It's challenging to prove that Saisai exists; this new secret sanctuary for Japanese soul food - half a shop-lot in Plaza Damas - has no signboard, no English-language Facebook page, no Foursquare location so far. But Saisai may thrive through old-fashioned word-of-mouth, as fans of Japanese fare seek out what friendly founder Mika-san & chef Moritsuna Sakuma offer.
Come for a taste of tradition - oden in its truest, time-honoured form, a simmering stew in a pot of light, soy-laced dashi broth.
Customers can choose exactly what they want in their bowl of oden - options include hard-boiled egg, daikon, konjac, fish cakes, tendon meat & cabbage rolls. Three components cost RM12, each additional piece is between RM4 & RM6, served with karashi mustard sauce. A wholesome, warming Japanese winter dish that works well for Malaysian rainy-evening comfort.
Honest cooking flows out of the kitchen: Rustic meal sets (RM24) comprise rice meant to be poured over with warm grated mountain yam, 'menchi-katsu' crispy-crumbed minced pork cutlets & a mild-flavoured, nourishing pork-&-veggie miso soup.
The spirit of home-style recipes is also imbued in the 'akashiyaki,' named for Japan's southern city of Akashi. Round dumplings made with an eggy batter, tinged with octopus tentacles - evocative of takoyaki, with a softer, somewhat fluffier texture. RM15 for a serving of seven pieces.
Heaps on the menu to ensure nobody leaves hungry - buttery-rich Japanese curry rice with beef & chicken (RM18), ika karaage (RM13), tonkotsu ramen (RM18) & sake-steamed clams (RM18). We'll likely hear more of Saisai in the months ahead.
Saisai Japanese Restaurant
F-0-9, Plaza Damas, Jalan Sri Hartamas, Kuala Lumpur. Mon-Sat, 12pm-215pm, 6pm-10pm
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