Sin Tian celebrated her 24th birthday on 22nd April and we went to dinner at Isaribi Tei, a Japanese restaurant that we have never been to before. This little restaurant resides in a pre-war house turned shop house. This restaurant touts a green concept and you can easily spot it by the amount of plants it has in front of the restaurant. We were fortunate to get a parking spot right beside the entrance and found the restaurant to be uncrowded. I think this was partly because it was only 7pm on a Friday evening (still early by Penangites standards).
We were quickly shown to a seat by the courteous staff and she took our drink orders right away. We both opted for cold green tea (refillable) which was promptly served. Their menu looked worn which may be a testament to how popular this place is. There are some unusual dishes served up by this restaurant. They also have a set menu which has the same prices as the dishes in their ala carte menu. The only difference is that the set menu adds on rice and miso soup for free.
After browsing through their menu and set menu, we had the waitress recommend a few dishes for us. She recommended the Japanese Fried Chicken – RM16 and the Beef Tataki – RM25 (surface grilled beef slices) sets. We settled for those two sets and she left an ala carte menu for us while she went to put in our orders. We flipped through the pages and as Sin Tian was in the mood for some sushi, we ended up ordering a Rainbow Maki – RM25 per plate (8 pieces of sushi topped with Salmon, Tuna and White Tuna).
It didn’t take too long before our orders started arriving. The Beef Tataki came first and was presented as slices of beef on a bed of salad. There was a bowl of sauce with sesame seed served along with it. The slices of beef were thin and despite not being fully cooked, they did not have any raw taste or smell. The beef were also juicy and tender. Two bowls of rice and miso soup were served along with this dish. The rice were a little hard, maybe lacking water or the rice was from the afternoon. The rice was a little disappointing but the miso soup was pretty good. Not too salty and full of seaweed, spring onion and tofu pieces. We used the watery sesame seed sauce to dampen and soften the rice. The sauce tasted pretty good and went well with the taste of the beef.
Soon, the Japanese Fried Chicken came along a small bowl of black sauce (the kind they use with Japanese pizza). The plate of Japanese Fried Chicken also had a scoop of tartar sauce on it. The chicken was succulent and had a nice flavor. Whether eaten with tartar sauce or the black sauce, the chicken was excellent. There was also a stick of what I thought to be fried chicken. However, after biting into it, it was more like tempura chicken kebab. The servings of the beef and chicken were quite big and definitely enough to fill your stomach.
The Rainbow Maki came last and at about RM4+ per piece of sushi, I was expecting good presentation, good taste and fresh ingredients. Isaribi Tei did not disappoint. The wasabi was creatively placed as a decoration on the plate instead of served in a container like Sushi King or Sakae Sushi. The rice roll were covered with slices of salmon, tuna and white tuna before being sliced into pieces. The rolls were filled with Japanese cucumber and some ebiko mayo. Unfortunately, the Rainbow Maki came in the middle of our meal and I was too absorbed with the wonderful food until I forgot to take a photo of it.
Four slices of watermelon came complimentary after our meal. While the slices were thin and had nothing special to note of, it was still a nice freebie to the meal. The total meal came up to RM72.60 (after 10% service charge) but were free of the 6% government tax. I would definitely opt to return for its set meals but probably I would not be having the sushi or sashimi on most occasions as their prices were not cheap. Still, you get what you pay for and the quality of food here (barring the slightly hard rice) was above good.
After our dinner at Isaribi Tei, we went to Straits Quay for a walk and we ended our night by sharing a frozen yogurt from Fruuze.