Juu Nana Sakaba, Petaling Jaya

March 16, 2021

If you love neighbourhood restaurants that serve traditional Japanese fare, check out PJ's new Juu Nana Sakaba, tucked on a calm street in Section 17. It's a welcoming space with thoughtful touches - lantern-lit booth seating, separated by bamboo blinds for a bit of privacy; an open kitchen where customers can watch the chefs grilling their skewers; and a tasteful decor with shelves of soy sauce pots and sake carafes, plus an original bull painting by the restaurant founders' family, perfect for ushering in the Year of the Ox.

Juu Nana Sakaba's highlights include set meals for honest, hearty cooking. 

More than a dozen different sets are available, representing rice and noodle classics beloved in Japanese cuisine - everything from oyako don to unadon and gyudon, shio ramen to hiyashi udon, costing between RM17 to RM32 each, generously bolstered with a special side dish of the day, house-made pickles, crisp salad, chunky sliced watermelon, and green tea.

Our favourite might be the Kaisen Ramen (RM25 for the complete set), a slurp-worthy bowl of thin, firm noodles, topped with a large prawn, luscious salmon fillets, flavoursome clams, whole egg and vegetables in light, soothing broth. It's filling enough even on its own, but we appreciate the sides galore, including hiyayakko, smooth and creamy chilled tofu.

All rice-based sets come with miso soup too, making the Yaki Buta Don Set (RM18) a brilliant bargain. Juu Nana Sakaba's head chef Richie has nearly two decades of experience in Japanese gastronomy, ensuring the recipes here hit the spot for convincing flavours and comforting textures. This is great grilled pork, aromatic in savoury succulence, alluring with a soft, runny egg.

Super-fresh seafood is also assured, so we're happy to have the Ebi Set (RM25), shining the spotlight on a trio of jumbo, juicy prawns that you can genuinely sink your teeth into.

We'd love to return for other soulfully satisfying sets that include beef, chicken or minced pork with egg on rice (RM17-RM20); if you love unagi, the set of grilled eel with rice clocks in at a reasonable RM32.

For dinner, Juu Nana Sakaba adds charcoal-grilled kushiyaki to its repertoire - smoky, sultry skewers that make for merry munching.

Start with the yakitori - the chicken-based range comprises all our favourite essentials, from rich, robust chicken liver to marvellously marinated wings to irresistibly plump and fatty tail. Other options like chicken thigh, breast, skin and gizzard are also available - at RM4.50 per stick, this is one of the most affordable venues for quality yakitori. 

The kushiyaki selection, served with miso sauce and chilli sauce, is extensive - this is a one-stop destination if you can devour an entire meal of skewers.

Pork belly and shoulder (RM4.50 each) are addictive enough that we'd eagerly have seconds and thirds, while vegetables like okra and brinjal (RM3 each) help to balance out the meat. 

The Tomato Maki is particularly fun - hot cherry tomatoes wrapped with pork (RM5 per stick) - as is the Cheese Maki - pork rolls stuffed with melted cheese (RM5). 

We also like the playful pork-mushroom combinations of the Eringi Maki (RM5; eringi mushrooms rolled with pork) and Enoki Maki (RM5; enoki mushrooms rolled with pork).

Bring the family and binge on a feast - the Sakamushi (RM18) is especially memorable, with a choice of prawns and clams, sweetly and potently steamed with pure sake, but there are plenty of other intriguing temptations; even a simple-sounding tomato salad is excellently and elegantly executed (RM8). 

Check out the Specials board too - you might find a ginger-laced jelly of chicken skin and reduced broth that seems like something you'd discover down the alley in a hidden izakaya on your next trip to Japan.

Many thanks to Juu Nana Sakaba for having us here.

Juu Nana Sakaba
14, Jalan 17/54, Section 17, 46400 Petaling Jaya, Selangor. 

Open Tuesday-Sunday, 1130am-230pm; 6pm-1130pm. Tel: 03-7931-7737

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