Image

Miyako Land Izakaya, Petaling Jaya

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.

20220916_132031

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.

20220916_132426

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.

20220916_133457

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.

20220916_133333
Trivia: Ultraman’s screenwriter, Shozo Uehara, was an Okinawan native!
20220916_133410
20220916_133416

And here are some of Miyako Land Izakaya’s menu items:

20220916_132204

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.

20220916_132156

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.

20220916_132212

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.

20220916_132233
20220916_132225

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!

20220916_132241

Some desserts as well, if you’re looking to finish off strong.

20220916_132733

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.

20220916_133100

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.

20220916_133546

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.

20220916_133736

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.

20220916_133905

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!

20220916_133846

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.

I hope you liked this post! Please consider supporting my blog via Patreon, so I can make more. Or buy me a cup of coffee on Paypal @erisgoesto.

Review: Fujisawa Izakaya @ Foodie’s Nest, The Starling, Damansara Uptown

Update 8/2/2021: This branch is now closed. Diners can still visit their Uptown Branch at 52M, Jalan SS 21/58, Damansara Utama, 47400 Petaling Jaya, Selangor

In an environment saturated with malls carrying the same cookie-cutter brands, The Starling in Damansara Uptown is a refreshing change. Inspired by nature and known as the ‘Mall Within A Park’, it boasts an open layout with plenty of natural sunlight streaming in from the large skylight, as well as a 27,500 sq ft Chirp Park on the ground level and a rooftop Sky Park.

Was here for lunch the other day and decided to explore Foodies’ Nest, the mall’s food court on Level 3.

20181030_141215

When you think food court in Malaysia, ‘CANTEEN!’ comes to mind more than a cosy/cool place to hangout and chill – which is why I really like what they’ve done with Foodies’ Nest. Although there seem to be themed sections, you never feel as if you have to sit right in front /within the vicinity of the stall you ordered from. The design of the place is welcoming and there are actually many spots within that look pretty Instagrammable, like the giant ‘bird cage’ booths at the entrance. The ambient lighting also helps to prevent the place from looking cold and clinical.

20181030_141303

20181030_141348

20181030_141434

I settled down for lunch at Fujisawa Izakaya, which had an ‘island’ layout with the dining area surrounding the central kitchen. The kitchen area was decorated with traditional Japanese elements and trinkets, from sake bottles to noren (fabric dividers), lanterns and maneki neko (lucky cat) statues.

20181030_142756

Ordered a Bento set of Japanese curry rice with fried ika (squid). The portion was just right for a medium eater, although I think for the price, they could have given a few more pieces of squid. The curry was mild and sweet, with soft chunks of potato and meat which went really well with rice, while the squid was deep fried and seasoned well, lending the dish an element of crunchiness. Sides included cabbage salad, miso soup and a slice of watermelon. A satisfying meal for a reasonable price.

*Their main branch is in Kepong, Kuala Lumpur.

FUJISAWA IZAKAYA 

L3, The Starling Mall, Damansara Utama, 47400 Petaling Jaya, Selangor

Opening hours: 1030AM – 10PM (daily)

Travelogue Japan: An Unagi Dinner in Nagoya City

Our five days in Japan was coming to a close. We spent our last night in Nagoya, a bustling metropolis and Chubu’s largest city. There was finally some time for free and easy (our schedule had been so jam-packed, it was difficult to even shop for souvenirs!), and I spent an evening wandering around my hotel, popping into convenience stores and malls to see what I could get for fam and friends back home.

Takayama/Nagoya

View across the street from our hotel. The tall, modern buildings, neon lights and flurry of activity was definitely a big change from the rural countryside and quaint towns we had been visiting for the last five days. I’m a city girl through and through, so this was a comforting, familiar sight. Restaurants and shops were open til late instead of closing at 6PM and the streets came to life with malls, cafes, karaoke joints and izakayas as the sun set.

Takayama/Nagoya

Our guide Mariko-san took us to a local izakaya (unfortunately the place didn’t have an English sign so I can’t tell what it’s called) around the bend for our last dinner together. Like many traditional Japanese restaurants, the tables were low with a space for guests to place their feet underneath, or kneel on the pillows if they chose to.

Since Nagoya is a port city and close to the sea, fresh seafood is readily available. We ordered fried ebi tempura, which were some of the largest I’ve ever seen. The batter was light and crisp, sealing the moisture and juiciness of the springy shrimp on the inside. The cabbage on the side helped to reduce the greasiness.

Takayama/Nagoya

Mariko-san had some coupons, so we redeemed a plate of fried sesame chicken wings, apparently a specialty in Nagoya. The wings didn’t have much meat on them but the flavour was really good – sweet and slightly salty – with the fragrance of sesame.

Takayama/Nagoya

Squid sashimi. The naturally sweet flavour of the seafood was brought out when dipped in a hint of soy sauce.

Takayama/Nagoya

Fried squid with shisho leaf, also lightly battered and fried to perfection.

Takayama/Nagoya

Another local specialty that we tried was the Unagi (eel) on fluffy Japanese rice, served with pickles. The eel had a slightly smoky, charred flavour as it had been grilled over a charcoal fire,slowly basted with a sweet sauce on top. Muslim travelers should note that the sauce has sake (alcohol) in it – a fact my colleague was unaware of until he had eaten more than half lol (I didn’t know either).

Takayama/Nagoya

Night view in Nagoya.

Japan has been an amazing experience, and I hope that it wasn’t ‘once-in-a-lifetime’, because I definitely plan on revisiting other places!