Juu Nana Sakaba is welcoming patrons back: Many fans of Japanese fare have not managed to visit Section 17's new izakaya, which launched in March this year, promising a calm, neighbourhood-friendly hub for kushiyaki and set meals in Petaling Jaya.
Now, Juu Nana Sakaba is ready again for diners, dishing out a wider menu that includes sashimi and sushi, helmed by a head chef with 20 years of experience in Japanese cuisine.
If you love your seafood raw, Juu Nana Sakaba's selection strives to be reasonably priced.
Three customers can share the Sashimi Moriawase (RM85 for five kinds of sashimi, three slices each). What makes this platter distinctive: You can choose your own sashimi, from salmon to tuna, hamachi to hotate, shiro maguro to shime saba, amoebae to ikura.
You can also order a smaller platter of three types for RM45, with nine pieces of sashimi. Each kind of sashimi can also be ordered a la carte.
Juu Nana Sakaba recommends trying the tataki too - salmon, shiro maguro or hamachi, lightly seared so that it remains raw on the inside with a slight smokiness, showered with a delicately savoury dressing that boosts the natural umami of the luscious fish (RM22-RM28).
The sushi and maki selection showcases the familiar, favourite Malaysian crowd-pleasers, including salmon (RM8 for two pieces ), tamago (RM6 for two) and unagi (RM8 for two). You'll also find plenty of sushi rolls, with the Soft Shell Crab Maki sure to be popular with everyone at the table (RM23).
Juu Nana Sakaba offers seasonal specials too, so keep an eye on the walls for limited-time possibilities such as pumpkin croquettes and miso-grilled brinjal, better known as the classic nasu dengaku.
Kushiyaki remains a cornerstone of the open kitchen, with skewers of pork, poultry and other protein, charcoal-grilled to order.
You'll find almost all the greatest hits of this genre - the hog is respectably represented by pork loin, shoulder, tongue and more (our favourite is the miso-marinated Miso Butayaki, lean and mean), plus beautifully textured house-made meatballs (the pork equivalent of chicken tsukune), with the perfect, pure 70:30 meat-to-fat ratio that results in juicy, full-bodied meatballs, laced with caramelised onions.
For yakitori enthusiasts, find your favourite chicken parts here, from tail to thigh, skin to gizzard to wings, as well as time-honoured preparations like yakitori negima, thigh meat layered with leeks.
Smoked duck is another enjoyable choice, but don't skip the red meat - the beef and lamb skewers are punchy and potent for satisfying carnivorous cravings.
If you need a complete, balanced meal for lunch and dinners, Juu Nana Sakaba serves a variety of hearty donburi sets, with the pork-based Yakibuta Don (RM20) and the prawn-powered Ebi Don (RM30) among the showstoppers, blanketed heavily with rich-tasting toppings.
Other options include traditional rice bowls like beef-based gyudon and chicken-and-egg oyakodon, as well as rice bowls with salmon, saba or unagi. Each is rounded out with a pickled appetiser, salad and soup on the side. There are at least 10 donburi sets, sufficient to try a different one for nearly two weeks.
As dusk descends, Juu Nana Sakaba becomes a place where patrons can linger into the night, sipping on sake (with Kubota and other names represented) and sampling Japanese craft beers (check out the bottles by Kyoto-based Kizakura Co). If you're into Tiger beer, RM45+ five-bottle bargains are available.
14, Jalan 17/54, Section 17, 46400 Petaling Jaya, Selangor. Open Tuesday-Sunday, 11am-300pm; 5pm-9pm. Tel: 03-7931-7737
Juu Nana Sakaba's lantern-lit booth seating provides sufficient privacy and separation, courtesy of bamboo blinds and other partitions. Many thanks to the team here for having us back.
Juu Nana Sakaba