Thursday 4 January 2018

October Japanese Cuisine

Feel the calm

January 4, 2018

From the car/bus parking lot behind the restaurant, we step on cement tiles through a path shaded by bamboo and faux cherry blossoms. Yup, the flowers are fake but they do evoke a sense of tranquility, aided by stone lamps and a small torii (archway) with the name of the restaurant, October, in Japanese characters (which coincidentally, is similar to the Mandarin characters too).

A few sake drums stand at the front. The interior is a contrasst of sorts. Glass windows let in natural light with the sushi counter at one end. One wall is lined with sake bottles with figurines of sumo wrestlers at the topmost shelf. But the d├ęcor on the first floor is a complete contrast. It’s kitschy, with cake replicas and on the wall, a dried orchid plant with roots, leaves and flowers, surrounded by calligraphy. 

Grilled Kawahagi (left) and edamame with spicy  togarashi seasoning

We are handed 2 menus, one for regular dishes and bento boxes and the other focused on sashimi and sushi. The variety proves a bit daunting, so we ask for small bites first.
Grilled edamame (RM9.90++) and Kawahagi (RM12.90++). Great choices. The edamame gets a zing from the sprinkle of spicy togarashi seasoning while the kawahagi (dried filefish), with a flavour like dried squid, makes great munchies. 

Fortune Sushi & Sashimi Platter and Prosperity Sashimi Yee Sang

The waiter tells us the chef is offering 3 special dishes with the theme “Reunion” for the coming Chinese New Year festive season, including Prosperity Yee Sang with Wasabi Sauce, Fortune Sushi & Sashimi Platter and Auspicious Flaming Nabe.
The Prosperity Sashimi Yee Sang (RM68/RM108 nett) comes with rosettes of salmon, tuna and hamachi (yellow tail) sitting on the shredded radish-carrot and surrounded by cucumber, pickles and ginger. Instead of crushed peanuts, there are roasted almond flakes, roasted black-white sesame seeds and deepfried gyoza pastry. There are two choices of sauces: Wasabi and Sour Plum. We ask for the wasabi and happily toss to a more prosperous year ahead. 
The Fortune Sushi & Sashimi Platter (RM58.80 nett) looks almost too pretty to eat. Six varieties of sushi sit on a tiered bamboo structure while at the bottom, there are a trio of sashimi salmon, tuna and Hamachi.

Auspicious Flaming Nabe with salmon and chicken

I am not too hot about the  Auspicious Flaming Nabe (RM68.80 nett). Slices of chicken and raw salmon, leeks, carrot, Chinese cabbage and shitake mushrooms sit in a claypot filled with kaoliang (Chinese wine) and sake. At the table, the wine is set afire and the flames  allowed to cook the ingredients for a few minutes before hot miso stock is poured in. But there's just too much alcohol, making the soup unpleasantly bitter. It doesn’t enhance the flavour of the ingredients either. This is one dish I will not be ordering. 

Surume Ika basted with sweet teriyaki sauce

Instead, I will pick from the regular menu. The Surume Ika (market price) comprises a whole squid of over 20cm long, basted with sweet teriyaki sauce and grilled to perfection. 

Grilled seafood skewers in Kushiyaki Moriwase

Kushiyaki Moriwase (RM44.90++) is a pretty picture of grilled skewers of seafood, meat and vegetables. There are whole scallops, bacon-wrapped enoki, bacon-wrapped cherry tomato, bacon-wrapped leeks, whole garlic cloves, leek, eggplant and ladyfinger. If you like grilled food, this is definitely for you.

Japanese fried noodles rolled in omelette

I wanted my favourite cold Zaru Soba but am persuaded to try Japanese Fried Noodles (RM19.90++) instead. The rather plain fried ramen is rolled in an omelette and topped with bonito flakes. Sadly, while the egg is fluffy, I find the noodles lacking in flavour. 

Flaming Salmon Aburi Maki

While I am rather disappointed in the hot food so far, my choices from the sushi menu fare better. Flaming Salmon Aburi Maki (RM29.90++) is unusual. The maki is placed on a little bamboo bridge and alcohol is poured into the plate and fired. We watch the flames licking the sides of the maki, charring some of the rice grains and searing the edges of the salmon to give off an appetising aroma. When the flame dies down, I pop a piece of maki into my mouth. The contrast between the cold maki and hot bits at the edges adds an exciting edge to the dish. Flaming seems to be the chef’s forte and you can also have Flaming Salmon Sushi (RM19.90++).
Non-flaming maki is also on the menu, with varieties such as Salted Egg Maki, Spider Maki, Dragon Maki, vegetarian maki and hand rolls. 
Sushi is available in individual varieties of 2 pcs per order. 

Assorted Sushi Platter

October Special Bento

There are various bento boxes but I have my eye on the October Special Bento (RM59.90++). This set seems to offer a taste of the restaurant’s signature dishes. Apart from salmon sushi, there’s also grilled salmon fillet, grilled unagi (eel), karaage (fried chicken), squid balls with shitake mushroom, vegetable nabe, miso soup, rice and fresh fruit. It's a really satisfying meal. 

Tempura Sweet Potato & Yam

Tempura Sweet Potato (RM9.90++) is a vegetarian option. Two layers of mashed yam and sweet potato are coated with breadcrumb and deepfried. Reminiscent of the local nian gao sandwiched with yam and potato. 

For the festive New Year season, customers who spend RM88 and above will receive 2 packs of October Japanese Cuisine “Reunion” hong bao and a voucher worth RM20.

October Japanese Cuisine (non-halal)
6A Jalan Persiaran Jaya Putra 1
Bandar Jaya Putra, Johor Baru
Tel: 011-1426 5993

Monday-Thursday: Noon-3pm; 6-11pm 
Friday, Saturday, Sunday & P. Hols: Noon-11pm

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