Friday, April 24, 2009

Akari

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).

Kimochi neh?

Akari Japanese Kitchen Bar
19-1, Jalan Solaris 4
Solaris Mont’ Kiara
50480 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: (+603) 6203 6885
Website: http://akarijapanesekitchenbar.blogspot.com/

26 comments:

Selba said...

The salmon rolls kinda remains me to the Obama sushi that I received as an forward mail :) Have you seen the Obama face sushi? Very cute...

I'm listening to "Pergi" again! :)

fatboybakes said...

this is exactly why i was shocked when thamby told me u arent REALLY a jap food fan.

mimid3vils said...

wah, both of u ate so much!!! I never taste Mentaiko before, how taste it taste? Salty? Fishy?

Life for Beginners said...

Those Hanami Days: sounds like a title for your first book of food-inspired poetry, bro. :)

P.S. Whaddya mean ur not a Jap food fan? *looks @ AWOL & FBB*

550ml jar of faith said...

Gahhhhh! The seductive heap of Mentaiko heralds the arrival of good food time... the weekend! Cili padi in sushi? Can that really work? I'll order and tell them to tambah pedas!

ai wei said...

these are all for 2? that's quite a lot!!!

love the presentation of cha soba. slurp slurp

"Joe" who is constantly craving said...

looks like another jap restaurant to try..

i tried one that was facing the main street on 2nd flr i believed..cant remember the name..the huge bowl of ramen..ohh wat a good 1 for a cool rainy nite..

Precious Pea said...

Sigh...i wish to could visit Japan during the sakura season one day. Always plan to go, but always tak jadi...sigh..

backStreetGluttons said...

A little tiny weeeny whiff of suspicion you have ignited when only 2 auspiciousilious embarked on a sacred Saturday tryst to a solared hideaway ( and conspicuously not amongst the Famed Jap Fan Club Associates ) with softly whispering crows dun you think so ? But scorching April have unleashed some off-centred delicate purtuberances and we are pleased that the multi colors are reminiscent of your ex-climatic odyssey in Cherry Blossom Geisha Land some solaristomo back ! Saketolarisi sake kampeito whitetielisan !

allie said...

Gosh! What a feast on jap food! Hope one day I can go to Japan for jap food!

Faye fly said...

aiya y no have mocha ice cream leh ?!

ck lam said...

Wow...I saw you had the Mentaiko Tofu. I felt in love with Mentaiko Fried Rice when I had it for the first time...it was so aromatic.

Has been hooked on it since then.

gfad said...

I want Japanese food!! Never before have I ever felt a greater distance between Middle East and Far East.. :(

But why are you not a fan, oh-manboy-who-live-where-Jap-food-is-bountiful??

Sugar Bean said...

Ooo, a nice Japanese restaurant in Mont Kiara? We will we putting this in our place-to-visit list. Hehe! Cyatapira should be caterpillar I guess. Haha, nice one, "katakana-ed" word.

thenomadGourmand said...

it was order all the 'specials" nite hor? ;p

Camemberu said...

Whuah, hontoh ni kimochi!!!

You not a Jap food fan?? Seriously??? Could have sworn you were Japanese in a previous life, with your sakura/hana poetry and appreciation!

Hurry and blog Chiharuuu!

J2Kfm said...

whatever will Bald Eagle thinks ... ;)

yum, me love mentaiko. true, they add zing/zest to anything.

Nic (KHKL) said...

selba, obama sushi? omg, i must go look for it on the internet! i cant imagine eating the head of the president of the USofA! haha! glad that u liked "Pergi". it has such an intimate feel, i think. ;D

fatboybakes, but it's true la..haha! i'm more of a hokkien mee/nasi lemak/maggi goreng guy. well, i do like Japanese food but a fan..hmmm...not really. ;D

mimi, haha, yes, we do eat a lot. maybe cos we drank as well. so, we didnt realise how much we ate. mentaiko is slightly salty and bursts in the mouth. the fresh ones are kinda sweet. check out the mentaiko pasta at kissaten. it's yummy!

kenny, woah....i'm so flattered la, dude. Those Hanami Days sounds cool! but food-inspired poetry ar, woah, it'll take me decades to actually come up with something that is readable la..hehe
p/s: it's true la, dude. gimme hokkien mee/ckt anytime! ;D

550ml jar of faith, i like how you blend the Malaysian culture into Japanese cuisine by just a simple "tambah pedas". the chef will go like, huh??? haha! i'll definitely ask them to tambah pedas next time cos wasabi aint no cili padi, me thinks. ;D

ai wei, hehehehe...i think alcohol does make one hungrier. so, we ended up eating more. ;D the cha soba was yummy but i still prefer the inaniwa udon. it's so much smoother! do check out this place when u are in the area!

