J-Garden

Special thanks to J-Garden for extending this food review invitation.

J-Garden near Eastin Hotel is one of the few (if not only) restaurants in Penang which specialize in yoshoku (洋食), or Western-style Japanese food. Since my previous visit during its new opening, the menu at J-Garden has evolving steadily in response to customers' preferences. In early April 2016, the new menu will feature several new dishes while retaining a handful of popular ones.
To cater to growing demand from the beer-drinking community, Finger Food (フィンガーフード) will be made available for enjoyment with booze. Served on a wooden platter, the items are made into bite-size portions for easier sharing around the table.
I find the smoked duck quite succulent. The thick cuts allow the flesh to retain much natural juice. The duck is garnished with grapes and Romaine lettuce.
As for something closer to the Land of the Rising Sun, there is a decent serving of hamaguri (ハマグリ). The clams are boiled with seaweed (昆布) and garlic, but I think it does not hurt to have stronger flavor as the clams are meant to complement the taste of beer.
Also included is a saucer of goma sauce (ゴマ垂れ). Made from sesame seeds, the thick emulsion is beautifully formulated to serve as savory dipping sauce. Fried potato wedges and crudités are provided to take full advantage of goma sauce.
Moving forward, J-Garden will be carrying a wider range of beer selections in line with the new menu. Kronenbourg is one of the popular ones among regular customers.
Curry Omuraisu (カレーオムライス) is a good example of a Western-influenced Japanese dish. The name is a portmanteau of English words "omelette" and "rice", which pretty much sums up the main ingredients. On top of this, Japanese-style curry is poured over the omelette. Japanese curry is notable for being sweet-savory rather than fiery-spicy as those encountered in Thai counterparts.
Hidden under the yolky omelette is fried rice with bacon, mushrooms and onions. I enjoy the nice aroma as well as balanced flavor of fried rice. On the other hand, I prefer the omelette to be slightly less cooked. Instead, it would be nice to leverage on the heat from fried rice to allow the yolk to cook more gradually.
The omuraisu dish is served with garden salad with mayonnaise dressing.
As for seafood, Saba Tomato Sauce (サバとトマトソース) is another showcase of fusion between Western and Japanese culinary elements. The mackerel (サバ) is blessed with crispy skin covering tender flesh underneath. This is only possible through perfect control of fire during the grilling process.
The lovely flesh of mackerel is paired with freshly made tomato coulis. Prepared in-house, its sweet-tangy sensation helps to accentuate the gastronomical appeal of the fish.
This dish is made complete by some bunapi shimeji (ブナピーシメジ) mushrooms, fried potato wedges and steamed vegetables.
Moving on to red meats, Menchi Katsu (メンチカツ) consists of two pieces of minced pork cutlet. The name of this dish comes from English words "minced" and "cutlet", which serves to emphasize the origin of its recipe.
The pork cutlet is breaded with flour, eggs and bread crumbs, then submerged in scalding oil until the batter turns golden-brown. The crispy coating stands at a stark contrast to dense minced pork inside.
The pork cutlets are served with savory tonkatsu (豚カツ) sauce which acts as dips. Rich in flavor, tonkatsu sauce is very similar to Worcestershire sauce.
Moving to desserts, the presentation of Pumpkin Crème Brûlée (カボチャクレームブリュレ, RM15.00) has been changed although the main actors remain present.
At the center stage is a cup of pumpkin-flavored crème brûlée. Sealed beneath the later of caramelized sugar is yellowish custard flavored by the natural sweetness of pumpkin.
Not ready to be outdone, matcha (抹茶) ice cream is served over a bed of azuki beans (小豆). I love the creamy, satisfying enjoyment provided by the ice cream.
In the beverage section of the menu, there are several traditional Japanese drinks such as Ume Konbucha (梅昆布茶). In addition, customers can also opt for English teas such as White Vanilla Grapefruit Flavored Tea (RM8.00). Supplied by Harney & Sons, the fruity tea is mildly flavored with pleasant citrus aftertaste.
Starting early April, the new menu will feature more dishes than featured ones today. Fortunately, J-Garden is in good hands as a professional chef takes the helm in the kitchen. The proprietor, who spent many years studying and working in Japan, also provides oversight of new menu creation.

Name: J-Garden
Address: 64-G, Persiaran Bayan Indah, 11900 Bayan Lepas, Pulau Pinang
Contact: 04-637-1139
Business hours: 12:00pm-3:00pm, 6:30pm-9:30pm, closed on Mondays
Website: https://www.facebook.com/JGardenRestaurant
Coordinates: 5.33650 N, 100.30706 E
Directions: J-Garden is located near Queensbay Mall. The restaurant is the corner unit of a row of shops between Eastin Hotel and Shanghai Ding. Look out for signs for Econtel Hotel; J-Garden is located at the ground floor. There are parking spaces in front of and at the side of this row of shops, but vacant spaces can be scarce especially on weekends.

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