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Kodawari Menya, 1 Mont Kiara

A couple of months ago, I lamented about the price increase at my (formerly) favourite place for udon, Miyatake Sanuki Udon. Following their relocation to a posh neighbourhood in Mont Kiara, they seemed to have also ‘upgraded’ their menu, no longer offering the casual, self-service style of cuisine that was their signature at their old ISETAN 1 Utama outlet.

Coincidentally, a reader suggested I try a place called Kodawari Menya. The restaurant is also located in Mont Kiara, albeit within a small neighbourhood mall that sees a lot of Japanese expats. Aside from Kodawari, which specializes in udon, the mall also has a ramen place, a sushi joint, a shabu-shabu place, a proper Japanese restaurant, and even a clinic/dental practice with Japanese-speaking staff.

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The mall is tiny, so it was not difficult to locate Kodawari Menya, which boasts a ‘patio’ of sorts with red umbrellas. Thanks to the glass skylight, it feels like you’re dining outdoors, minus the heat and humidity.

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Like how Miyatake Sanuki Udon used to be like before they became a full service restaurant with table service, Kodawari Menya has a counter where you make your orders and pick them up immediately. Aside from a variety of udon (such as beef, curry, kitsune, and zaru udon), they also carry rice bowls (such as curry beef don, salmon teriyaki don, and more). The prices are surprisingly affordable, averaging about RM14 to RM18 for the noodles, and RM14 – 20 for rice dishes. You can also pick from a decent selection of tempura, with the usual favourites like ebi (prawn), fish fillet, ,and chicken karaage.

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The Hubs and I both got the basic Kake Udon (RM14), which is basically noodles in a dashi broth. The dashi flavour was very pronounced; it had the natural sweetness of seafood, minus the unpleasant fishy aftertaste. The noodles were nice, thick, and chewy as well. I would say this is on par with Miyatake Sanuki Udon! The fried items were also good, the fish being soft and flaky on the inside, but perfectly battered and crispy on the outside. The Hubs even commented that the batter did not go soggy, despite having been dunked in the tempura sauce.

With its considerable portions, affordable prices, and tasty food, I think Kodawari Menya is a great place for a casual dining experience. I certainly think the drive here is worth it to get my udon fix once in awhile!

KODAWARI MENYA

Level 1, L1-21A, 1, Jalan Kiara, Mont Kiara, 50480 Kuala Lumpur

Open daily from 11AM – 9.30PM

Menu here.

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Miyatake Sanuki Udon @ Mont Kiara

When Japanese department store Isetan@1 Utama announced that it would be closing down in April 2022, I was devastated. Not because I liked shopping there, but because my favourite udon spot – Miyatake Sanuki Udon – was located within, and Isetan’s closure would mean that the shop would have to shutter too. I often went to this location when I was employed with my previous company, and I really enjoyed their udon noodles, as they were tasty and affordable at around RM11-RM20 per bowl.

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Not all was lost, however!

A few months after ISETAN closed its doors, I read that Miyatake Sanuki Udon had moved to a new location at Mont Kiara. Since it’s pretty far from where I live, it was only recently that I got to go there for dinner with the Hubs. The store is located in a quiet commercial area just a stone’s throw away from Publika, so it’s relatively easy to find parking.

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The restaurant is definitely more upscale than its predecessor, ditching its previous casual ambience for full service. The interior marries Zen and industrial chic, featuring lots of wood juxtaposed against raw concrete walls and dark, exposed ceilings. Diners can choose to dine at the counter near the kitchen if you’d like to watch the chefs in action, or the section at the back with bigger tables suitable for families. The latter is slightly partitioned with traditional noren (curtains), and offers more privacy.

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The old outlet did not serve alcohol, but here you can order Japanese beers, sake, and cocktails to go with your noodles.

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Ordering is done via a tablet.

While I understand that the restaurant has now branded itself to be more upscale, I was a bit taken aback by their new prices, with their noodles now averaging between RM15 to RM30. The Hubs and I ended up ordering two bowls of Kake Udon. At RM16, this is the cheapest, most basic option.

