Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Japanese Izakaya and Yakitori @ Sumi-Ka, SS15, Subang Jaya

regulars dominate the sake bottles, the main man of Sumi-Ka

Life wouldn't be the same for this blog and its owner (that's me!), if I'm without my weekly dosage of Japanese cuisine. I honestly reckon I can eat Japanese food day in day out, if the wallet permits. Luckily our former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir did me the greatest favour long ago when he started his Look East policy as it meant Japanese companies set up business here, which sparked off the migration of Japanese cuisine here.


cabbage salad, chewy squid, gyuniku done two ways, nope that container ain't for the receipt but the sticks, soft melt in the mouth grilled potatoes with butter

Nowadays, Japanese cuisine has come a long way from those days when only hotel restaurants like Kampachi at Equatorial Hotel or even Chikoyu-Tei at See Hoy Chan Building were frequented by Japanese businessmen. Instead small non descript restaurants like this yakitori cum izakaya (Japanese pub) well tucked within the suburbs of Subang Jaya, remind one of Tokyo with the chatter of Japanese in the smoky background. It's at these places where you'll find their regulars are Japanese white collar workers and even a famous Japanese 5-star hotel restaurant chef.


my favourite - toasted onigiri (RM4) with pickles

This is definitely a place that works on word of mouth since it's almost unnoticeable being on the first floor and definitely overshadowed by Noodle Room signage and etc. Walk through the glass door and you will find three kinds of seating arrangements. If you're Japanese, fluent in the Japanese language or just want to be in the thick of action - it's the ringside seats that fringe the yakitori grill. This is where the owner mans the charcoal grill holds court, chatting with his regulars and doling out the yakitori sticks with friendly advice. Should smoky chatter not be your cup of ocha, then opt for the side seats that gives you a faraway view of the grill but some background noise of Japanese chatter. Obviously those are the prime seats, as it's where you need to book ahead. Should you not abide to the ruling and go with the flow by turning up unexpectedly, you get banned to the window area, a glass enclosed area that blocks out the smokiness and the whole atmosphere. Just imagine being a goldfish in a tank - where you get to see the action on the outside.

happening place, chicken meatballs topped with daikon radish

Once you have gotten your bearings all sorted out, it's time to place your orders while you munch on complimentary pieces of crunchy cabbage drizzled with soy sauce. You will find that the selection is so tempting that it's all systems go. I know I fell into that trap as I ordered almost the whole menu when I first walked in here even though there was two of us.

chicken butt anyone??

On one spectrum, you have the really sinfully good (and fatty) stuff on the menu - items such as seseri (chicken neck), bonjiri (chicken hip but actually I think it's the bishop's nose or chicken butt!) and torikimo (chicken liver) - RM3 per stick. This will appeal to those who love chicken skin that caramelises to a lovely smoky and slightly caramelised flavour after a stint at the charcoal grills.


seseri or chicken neck meat, negima with leeks, lady fingers and chicken breast with mentai mayonnaise

On the other side of the fence, there's the healthier alternatives like chicken breast done in various ways - negima (chicken with leek and a sweetish teriyaki sauce), muneniku wasabi (chicken breast with wasabi) or muneniku mentai mayonnaise (chicken breast with spicy cod roe mayonnaise). They're all equally good, grilled to juicy perfection but the one slathered with a creamy cod roe mayonnaise won my heart (and tummy) over. Vegetables are also a great alternative - okura or lady fingers and piman or peppers. Another favourite is the thukune (chicken meatballs) served plain or with daikon radish. I prefer the daikon radish since the finely grated vegetable gives a texture contrast and even makes the whole ensemble juicier.

chicken breast with wasabi

Seafood is also available - choices such as prawns, squid like ika that tend to be quite chewy and even saba fish. I especially liked the gyuniku miso (beef ribs drenched in miso) or pirikaka gyuniku (a spicy sauce beef ribs) - a little pricier than the RM3-RM4 items since they go for RM9 per stick.

I have been craving for rice cakes ever since I read Oishinbo and here, I love them grilled on the outside (yaki onigiri for RM4) till they taste like toasted rice bits and another one stuffed with piquant plum or ume and wrapped with nori seaweed for RM4. A salmon version is also available. For carbo relief, they also served grilled potatoes with butter (RM7) in foil packets. Another version is with Japanese purple sweet potatoes (RM7) while a blackboard special is with mushrooms (RM10). They tend to go overboard with the butter though, making it kinda difficult to eat after a while so ask them to go easy. Also available are blackboard specials all written in Japanese so ask the Chinese wait staff to recommend the items.

Needless to say, we have been hooked on all this "satay"-like eating coupled with the Japanese atmosphere no other place can recreate and have been back a few times. Definitely one of the greatest discoveries ever that may just fill a gap for Tokyo atmosphere pending me raising enough cash to ever make it to the real deal.

Sumi-Ka Restaurant
No. 19
First Floor
Jalan SS15/4
Subang Jaya
Petaling Jaya

Tel:03-5632 9312/016-2249312

(Non Halal. Place is on the same row with Ayam Penyet, Peppercorn Cafe, Allergo Italian restaurant. More pictures are found in the Flickr set.)

*Disclaimer: The opinions expressed here is entirely based on my personal tastebuds and may vary for others. This review is time sensitive; changes may occur to the place later on that can affect this opinion. The reviewer also declares that she has not received any monetary or non-monetary compensation from this place for writing the review.

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12 comments:

Sean said...

ooh, i actually walked in here with a buddy on tuesday last week at about 8 p.m., and we got turned away because we didn't make any reservations and they were packed! such a shame, since i'm rarely able to make it to subang. yeah, we had trouble spotting the place at first. and while we were walking back to my car in disappointment, we saw several gigantic rats scurrying past the drain! this whole area of subang really needs a clean-up, huh =)

lanatir said...

no mention of you trying their superb gyutan???

CUMI & CIKI said...

haha, so cute.. if you are japanese you will be in the THICK of action.. i need to put on my best jap look and accent and see if i get put there:P

lovely shots. i really need to try the toasted onigiri ! looks divine.

J said...

There's really a(n almost) dizzying array of Japanese restaurants nowadays. :)
(Great for us all, I guess - more choice!)

eiling lim said...

Food looks good. Since it's near my workplace, I could go there sometime soon! Why you didn't "ajak" me?!! *sulking*

Precious Pea said...

My current fav place! Love the butt and skin...ooo..not forgetting their sweet potatoes.

Christy said...

I love Japanese food too, and there are lots of them out there but it's still hard to find a place which serves good Japanese food! =)

Sorina said...

This is just beautiful. Awesome Post!

minchow said...

Yakitoris are the bomb... and once you pop, you can't stop! Should I be looking at Subang property seeing they've got a world of cuisine all to themselves, or should I take heed Sean's comment about the gigantic rats???

thule a.k.a leo said...

everything about Japanese are ultra expensive huh?? Why can't they just make something like Kajang satay?? LOL... just kidding!
I think that I know the way here..

jasmine said...

i have been wondering about this place... and due to the vicinity to my office, intend to make a visit very soon!

Puan Isah said...

hi there
I love reading your blog about food. Chicken butt? over here (sarawak) we called it 'tongkeng' locally :)
I'd like to share a blog award with you. Do check it out at http://blindperfect.blogspot.com/
Thank you!

have a nice day :)

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