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Eating buddies might like the endearing idea behind this izakaya

The concept of “eating buddies” from the Japanese words tabe tomo is the premise behind opening a Japanese restaurant in Plaza Batai.

The Japanese culture of dining out, with friends, at an izakaya was endearing to Tabe Tomo proprietor Kelvin Teh, who was eager to replicate the idea here.

Teh liked how white-collared Japanese workers would head off to yakitori bars or an izakaya after work to mingle with their buddies.

“The Japanese culture of unwinding after work is interesting.

“They go to izakaya or yakitori bars to relax and indulge in small bites, and spend time with friends,” said Teh, who initially started Tabe Tomo as a yakitori bar and subsequently changed it to a modern Japanese dining place after discussions with his business partners from Japan.

The Japanese partners own and operate a chain of food and beverage restaurants in Tokyo with four brands and 39 restaurants, while one supplies sake in Tokyo.

Opening a Japanese restaurant seemed like the next step for Teh and his wife Vivianne Chia, the owners of Nomi Tomo Sake House, a sake distributor.

They have also been operating the Nomi Tomo Sake Bar in Plaza Damansara for the last two years.

To give diners an authentic Japanese dining experience, Tabe Tomo welcomed the partners’ grand chef from Tokyo to customise a menu for the restaurant.

“Initially, the yakitori we served was too salty and we had to work with the chef to tone down the amount of salt used as Malaysians were not used to it,” said Teh.

This pork-free eatery plates up original and modernised yakitori and other savoury dishes in small plates.

Flip through the menu and you will find only chicken dishes and some beef items as well as a selection of Japanese beer and sake.

Dinner started off with an amuse-bouche of cream cheese pickled in soya sauce, deep-fried chicken skin and homemade tofu.

In keeping things simple, we were then served fresh Caeser Salad topped with Yakiniku Beef and Caramelised Onion followed by yakitori servings of chicken thigh, chicken neck, chicken wings, chicken fillet with wasabi and chicken tail.

The dish that got our taste buds excited was the hearty slow-cooked chicken and beef soup – Tori To Gyun No Shionikomi.

The Japanese, according to Teh, prefer using chicken skin to make soup.

This tasty soup with garlic and ginger as well as chicken skin and innards takes four hours to prepare.

The other chicken dish we liked was the Negi Dori – cold steamed chicken with ginger sauce – similar to the Chinese version of steamed chicken with ginger.

Then there was the Rosuto Bifu – roast beef with mashed potato, topped with soft boiled egg yolk.

Mashed potato is fashioned into a mound, then encircled with pinkish roast beef and finished off with soft boiled egg yolk delicately placed at the peak.

To get the best out of this dish, break the yolk and let it run through the crevices.

Combine the meat, egg and mashed potatoes in one spoonful and relish the moment!

Another noteworthy potato, beef and egg dish was the Tamago Korokke.

This one has half-boiled egg wrapped in a mashed potato croquette with bits and pieces of beef.

For diners who prefer something a little more hearty, ask for the Ushi No Shio Reakatsu (deep-fried medium rare Angus beef cutlet, with carrot puree and cabbage salad).

This particular dish comes with a mini griddle that will keep hot for about half an hour.

You are advised to experiment with the beef cutlet by spreading some carrot puree on it, then placing it on the griddle or be creative with how you want to cook your meat.

Do sprinkle some salt on the beef, otherwise you might find it bland.

The Tsukune-Onigura also has a sizzling aspect to it.

This homemade chicken meatball is served on a sizzling plate, topped with onion gratin and cheese.

Other chicken yakitori dishes recommended are Sasami-Oroshiponzu (chicken white meat paired with grated radish and citrus sauce) and Seseri Negisio Remon (chicken neck meat paired with salted leek and lemon).

To steer off the chicken trail, place an order for Karamen Dorai (dry udon with original spicy sauce) or Toridashi Chazuke (rice in chicken and bonito soup stock).

For the sweet toothed, the Sumoku Chizu (homemade Japanese smoked cheese) and Rezunbata (cream cheese raisin butter with crackers) will make your day.

TABE TOMO, No 8-1A, First Floor, Jalan Batai, Damansara Heights, Kuala Lumpur. (Tel: 03-7958 2928) Business hours: 5pm to 1am. Closed on Sunday.

This is the writer’s personal observation and not an endorsement by StarMetro.

Published at Sat, 05 Aug 2017 02:45:00 +0000