Monday, 11 August 2014

A Lunch Treat For My Auntie


A couple of weeks ago my brother and I went to Umai-Ya Japanese Restaurant for lunch and we were very pleased with what we had there. We promised that we would be back soon. And it was perfect that our Auntie is here for a holiday and we decided to take her for a treat last Saturday.


When we arrived at the restaurant at just past 12:00pm, the top floor was fully occupied. So we were seated downstairs. We were informed that it was buffet for weekends and the ala carte menu was not available. Honestly, I was disappointed. We were given the buffet menu and our waiter, a chirpy guy, briefed us on how to order.


What we had to do was to fill up the order chit. OK, that sounds easy and we took our time to scrutinize the menu.


I loved the Avocado Lover Maki which is on their ala carte menu but sadly they don't have that here. We ordered the Dragon Maki, Kani Tama Maki and Soft Shell Crab Maki.

Dragon Maki
Kani Tama Maki.
Soft Shell Crab Maki.
My advise is don't order the Soft Shell Crab Maki because it is very filling. Not ideal if you want to get your money's worth at a buffet. I made the mistake of making a double order because I like soft shell crab. There is more rice than crab. In other words, I would avoid the Big Maki in future.


If you enjoy beer with your lunch, go for the Jug. 


The beer was for my brother and my Auntie. I can't drink beer because it knocks me out within 10 minutes. I really don't want to fall asleep during lunch. So I had the Ocha Ice.


We also ordered sahimi and handrolls.

Tuna and salmon.

Two Salmon Handrolls and One California Handroll. 


I decided to try their salad because the Soft Shell Crab Salad with Black Sesame Dressing I had previously was really good but that was not on today's menu. So I ordered their Smoked Duck Salad. My Auntie wanted to try the Spicy Nori Age Salad. 


We loved the Smoked Duck Salad or in other words we love the smoked duck. The salad itself and the dressing was pretty ordinary. In fact there was not enough dressing.


The Nori Age Salad was a disappointment. Firstly, it took more than an hour to come to our table (later than items on our second order chit) and secondly it was not impressive at all. Crabsticks. Ughs! And the dressing was just ordinary. I reckon it is not worth ordering the salad during buffet. 


I am not a fan of Tempura but my Auntie and my brother like it. So we ordered the Tempura Mori.


The tempura came to our table cold and the batter was no longer crispy. The dipping sauce that came with it was so diluted and under seasoned. 


I took a look at their grilled items and ordered the Beef Negi. I think for my next visit, I will focus on this section.


The Beef Negi was good except that it was cold by the time it came to me. This is only one portion and I shared it with my Auntie. We were already quite full by then.


I also ordered the Shisamo. The fish was already cold when served and though it tasted good, it was not crispy as it was supposed to be.


My Auntie loves Chawan Mushi. I am just OK with it and I ordered for her and my brother.


I guess the Chawan Mushi was alright as there were no complaints.


We also ordered the appetizers.


I was not too thrilled with the Seasoned Baby Octopus with Cucumber. There was not enough seasoning and it was quite bland.


The Seasoned Jellyfish was quite nice. In fact we ordered another 2 servings after the first.


At the end of the meal, of course we had to have dessert.


The ice-cream is single scoop and each of us had two servings. My Auntie and my brother had Green Tea Ice Cream. My brother also ordered a scoop of Vanilla Ice Cream.


I am so boring and predictable. I ordered the Chocolate Ice Cream. The ice cream is nothing to shout about but hey, ice cream is ice cream and it never fails to delight us.


Service was very slow that day and our waiter was very apologetic. He kept assuring us that he was following up on our orders and told us that the kitchen was pretty jammed up. I think the kitchen was shorthanded and with the top floor fully occupied, the kitchen and service staff simply could not cope. Food that was supposed to be served hot, came to the table cold. And there were two occasions when another table's order came to us.

We were there for 2 hours and my brother's single scoop of vanilla ice-cream never made it to our table. We simply could not wait. I'm not giving up on Umai-Ya as yet. The service staff was polite and helpful and the food was good, though not exceptional on that day. So far I have a good impression of the food during my earlier visits and I will say that Umai-Ya is one of the better Japanese restaurants that fits my budget.

Quite honestly, from this buffet experience, I think I prefer their ala carte menu which means that I would have to come here during the weekday for a better food experience.

My brother and I intend to give my Auntie another treat before she goes home. On our next visit, we will explore the other sections of the menu.


