We have been to Aji Noren for quite a few times, then I decided to write it but that was months back. And thus, if can’t quite connect with taste memories please be gentle!
Aji Noren is a Japanese restaurant located in the Prima Tanjung business block off Jalan Fettes in Tanjong Tokong. Prior to writing this piece, I have found that many have actually written about this small yet functional restaurant that seems to project a cozy and homey atmosphere with a touch of TLC (tender loving care) by their ever so helpful waiting staff.
Throughout our visits, we found that there is a huge crowd of loyal customers that patronize the restaurant; there are many Japanese expatriates and families that dine from the extensive choice of cooked Japanese delicacies. It is their “home-cooked” flavours and the ability to custom-make our orders that attracts our return visits.
On our visits we usually don’t go for their Bento (meal) sets, although they are quite inexpensive and filling. We like munching on our favourites starting from appetizers or light dishes, then escalate to mains and staples (rice or noodles).
Daikon Sarada (RM6.00), a simple yet satisfying appetiser of juicy diakon cut length wise served with rich, savoury mayo and a lightly sweet and tangy sauce. It is simply an appetite opener.
Hotate Shimeji Batayaki (RM16.00), simply just scallops and mushroom(s) stir fried with butter. This dish is all about the sweet earthy flavours of mushroom, juicy tender scallops and rich buttery taste. The textures are also well balanced with all the ingredients just nicely cooked till al dente.
Buta Shabu-Shabu Salad (RM15.00), salad with cooked pork, mushroom and a very unique dressing. The poached pork pieces were moist and tender, salad greens and tomato wedges were fresh and juicy, mushrooms were sweet and earthy, and lastly the salad dressing was nutty, sweet savoury and tangy. The salad was great by its self, but a bowl of plain fluffy white rice might also compliment very well.
Bonus! I have found a simple recipe for this salad at “reikalein“.
Ika Nangkotsu Yaki (RM4.00), if I am not mistaken is grilled squid soft bone. The squid soft bones were lightly grilled with salt and served as it is; crisp yet tender with a smoky, salty flavour.
Tamago Kikuraage (RM23.00), stir-fried black fungus with egg and other vegetables. This egg flavoured dish with crisp and tender texture goes very well with a bowl of rice and maybe some cooked dry Udon too.
Nama Ika Teriyaki (RM27), whole grilled squid with teriyaki sauce. But we usually get the restaurant to make this dish with butter instead of teriyaki, which give it a lightly salted flavour with a rich buttery taste.
Saba Shioyaki (RM15.00), grilled mackerel with salt. The salt brings out the fragrance and sweet taste of the juicy rich mackerel fillets. Add a dash of lemon and some grated Diakon to balance, the flavours changes tone and it mellows the rich fatty fish oil.
Well during one of our visits, we did try their set meals or Bentos that are reasonably priced for value, portion and taste. Chikin Ban & Tamago Kikuraage Set (RM23.00), deep fried chicken cutlets coated with fluffy egg coating, stir-fried black fungus with egg, miso soup, common salad, rice and cut fruits. The chikin ban ban is one of our favourites at Aji Nouren, they are always moist, juicy, tender and flavourful. If you fancy the fluffy egg “flower”, you can personally request for more, which we usually do.
Aji Noren has been in the Japanese Restaurant business for quite some time now, and it seems to attract loyal and new customers with their cooking style that suits most locals and Japanese expats living in Penang. If you are looking for Japanese food minus the sushis and sashimis, then it is one of the places I would suggest to try.
Our overall experience: