A quick search of a Japanese restaurant in Melaka, Wa Zen Japanese Restaurant will come out top of the recommended list. Reasons being it served good quality Japanese food at half of the price in Singapore. During the weekend and holiday seasons, this place is flocked by tourists you can forget about getting a seat without a reservation.
At the end of 2014, Wa Zen opened a branch in Johor Bahru. It is a good news for us, giving us another dining option during our short trip to JB. It will take you less than 20 minutes drive after you pass the Malaysia customs.
|The Sushi Bar
LD and I visited Wa Zen regularly in JB and we found some of the dishes here are worth the trip. Sashimi Sakura (RM115). It consists of the freshest sashimi on that day. Common item such as Salmon, Tuna, Swordfish, Yellowtail, Sweet Prawn, Octopus and Salmon roe. One of the specialities here is actually White Tuna (Shiro Maguro Sashimi). It has a creamy soft texture, almost like a combination of salmon with scallops.
The spin-off of regular sashimi is their carpaccio. We have tried both their Salmon Carpaccio (RM25) and Hamachi Carpaccio (RM45). I personally like the hamachi (yellow tail fish) more as it has more solid texture compare to the salmon. On top of that, the yellow tail has a milder flavour, making it easier to absorb the dressing.
The Wa-Gyu Tataki (RM88) is a must to order. The wagyu was quickly seared to seal the exterior of the beef, then sliced before it is topped with ponzu dressing. The beef just melts in your mouth, nicely paired with the tangy ponzu sauce and the touch of explosion from the onions.
If you are a fan of grilled fish, you want to check with the service staff on what is available. Last year, we had a beautiful grilled yellow tail collar (Hamachi Kama Shoiyaki – RM28). It was crisp externally; followed with soft, moist and clean taste of the meat. You just dabbed the flesh with lemon juice and the salt, it will just make your day. They always have the salmon cheek available, but we prefer something other than salmon.
|Hamachi Kama Shoiyaki
The usual dishes such as Salad, Sushi, Tempura, Katsu, Oden and the usual Japanese dishes are available as well. In terms of standard, Wa Zen Izakaya is at the same standard as Sushi Tei and Ichiban Boshi.
Some items to avoid: Salmon Skin Furai (RM10) and Buta Bara Shioyaki (BBQ pork with pepper and salt – RM12). Ordered these items twice and both times got disappointed.
|Salmon Skin Furai
|Buta Bara Shioyaki
Wa Zen Izakaya occupied a shop house in the Danga Utama area. The restaurant is bright and spacious. If you are seated in near the front, there are lots of natural light good for taking photos. For a bigger group, they have private rooms or partitions seating that allow some privacy to enjoy your meal.
|Front Dining Area
|Middle Dining Area - with partitions
Overall, if you are in JB and looking for a good Japanese food, don't miss out on Wa Zen Izakaya. The food quality is very good and the price is even better. Don't expect high-end Japanese dining though. Kanpai!! Cheers!!
Food & Drink: 7.5/10
Budget per Person: S$26 - S$50
Wa Zen Izakaya Japanese Restaurant Sdn Bhd
No 56 & 58G, Jalan Pertama 1.
Pusat Perdagangan Danga Utama, 81300
Skudai Johor Bahru
T: +607 550 0339 / 288 6679
Tue – Sun: 12.00 – 14.30; 17.30 – 22.30
Closed on Monday