To me, April is best remembered as the time for cherry blossom in Japan. Until today, the sights of streets lined with blooming sakuras in Osaka and Kyoto are still vividly pictured in my mind. And it is only complete with sake in hand. Japanese beers are good as well. Ah, those good old days of April’s snow.
So, let’s celebrate the beautiful season with a Japanese food post, shall we?
We were there on a Saturday night, Lyrical Lemongrass and I. After the heavy downpour earlier, it felt cooler than usual. At the not-so-late hours of the night, the wet streets of Solaris were surprisingly quiet, except for the Ole Ole Bali stretch. I would not have known the existence of this restaurant if not for Lemongrass. Why? Firstly, the location is rather obscure. Secondly, Solaris is, in every sense, far from this little Pluto of me. Believe me, we took quite a while to find it.
A young girl greeted us, as we checked out the menu. She was enthusiastically flipping the pages and at the same time, briefed us on some of the dishes on the menu. And she said there were specials as well. Specials? This, we have got to check out.
She led us into the elevator, which took us to first floor, where Akari was located. Come to think of it, the whole experience of meeting the young girl on a dark, chilly night was pretty interesting, wasn’t it? In the world of Haruki Murakami’s novels, she might be one of the messengers whom was tasked to lead us into a fourth dimension where anything is possible. We could have witnessed flocks of flying, talking black crows. Or be confined in the television tube of our own lives forever.
Well, Akari’s interior was rather surreal, actually. The music, mostly J-Pop.
Gyu Tataki Salad. This was one of the specials that night. Specials meant a less costly price tag. That night, it was RM18 for a plate of well-seared beef steak tossed with crispy greens and black vinegar.
Inaniwa Udon (RM23) is my favourite Japanese noodle as it is smoother and more refined than the usually thick udon, soba and ramen. Here, it was complemented with the ubiquitous ground radish, toasted sesame seeds, chopped scallion and soy sauce, which resulted in a good burst of flavours.
Ebi Mayo (RM20) tasted very much similar to the Chinese butter prawns. A special that night as well.
I have no freaking idea what Cyatapira means. Initially, images of arthropods crashed my mind. It must have been a katagana-ed word, I guess. Anyway, the Cyatapira Maki (RM25) was rather good as it was topped with pieces of unagi. Were those traces of avocado I saw beneath the layer of eel? They must have been, as they were green in colour. And if they really were, more would have been greatly appreciated. Nothing beats the substantial creaminess of avocado to go with one’s maki.
Mentaiko Tofu (RM10) was another special that night. Mentaiko goes well with everything bland (relatively) as it is briny and aromatic. Here, it was paired with soya sauce, bonito flakes and tofu for a taste of simple deliciousness.
They mentioned the use of cili padi in the Akari Maki (RM24), if I recall correctly. It was that very ingredient that piqued our curiosity. Then, it came as a salmon rice roll with, disappointingly, not the faintest hint of heat. At that point, I do not think the sake had taken effect on us just yet. Hmmm.....
The Cha-Soba (RM21) came with a quail egg. That was assuring for it would definitely add smoothness and a raw, rich taste to the soy sauce dip. Firm and slithery, it was nice.
A J-restaurant with J-prices and J-service. A nice place to chill out as well.
Today marks the beginning of the last weekend of April. By now, the cherry blossoms should be making their way to the northern parts of Japan. Most of the ones at central Honshu must have perished, and it will take another twelve months before they appear again.
As for me, I will always cherish those hanami days. Let me end this post with a line from the song called Pergi (go in Malay) from Talentime.
Biarlah kenangan berbunga di ranting usia.
(Loosely translated as: Let memories blossom on the twigs of age).
Akari Japanese Kitchen Bar
19-1, Jalan Solaris 4
Solaris Mont’ Kiara
50480 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: (+603) 6203 6885