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Taste wise, the noodles are as good as I remember them. One thing I enjoy about Miyatake Sanuki’s udon is the texture, and these are perfectly chewy. The winner for me is the dashi, which is gentle but flavourful, and tastes distinctly of anchovies. To be fair, even though the price has increased, the portion has as well.

The noodles also come with a side of tempura batter, which you can add into your soup for extra crunch.

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For sides, we went with chicken karaage. What came to the table was three humongous pieces of juicy fried chicken, crispy on the outside, moist on the inside, and packed with flavour. Chicken karaage is typically marinated in soy sauce and mirin before deep frying, which gives the meat a rich, savoury taste.

While I am happy that I’m still able to enjoy my favourite udon, I can’t help but feel a little nostalgic for the old Miyatake Sanuki brand of fast, casual, and affordable udon bowls.

Not complaining though – good food is always worth it, and that just means I’ll have to fork out more if I’m looking for an udon fix!

MIYATAKE SANUKI UDON

LG3-1, Residensi Duta Kiara, 7, Jln Duta Hartamas, Dutamas, 50480 Kuala Lumpur

Opening hours: 11.30AM – 3PM, 6PM-10PM (closed Mondays)

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Curry Udon @ Menya Ichiyutei, Lot 10 Kuala Lumpur

When it comes to Japanese cuisine, ramen is a staunch favourite among Klang Valley-ites – think famous chains like Ippudo and Ramen Seirock-Ya, or Japanese-owned-and-run places like the ever popular Menya Shishido.

Udon, however, gets a lot less love. Almost all of my favourite spots for udon (Miyatake Sanuki, Marufuku, Hanamaru) have closed, and these days, I struggle to find a spot that can satisfy my cravings.

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J’s Gate Dining at Lot 10 Shopping Centre, Kuala Lumpur, has an entire floor dedicated to Japanese restaurants and eateries – so it seemed a good place as any to look for udon. True enough, we found Menya Ichiyutei, which specialises in curry udon. Their signatures are the Creamy Curry Udon and the Pumpkin Curry Udon – but they looked a little too heavy for our early lunch, so we ended up ordering other items instead. Aside from curry udon, they also carry a selection of dashi udon and rice bowls.

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My Beef and Egg Curry Udon (RM21.70 – regular, RM24.60 – large) featured a generous portion of noodles, a runny egg, and tender, thinly sliced beef. It was decent, but not spectacular. The curry was well balanced, with a hint of spice cutting through the sweetness. I wished the noodles were cooked al dente, though, as they were soft and did not have much bite. One thing I liked is that the shop provides free flow of tenkasu (deep fried tempura flour batter) so you can pair it with your noodles for some crunch.

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Hubs ordered the Fish Cake Tempura Curry Udon (regular – RM15.80, large – RM18.70).

Overall, what we tried at Menya Ichiyutei was enjoyable, but lacks that oomph factor. Still, service is fast and efficient, and the setting is comfortable – so it can be a choice for those craving curry udon while in the area.

In the meantime, my quest for the best udon joint continues…

MENYA ICHIYUTEI

P1-03, J’s Gate Dining, Level 4, Lot 10 Shopping Centre, 50250, Kuala Lumpur

Opening hours: 11AM – 8PM (daily)

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Last Hurrah: Miyatake Sanuki Udon, Isetan 1Utama

Japanese department store ISETAN recently announced that they will be closing their 1Utama outlet in April 2022 – much to my dismay, as one of my favourite udon places, Miyatake Sanuki Udon, is located within the store. The closure is still months away, but I still took the chance to have one last hurrah (just in case I’m busy and don’t manage to go in the coming months).

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There are a few Japanese restaurants within Isetan, including a ramen place and a Tonkatsu by Ma Maison (which serves one of the best tonkatsus in Malaysia, in my opinion). Miyatake Sanuki Udon is sandwiched in between, and comprises of a no-frills dining area with minimal decor, and a counter where you can make orders for takeaway. Aside from udon, which is their specialty, you can also get rice bowls (tendon) and set lunches. Prices are very reasonable, considering the location.

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Choose from chicken, pork, or beef udon, or get cold udon for a refreshing change. Rice bowl options include shrimp, pork and beef.

