Tucked on the southwestern most tip of Japan, Okinawa Prefecture is known for its azure blue waters, sandy beaches, and tropical climate. Also called “Japan’s Hawaii”, the prefecture regularly bags a spot on lists of top domestic destinations for locals.
Okinawan food is also popular, as it is notably different from that of the Japanese mainland. This is thanks to its proximity to Taiwan, China and Southeast Asia, as well as the long history of trade between these regions.
Lucky for us living in the Klang Valley, we don’t have to splurge thousands on a holiday to Japan, as there’s a hidden gem serving Okinawan cuisine, right in the heart of Petaling Jaya.
Miyako Land Izakaya, which opened its doors last year, is tucked within an industrial-turned commercial lot called B-Land, sharing the place with a few other popular restaurants, a futsal court, gym facilities, and more. Touting itself the ‘first Okinawa style izakaya in Malaysia‘, diners can expect something different from the usual sushi, ramen, udon, and rice dishes that most people associate with Japanese cuisine.
PS: Miyako-jima is an island in Okinawa prefecture, some 300 kilometres southwest from Okinawa’s main island.
I love the shop’s design and aesthetics. Most Japanese restaurants carry an elegant look and feel, featuring lots of wood, dark accents, orderly tables and chairs, tatamis, and the like. Miyako Land, on the other hand, is a vibrant medley of colours and cutesy knick knacks: reminiscent of a tropical beachside hut, but with a Japanese vibe.
There’s a gazebo of sorts with rolled up bamboo blinds and noren (small banners that are hung on the exterior of traditional izakayas), bright and colourful posters of beer/soda ads, wooden tablets, as well as manga on shelves. The TV plays a travel show promoting Okinawa’s specialties, and there’s even a stand with imported Japanese magazines and newspapers.
And here are some of Miyako Land Izakaya’s menu items:
While the menu does carry some of the usual favourites such as ebi tempura (fried shrimp), you also get some not so conventional ones like Gooya (fried bitter gourd) and beni shouga (red ginger tempura). We wanted to try the signature Nankotsu karaage (chicken soft bone) but they had run out for the day, so we went for Mimiga (fried pig’s ears) instead.
For the mains, again, some typically seen dishes like prawn tempura soba and curry udon – but also lesser known items like Ginger Tempura Udon, Natto Udon, Miyako Soba, Somen Champuru, ham and egg onigiri, and pork miso onigiri.
And more dishes I have never seen or heard of before, like the Chi Bi Teh (slow cooked pork leg in Okinawa style), Ra Fu Te (braised pork belly with Okinawa sugar), and Goya Chan Puru (bitter gourd omelette).
I don’t know about you, but they sound quite similar to Chinese cuisine (chi bi teh reminds me of bak kut teh!). This is perhaps influence from when Okinawa was part of the Ryukyu kingdoms, and had a distinctly separate identity/culture from that of the Japanese mainland.
For some reason, there is also a page on the menu dedicated to cheeses – crispy / grilled camembert, crispy cheese sticks, cheese crackers, and cheese korokke. But hey, I’m not complaining: it’s cheese!
Some desserts as well, if you’re looking to finish off strong.
Of course, being an izakaya, there are plenty of drinks to go with the snacks and munchies. Both alcoholic and non-alcoholic options are available.
To match the whole ‘tropical holiday’ vibe, I got a Melon Cream Soda (RM14). The beverage came fizzing in a tall glass; the liquid a bright, almost acid-green, topped with a dollop of vanilla ice cream. It tasted sweet and syrupy, with an obviously artificial melon taste – but it was not unpleasant. Pretty refreshing, actually.
I wanted noodles, so I ordered the Yakisoba. Ordinarily it comes with vegetables, but I requested for none. It was good; the noodles were chewy and had a nice texture, and they were generous with the pork slices. But it lacked wok hei, and I didn’t enjoy the red strips of pickled ginger either. If you want outstanding yakisoba, I recomend Okonomi. Still, Miyako Land’s version is pretty decent.
The Hubs had Miyako Soba, a traditional pork based noodle. We ordered the half size (RM15) coz we got a couple of dishes to share, but you can go for the full (RM25) if you want something more filling. The soup is flavourful without being too rich, and you can really taste the goodness of the pork.
We both agreed that the stars of the show were the small bites. I’m not an alcohol drinker, but the Hubs commented how well they would go with beer. The Sumi Yaki Buta (charcoal grilled pork belly) was excellent – glistening with juices and fat, with a smoky, slightly charred exterior. It was served with a slice of lemon, and the sourness actually elevated the flavour of the pork. Our only qualm was that the portion was pretty small for RM13, and you’d probably have to order several plates to feel satisfied!
My personal favourite? The Mimiga (fried pig’s ears). It is cut into narrow strips, battered, then deep fried and lightly seasoned. The winner here is the texture. Pig’s ears are usually crunchy, and because of the batter, it was double the crunchiness, but with a layer of hardness to within (kind of like when you’re biting on cartilage). It was a workout for the jaw, but also strangely addictive. The mayo was creamy and had a hint of lemon and pepper, which cut through the greasiness.
There are so many interesting dishes to try at Miyako Land – which is why I think the place warrants another visit soon! Prices are on the steep side for the portions, but service is good, and the food is excellent.
Come check out the place and its Okinawan cuisine if you’re ever in PJ!
MIYAKO LAND IZAKAYA
Lot 4, B Land, 2, Jalan 51a/225, Seksyen 51a, 46100 Petaling Jaya, Selangor
Opening hours: 12PM – 2.30PM, 5PM – 11PM
Website and menu here
PS: You can’t see the shop from the main road as it is located within a compound. Just Waze to B.Land and park inside the lot. Miyako Land is located to the left of the parking entrance.