining tables, complete with white table cloth, arranged in such a way that there are sufficient lighting from the hanging lamps projecting to each of them, and I also like the beautifully patterned walls. Generally, the ambience is pretty relaxed with a touch of class, nice for a date or maybe girls night out.
We were served our welcome drink (mocktail) while waiting for everyone else in the group to arrive (it was a Malaysian Hottest Bloggers outing with us bringing along our plus ones).
The restaurant itself is open to all even if you don’t plan to watch a movie, but of course, why not go for the whole experience? Let me tell you more about the cinema itself first.
Corridor leading up to the cinema halls
There are 2 cinema halls fitted with large reclining sofas and personalised call-waiter service, accommodating up 72 pax (32 and 40 respectively). Of course, group bookings are welcome and it seems to be quite a trend now to book the whole hall to yourself. As a bonus, there are also blankets provided for that extra comfort, and you’ll be able to enjoy food/drinks in the hall by just calling the waiter by pressing the call button (separate charges, of course), which is the best part.
Check out the large couple sofa, complete with blankets, and you can see the call button just on the handle next to the individual table.
Before we proceed to the movie, we enjoyed quite a feast at the restaurant. Surprisingly, the food is priced quite reasonably here and the quality of the dishes is definitely above average, which makes for a pleasant dining experience. Let’s take a look at the dishes, shall we?
Oven Roasted Tomato Soup RM14

Generally I don’t really hold high expectations when I’m served thick soup, but I was pleasantly surprised by how fresh the Oven Roasted Tomato Soup tasted, with just the right amount of sweetness and piquancy, there’s even bits of crab in there too, which elevated the umaminess. Nice!

Meatballs (RM16)

The Meatballs come doused with a herb gravy and pico de gallo to cut through the richness. Tender, meaty and well-seasoned, these are pretty good pairing with beer.

Speaking of which, you can also order beers (bottled only) while dining out, or even inside the hall. Would be even perfect if they start selling wine too. Imagine hanging out with the girls over champagne.

Butter Mushroom Tempura RM14

I can never resist deep fried mushrooms and these ones have a hint of curry which is a nice surprise. Love the presentation too.

Rocket & Fruits RM18

This salad is pretty simple, with Rocket leaves, nuts, poached grape & mango with roasted sesame dressing. I enjoyed the sweet and savoury combo and sesame dressing makes any salad tastes good really.

Pan Baked Mango Chicken RM26

Pairing mango with Chicken is pretty clever and nice touch for using sweet potato fries for a less starchy meal.

Broiled Salmon Kabayaki RM32

This was my favourite dish of the night, not surprisingly. It’s also impressive that they cooked the salmon just the way it should be, slightly underdone in the centre for that extra tenderness. The side dishes are safe, asparagus, garlic mash potato and sauteed mushrooms, but nonetheless satisfying.

Slow-Cooked Seafood Rice RM38

The Seafood rice is also pretty good, with each grain of rice soaking up the delicious tomato based gravy and fresh bouncy seafood to complement the meal.

Grilled Lamb Rack RM48

The lamb rack is also cooked to perfection, slightly pink in the center thus lovely to chew. It’s served with potato puff, provencale vegetables and a sweet chili mint sauce.

We ended up having our dessert (brownie lollipop) in the cinema hall which is why there isn’t a picture. Kevin had it on my behalf because I can’t touch chocolate and needless to say, he was glad to have BOTH portions.

Even though the movie choice of that night was honestly not the best (Fantastic 4, yes I can hear some of you sighing already), we enjoyed the overall experience especially the spacious sofa (comfortable enough for me to fall asleep, even; and that’s saying something). The size of the hall is large yet intimate enough for a group outing. I can imagine a nice wedding proposal being carried out too, the possibilities are endless! Like I said, we’ll definitely do it again for a date night.

Indulge is open from 11.00am with movie tickets priced at RM45 (meals not included, of course). TGV Indulge is also available for corporate and private functions with food and beverage catering services provided, and is a novel space for functions or events like press conferences, product launches, company dinners etc etc.

More info on TGV Indulge is available at http://www.tgv.com.my/cinemas/halls/indulge.html

For more information on Indulge, go to www.tgv.com.my

Coco Ichibanya, 1 Utama


If you have been following this blog for a while, you might have noticed that I really love Japanese food. And the beauty of Japanese food is that it is so diverse, I could be craving sashimi one day, and ramen the next. But the ultimate Japanese comfort food for me would have to be Japanese curry (to be specific Katsu Curry Don). This was one of the first dishes I’ve ever ordered in a Japanese restaurant and forgive me if I sound like a broken record: I used to have it on a regular basis during my student days (dude, I’m starting to sound like an Obasan).

