July 1, 2013

Watami, Japanese Casual Restaurant: Going Porky & Unveiling Their New Grand Feast!

Feasting on New Modern and Classic Japanese Dishes with a Porky Touch!

I could never resist Japanese food… or maybe any kind for the matter… wink! When a recent invited landed and stated that a new grand feast awaits at Watami, Japanese Casual Restaurant, I knew my day could not get any better than this. Watami has been around for a bit and serves up luscious modern and classic Japanese cuisine in major malls in the city. The name of the restaurant goes back to the name of its founder, Watanabe Miki. Established in 1984, the Watami group is huge, garnering over 600 outlets in Japan itself and 50 across Asia Pacific.

I have been to Watami before and enjoyed some of their dishes. To give credit to this restaurant, their menu is huge, boasting over 100 dishes with lots of various types of Japanese delights to cater to all. The ambiences across the outlets are themed in natural and warm ambience to create its signature lively and casual tavern concept. Expect lots of wood, splashes of red and warm lighting to set the mood for comfort as one dines and wines at the restaurants.

Our evening was dedicated to Watami Japanese Casual Dining Restaurant Malaysia unveiling 20 exciting new creations including a new pork menu in a grand feast at its flagship outlet in 1Utama. We were hosted by Mr. Nelson Wang, Vic President of Operations and Business Development, Chaswood Group who proudly took us through its new menu with the addition of pork. Every dish goes through stringent quality control at Watami and the HQ even does quality checks on every outlet often as advised by Mr. Wang.

Watami’s menu is simply made for drooling! Pages after pages of photos and dishes are enticing and there is even recommendation of drinks and sake pairing with the dishes on each page of the new menu. All organized by various categories, drooling… oops, I mean ordering is quite a feat at Watami!

Drinks are plenty and I enjoyed a refreshing Kiwi Mojito (RM10.90) while my partner had Passionfruit Green Tea (RM13.90). I like mine a lot with small bits of kiwi and lots of minty flavors.

Puchi Tomato Butaniku Maki Kushi, Unagi Chawanmushi & Tamago Sushi

The feast started off with Pork & Cherry Tomato Roll Skewer, steamed Eel Chawanmushi and a sweet Egg Sushi. You simply can’t go wrong with crispy savory pork with a burst of cherry tomato juice! Simply but delicious. Fans of the steamed egg custard would enjoy this classic updated with soft sweet and savory eel pieces. Tamago sushi maybe basic but I have always love this sushi for its sweetness as an ending touch to raw seafood sushi.

Salmon Sashimi Salad (RM16.90)

Healthy greens are nicely and lightly dressed with tangy grapefruit vinaigrette and crowned with salmon sashimi. This one has a good dose of raw onions, seaweed and nuts for various textures and flavors.

Hiroshima-fu Okonomiyaki (RM18.90)

An ardent fan of Japanese pancake, this one is hearty and soulful. The last time I had the beef version but this round, I was glad that they make this with pork and shrimp among the usual ingredients. Doused with a layer of piquant brown okonomiyaki sauce and Aonori bonito flakes, there is even an entertainment of the flakes dancing on the heat of the pancake. Yum…

Kankoku Butechigae (RM25.90)

It’s a Korean-style army hot pot bubbling away in the Kankoku Butechigae. Lots of ingredients goes into this pot like pork belly slices, sea clams, vegetables, Korean rice cake, kimchi, ramen, tofu, mushrooms and more in a spicy hot pot soup. It’s quite a good portion and truly warming for those who loves some rustic spicy stew!

Anago Tempura Maki (RM12.90)

Sea eel has a smoother and creamier taste to the regular eel. Here, it is tempura battered and fried to golden crisp before being rolled up in a maki. Coupled with its usual seaweed and crunchy cucumber with nutty sesame seeds, it’s mediocre as I simply prefer to enjoy the full potential of the sea eel without the batter.

Watami Tonkatsu Ramen (RM22.90)

Watami aims to please and it did through this bowl of ramen sitting in a cloudy meaty pork broth. The salty broth lures in the umami goodness, making the ramen luscious in every slurp. To heighten further, the bowl also has medium thick pork chashu, a gorgeous creamy soft yolk egg, bamboo shoots and spring onions as condiments.

Kara Miso Ramen (RM22.90)

This one taste even better than the 1stg ramen or was it simply because I like spicy food? This broth is even creamier and more intense with the addition of miso and chili. I do have to repeat that the egg served is excellent and should be the benchmark for other ramen houses.