joe, i think the prices are similar to those in Japan.check out the specials! ;D oh, talking about the ramen shop, yeah, i think it is very, very near akari. yeah, i hope to check out that ramen shop soon, but rain..sigh, i think hafta wait til august d...

precious pea, you should plan for a trip there! it really beautiful. almost like a pink winter. ;D many airlines got promo now! or go for the red autumn leaves! very beautiful as well. ;D

Nic (KHKL) said...

backstreetgluttons, hehe...well, the whiff does travel the world over for all oishi tastes, solaristomo or kualalumpuro. and it was an honour for the little shogun to accompany on the trip to explore the unknown akari for it may be tasty kimochi hanami april forever all over again. yes, bsg-sans, kampeito, kampeito!

allie, oh, if you like Japanese food, you'll be fascinated with the different types of food they have there. from street food to the high end ones, each has it distinctive style and taste. check out the airfare promos! ;D

faye fly, hahaha, cos we wanted to go eat chocolate after that. but tak jadi because that place closed already...haha..ya lor, perhaps we shudda ordered desserts at akari. next time! ;D

ck lam, wow, mentaiko fried rice? that sounds interesting! i can imagine the slightly powdery texture of the cooked mentaiko. hmmm, will it be like a salted egg liddat? plus Japanese rice, it'll be wonderfu!

gfad, and that is why you should come back to KL more often cos there, you'll get something from both easts. i wonder if you can get Japanese food easily in Abu Dhabi. it'll be great to have a bowl of cold cha soba on a hot day hor? gosh, i'm so wanting it as we speak. as for why i'm not a fan, well, i guess maybe cos i've grown to appreciate local dishes more. since they are much more flavourful, it really sets a benchmark for other cuisines. then again, i must say i do enjoy my Japanese food. ;D

sugar bean, yupe, this is a new place in town called solaris. do check it out when you are back. OMG, you are BRILLIANT on the katagana-ed translation!!! yes, a caterpillar! *knocking my head on the wall!* thanks so much for the translation! now i'm enlightened!! ;D ;D

thenomadGourmand, haha, not really but i think we did cover about 60-70 % of them. not all the specials attracted us. of course, we wouldnt mind the yummy gyu tataki salad. hehe..do check out this place when you are in that area! ;D

camemberu, kimochi desu neh! ;D haha, seriously, i'm not as into Japanese food as my Hokkien Mee/Nasi Lemak/Tze Char although i seldom blog about them..hehehe..but yes, i do enjoy the beauty of Japanese food. aiyoh, u flattering me la. i really dunno how to write poetry one la..heheh...but i cant deny that i might be a J-man in my previous life. hehe..
oh, Chiharu! i've edited my pics that saturday itself already. will try to get it posted asap! ;D

j2kfm, haha, Bald Eagle knows exactly where i stay lah. if i do anything wrong, i'll be dead the next minute..haha! so, that's cool. ;D yupe, ditto on the mentaiko! sometimes i wonder if mentaikos can be made as desserts. well, i've had kimchi mousse before, so, mentaiko jelly cant be that bad, right? hehehehhe...

jason said...

I look at the last pic and wondered what dessert was that.

Only to realised few seconds later it's a bowl. :P

Lyrical Lemongrass said...

Ahhhh I remember that night! Almost the same as the time we crept out for a bite at that french restaurant in our japanese slippers. Heeheehee. Good fun, my friend. I'm glad we found Akari; if not, we'd have ended up at Tenji, hor? :-P

Jun said...

pardon my ignorance, but wat's the etiquette of eating soba with quail's egg?

sc said...

never noticed this restaurant when i was at Solaris a couple of months back. new? food looks pretty good..

Nic (KHKL) said...

jason, hehehee.....we din order desserts that night cos we wanted to check out schokolart. too bad it was closed. :( i wanna check out those savoury chocolate dishes..

lyrical lemongrass, oh, let's not forget my cheapo t-shirt too! hehehehe...oh yes, it was fun indeed! yeah, glad we found Akari. i was almost close to dragging you to try the ramen oso! hehe..

jun, for me, there's no need etiquette what so ever one. (yeah, i'm so lazy hor?) hehe..what i usually do is stir yolk and white into the soy sauce and eat it up with the soba asap. the yolk must break lah, for the balance in flavour. enjoyz!

sc, yeah, it is very obscure. located on the second level makes it even more difficult to find. with the address, i think it should be easier. ;D i heard that shuraku is pretty good too! it's very near the entrance. do check that out as well! ;D

ling239 said...

interesing ~ ^_^
i like the cup!!
like a ninja face wor ~

Nic (KHKL) said...

ling239, omg! ya lah, u are right! it does look like a ninja lah! i din notice that until u mentioned it! haha! i should have drawn a mouth below it..hehe