I like Teppanyaki but I almost always never order it making sushi, maki, handrolls and bento my regulars.


I suppose there is no harm if we order from here because I see my favorite Chicken Karaage.


So what was the damage?


It was supposed to be my treat but my brother kindly picked the tab. Thanks bro!

50 comments:

  1. Morning Phong Hong, I like this post today, coz I like Japanese food too.. And if it's buffet, lagi I sukak.. Hmm, this type of buffet is dfferent from other "common" type of buffet, where you go get your food from the bar, like Shogun or Saisaki.. This one more kelas, babe.. Yeah, the rule when you go eat Japanese buffet, don't take too much '"rice" stuffs like sushi or maki, or anything with rice.. Else, you will feel so full already la.. But I like everything you ordered, guess we have the same taste, hehe..

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    1. Hi Louiz! I have been to Saisaki and Shogun. Years ago I was very impressed with Saisaki and I was delighted when Shogun opened at 1-Utama. But lately I find the quality is not so good. Variety is there but somehow the taste is not that great. So I have stopped going there.

      This Umai-Ya buffet is good but could have been better. Next time I will go earlier and get a seat upstairs. The kitchen is upstairs so hopefully the food can come faster. See how.

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  2. Umai? I wonder what that means in Japanese. It's the name of our Sarawak Melanau (ethnic) raw fish dish - very very nice!
    http://suituapui.wordpress.com/2014/01/23/hitchin-a-ride/

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    1. Oh yes, I love umai! A friend of mine made umai when she invited me to her home for dinner when I was in university. She is from Sarawak. I really loved it a lot but since I can't get very fresh fish, I am not able to make umai myself.

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  3. Scrolling through your photos made my mouth water... especially that beef dish!

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    1. Mich, that beef dish is very good, Will order more the next visit.

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  4. Hi Phong Hong, how I wish I'm your auntie. I'm not that lucky to have a loving niece that will belanja me this sumptuous meal. It's always the other way round.

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    1. Kimmy, I would love to be your niece, Can eat homemade pau, buns and angku kueh. hee..hee...But you are too young to be my auntie lah :D

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  5. Ah ...umaiya! I love their buffet !!

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    1. I wonder if the service is better at your side.

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  6. I loves Japanese foods, yummy yummy...

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    1. Me too! But I can't afford the high end Japanese restaurants.

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  7. hmmm, Japanese buffet, it surely sounds interesting to me when it comes to Japanese and buffet, haha!! but seems like you don't actually recommend the buffet huh?? and true also, i can see from the photo that it seems they are trying hard to cope with the large crowd and orders, and i just can think of the word "CINCAI" looking at the food served.. or maybe because it's an all-you-can-eat buffet, they don't quite care huh??

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    1. I would say that don't expect too much from the buffet. It was good but not great. Their ala carte is lots better. But for variety and affordability, I would say boleh tahan lah. But honestly like you said, buffet and Japanese not quite ngam. There will be compromise of quality when Japanese food is served in a buffet. If you really want top class Japanese food, you would have to go to those high end ones (or eat in Japan hah..hah..). Too pricey for me but once in a blue moon I don't mind spending for good food that I can't get at home.

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    2. True lah...

      Want to eat nice ones, cannot go for buffet. Not here lah, at least.

      For me and my family, we only go to one restaurant if we want to eat what we love.

      So snooty dunwan eat at Sushi King, Sushi Zanmai, Sakae, Sushi Tei anymore. Wahahaha

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    3. Care to share which restaurant is that?

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    4. Hi Phong Hong, I nearly miss your this post. I have to check my blog whether I have been to this place or not. I am like Lina I prefer to eat at Kura Japanese restaurant at One Word hotel. I am not sure where Lina eats.

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    5. Mun, I have been to Kura! Forgot all about it hah..hah...It is very good, very classy place and so far the best Japanese food I have eaten. Pricey of course and that's why I haven't gone back so often. Will go there again soon!

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  8. pardon me but i have to be rather frank.. i don't really feel like having Japanese here after coming back from my trip to Japan.. hahaha!! first, maybe too much of Japanese already.. second, and probably the major reason, the Japanese food here are really not comparable at all, i mean the taste and also the ingredients use, and oh, you mentioned also the service..

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    1. SK,
      Welcome to the club of snotty Japanese food eaters. Hahaha

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    2. SK, after your Japanese experience for sure the Japanese food here is considered jatuh standard liao. In fact I have been to some restaurants where I think the Japanese will freak out if they eat there hee..hee...

