Aug 05 2012
A city where expatriates abound, it’s no wonder that different types of food are easily available in Kuala Lumpur. Japanese cuisine has had particular success and with so many restaurants vying for your attention, it’s easy to miss Ogawa Japanese Kitchen, a small, cosy place offering Japanese delights that can otherwise be a rarity in Malaysia.
Located in Mont Kiara, Ogawa is five minutes’ from trendy Bangsar and about 15 minutes’ drive by cab from the city centre. It’s a good sign when you walk into an establishment and most of the diners are locals — Japanese that is, which also rings true for the head chef/boss. Avoiding the hectic conveyor belts of cheaper establishments and not nearly as elegant as Japanese fine-dining, this is one place you’ll legitimately feel like you’ve entered an izakaya. Traditionally humble places to enjoy an after-work drink, its literal meaning is ‘place of comfort’ but the best way to imagine it is perhaps a Japanese gastro-tapas-bar; prop up a bar stool at the sushi bar or choose table dining to have a chat.
In addition to teppanyaki and sushi, you’ll also find Japanese street food like oden (a Japanese comfort food of fishcake, egg, konnyaku, tofu and vegetables served in a light dashi broth) and a celebrated (and slightly unnerving) Japanese dish, fugu, made from the poisonous pufferfish. Only chefs who have had special training are allowed to prepare this fish, which will set you back a steep 180 ringgit.
If the poison and price deters you, go for safer (and cheaper) options like the nabeyaki udon or zaru soba, cold buckwheat noodles served in a traditional bamboo basket with spring onions, wasabi and quail’s egg as a side. The anago tempura gets you freshwater eel lightly fried in crispy batter while the savoury okonomiyaki (Japanese pancake) made with fresh seafood, shredded cabbage and rice is a great accompaniment to noodles. Expect to pay around 30 ringgit per dish.
Don’t forget to snack on shishamo (pregnant fish for 10 ringgit) as you down a bottle of Asahi beer. Alternatively, Ogawa knows no sushi meal is complete without sake, of which they provide a handsome variety. If you’re no sake connoiseur, go slow with the lemon flavoured sake, the Japanese version of a Bacardi Breezer (albeit a lot stronger).
While the sashimi prices are steeper (38 ringgit for salmon) than more affordable Japanese eateries, you won’t find fresher raw fish this side of Tsukiji Fish Market. If you find yourself hard pressed to make a selection, go with the sashimi gozen set menu. Along with a variety of fresh sashimi, the set menu comes complete with a bowl of steamed rice, chawan mushi, miso soup and pickled vegetables.
While you’ll find Japanese patrons at Ogawa on any night of the week, it’s hardly ever crowded and reservations aren’t necessary. If you come on a weekend, pick up some arts and crafts at the Plaza Mont Kiara Bazaar before dinner. If you’re looking for cheaper fare in the area, then head to Ming Tien Food Court for a wide selection of regional favourites.
Ogawa Japanese Kitchen
A-OG-03 Plaza Mont Kiara 2
T: (03) 6201 0221
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