The Hidden Gems in Station 18, Ipoh
The M Makan Kakis are off to find some great eats in Ipoh again. This time, we are reviewing an outlet in our sister property, M Boutique Station 18. In fact, we have been keeping it a secret.. shhh. In there, lies a Japanese Restaurant which we are proud to present. Mizakaya Japanese Restaurant. The M Makan Kakis were craving for some ‘oishi’ goodness. We looked no further and drove to Mizakaya spontaneously. Greeting us at the door was Michael, the restaurant manager with his welcoming smile. He sat us at the table with the best lighting to allow us to get some snazzy shots.
The word Mizakaya came from the word, Izakaya, which means Japanese bar in which a variety of small, typically inexpensive, dishes and snacks are served to accompany the alcoholic drinks. It incorporated “M“ into it in keeping with the M Boutique brand (No, we don’t own or manage this restaurant directly, bit has some ties to us). Mizakaya showcases elements of our style in each corner. Wooden tables mixed with metal and director chairs. Mizakaya decorated with sakura flowers as accents.
Mizakaya Ipoh created after the demise of Myth Espresso Bar via a refresh and transformed into a Japanese Restaurant. We knew that it would face tough competition but seeing it pick up successfully, the struggles were not in vain. Michael really challenged himself and brought the restaurant to better days as compared to the few hiccups since opening. He recommended us some of their signature dishes. Took around 10 minutes to serve the dish. 10 minutes flew by as our members were chatting about the vegetables bought at Aeon Station 18, Ipoh, just right next door since they made a quick stop to settle their grocery list before dinner. (Typical Baby Boomers lol)
Here Comes The First Dish!
The first dish to grace upon us was the seafood salad. Green salad with some raw salmon cubes tossed with wafu sauce. There is a choice between Wafu or Sesame sauce. Wafu, a Japanese dressing that consists of soy sauce, rice vinegar, and vegetable oil. The combination was of the salad sour and salty with a tinge of sweetness. Other ingredients in the salad were some prawn slices and some tomatoes. It was refreshing and light, prepping us for what’s coming next!
Our family members insisted on ordering the Sashimi Moriawase. They serve it with a fresh and vibrant sashimi. We can certified that the ingredients sourced are top quality. Our members gushed about the price for its portion. 3 slices each of salmon, squid, prawn, tuna, swordfish and yellowtail. They will not burn a hole in your pocket with the price of RM69.90. Each slice of fish is buttery and thick enough to make you feel satisfied.
The Unagi Fried Rice
Up next, the unagi fried rice. Unagi lovers, this dish will not disappoint. What unagi lovers usually love is the sweet sauce glaze over it. The shine and sticky sauce enhance the unagi’s flavors. Incorporating everyone’s favorite fried rice (being Asians) and the unagi was the perfect combination. Fried with Japanese rice, plump and sticky, it has a chewy texture and more moisture content. Small bits of unagi are added in the rice. Topped up with the slices of unagi and some egg. Papa said, it was an upgraded version of Yong Chow Fried Rice (Chinese Fried Rice), with loads of umami but a stong pepper aftertaste.
While we savored the fried rice, Ishikari Konabe (Salmon Soup) was served. It is placed on a portable stove. Papa was very intrigued by the mini stove. Round and compact, perfect for one. The dish was filled with rich seafood and vegetables. The soup looks light but packs a punch of flavors. Ingredients in it were tofu, vegetables and mushrooms. As the salmon simmered into it, the ingredients blended well creating the perfect harmony. This was our top choice for the night. Healthy and yummy at the same time. We kept reaching for it for servings after servings.
Bento What? Chicken Teriyaki Bento!
Next, we ordered a chicken teriyaki bento since we had too much fish. Our family members could not miss their rice and the fried rice was too little to fill all our stomachs. Getting a bento is value for money as we got almost everything and more variety. Tempura, salad, sashimi, fried octopus, pickles ( I love my pickles! They complete a true Japanese meal) Ending with some watermelon to balance out the richness. The chicken was grilled well with the teriyaki sauce. It wasn’t too dry, tender and delicious. The tempura was alright. I prefer the fried octopus over it.
