Monday, December 31, 2012

Nanjya Monjya : Sizzling End to Year 2012

My official last dinner of year 2012 ended much better than I expected. No fine-dining, no  arty-farty French or Italian cuisine, no ritual new year soba but pure comfort Japanese food okonomiyaki.  
 
Okonomiyaki? Yeps, this Kansai style "pizza" (as what was written on the menu though I disagree that it is a pizza) might sound boring to some people but a search for places that serve Okonomiyaki here yields few results. Besides the familiar franchise Botejyu, there is not many that actually specialises in Okonomiyaki. Fortunately, I found Namjya Monjya, a casual Japanese restaurant located in Grand Copthorne Waterfront, which offers more than 20 styles of okonomokiyaki and  monjyayaki respectively. Too many selections that leaves one hard to decide.
 

we ordered the Tuna Flake Okonomiyaki and the raw ingredients were served. Tuna flakes might seemed like a boring right-out-of-the can ingredient but the tuna served here was way better than the average canned tuna. Diners can choose to DIY or request the staff to do it. Being amateurs, we took the backseat to watch our the pancake sizzle in front our eyes.
It was initially made rather thick but upon some guidance, we flattened our okonomiyaki for a wider cooked surface area with that aromatic golden brown crust.  This "pizza" packed full of ingredients with no trace of flour batter in the bowl of raw ingredients hit the bullseye for my Okonomiyaki craving without travelling to Osaka. Simple, cheap and good.
 
If tuna flakes doesn't appeal, go for the fermented natto w dried cuttlefish, pork belly or even the extravagant mixed seafood. Or try the Monjyayaki, a much wetter batter compared to Okonomiyaki. We watched the tables around us having it and the portion is way larger than ours. They have Hiroshima-style okonomiyaki too.

 
One would be glad to know that the place offers all kinds of Japanese food. You name it they have it. The deep-fried Cream Croquette lattered with ketchup and mayonnaise might not look like the standard Hokkaido far round croquettes but was rich and creamy without being too starchy.
The Kani Nabe was a seasonal special that we would highly recommend to any crab lovers. The big pot for 2 pax overflowed with vegetables and crab legs was going at a price of $34 ( a steal as this was originally the price tag for one pax) To be more precise, I would say this big pot feeds a family of four-five and definitely more value for $$ than the nabes found in local Japanese franchise restaurants.
 
 To wait for the soup to boil was as torturous as waiting for the Okonomiyaki to be cooked. But ultimately, patience was rewarded with a very clear robust soup infused with the sweetness from the fresh crab and vegetables.
 
No sauce, no vinegar, this was just about savoring the chunky crab meat piping hot (unlike cold crabs in buffet).  So good was this dish that it even convinced non-crab eaters.
The only gripe with this beautiful Saba Shioyaki was the fish being overly salted. But it was fresh and the skin was grilled perfect.

 
The signature Spicy Mentaiko Cheese Tofu was decent but did not impressed much as the one at Ajinomori. Would be better if they had been more generous with the sauce.

Nonetheless, the ultimate surprise of the day was the Teppan Kaki with Bacon and Japanese leek.
 
This was an add-on dish that would have been gone unnoticed if we had not been searching for oyster dishes.  
This teppan dish consists of six big plump Australian oysters with slices of bacon and sweet Japanese leek that sizzled on the hot plate with butter and oil from the bacon. The pink bacon turned into a lovely dark brown after it was cooked. Never imagined that bacon can go well with oysters.
 
This oyster dish was at a very reasonable price of $18 for everything. Fresh, sweet and much more satisfying than the smaller oysters from France that usually go at $7-$12 per piece.
Would recommend this to any oyster lovers who are willing to try something different from raw oysters.  This is probably the first  and the only place I know that offers Teppan oysters and does it well.


There were a variety of desserts like matcha parfait and yuzu sorbet but decided to skip them.
What surprised us was that this place seemed like a treasure cove with nearly 80 varieties of food including yakitori, salads, cold and hot appetizers, soba, nabe, teppanyaki, sashimi...... with an additional two pages worth of  Namjya-monjya specialties fully hand-scribbled in a worn scrap-book like menu.
 
Though ploughing through the messy words can be time consuming especially with too many selections, Nanjya Monjya can easily be the optimal place to go for affordable Japanese food as one can easily find something that he/she likes on the menu. One advice is not take a bath before visiting that place....as I am sure everyone will leave the place with a nice "smell".
 
Wish all a yummy-licious Year 2013!
Nanjya-Monjya
390A Havelock Road
#01-03/04/05 Grand Copthorne Waterfront Hotel

 

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