Thursday, May 12, 2016

SANUKI UDON AND MORE AT ORI-YA

Sanuki is the ancient historical name for Kagawa Prefecture – an area famous for udon, traditional handmade Japanese noodles and the staple soul food of this area. In Kagawa, udon shops are so prevalent that visitors can hop onto an Udon Taxi or Udon Bus to stop at different eateries just to sample the soft yet full-bodied noodles.
 
Owner Victor Teo was so smitten by the comforting Japanese speciality that he opened his own Sanuki udon outlet at Mid Valley City about 2.5 years ago. His latest venture Ori-Ya Sanuki Udon is distinctly different as Teo wanted to give his customers “more variety with appetisers, rice dons and pork dishes imbued with some local slants in addition to Sanuki udon. We keep pricing to an affordable level and offer diners greater value through our set meals.”
A quick glance at the simple menu reveals Ori-Ya’s price range is close to what one would pay at kopitiams for a bowl of noodles. The Sanuki Udon in Original Soup with Kitsune (RM6.50) is a good example. We love its ‘back to basics’ simplicity. The smooth and firm noodles flaunt a fluid silkiness and toothsome texture. Immersed in clear, delicately sweet soup with some blanched greens, it’s augmented by a piece of aburaage (pouffy Japanese deep-fried sliced beancurd) and chopped spring onion.
 
Tucked away in the serene suburb of Damansara Kim, Ori-Ya’s bare-frills, industrial-edge concept is functional; outfitted with lightweight, clean-lined furnishings and some decorative wall elements to evoke a sense of comfortable simplicity.
 
Appetisers to munch on while waiting for your rice or noodle orders to be ready include Karaage (RM5), Kakiage (RM3) and Mini Salad (RM3.50). Karaage – boneless, bite-size chunks of juicy fried chicken coated in crispy, seasoned batter are deliciously addictive. It’s hard to stop at just one piece!
 
For nice textural contrast to a bowl of udon or rice, opt for Kakiage (Japan’s version of cucur udang). Ori-Ya does a wonderfully airy-light fritter with shredded carrot, onion and cabbage. If you prefer a non-fried side dish, try the Mini Salad of shredded cabbage and carrot tossed in creamy wasabi or sesame dressing.
 
More light bites appear in the form of Kushiage (RM1.80 to RM3 per stick) – skewers of deep-fried snacks in a light panko (breadcrumbs) coating. Tempting choices include quail eggs, chicken, thickly sliced onion, cheese sausage, crabstick, prawns, eggplant, mushroom, fishballs and lady’s fingers. Every serving comes with a Japanese-style tangy-sweet dip and mustard.
Slightly heftier to contend with is Pork Katsu (RM8) with Wasabi Mayo. Fried to tender, juicy perfection, this scrumptious pork chop can be enjoyed on its own or to add meaty substance to Sanuki udon or rice.
Local diners partial to strong, robust flavours will be drawn to the Chilli Bean Pork Udon (RM6), Kare Udon (RM9) and Curry Vegetable Udon (RM6). Out of the three, my preference is for Chilli Bean Pork Udon as the inherent sweetness of pork melds well with the zingy chilli bean sauce.
The Kare Udon is richer on the palate with a poached egg added to the equation. For those who prefer it meat-free, you’d do well with the Curry Veg Udon – the gravy is appetising and chockful of soft but not mushy cabbage, okra, eggplant and long beans.
Marinated pollock roe (mentaiko), a poached egg, shredded nori, chopped spring onion and mayo garnish the Mentaiko Udon (RM9) which can served hot or cold. Drizzled with shoyu, the noodles tickle the tastebuds with a milieu of assertive flavours once the different ingredients are stirred and mixed together.
Compared to the House Special Udon (RM6.50), those attendant extras seem indulgent by far. For the house speciality, the springy soft noodles can be enjoyed hot or cold. The latter tastes refreshingly light and ‘clean’ with a subtle savoury richness once the noodles get coated in the runny yolk from the poached egg, intermingled with shoyu and wasabi.

On sweltering hot days the Salad Udon (RM6) would be a godsend. Served chilled, the udon exudes irresistible appeal from the coleslaw-like shredded cabbage and carrot salad, enhanced with strips of aburaage and nori as well as some kimuchi.
Rice lovers need not fret as Ori-Ya has their carb cravings covered with Tonkatsu Don (RM10) and Gyudon (RM10). Suffice to say, these wholesome one-dish meals should leave you happily replete with protein and greens thrown in.
Set meals are priced between RM9.90 and RM13.90 so you don’t need to break the bank to patronise Ori-Ya.

For reservations, call ORI-YA SANUKI UDON, tel: 03-8933 8001. Address: 17, Jalan SS20/11, Damansara Kim, Petalling Jaya, Selangor.

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