Beyond Sashimi and Sushi

Roku Japanese Sake & Dining

Pictures by Gisele Soo

It was in Tokyo many many moons ago that I had my first taste of sushi and sashimi. At first bite I had issues with the texture and the ‘rawness’ of it but together with the wasabi and the shoyu, I soon became smitten.

In those halcyon days, I was an impoverished freelance writer and model; sushi was expensive, especially as I developed a penchant for Toro, Uni and Ikura (some of the more expensive items). So my education in sushi and sashimi appreciation took a fair amount of time as I had to save up for a meal.

At the time, Japanese food was relatively unknown around the world (early 70s) unlike today where there is at least one Japanese eatery in every shopping mall in all parts of the world.

Today however, I am wary of eating raw fish as horror stories abound about parasites, liver flukes and the like as well as the dreaded hepatitis which may lurk in your piece of raw fish. So I choose my Japanese restaurants with care and focus on a mainly seared or cooked meal.

The newly opened Roku Japanese Sake & Dining has a lovely ambiance decorated with Japanese lanterns and colorful posters on the walls. The tables are well spaced out and the service is prompt.

We started with Char Siew Ramen. The ramen noodles were made in-house, al dente and chewy. The Char Siew, also made in-house, was the Japanese variety, thick cut with no food coloring, and very generous portions. The broth made from pork bones with its brawny, rich flavor, makes this dish shine. RM26.90.

Char Siew Ramen

I asked for Chawanmushi because I love steamed eggs, especially the way the Japanese do it. What arrived was an Unagi Ebiko Chawanmushi (not on the menu) with chunks of the grilled Japanese Eel on top with a generous dollop of Ebiko (shrimp eggs). The egg custard was steamed just right and usually it is loaded with MSG but surprisingly I didn’t detect any and didn’t feel a reaction afterwards either. 

Unagi Ebiko Chawanmushi

Another delish treat for me is the Salt Roasted Squid. I have tried doing this at home as squid is so abundant here but never succeeded in getting the charred effect around the edges and yet leaving the body firm and slightly chewy. I prefer this to the one with sauce as I always find the sauce too sweet and for me, ruins my squid. Here at Roku, it is perfect. RM35.90.

Salt Roasted Squid

The next dish was a grilled Snow Fish collar. When I searched Google as to what exactly is snow fish, called Gindara Kama in Japanese, I had a confounding set of options, some say it is Black Cod, while others claim it is Silver Cod. In English, gindara is generally called “black cod,” but its formal name is “sablefish.” 

Whatever it is, the xuě yú is totally melt-in-mouth tender, full of healthy essential fatty acids and  heaven in a mouthful. Lightly grilled and salted, it tasted ocean fresh but I knew it couldn’t have come from our local seas and was likely to be flash frozen. Market price.

Gindara Kama

I usually avoid lobsters in local restaurants. As lobster is not native to our shores, they are always frozen and in the wrong Cook’s hands, can taste dry and stringy. The Lobster Mentai Cheese is similar to the western lobster Thermidor but with a difference. Half was covered with cheese while the other half had a mayo sauce mixed with Ebiko, the latter accentuating the briny umami of the lobster meat which was firm and fresh tasting. RM118.

Losbter Mentai Cheese

Next we had an assortment of Sushi, prepared by the friendly sushi chef, Ah Yien. Four types were on a wooden stepped presentation tray each with its own unique toppings. There were the Torched Maguro sushi, velvety with a lightly charred aroma (not on menu so ask for price); Kani Mentai Sushi, surimi crab legs topped with bonito flakes, RM8.90 for 2 pcs; Hamachi Sushi, yellow tail, which was lightly charred and topped with Ikura or salmon eggs and was unctuous and yummilicious while the Hotate (Japanese scallop) sushi was topped with a creamy sauce, tender and irresistible. (Ask for price as it is also not on the menu) All are highly recommended.

 

The Volcano was a mysterious square mound of rice mixed with crabstick and Kurage (jellyfish) topped with ebiko which gives a lovely soft crunch, as well as masses of bonito flakes. The sauce is quite sweet but it gives the whole dish loads of umami and the real gold leaf flake was the creme de la creme. For a person who doesn’t usually enjoy sweet dishes, I found this Volcano quite delectable and agreeable. RM26.90.

Volcano

Having opened only a month ago, Roku Japanese Dining can look forward to quite a following if they keep up with this delivery. 

Do note, however, that they will be changing their menu soon and the future prices of the dishes featured here may not be the same as listed in the article. 

 

Roku Japanese Sake & Dining
27 , Jalan Medan Ipoh 1 , Bandar Baru Medan Ipoh 31400 Ipoh, Perak.

Business hours:
11.30am – 2.30pm; 6.00pm – 10.00pm
Closed on Wednesdays

 

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