To complete the meal, we ordered 2 types of sushi! Soft shell crab maki and lobster salad roll. The Soft Shell Crab Maki is a small rice roll filled with deep fried soft shell crab and covered in tobiko (flying fish roe) It was crispy and seasoned well but Papa complained that the rice used was not Japanese Rice. However, for the the price, you get and lose some. Good enough for me! Lobster Salad Roll is a deep fried sushi. Yes the sushi is deep fried topped with lobster mayo. Overall concept, love it! But our members say the rice tasted weird. I’m guessing the oil from frying made it so. It wasn’t as good as we expected to it but I will give it another chance next time.
Now the big question! For 7 dishes in Mizakaya, how much will it cost? RM250.05 inclusive of tax and services. Very affordable and worth it I must say. What are your thoughts? Service wise, we could see that Michael made sure all the guests are well taken care of. Warms smiles filled the room as we savoured our meal. I would give it a rating of 7/10 for the overall experience. Maybe I’m a little biased but good thing are meant to be shared. Right?
Papa says: It is extremely rare that I attend the M Makan Kaki’s reviews, but I came to this as it was Mizakaya, which has close ties to us. Not operated by M Boutique but tagged along as I wanted to ensure that we would not be biased; the Family member who wrote this review dines pretty frequently here, out of the 4 of us. This was the first time for the remaining 3.
Let me clarify…
Like most Malaysians, I am pretty particular about what I eat (I like strong flavours since I was brought up on Penang Island) and yes, I observed that there seemed to be 2 types of rice used in the dishes. When paired with Japanese Rice, the dish was tasty. However, what distracted me from enjoying some of the maki or sushi was they appeared to have used a rice variety closer to home, meaning there is a heavier sticky starchy aftertaste. I had an extremely bad experience at a so called ‘Japanese Restaurant’ last year when visiting M Boutique Kampar (located outside Ipoh), and this brings back those terrible memories.
Their version was not bad, but the starchy after taste is a little too dominant. However, if you look at the prices on offer, you will have a tendency to forgive them for the choice of ingredients used. Maybe I was just unlucky, perhaps they ran out of rice? Or was it the wrong ratio of sugar, water and rice vinegar? Many questions come to mind…….
I teased Michael about serving horseradish flavoured wasabi and was extremely surprised to receive the actual freshly grated one. That was the one thing that made me go, like “wow”. They actually bothered to listen to their customers. It was raining when I came over, and so the Ishikari Konobe was good to slurp as it warmed our souls on this wet, gloomy evening. It gets much better the longer it boils… as the other ingredients imparts further depth and character with every spoonful. The stove was really intriguing!
My thoughts on Mizakaya
More importantly, I noticed that the overall ambiance and service has greatly improved. Michael and his team were abuzz attending to his patrons with a fuss free smile. As mentioned, Mizakaya Ipoh is actually styled after an Izakaya, so don’t come expecting fine dining here. People are generally friendly and ever helpful. For a weekday, this restaurant was almost three quarters full.
In Ipoh, it is extremely hard to find authentic Japanese food opposed to Kuala Lumpur or Penang, however, I am of the opinion that many came to dine at Mizakaya due to its ambiance, price and friendly service. Yes, they could have paid more attention to certain finer points in terms of service, but I am not complaining. Food was fresh, and portions were generous. I left with a full stomach and spare change in my wallet. What more can you ask for?
23, Jalan Pengkalan Barat 35, Taman Pengkalan Jaya, Station 18, Ipoh, Perak
11.00 am – 3.00 pm/6.00 pm – 10.00 pm (Monday to Sunday)
NOTE : We do not eat for free, nor were we paid for this review. We ordered and paid for everything that we consume. This review is a general summary from feedback by all members of the M Boutique Family who partook in the Food Review. If you need to know more about them, don’t forget to pay a visit to their Facebook page.
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