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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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

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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).

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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!