|Watami storefront in Paradigm Mall|
Watami Japanese Casual Dining Restaurant is a place that we've always peeked into as we walk past in 1Utama. Mainly because there are some yummy smells wafting out, and also because we can't really see much from the entrance. /curious
We never got around to trying it out, and as luck would have it, we finally got our chance in the form of an invite to sample their new menu at Paradigm Mall awhile back.
Having just tried the food at their Korean "cousin" Bulgogi Brothers (both are owned and operated by Chaswood) not long ago, we were excited to give Watami a try, since we heard fun things about the food.
|Dim lighting - good for that "unwinding" ambiance after work.|
Why fun? Watami is Japanese dining, hands-on communal style, where food is meant to be shared amidst good conversation. (Actually, I think I would call it Japanese "tapas", perhaps? :D)
The first item to hit our tables with much hungry fanfare, was the Kani Kamameshi (RM 24.90), a crab meat rice in a stonepot. However, we couldn't touch it yet, because this particular dish has to simmer in over the fire for another good 15 minutes or so. The smell as the steam slowly spills out is pure torture - I think everyone agreed!
Finally, the cover was lifted to rumbling tummies, revealing a top layer of crab stick slivers and a smattering of tobiko.
The rice was then given a good, thorough mix to ensure that the flavours are even. This is where the Watami concept is evident where they encourage you to be hands-on with your food (though we were guilty as charged of letting the waiter assist us :p). There will be opportunities to stir, barbecue, and of course divide your food up for sharing.
Unfortunately, while the tantalizing smell from the stonepot set our expectations high for this dish, it didn't impress, taste-wise. The crab stick was plentiful, but overall, lacking in the seafood sweetness that only real crab meat would have provided. Also pretty pricey for the portion and ingredients used, we reckon.
The appetizers that came while we were waiting for the Kani Kamameshi to cook, fared much better. One of our favourites was this Bariuma Teba Karaage (RM 14.90), which tasted like it had been marinated well. The wings turned out delightfully crispy without being overcooked on the inside, and coated with an appetizing sweet glaze, which we enjoyed. Do note that you only get the wing with this dish, and not the drummet.
The Kani Tappuri Cream Croquette (RM 15.90 for two pieces) was another one of our favourites, and I think perhaps also one of the crowd favourites of our session that night. The deep fried crabmeat cream croquette had nice crunchy bite to it, paired with a light and tasty crab cream filling. The textures were very well done and not oily, the flavour just right.
The Salmon Sashimi Don (RM 22.90) was next, and my heart skipped a beat. Nothing can beat the lustrous orange of some plump, well-sliced salmon. The salmon served here was coated with some additional sauce, leading to that glossy sheen you see in the picture. This was a dish with good intentions, but Adam & I ended up just eating the fresh pieces of salmon and rarely anything else. I do wish the slices would have been thicker, but that being said, I would likely reserve my order for some salmon (sushi, not a whole rice don) at a Japanese restaurant instead of a fusion place like Watami. I think there are more interesting things to try here!
If fish is not your thing, then surely some well-marbled red meat could get you all excited, flustered even?
The Wafu Touban Gyu Steak (RM 27.90), self grilled beef short ribs with impressive marbling, came in small bite sized pieces for us to cook over the hot plate. Butter was used, with the pumpkin and potato going in first.
This was tasty, especially when only lightly cooked to a medium done-ness (see the pink!?). Interesting dipping sauces were provided to accompany the beef, but Adam & I preferred to have the beef on its own, enjoying those natural meaty juices. This may be a little too pricey for the amount of meat that you get - not for you if you need a hearty piece of meat to sink your teeth into.
The Tokyo Gyudon (RM 22.90) attracted lots of oohs and aahs, I'm sure because of the perfectly runny egg that was served as a crown on this Gyudon. Extra marks for presentation because I loved the mix of colours - the vibrant yolk yellow, the rich brown of the meat with the sprinkling of greens and sesame white. :p
Again, in line with interacting with your food before you eat it, you are encouraged to give it a good mix yourself, but the friendly waiter was ready to give us a hand. I think it's a good thing he did, because he went at it so fastidiously that all flavours were well mixed together. This dish was already a little on the salty side for me (okay for Adam though!) and if not mixed well, could have overly salty spots of rice like what some of the others experienced.
Some of the drinks we had (from L-R): Purple Sweet Potato Vanilla Shake (RM 14.90), Passionfruit Tea (RM 13.90) and the Fresh Kiwi Mojito (RM 10.90).
The sweet potato shake had a nice sweet potato flavour, but the texture was far too thick for it to go down nicely. It was also extremely filling! Having just come from Namoo on the Park recently and trying their Sweet Potato Latte, I think the texture of this pales in comparison. Having it slightly less thicker would be a good improvement. :)
The Passionfruit Tea and Fresh Kiwi Mojito (non-alcoholic) on the other hand were great, refreshing picks with the Passionfruit Tea in particular being good for sharing due to its size.
After a little break, we were ready for dessert and the Shiratama Cream Anmistsu Dumpling (RM 11.90), a tiny Japanese style sundae comprising of Matcha Ice Cream, some fruits and cream. Also present were tiny dumplings, reminiscent of our glutinous rice balls (tong yuen) eaten during Winter Solstice. The green tea ice cream was nice, but nothing was special about this dessert. I would recommend giving this a miss and instead attack the next one...
The Chocolate Banana in Toast Box (RM 16.90) was something of a sight to behold. The thick toast was dusted with icing sugar and drizzled all over with chocolate. Saliva glands start to open up...
Then, you cut it open and discover a treasure chest of bananas and berries, all of which a total sinful combination when eaten with the generously buttered, crunchy toast and vanilla ice cream. Watami's menu has a calorie count on each dish for weight watchers, and this dessert has the highest count of them all. Great for sharing, because you'll never finish one on your own (and I'm not so sure you should! Haha.)
We left Watami feeling utterly satiated that night and in good company - a big thank you to Watami/Chaswood and RAPR for that. The new menu we sampled contained some hits and some misses but food aside, it was an enjoyable dining experience having the food mixed and cooked at your table. We feel food is a little on the pricey side (though there's quite a value-for-money lunch menu), and not somewhere we would go if we wanted a quick, filling dinner. I would say Watami is best tried with a group of friends, much like what their "casual dining" concept suggests. We hear their original menu is pretty good, so we might give that a try one day with friends!
Full set of photos can be on our Facebook here - Watami Paradigm Mall photoset
Watami Japanese Casual Dining Restaurant | Site
Paradigm Mall, Lot 07, Level 1,
No. 1, Jalan SS7/ 26A, Kelana Jaya,
47301 Petaling Jaya, Selangor.
Tel: +6 03 7886 9661
47301 Petaling Jaya, Selangor.
Tel: +6 03 7886 9661
Opening Hours: Daily, 10am-10pm