Checking out a couple of Japanese eateries in the suburbs: first up, Haru Zen in Puchong. Japanese food buffs might be hard-pressed to find outlets in this neighborhood that impress them _ Haru-Zen won't change that, but it has worthwhile offerings.
Okonomiyaki stuffed with natto. A well-executed version of this oft-abused pancake recipe. Fairly thick and fluffy, but not excessively greasy. The flavor of the fermented soybeans is subtle, but it adds a nice nuttiness.
Ramen with Osaka-style pork broth. Springy noodles in rich broth. No complaints.
Baked tofu with salted cod roe and cheese. Soft and savory, exactly as expected. Not the healthiest tofu preparation, but it's piping-hot, creamy comfort food for a rainy evening.
Pork belly preserved with miso. Home-cooked fare, more or less. Tender and tasty, with a pleasantly distinctive aroma from the miso.
Nankotsu. A letdown; tastes like KFC chicken cartilage. Overcooked and over-salted.
Shochu, mixed with calpis and cucumber.
Next, Shinjuku at Hartamas. Porky fare is prevalent here on a menu with both hits and misses.
Shinjuku Maki, an unusual roll stuffed with raw salmon and smoked bacon. The sweet, succulent fish and savory, sinewy pork mingle like they're meant for each other.
The sashimi platter is substantial, with lots of fairly fresh fish, though not impressive enough to recall for long. But Shinjuku's prices are reasonable and service is friendly.
Tsukimi Udon _ noodles with raw egg in hot soup. Hearty, but the noodles seem a bit too chewy, while the soup lacks a definitive flavor.
Yakiniku buta sasami. Barbecued pork _ adequately tender and tasty, with a sprinkling of sesame seeds to add some crunchy texture.
Sake makes everything better. Yep, it absolutely does.
IOI Boulevard, Puchong.
74, Jalan 27/70A, Desa Sri Hartamas.