Saturday, December 27, 2014

Mamasan Yakitori @ Avenue K & Ichiban Izakaya @ 1 Utama

Checking out a couple of new izakaya-inspired, mall-based restaurants, starting with Mamasan Yakitori, the affectionate nickname for this deliberately grungy-looking bar that's more formally known as The Wonderkafe, tucked on a corner of Avenue K's street level, beside its big sister Wondermama X.

Yakitori rules the roost - two sticks of savoury-succulent chicken clock in at RM10++, a predictable price for a city centre outlet. Skewered squid, lamb, salmon & prawn with garlic sauce are available too.

True to the tradition of the Wondermama family, there's always a twist or two to the recipes here. Grilled beef comes not only on skewers but in 'sandwiches' too, stuffed with kitchen-made pita bread with tomatoes, lettuce & fries for a hearty pleasure, accompanied by pickles & potato salad. RM18.90++.

The rest of Mamasan's repertoire is made for snacking - enjoyably chewy dried stingray slices with a dollop of mayo (RM15) ...

... raw octopus made dangerous with the sting of wasabi (RM14) ...

... lightly grilled beef tataki with garlic, sesame & ponzu sauce (RM20++) ...

... & (coming full circle here with a final course of chicken) can't-fail fried fowl, crisp & juicy, with wasabi tartar sauce. RM15++.

Inventive 'Wonder Cocktails' - Mamasan Punch (RM26++; shochu, bubble gum syrup, aloe vera, fuji apple) & Kyoto Sour (RM26++; sake, grapefruit, tabasco, lemon juice, agave nectar, ground pepper) ...

... plus Zakuro Summer (RM35++; Japanese whisky, pomegranate juice, port, lemon juice, sugar) & Kirin ichiban beer.

 Next up, 1 Utama's Ichiban Izakaya, probably too sleekly polished & spacious to resemble most folks' impression of an izakaya; consider it a modern izakaya, maybe, There are very appealing artistic flourishes in the setting here too - look upward. As far as the ambiance goes, it's a fine set-up for a friendly hangout.

But the kitchen still needs to step up. There might have been teething troubles when we visited - the skewered pork belly (RM12++) tasted like meat that was either past its prime or had never been in its prime.

The thought of grilled eel in buns is tempting, but the unagi here wasn't wholly satisfactory (reminiscent in taste & texture of budget-conscious Chinese imports that you might purchase at a store's frozen-food section), wrapped in buns that weren't fresh or fluffy enough - a possible consequence of the lower-than-expected RM15++ price tag for this plate.

Faring a bit better: Grilled tuna jaw (RM68++), commandingly meaty, adequately moist, sufficient for four to share.

Sea urchin teppan fried rice (RM45++). There's a fair amount of uni in this bowl, interspersed among the grains of rice, though this isn't the sort of recipe where morsels of sea urchin can make a major impact. Still, it's a decent dish; even if it ultimately & only tastes like good - not great - fried rice, we like how Ichiban has a few unique specialities.

Ichiban's trump card might be its widely touted Kirin frozen beer, with a foamy top that helps keep the beer cooler for longer.

Mamasan Yakitori At The Wonderkafe
G-8C, Avenue K, Jalan Ampang, Kuala Lumpur. Daily, 230pm-midnight (last order at 1045pm)

Ichiban The Izakaya
Ground Floor, Rainforest Zone, 1 Utama, Petaling Jaya. Near HSBC.

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20 comments:

  1. My verdict of the food at Ichiban The Izakaya is similar too...but those at Mamasan Yakitori looks pretty satisfactory...the Zakuro Summer looks tempting =)

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    1. Ulric: ya, hopefully Ichiban will improve with time :) yeah, if you're satisfied with the food at Wondermama, i think you'd like the food at Mamasan too :D

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  2. This place doesn't appeal to me at all, but I enjoyed your review, Sean. :)

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    1. Linda: thanks :) oh yes, i do recall that you're not a fan of japanese fare ... no worries! :)

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    2. Hi dear Sean, it wasn't the Japanese fare, just the overall feel of the place. :)

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    3. Linda: oops! i know what you mean now ... and still no worries :)

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  3. Bar snacks the Japanese way! Raw octopus would be top of my must-try...

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    1. YouHadYourLunch: oh yeah, japanese pub grub has its unique advantages ... and raw octopus is one of them! :)

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  4. The dried stingray looks like dried cuttlefish slices ;). At least, the raw octopus (this time) is not alive and still wriggling :D

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    1. Contact: it does taste kinda like those dried cuttlefish slices that you can get in packets, true :) heh, yup, the octopus here has been dead for a fair bit longer :D

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  5. love the decoration!!!
    the raw octopus looks delicious~

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    1. 十六: ya, the decor at both places are very different but both very cool :) and yeah, that octopus was a good one :D

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  6. looks nice, wanted to go try too

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    1. Happy walker: hope you manage to go check it out! :)

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  7. The food in Mamasan sounds better, and of course much nearer for me. Hehehe.

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    1. CK: heheh, yeah, you can go after work for dinner maybe, if the traffic leaving the city feels heavy :D

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  8. Interesting choice of murals at Mamasan Yakitori.

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    1. The Yum List: yeah, it does bring a bit of an edginess to the place :)

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  9. Dried stingray slices? I wonder how does it taste like...

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    1. Ken: oh, it's sweet-savoury, pleasantly chewy ... goes well with a cold drink :)

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