Good, affordable Japanese food..
"Good" and "affordable" are two terms rarely seen in the same sentence when describing Japanese food. Early this week, we sampled the Japanese food at Watami in Pavilion KL and am glad to report that the food here fits the description of "good AND affordable".
The name "Watami" comes from the name of the founder, WATAnabe MIki. In Japanese Kanhi, WA means "harmony" and TAMI means "people", therefore Watami means "gather people to dine in harmony", which is in line with the company's key concept of providing a casual place for guests to spend time wining and dining on all occasions in a comfortable space. Watami is the original creator of the "Ishokuya" dining concept in Japan.
Watami has over 700 outlets in Japan and 50 across the Asia Pacific region, and it was interesting to learn that some of the basic ingredients such as sauces are imported from their central kitchen for quality control.
Interior of Watami in Pavilion KL
They also have several private rooms
Watami serves authentic and modern Japanese cuisine. A lot of the dishes are "interactive" - hence it encourages diners to participate in minor cooking / preparation of the dish.
We started off with the Watami Salad (RM19.90), a refreshing salad of crisp greens with red onions, corn, cherry tomatoes, brocolli florets, shredded cucumber, shrimp, teriyaki chicken, nori, flying fish roe and fried wantons tossed with tuna mayo and goma (sesame cream) dressing. The dressing was very appetizing and definitely whetted our appetites for the following courses. The portion is reasonably large and is suitable for sharing between 3-4 persons.
Pour in the goma dressing yourself and give it a good toss!
The gomoku kamameshi (RM21.90) is served in a traditional steel pot and cooked tableside. It takes 20 minutes to cook, but do not be tempted to lift the cover to see what's happening as it will cause the rice to be undercooked. The rice is topped with bonito, carrot, shimeji mushrooms, tofu, root vegetables and topped with salmon, shrimp, chicken, scallops and flying fish roe.
Of course, we were simply too curious and lifted the cover for mere seconds just to see how it looked like. Luckily it did not affect the rice/cooking as it was delicious. When the 20 minutes was finally up, the room smelt lovely as the cover was lifted and the rice thoroughly mixed with the ingredients before eaten. It does look pretty plain but the taste was good, thanks to the "secret" broth it was cooked in.
Right at the start.. what's inside
Ready to eat
Give it a good mix
Sukiyaki (RM26.90), the Japanese style hot pot can either be a hit or miss for me, depending on the sukiyaki broth (I don't like it too sweet). I have to say the sukiyaki here is decent as the broth is to my liking. The hotpot includes slices of beef, nage negi (Japanese onions), tofu, enoki mushrooms, carrots, garland chrysanthemum leaves and cabbage which is also cooked tableside and then an egg can be poured over the broth when cooking is almost complete or used as a dip for the beef. (The staff can teach how to cook each dish as it is served)
Make sure not to overcook your beef slices
The tonpeiyaki (RM17.90) is a speciality dish from Osaka made from savory beef, shredded cabbage, tempura flakes, spring onions and stuffed into a cheese-filled Japanese omelet. Drizzled with mayonnaise, okonomiyaki saue and mustard, this was messy but taste oh-so-good.
The wafu pizza (RM17.90) is a thin-crust pizza topped with teriyaki chicken, mayo and nage negi. Perfect as a beer snack.
Instead of the usual grilled unagi topping, we had the anago tempura maki (RM18.90). Anago is a type of salt water eel with a softer texture when compared to unagi. The end bits were the best since you get to taste the anago tempura properly.
The hotate butter yaki (RM14.90) is the worldwide no.1dish as voted by Watami's diners. This was undoubtedly my favorite dish of the evening as well, in fact it was clearly obvious to everyone there that I loved scallops as my eyes were filled with LOVE when I took my first scallop. ;P The oven-baked scallops was served with shimeji mushrooms, topped with butter on a sizzling hot plate.I counted 7 scallops on each plate --very reasonably priced, I would say. This gets my vote too!
The chicken katsu tamago toji (RM19.90) is chicken katsu with scrambled egg sauce. The sauce is left to simmer tableside for 2 minutes before pouring the beaten egg onto the chicken katsu. We were told that this was available on their set lunch, complete with a drink and salad for RM19.90. (not sure how portion size would compare)
Chicken katsu (without the scrambled egg sauce)
Dessert was matcha tiramisu (RM9.90) (no idea why I haven't got a photo of this) which was pretty good and the ichigo creamy parfait (strawberry) (RM12.90). Hubby and I also shared one of the big drinks (not joking when they called it big!) - the passionfruit tea (RM12.90) which I quite enjoyed as it was appetizing and had black pearls in them.
For those who like their sashimi, 6 types is priced at RM49.90 - I know where to come to get my sashimi fix next time. Will report back on freshness! Please visit their website for their full a la carte menu as well as special set lunch and dinner menus.
Opening times: 11am to 10pm.
Location: Watami Malaysia @ Pavilion KL, C4.04.00, Level 4, Pavilion KL Shopping Mall, 168, Jalan Bukit Bintang, 55100 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. (Watami is also available in 1 Utama and opening soon in The Paradigm, Kelana Jaya)
Tel: +603-2141 6671
*This is an invited review.