14 February, 2016

Taste of Aomori Prefecture in Japan @ Senya Family Izakaya, Publika

Before the bloom of cherry blossoms, let's enjoy some sweet apples first!

If I were given a chance, I'd certainly love to travel to Aomori and enjoy the colder side of Japan myself! Aomori Prefecture is the northernmost city on Honshu, Japan's main island. The weather is much colder than the rest of Japan, hence the fruits, vegetables, and seafood produced are much sweeter and juicier in Aomori, especially during the winter season now!

In fact, Aomori is the best producer of apples throughout Japan! Not only that, Aomori also has plenty of good quality fresh seafood such as squids, scallops and saba (mackerel).

Although not all of us may not have the opportunity to visit Aomori, we are lucky because the freshest ingredients from Aomori are now imported into Malaysia, and exclusively available at Senya Family Izakaya Japanese Restaurant in Publika, Solaris Dutamas. 

Aomori Fair 2016 at Senya Family Izakaya

From 15th to 29th February 2016, Senya Family Izakaya in collaboration with Aomori Prefecture of Japan, will be serving 10 special dishes using exclusive ingredients all the way from Aomori. There is a contest held on Senya's Facebook Page too: facebook.com/senya.solaris.dutamas!

The interior of Senya resembles a casual Japanese gastropub where diners can relax and drink after work.  Like many Izakaya in Japan, Senya offers both traditional Japanese tatami seating as well as high chairs seating by the bar.

Families or large groups are welcomed to occupy the private rooms for better privacy, and it is
conveniently equipped with a LCD screen where you can make your order electronically.


 Aomori Apple with Pork Belly Skewer @ RM6

First to tantalize our palate is the appetizer that features preserved Aomori apples wrapped in charcoal-grilled pork belly. The pork belly exudes nice aroma of charred goodness on its own, but it is the sweet apple chunks that further accentuate the flavours and give intense sweetness to the skewer. Simply appetizing!

Do you know that 90% of apples exported from Japan are from Aomori?
They are extra crunchy and sweet down the throat!


Fried Aomori Baby Scallop and Long Bean Sprout @ RM25

Next up is something new to me, as I have not tried such long Japanese bean sprout before. It is not only crunchier and sweeter than the usual bean sprout, but also more nutritious, with higher content of Vitamin B, C and E. The flavour is perfectly combined with the oceanic sweetness from the fresh Aomori baby scallops.  

Grilled Aomori Squid with Guts @  RM22

The third dish is another unique dish which is not commonly available in normal Japanese restaurants here. In fact, it is a traditional Aomori dish, mainly eaten by fishermen. The freshness of the Aomori squid is very important to create this very strongly flavored, but tasty dish. Otherwise, it will exude a stinky stench that is totally a huge turnoff.

At Senya, I am glad that the savoury guts are made of only fresh Aomori squids, which can also be eaten as sashimi with a zest of lemon and spring onion. Overall, it is a great snack that pairs well with shochu and sake! 


Aomori Baby Scallop Kakiage Tempura @  RM19.80

A classic epitome of Japanese cuisine, it surprises me with an amazingly light and greaseless coating on the chopped vegetables and seafood. The Aomori baby scallop tempura is airy and crisp outside, and gives a sweet and tender juiciness inside. 


Vinegared Saba Sushi @ RM22.80

Oshizushi is something I have always wanted to try. It is a box-pressed sushi (unlike the usual hand-pressed sushi), hence denser in texture and gives more intense flavours when filled with egg, cucumber, sakura denbu and kanpyo.

The pressed, cured Aomori Mackerel sushi is heaven on a rice cube: So fresh, moist and ungreasy, especially during winter season as Saba fish has thicker layer of fats to protect themselves from cold temperature. Nicely cured with delicate sauce too. Best mackerel ever! 


Nanbu Aomori Senbei Hot Pot @ RM19

I have heard about this specialty nabe from Aomori, named Senbei Jiru, a traditional soy sauce broth with vegetables, chicken and mushrooms. But the special ingredient used here is the Nanbu Senbei, slices of rice flour crackers (on the right side of the above picture).


Once cooked in the broth, the Senbei gets soften and becomes chewy like the “al dente” texture we enjoy in pasta. It absorbs the sweetness from the broth well, and serves great as a snack. Also a staple diet and alcohol side dish in Aomori!


Aomori Seafood Barachirashi Don @ RM33.80

But my top favourite among all is this bowl of happiness, generously loaded with premium Aomori Baby Scallop, Squid, Vinegared Saba, white Scallop and Yam. Combined with tuna, fish roes, Japanese omelette and cucumber, I am sure you can't get such huge portion of rich oceanic sweetness elsewhere at this price. Perfect for raw fish lovers! 


Pork Don with Preserved Aomori Apple @ RM23.80

Senya's signature dish is no other than the Pork Don. Initially I thought the topping is unagi (grilled eel), but no, it is the thinly-sliced pork, coated with sweet caramelized homemade teriyaki style barbecue sauce.

Crowned with preserved apples that have been desugared and accented with lemon flavour, the pork don tastes fresher and less greasy or heavy on the palate. This unique combination is definitely a winning taste for both young and old! 


Aomori Baby Scallop Miso Curry Milk Ramen @ RM22.80

When it comes to Japanese curry, I've always thought it is very sweet, rich and thick like the katsu curry sauce. And I'm surprised to taste the Aomori recipe that uses milk and a slab of butter in curry to create a very light, milky broth that does not overpower the natural sweetness from Aomori baby scallops. Delicious and comforting! 



Cream Cheese Snow Mountain and Aomori Apple Sorbet with Cinnamon Cookie @ RM16

As the finale of our sumptuous meal, we are treated with more Aomori apples. Sitting on crusty cinnamon cookies is a duo combination of light cream cheese mousse with apple chunks, and a scoop of refreshing Aomori apple sorbet with a chewy slice of dried apple. The synchronization of textures and sweetness is just perfect and suitable even for non-dessert lovers!

To celebrate the Aomori Fair from 15th to 29th February 2016, you can vote for the most popular dish among the 10 dishes above via:

1. Senya's Facebook Page: facebook.com/senya.solaris.dutamas (Like the photo of the dish).
2. Senya Solaris restaurant: Write the dish name on the paper and put it into the ballot box.

At the end of February, the most popular dish will be announced, and the lucky 10 people who vote for that particular dish will win RM100 Senya vouchers! 

Verdict:
1. Aomori's apples and seafood indeed have distinctive flavours that you can't taste elsewhere in Malaysia!
2. Considering the premium imported ingredients used and huge serving portions, Senya Family Izakaya is a wonderful family-friendly place to enjoy truly authentic Japanese cuisine without burning a hole in the pocket. 
3. Recommended: Aomori Apple with Pork Belly Skewer, Fried Aomori Baby Scallop and Long Bean Sprout, Aomori Seafood Barachirashi Don, and Pork Don with Preserved Aomori Apple

Senya Family Izakaya
D5-G3-5,
Publika Solaris Dutamas,
No.1, Jalan Dutamas 1,
50480 Kuala Lumpur.
Contact: +603-6205 4999
Facebook: fb.com/senya.solaris.dutamas

Business Hours:
Mon: 5:30pm - 12:00am
Tues - Sat: 12:00pm - 2:30pm, 5:30pm - 12:00am
Sun: 12:00pm - 2:30pm, 5:00pm - 11:00pm
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