Nikai, which translates to "upstairs", is located above Lao Jiu Lou and is an izakaya, a Japanese drinking bar whereby you can enjoy drinks with Japanese food. Compared to his other eateries, Nikai exudes a zen, modern feel with lots of stone and wood elements, and has a sushi bar, bar area and main dining area, as well as some private rooms.
From the simple one-page menu, diners can choose from koryori course or a la carte items such as sashimi, sushi, side dishes, gohan, or salads. Drinks on offer include beer, sake or shochu. We decided to order two Koryori courses, the Cobra (with three types sashimi - RM35) and the Anaconda (with five types of sashimi - RM55).
Koryori-ya is a style of eating, popular in Tokyo, whereby fresh, seasonal Japanese dishes are served in small plates. Both sets come with five types of daily appetizers, a sashimi platter, as well as sushi. For the Anaconda set, it also comes with an extra fried dish.
Soon after we placed our order, the appetizers arrived. Nothing fancy, however they were all well-prepared and tasted good. We especially liked the goma tofu, with its rich and smooth texture. Other appetizers include ohitashi (Japanese spinach), salmon on pickled vege, pickles and braised daikon with minced chicken.
Goma tofu - rich and smooth
Fried salmon on pickled vegetables - a slight heat from the cili padi in the pickled vege
Braised daikon with minced chicken
The unusual sashimi selection certainly surprised us, as they were not run of the mill types we expected. The Cobra came with marinated salmon cubes, cured mackarel and sea cucumber sashimi, whereas the Anaconda set comes with the three previously mentioned, plus tai and kibinago sashimi. We have eaten cooked sea cucumber many times, but it was certainly our first in sashimi form. The texture was soft, with firm, crunchy edges. Kibinago is a small fish, we were told, and upon googling we found out it was silver-stripe round herring - another first for us. The sashimi was served with grated wasabi, as well as ginger two ways - finely chopped and marinated in shoyu (soy sauce) as well as finely grated with fresh lemon.
Cobra - three types of sashimi
Anaconda - five types of sashimi
The fried dish for the day was deep fried gobo tempura, which was nice and light.
We were also served 3 pieces of sushi, with tuna neck filling... we could see the fatty marbling on the fish and the texture was somewhat like tuna belly. Very enjoyable :)
Overall, we enjoyed our experience here at Nikai - service was polite and efficient, and the meal itself was unique. The portions are quite small, however that is the intended serving portions for koryori. You can always head downstairs for udon, if you're still hungry - a good back-up plan don't you agree?;)
Opening times: Dinner only Tue-Sun 7pm till late, last food orders 11pm. Closed on Mondays.
Price: Total bill RM94.
Location: Nikai Restaurant, First floor, No. 25A, Jalan Bukit Desa 5, Taman Bukit Desa, 58100 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
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