Wakaba Japanese Noodles @ Elit Avenue, Bayan Lepas, Penang.
Wakaba, a new establishment that touts itself as the Japanese noodle-specialists, has opened its doors to the public recently. The Japanese noodle restaurant makes its own noodles and they specialized in serving Ramen. The place has the standard Japanese restaurant setting but the servers need to be trained. The restaurant employs foreign workers; there seems to be a language barrier between customers and servers. They did not manage to understand our needs and answer to our questions promptly. Service was bad on our visit- we were served undercooked Gyoza (with raw Pork filling inside), the foreign server did not know what to do but to offer us an exchange which we gladly accepted. The second serving of Gyoza was no different from the first one; it was apparent that the person in charge heard of our conversation but he has chosen to be ignorant and did not offer to assist. Extremely poor management. Nonetheless, their Ramen did manage to impress us but apart from that (to be fair to Wakaba), nothing is exciting here.
I have been longing for a bowl of good Ramen since my visit to Japan last year, I like my Ramen with aplenty of crunchy greens and so, I opted for their Yasai Miso Ramen (Rm 15). It came in a hearty portion with generous amount of Cabbage, Sprouts and Scallions. The broth was brimming with flavors- fragrance of the Miso, sweet vege-juices and creamy meat broth. The texture of the noodles was satisfying either, somewhat akin to what I had in Japan, not bouncy but not slouchy either. Sinfully delicious and well-worth the guilt.
For those with bigger appetite, you may opt for their Gyoza Ramen (Rm 22) like we did... but the outcome was horrible. The Ramen was okay, similar to Yasai Ramen sans the Miso flavor. The Gyoza/ Japanese Dumplings, on the other hand, was a nightmare. They were undercooked; the Pork filling was raw and still in pink hue (as shown). The Gyozas were faulty at first, they then offered for an exchange. Same outcome for the second serving and the management did not apologize for that, as though nothing has happened. We rest our case.
Wakaba is not a one-trick pony, one can find many Bento sets available here too. Unfortunately, we thought their Salmon Teriyaki (Rm 20) was disappointingly average. The Salmon was somewhat dry and the sweet Teriyaki sauce went missing in action. The sides were a little special- dried Squid with julienned Cucumber, completed with an appetizing Vinaigrette; julienned Daikon Radish and Carrots served with Hard Boiled Egg. The former side dish was refreshing, thanks to its fine acidic tilt but the Squid tentacles can be quite resilient. Certain things can be further improved.
Salmon Nigiri (Rm 5) was okay, the Salmon was fresh and slides down the throat easily. We were delighted to see the thickly cut Salmon Sashimi atop of the Japanese vinegared Rice. Good value.
To end the meal, we had a scoop of Sesame Ice Cream (Rm 4); well-chilled and possessed the right flavor. Texture was gritty and the Sesame powder was not eventually spread across the Ice Cream. Not too shabby for that price.
Taste: 7/10 (1-3 bad, 4-7 average, 8-10 good) *for the Ramen ONLY* 5/10 for other dishes.
Price: 7/10 (1-3 expensive, 4-7 average, 8-10 cheap)
Ambiance: 7.5/10 (1-3 bad, 4-7 average, 8-10 good)
Service: 3/10 (1-3 bad, 4-7 average, 8-10 good)
Parking: 7/10 (1-3 bad, 4-7 average, 8-10 good)
Service Charge: Yes 10%
Address: 1-1-31, Elit Avenue, Jalan Mayang Pasir, 3, 11950, Bayan Lepas, Penang.
Business Hours: 12 pm to 3 pm; 6 pm to 10 pm. Closed on Mondays.
Contact Number: 604- 637 1122