Ishiyaki Kaisen Garlic Rice (RM29.90)

I recommend leaving the rice to crisp up on the bottom to get nice crunchy bits in this dish. Its flavored up with dashi soy sauce, garlic butter and topped with scallops, prawns and flying fish roes. I wanted more oomph from the rice and believe that it needs more aromatic garlic bits. That said, the seafood part is really nice…

Watami Tokusei Tori Karaage (RM17.90)

Who doesn’t like fried chicken? Japanese fried chicken is usually boneless and seasoned with garlic powder before being coated in a light crumb coating and golden fried. To amp up the moist crispy chicken thighs, it is glazed with a lightly sweet karaage broth and finished with some finely sliced leeks.

Tokyo Rosu Katsu Don (RM23.90)

Though this is available almost in every Japanese restaurant, its cooked up pretty well here. High points on the thick cut lean pork loin nicely crumbed and cooked. Beneath the piece of hog, one gets the usual soft poachedegg laced in a sweet soy broth, sweet cooked onions and rice.

Chicken Katsu Kare (RM23.90)

I don’t normally enjoy Japanese curry simply because I find the sweetness odd. After tasting the curry here, I found myself changing my mind because it’s not sweet at all in this version. Glad the sweetness is thoroughly toned down, the creamy spiced laden curry paired well with the crispy chicken. I am pretty sure this one would also work wonders with a pork katsu!

Kushi Moriawase (RM 19.90)

I raved about this one in my last visit and this round, it is just a good as the last one. Basically, it’s a selection of various cuts of chicken and beef, all nicely skewered, glazed in sweet sauce and grilled to a nice light smoky char. I can’t decide which skewer is better simply because they all have different textures and flavors. This dish has chicken wing, chicken thigh, chicken gristle, beef & eringi mushroom rolls and beef & spring onion.

Jikasei Niku Miso Hayaako (RM 9.90)

This one surprised me. Chilled soft silken bean curd is topped with a spicy minced meat and leek sauce. I adored the spicy flavors contrasting boldy with the chilled soya flavor. As this was served towards the end, I only managed a small bite since I was so full from the earlier dishes. If this was served as a starter, I would gladly polish off a few pieces of this bean curd. Simply and surprisingly delicious!

Yasai Kinoko Itame (RM16.90)

Its rustic and home cook dish that has sliced pork, cabbage, carrot, Enoki mushroom, Shimeji mushroom, Shitake mushroom and bean sprout tossed in light yakisoba sauce before being served on a hot plate. Nice crunch factor from the vegetables that was lightly sautéed while the earthy choices of mushrooms add more warmth to the dish.

Salmon & Maguro Carpaccio (RM21.90)

Ok, by now, I was really ‘maximized’ by the feast. When this dish arrived, I only could really manage a small bite. Both fishes feature different sauces with salmon pairing up with a garlic sea-clam sauce and the tuna with green garlic sauce. The sauces are really fresh, tangy and vibrant in taste kicking up both fishes in an aromatic flavorful sauce.

Anchovies &Garlic Seafood Pizza (RM24.90)

One will be surprise at Japanese pizzas… so far, I had a few and most of them are pretty good. Usually thin and crispy, the one here is loaded up with a nice amount of assorted seafood. This one was pretty good, so much so it was polished off so far before I got a photo of it!

The feast certainly opens up my eyes to what Watami has to offer. The above is only a small part of its menu. Plus points for Watami are the wide range of dishes available, offering classics and modern ones and its warm and inviting ‘ishokuya’ ambience. Service is still as good as the last time I visited too. Don’t just take my word, head over for a bite and the Ishokuya experience!

Watami Malaysia @ 1 Utama
1st Floor, Rainforest, 1 Utama Shopping Centre,
1 Lebuh Bandar Utama,
47800 Petaling Jaya, Selangor.
T: +603-7727 1399

Watami Malaysia @ Pavilion KL
C4.04.00, Level 4, Pavilion KL Shopping Mall,
168, Jalan Bukit Bintang,
55100 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
T: +603-2141 6671

Watami Malaysia @ Paradigm Mall
Lot 07, Level 1, Paradigm Mall,
1, Jalan SS7/ 26A, Kelana Jaya,
47301 Petaling Jaya, Selangor.
T: +603-7886 9661


  1. Ya, the egg in the ramen is simply perfect!

  2. No thanks for the salmon sashimi salad, would prefer to savor them separately LOL, i will aim for the ramen! shall mark it down for my next trip down to KL since pavilion has an outlet, it shouldn't be a problem in finding :P

  3. Kankoku Butechigae is good for me! =D but how come japanese also got pizza!

  4. I love the army hotpot especially when there is noodle in it, slurp....

  5. I agreed that their menu is huge! So many varieties...and the food is not bad too.

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