Hi, guys! I wanted to show you something a little different for today’s post.
I’ve really been digging into all the new Japanese food spots that have opened in Penang recently. It’s a pretty new experience for me, coming from a very Indian and local Penang upbringing. So, with a friend in tow, I went Japanese food hopping the other weekend. Here’s a three interesting places you might enjoy!
Snacks at Fuku in George Town
Fuku Eatery and Desserts is a cafe restaurant, book and merchandise store as well as a chocolate bar in George Town. It’s a a lot of things at once! Luckily, the food is good. Like, suprisingly good.
Since it was brunch time, we ordered light (ish). We got the sweet potato croquette, tori karaage (fried chicken mmm) and fries. The croquettes were good, but the tori karaage was one of the best I’ve ever had. Perfect amount of spice for my Penang palate, a nice cooling mayo sauce to complement it, and a fresh tangy burst of flavour from the lemon. I’m definitely going back for it.
And by the way, make sure to stop by the chocolate bar. The chocolate is good, made in Malaysia and they have an assortment of very interesting flavours to try. Great for souvenirs!
Sushi Lunch with a View at Akiyoshi in Jelutong
Akiyoshi just opened recently, and they’re branding themselves as an izakaya-style bar in Penang. Informed by several Japanese shows on Netflix, I can tell you that izakaya means “informal bar.“ I’m not sure what a formal bar is, or how high it’s been set, but I’ll get back to you.
We ordered the small sushi platter and honestly, it was pretty fun having a few drinks, eating sushi and looking out at the sea. I’m no sushi connoisseur, but I thought the ones here was alright. Nothing really bowled me over, but it was fair fun and they had a beer promotion going. I’d come back with friends who prefer more subtle sushi flavours, especially if we’re planning on drinks.
Donburi Dinner at Isaribi Tei in George Town
I’m going to come out and say that I really, really love Isaribi Tei. Why? Well for one, the food is damned good. It doesn’t feel watered down or overly-localised for the Penang crowd. Secondly, the guy who runs this place is grumpy. Not rude or unpleasant, just a grumpy old guy. And I love it.
Look, when you do what I do for a living, you eat in a lot of restaurants. Food trucks, vendor stalls, I’ve been to quite a few. And when you find a place that has character and isn’t afraid to be itself, you hang on to it. This place is one of those.
The reviews on Google are divisive. The owner will give you a lecture about asking for extra wasabi and not finishing it. There aren’t any young adults in uniform to greet you with a preppy Kon'nichiwa and a bow while they slowly die inside. In short, you’re going to love it, or hate it.
For our visit, we ordered salmon croquette (deja vu), ebi (shrimp) gyoza - which I forgot to take pictures of, rainbow maki sushi and kaisen katsu donburi. The last one is a rice bowl with fried fish and oyster omelette.
All of it was really good, but you already know that. I don’t have any training in Japanese cooking, but I immediately tasted the difference in the sushi. The rice preparation adds so much great texture and flavour. I cant really think of any other sushi place I’ve been to here that did it so well.
The kaisen katsu took a bit of getting used to on my part. Most of the donburi in Penang are chicken katsu curry or some variation of that. The salty, briny sea flavours here took me by suprise. I really grew to enjoy it, but I can’t seem to find any information online about this type of donburi. If you know anything, leave a comment!
Also, the sake was good and I got pretty tipsy. Bonus!
Food Experiences are Human Experiences
“So what’s up with all the Japanese food lately, Danny?” I hear you ask. Well, I believe that food is a way into a place - into someone’s home, their experiences, even their hearts. There isn’t a type of cooking more diametrically contradictory to Indian cooking than Japanese cooking, in my mind. The philosophy of flavour and ingredients are completely different.
So, I’m on a journey to learn a different worldview. And I’m doing it by eating really delicious Japanese food. Pretty good deal! I hope you enjoy being on this journey with me. Until next time, guys :)