Anyway, imagine my excitement when I heard that one of the biggest Japanese Curry House is opening its first branch in Malaysia. That’s right, Coco Ichibanya already has 1,350 restaurants in Japan, China, Taiwan, South Korea, Thailand, Hong Kong, North America, and Singapore. It’s truly the McDonald’s of Japanese Curry!

I was delighted of course to attend Coco Ichibanya’s launch night at 1 Utama early March along with Malaysia’s Hottest Bloggers. It was a glammed up event with appearance of local celebrities too.

Amber Chia, Gary Yap, Orange, and Julie Woon.
The Gorgeous Debbie Goh.

The tagline of Coco Ichibanya is “The Tastiness You Can Choose”, as customers can customise their meal based on their preferences. You can choose the spiciness of the curry (mild, signature original flavour, and spiciness of level 1 to 5), toppings you like, and even the amount of rice.

There is a selection of over 30 meat and seafood to choose from chicken, beef, pork, prawns, clams and more, and some are paired with toppings such as egg, corn and croquettes. So if you really love Japanese curry, you can technically have all different combinations for a few month consecutively! Not to mention the more fusion dishes such are curry meat sauce atop spaghetti, curry gratin and more. If curry rice isn’t your thing, fear not. There are other non curry based dishes such are creamy pasta, salads, and soups too.

On the launch night, we were treated to some tasting portions of the dishes.

Fried Chicken Curry
Salmon Cream Croquette Curry
Fried Shrimp Curry

Though my favourite of the night would have to be this one:

Lightly-Crisped Chicken Curry

Almost all the proteins were fried in batter, although they weren’t greasy as I would have expected. The lightly-crisped chicken stood out though as it has the best texture and also I could actually taste the chicken (juice and tender as a plus). As for the curry sauce, most of them were served with level one curry which is not spicy at all (at least to me), but I still love similar taste of the curry. There were some level 3 and level 5 curry sauce ‘shots’ going around and well, no prize guessing which one I like! Level 5 packs plenty of heat and I would gladly tackle it any given day, but if I want to take it easy, then I would probably go for level 3 or 4. But what really caught my attention is this:

Pickle heaven!

Usually when I eat Japanese curry, it’s often served with only a few pieces of pickled radish and often they look quite processed. I have to portion it properly with the meat and rice, not a problem here! These are freshly made and unlimited! A match made in heaven with the curry sauce, I can foresee myself coming here whenever I have a craving.

What is the difference between Japanese curry and say, Malaysian curry you may ask? Interestingly enough, Japanese curry is actually more Western influenced, as the technique involves first making a “roux” out of butter and flour, like the French technique of cooking soup (that’s why the gravy is nice and thick). Then, curry spices are added and to infuse some sweetness, vegetables like onions and carrots forms the basic flavour profile and fruits like apples are often included as well.

Here are some of the dishes available at Coco Ichibanya (in the order of my own preference, hah!):

Pork Cutlet Omelette Curry – RM26.00

Is there any question? Omurice plus Katsu Curry wins hands down of course! I mean, just look at this:

Come to mama!

I can just imagine the crunch of the pork cutlet, the silky smooth omelet paired with the curry sauce, comfort food for sure.

Grilled Spinach, Bacon and Corn Curry – RM20.00

I would give this a go because it has Bacon and Spinach. Maybe as an extra topping to my Omu-Katsu-Curry Rice.

Seafood Spaghetti – RM22.00

If for whatever reason you come to a Japanese Curry House and don’t want to have neither curry or rice, this could be your choice (maybe you are not a fan, but your girlfriend is).

There are also a few meat-free options, including a very lovely looking Eggplant curry. For your vegetarian partner or friend.

The CoCo ICHIBANYA branch in 1 Utama seats a maximum of 65 persons in the 128 square meters restaurant which exudes a casual, friendly and unpretentious ambience. Folks in Penang, look out for the second outlet which will be opening in Queensbay Mall soon.

Of course, there are some obligatory group photos:

With Tim, Jia Yeen and Kate
With Jia Yeen, Kate, Sharon and Stephanie. Outfit Proudly Not Sponsored by Zalora.

So, I need a date to Coco Ichibanya soon, who wants to come with me?

Photo credit to Andy Kho (those without watermark are mine).

CoCo ICHIBANYA is located at:
Lot LG 333A, Lower Ground (New Wing),
1 Utama Shopping Centre,
Bandar Utama,
47800 Petaling Jaya,
Telephone: 03-7732-8937

Operating Hours: Daily from 10.00am to 10.00pm

CoCo ICHIBANYA is a restaurant chain owned by Fuji Group, the company of Fuji Japanese Restaurant in Thailand, and for more information, head over to http://www.ichibanya.co.jp/english/index.html