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For my mains, I went for the Kamatama Udon (RM11.80 – Regular). This is a simple udon dish where the noodles are boiled, and instead of running them through cold water, are immediately served together with a dash of spring onions, soy sauce and dashi broth, as well as a raw egg (the word ‘tama’ is short for tamago, meaning egg). The egg coats each strand of noodle, making them rich and silky smooth.

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Of course, we can’t miss the sides! Miyatake Sanuki Udon offers a respectable variety of fried snacks and appetisers. I recommend getting the beef bowl (RM5), which features tender slices of beef in a sweet broth, and the fried enoki mushroom (the tempura batter is crispy but not greasy). For me, a must order is the fried chicken karaage. They’re sizable, but cooked thoroughly, the outside is well seasoned, while the meat is moist and juicy.

So if you’re craving for good, relatively affordable udon, consider dropping by Miyatake Sanuki Udon – before they close in April. I’m definitely going to miss the food!

MIYATAKE SANUKI UDON

1 Utama Shopping Centre, Food Paradise [2F, Central Park Avenue, Bandar Utama, 47800 Petaling Jaya, Selangor

Opening hours: 10AM – 10PM

Chewy Japanese Noodles! @ Miyatake Sanuki Udon, ISETAN 1 Utama Shopping Centre, Petaling Jaya

My favourite udon joints seem to be closing one by one. First it was Marufuku Udon in Jaya One, then recently, Hanamaru Udon in Sunway Pyramid. Thankfully, I’ve found a new place to satisfy my chewy noodle cravings – and it’s close to my new workplace.

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Miyatake Sanuki Udon has roots in Kagawa, Japan, where they have restaurants and their own noodle factory. They opened their first outlet in Malaysia at ISETAN 1Utama in 2019.  The resto looks like your typical Japanese casual dining joint: lots of wood, attractive photos of the food, and Japanese-style buntings you usually see at sushi spots and robatayakis. Orders are made  for at the counter, and you can also pick your side dishes like chicken karaage, enoki mushrooms, crab sticks, chikuwa, and more.

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It goes without saying that their specialty is udon, and there are several varieties, such as plain, with curry, with thin slices of beef, and with onsen tamago (soft boiled egg). Went for the latter, which featured a full, yellow yolk that sat atop a bed of silky, chewy noodles.

Miyatake Sanuki Udon’s noodles are well known for their quality, and it is also sold in supermarkets around the world. The noodles are made from wheat that has been carefully selected and milled at their factory in Sanuki, giving them a sumptuous, strong-bodied flavour. You can taste the fragrant aroma of wheat, and it is by far one of the chewiest udon noodles that I’ve tasted. If you like chewy noodles, this will be right up your alley.

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Ordered sides of chicken karaage and fried enoki mushrooms.

Enjoying the different textures – crunchy and crispy, soft and chewy – is the ultimate satisfaction! Dip your fried snacks in tempura sauce for extra flavour.

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The onsen tamago was literally perfect: tried lifting it up and the membrane didn’t even tear.

An average bowl of udon here ranges from RM11 – RM20. My meal with two sides and a drink came up to RM25. Green tea is refillable, but the price is steep at RM4.

MIYATAKA SANUKI UDON (non-halal) 

Food Paradise, 2F, 1 Utama Shopping Centre, Central Park Avenue, Bandar Utama, 47800 Petaling Jaya, Selangor.

facebook.com/udonwon

Cheap and Tasty Eats @ Marufuku Udon, Jaya One PJ

The other day, I was returning to the office after visiting the National Archives and decided to stop by at Jaya One for lunch.Wanted to get udon, but realised that the Sushi King there is an ‘Express’ outlet and doesn’t serve noodles :/. But as usual, the universe provides – and I stumbled on this place called Marufuku Udon. The prices were very reasonable, so in I went!

The eatery has a very casual setting; almost like a canteen with minimal decor. That’s not really important though, the food is.

My order of Beef Udon (RM12) came in a generous serving of slippery udon noodles, a silky onsen tamago (egg) and thin slices of beef in a savoury/sweet brown sauce. The egg is larger than usual and there’s plenty of it to coat the noodles to give it a silky smooth texture that slips down your throat! The beef slices were tender and the noodles were bouncy with a slightly al dente texture. All in all, a very good bowl of udon  and definitely value for money.

