Tastes of Happiness and Zen

By Christina Kim - September 23, 2015

I am not sure how many more I will go with my posts and proclamation of love for my favorite Japanese food, before you scream at the sight of another teppanyaki or bowl of raw fish, appearing in another post on almost every other day. (although I do try to keep them from barging in every post)

The number of posts to come is uncertain, but what's certain is, there's no end to it.

They will keep coming.
You will just have to brace yourself for the many more songs I sing in praise of one of my favorite cuisine; one that I deem as my comfort food as well, as countless shots of these babies will just flood my blog.

You will have to deal with it, and hey, you may even learn to love it (or hate it).

I have posted on much more previously, when I used to have a food blog; wholly dedicated to food, which I have already consolidated into this site, as a single platform.
The good part is you will see everything in one place; and the bad is you will need to wait for that food post to appear once in a while, as I juggle between all the different topics that come to my mind every day.
I just write what I think.

One of my favorite place that I go to; that is readily available and accessible is this chain restaurant known as Rakuzen, run under the management of the Super Dining Group.
They are also the ones behind two other Japanese restaurant outlets; Hokkaido Ichiba (The Gardens) and Kura Japanese Restaurant (One World Hotel).

The funny thing I noticed is that, while this is one of my all time favorite and probably one of my most visited places when it comes to satisfying that craving for Japanese food, I could not find a single post on this place, anywhere on my very own blog.

It made me laugh out loud; that I have shared my stories on so many other restaurants but I have missed out on my comfort list. Perhaps I have just grown too comfortable with the place and the whole idea of the restaurant that it didn't seem like it was totally new or something for me to review.

Still, to do justice to this place of comfort of mine, I still have to feature it and just share the highlights on some of my personal favorites (and occasionally what, my partner-in-crime, or my dining buddy who could just bear with my endless cravings for Japanese cuisine, orders when they dine with me here).


Rakuzen started out in Kuala Lumpur more than a decade ago, and it was only the last few years when they have decided to venture into the sunny side of the northern coast, setting up their first and only one outlet here on the island known as the Pearl of the Orient; Penang.

Located in Gurney Paragon, on the 6th floor, it took no time for the local Penangites to warm up to its presence as it soars in its popularity, thanks to its strategic location greeting the mall patrons heading up on the escalator; flanked, or rather sandwiched between two other fast-growing Japanese names from its rival group.
(Sushi Zanmai and Pasta Zanmai have also opened their first ever outlets here in Gurney Paragon and they are located on each side of Rakuzen respectively).

It is really hard not to spot Rakuzen, when you are heading up on the escalator on this end (well, there are only two ends anyway), unless you're really walking with your eyes closed, because it is the first one that you will see when you reach the top at the end of the escalator and make your first step away from the moving stairs.

It is right there, with its wide space of an opening on the exterior in that thoughtfully designed entrance to resemble that of a big welcome with both arms extended in length.
(Use a little bit of your imagination)

The huge font used in its name display, is more than enough to scream its presence, loud and clear and right for your viewing.
A font that is that huge, is simply no excuse for anyone to miss it.
(Unless you really do have an eyesight problem, then it's not Japanese food you need but the optometrist, though, you could probably head there after a Japanese meal. Just follow the aroma from the kitchen and the greetings)


While the exterior is an open embrace, you will find yourself immediately being led into a conceptual maze, stylishly decorated with major emphasis on the teak splayed on most of the furnishings and especially in the tiny streaks and geometric holes peeking out from the cluster of private dining cubicles arranged as though in a miniature form of community.


Spaces could be cramped in some of the smaller cubicles; but it is privacy within the enclosure, cleverly played with the peek-a-boo hollows from the grid design and with almost three quarters of the dining area surrounded by the enclosure.
There are call buttons adhered to the side of the tables in this section to get the waiters' attention.


They have a team of really attentive and friendly staffs here, there is nothing to worry about the service here.

When it comes to food, I can be non-conforming yet conforming and restrictive at times.
It sounds contradictory, but it really means that I do tend to stick to my list of favorites and I could be ordering them every single time.
Yes, I don't really get bored or tire of my favorite food that easily. It probably has to do with my picky attitude when it comes to food, I just tend to stick to whatever that works best for my taste buds until I lost that sense of favor for it and that, is really rare.

Like I said, I am a traditionalist, sometimes (maybe most of the time).

Sashimi Salad or the Sushiya Salada(MYR26) is my absolute favorite.
(well, sashimi salad always nails it everywhere, for me)


This has my heart, and it is a lasting relationship.

The freshness of the cuts, or cubes of raw fish; maguro (tuna), sake (salmon), octopus on a bed of lettuce leaves with thick slices of cucumbers and halves of tomatoes on the side, is what makes this a winning combination of a salad.

The creamy sauce for the salad dressing; their very own concoction just makes the perfect complement to the serving.


Sake Teriyaki (Salmon Teriyaki), on a good day.
Sometimes they come in different cuts, depending on the part of the fish but that is where the inconsistency ends as the taste is not compromised.


The luscious and moist texture of the lightly grilled salmon is well-retained and played in striking the perfect balance with the crisp exterior, particularly on the skin and the chargrilled edges.

Gindara Teriyaki is just as satisfying to the palate, for that extra dose of fatty rich taste as the flesh glides smoothly on the tip of the tongue and quickly melts with that light buttery aftertaste.


The fall menu last year introduced an interesting variation to the preparation of the Gindara; with the modest chunks in trio, tenderly dipped with that brush of honey before it is lightly grilled.
It may be a little pricey for the serving size, but it was worth the price and the experience, especially when this is a seasonal item.



For the ardent Japanese cuisine lovers, the Unagi (eel) will always be a favorite item on the list.
That is, unfortunately, not the case for me, for it is just not my kind of thing.
(I am not adventurous, and this simply does not appeal to me, at all. I will pass on this, thank you very much)




It is hard to go by an Asian meal without seeing the staples of rice and noodles.

IMG_0078_Fotor IMG_0077_Fotor

Soba, udon are just the usual suspects on a Japanese restaurant menu.



Nabeyaki Udon


Suitable for vegans, this is one of the simplest one with mainly mushrooms and vegetables as the ingredients.
It is for those seeking for plain and slightly less flamboyant tastes for a change.

Mushrooms with Udon

Sakura Ebi Somen (MYR13) is an interesting twist to the usual white or fried rice, to enjoy alongside the dishes for that complete Japanese meal experience.


There is just so much to try on their menu that it is sometimes hard to choose.
That is why it is always simple for me, as I always know what I want.



Maybe it is always easier to go for the staples and to save time, but I am more inclined towards my own comfort favorites, though I do change and opt for something different once in a while.

IMG_3374_Fotor That will be in a different post altogether.

I have not tried everything on their menu yet, and with this rate, I think there will be much more to come from my time here in this restaurant, along with a few of my other favorite restaurants too.

I don't think I have gotten bored of Rakuzen, yet.


The name of Rakuzen interestingly, literally translates to mean "Happy Meal" in Chinese (the similarity in the Kanji characters).

It is apt, for this is where I have found my happy meal.

Every meal here is happy, for me :-)

Food featured here in this post:
Rakuzen outlets in Gurney Paragon (Penang) and Tropicana City Mall (Petaling Jaya)

*Author's Note: 
This is not a sponsored/promotional post, and solely based on author's personal opinions and preferences and do not represent the general public. 
Experiences vary from one individual to another.
You do not have to agree with me.

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