      Lina, I am also a member. hah,..hah...

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    3. Yeah... I don't think Japanese would ever want to eat at Sushi King, Sakae or similar standard places. Even Yoshinoya cannot emulate the standard they have in Japan when they open here. *evil laugh*

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    4. Tabik, Lina! Sometimes when I eat at certain Japanese restaurants, I feel embarrassed for them. How can they call this Japanese? Takder standard. But never mind. Cannot complain too much. One day, hopefully I can go to Japan :)

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    5. Got place that serves nice one. Of course if the proprietor is Japanese especially. :)

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  9. Hi Phong Hong,
    We do like Japanese food once in a while, and my kids favourite, is the baby octopus. It has been quite a while since my last visit to a Japanese restaurant. Usually it will be a treat for specials days like birthdays as they are quite costly! I have not been to this Umai-ya restaurant before. The one that I went for buffet the last time has fresh oyster on their menu, yum! I think it is Shogun.
    Very nice of your brother to pick up the tab!

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    1. Hi Joyce! I also go for Japanese once in a while only. I have stopped going to Shogun because I find that the standards have dropped quite a bit. There is variety but lesser quality. If you want to try Umai-Ya, go during the weekdays for their ala carte which is very good. And avoid peak hours.

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  10. Hmm saw many posted about this restaurant before Food is good

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    1. Yes, the food is good especially the ala carte. Buffet is good but not great. But still good if compared with some other places.

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  11. Nice buffet spread ! When we had Japanese buffet, the only person seems value for $$$ is my son. Cos he knows how to 'whack' those 'authentic expensive' stuff like sahimi, tuna, salmon etc. For me, some maki, Teppanyaki & tempura already full. Well, besides the food, I'm sure you had a great time with your Aunt!

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    1. Karen, your son is very smart! The strategy is to go for the high value items which is the sashimi. I'm taking my Auntie there again as we have lots more other dishes to try.

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  12. I guess what was served were already prepared in advance for this unlike if you ordered ala-carte hence the lack of quality and presentation?

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    1. Hi Lina! I think the food is prepared to order but the problem is that due to the crowd, food took some time to get from the kitchen to our table. The kitchen is upstairs which was full house and we were seated downstairs. Next time must go earlier to get better service, hopefully!

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  13. it happens all the time in restaurants-some food is good, some is to forget immediately!

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  14. Wow! So much food for that price??? I need to move to Malaysia, Phong Hong!!!

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    1. No, no, Diana! Stay where you are hee..hee...

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  15. For RM201.. it certainly looks like a lot of food! I thought it was a buffet... well, Japanese food is not cheap... but I love to go once awhile especially when my girl is home! She always want to go for Japanese food, never misses it and another one is Dim Sum!

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    1. Claire, it is a buffet but the type where you have to order. Good Japanese food is pricey and don't go to the cheaper restaurants because they offer very watered down version of Japanese food. Not worth it. But the good ones and those at the high class hotels are too expensive for me. If strike lottery I want to go to Japan hah..hah...hah...

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  16. Replies
    1. Thank you, Jess! I love my Auntie :)

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  17. Beer for lunch? Hehe!! I always prefer for dinner and much better have it during weekends!!! =]

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    1. Hi Sheta! I think so too even though I don't drink. Drinking beer especially during buffet will make us more full up faster. But it is a good deal to take the beer.

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  18. Oh dear, Phong Hong........ I shouldn't be coming to your blog at this hour. Your food post is making me so hungry now! Lol!

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    1. Hi Shirley! hah..hah..next time make sure you eat first :D

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  19. the price is very reasonable compared to other restaurants but maybe they have lesser variety,,i dont know but what i'm seeing here the food and the amount you all ate ..sounds good and free beer too!

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    1. Hi Lena! Yes, it was a good deal in terms of variety but the service was a let down and some of the food could have been better.

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  20. So nice of you and your brother to treat your auntie. I love to eat Japanese food. Been a while since I had any.

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    1. We are very close to our auntie as she has been around us since we were very young. And she loves Japanese food as much as we do!

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  21. I never get tired of eating Japanese food. Nowadays I tend to eat lesser carbo and focus on vegies tempura & fried fishes besides salad. So heavenly.

    i must go and try that outlet you visited.

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    1. TM, if you go to Umai-ya go for the ala carte which is lots better and I recommend the Maki which are very good. Also go early either lunch or dinner as they are quite lousy when the restaurant is full.

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