If you don’t want the beef, their house special is just the egg and noodles for RM7. You can top up all the main meals with a drink of iced green tea for just RM1.

Side of deep fried octopus (RM5). Lightly seasoned, the crispy coating conceals chunky pieces of octopus on the inside. My only complaint? I wish there was more xD

The Chicken Karaage side comes in a serving of three pieces. I can understand why some people might not like it coz the batter was a bit overcooked and looked burnt, but the flavour of the seasoning was pretty good and the chicken was cooked thoroughly, juicy and tender on the inside.

To end the meal on a sweet note, caramel pudding. Not so much jelly as it is creamy, like a mild creme brulee.

I was satisfied with the meal and will come back again if I’m ever in the area! 🙂

MARUFUKU UDON

Block L, Unit 18, Level G, Phase 1, Jaya One, Jalan University, Seksyen 13, 46200 Petaling Jaya, Selangor, Malaysia
Phone:  +603 7957 6368
Opening Hours:   11am – 10pm Daily
NON HALAL – they serve Sake, but the establishment is pork free.

 

Nadai Fujisoba@ Bonifacio Global City, Taguig

When it comes to Japanese noodles, ramen tends to get more attention – so it’s nice to see a place dedicated to two lesser known (but no less delicious!) counterparts – udon and soba.

Like it’s name, Nadai Fujisoba specialises in soba, or buckwheat, noodles. The chain is popular in Japan, but has also made its way to Bonifacio Global City in Metro Manila. Located along High Street, the small but cosy establishment teems with decor inspired by the land of the Rising Sun, with kanji, art and murals adorning its walls.

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The Ebiten Soba (PHP 280) came with two gigantic battered prawns, seaweed and spring onions in a bonito-based broth. The noodles were slightly al-dente, giving it a good bite, and the savoury soup warmed up the belly. Flavours were just right without being overwhelming. Ebi was done well too – not too oily, and juicy on the inside.

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Also tried the Buta Bara Kimuchi Don (small – PHP100). Despite its ‘small’ serving, the portion was quite enough for me! There were thin slices of marinated pork belly, which had a good balance of lean meat and fat. Rice was fluffy and warm. To top it off, sour and spicy kimchi. The pork had too much sauce though which made the rice underneath soggy after some time. But the flavours were right.

Every noodle dish here offers either soba/udon. There’s no ramen ! xD They also have Donburi rice bowls, like the one above.

Nadai Fujisoba 

G/F Building 7, Bonifacio High Street
Bonifacio Global City, Taguig
Philippines
Phone: +632 830 3333
Opening hours:  10 am to 11pm daily

 

Japanese Lunch: Izumi @ Nu Sentral & Sushi King, The Mines

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[Update: Izumi is permanently closed]. 

I was rushing for an interview at Nu Sentral in KL the other day. With only a few minutes for lunch, I ordered a quick chicken karaage bento (RM12.90) from a Japanese stall called Izumi at the mall’s food court. Was pleasantly surprised at how tasty the food was!

Four largish pieces of deep fried chicken –  salty and well-seasoned on the outside, crispy and juicy on the inside – lying on top of a bed of lettuce, shredded cabbage, pickled daikon and rice. The miso soup tasted good too – not like some powdery sht you get from commercial chains. For the affordable price, I think it was a good deal. No wonder the place was packed with the office crowd.

They have loads of other stuff like Ramen, Udon, Teppanyaki and more.

IZUMI JAPANESE CUISINE

Level 3, Quizinn Foodcourt, Nu Sentral Shopping Mall, KL Sentral, Kuala Lumpur

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Had Japanese food again for lunch today. Nope, I don’t get tired of it!

The nearest place for a quick fix is Sushi King at The Mines. I always grab their Mix N Match set, which costs only RM14.90 for two items of your choice. Got the Tsukimi Udon and Mini Tempura. The portion is of course, not as big as the regular one but enough for me. I like how they have fried tempura batter bits swimming in the tempura soy broth, and the half boiled egg adds more flavour. Tempura was done well and very value for money, since there were two pieces of prawn, long beans, and a piece of chicken.

Also got their Chuka Idaako (Marinated baby octopus). The version here always tastes better to me than the Sakae Sushi one.

This post was pretty random. Are you hungry yet?