[编辑 Editor 吕大人 英译 Translator 刘大人 摄影 Photographer 刘大人]
Located on the top of Mt. Otokoyama in Yawata city, Kyoto, Iwashimizu Hachimangu Shrine is one of the three significant Hachimangu Shrines of Japan (Usa-Iwashimizu-Hakozaki) dedicated in 860 to Hachiman, the god of archery and war. Also known as Yawata no kami for the protection of the nation, the name literally means “God of Eight Banners”, a reference to the eight heavenly banners that signalled the birth of the divine Emperor Ōjin – the 15th emperor of Japan. As the patron deity of the Minamoto clan and of warriors in general, Hachiman is seldom worshipped alone, and Hachiman shrines are most frequently dedicated to three deities, namely Hachiman as Ōjin, his mother the Empress Jingō and the goddess Himegami.
Not only is Hachiman much revered throughout Japan, but his influence has also touched a young Malaysian who was pursuing his culinary interest in Japan. A chanced visit to Iwashimizu Hachimangu while on vacation so imbued him with a special aura of calmness and supremacy that he made a promise to himself to name his future restaurant after the Shinto god of war – 八幡神 Yawata-No-Kami!
Having graduated with successive Diplomas, Degrees and Masters in Japanese Culinary and Sushi & Sashimi at the famous Tokyo Sushi Academy (東京すしアカデミー) and passing his JLPT N2 in a little under 2 years, Ashton’s stint in Tokyo also saw him having tutelage with top Japanese chefs in Roppongi, Ueno and Shinjuku restaurant before returning home to fulfil a lifelong dream of setting up his own eatery!
Four years on, Ashton made good of his promise, with the opening of 八幡神 Yawata-No-Kami on 12 May 2019. Drawing inspiration from Zen aesthetics, the Yichienso「一円相」represents the state of mind at that particular moment when it’s free, with a hand-drawn circle produced by a single, continuous brushstroke on the outer logo to encompass enlightenment, strength, elegance, universe and void. Within the ring, the Strelitzia plant or Bird of Paradise signifies peace and harmony in line with Japan’s Shinto religion, a union that typifies Ashton‘s aspiration to flex his culinary talents and handle the delicate craft in Japanese cuisine. In a short span of 2 months, 八幡神 Yawata-No-Kami was much frequented by Japanese food lovers and native expatriates, a testament to the authenticity of its food and service style.
A closer look at 八幡神 Yawata-No-Kami‘s logo also reveals the ambitious plan to bring together his own multi-sensorial gastronomy concepts comprising, kissaten (Japanese-style tearoom), kafe (Japanese-style cafe), izakaya (Japanese pub), washokuya (Japanese restaurant) and youshokuya (western restaurant) serving authentic flavours under one roof. With much anticipation, we began to peruse the menu, and are not surprised by the variety of offerings. From sashimi to sushi, bento to teishoku, we are starting to wonder what would really be the star of the show or every dish here is a signature in its own right.
While 八幡神 Yawata-No-Kami does not look like it’s straight out of a fantasy movie or graphic novels series, we could see how Ashton creatively combines his passion for both Japanese culinary and comic culture into the naming of his signature dishes. Being a self-confessed “otaku” (おたく/オタク), a Japanese term for people with obsessive interests, particularly in anime and manga, even Yoshiko, a native from Tokyo among others, could relate to the attention to details that both this chef-owner and the restaurant could offer!
It kills us to imagine how much calories (and money) we’ve wasted on mediocre food. However, the latest dishes we had on our return visit to 八幡神 Yawata-No-Kami, made us rethink our priorities. Taking our pick from the Spicy Cold Noodle, Drunken Ginger White Clam Teishoku, Mackerel Miso Simmer Teishoku and a repertoire of handcrafted beverages, we assure you these are really worth the extra miles, calories and bang for your bucks! #ReadOn and click the images to join in the feast
MAGistrate 杂志大人 x 八幡神 Yawata-no-Kami
别再将卡路里浪费在不值得你爱的食物身上了！钱要花在刀口上，更要花在值得的料理上！#请点击各美食的味觉故事 #都写在图里哦 #配图吃比较美味啦
Kurai Judgement Pork Bento & Japanese Tartar Pork Bento
There you go. When our very first dish to be served is none other than a pork cutlet set called Kurai Judgement Pork Bento, you know this signature dish is really power. An excellent tell-tale sign of good tonkatsu has its crisp exterior aromatically fried, while its interior remains exquisitely tender and juicy. And true enough, the accompanying pork belly was juicy with crisp layers of fat and collagen. Both are a must, considering they are one of the most popular staple dishes in Japan and they received our thumbs up.
Chicken Nanban is a fairly familiar concept to us, but the Japanese Tartar Pork Bento topped with sweet and sour tartar sauce tasted just as great! Both portions are generous for one at such an astoundingly low price, we could envision ourselves being regulars among the growing daily lunch crowd.
Grilled Beef Teishoku
Using the short loin portion of premium Australia’s beef, our Grilled Beef Teishoku was very umami with the ideal distribution of fats to lean tissue within each slice. Sadly, there wasn’t much sauce to coat the rest of the rice if you finish the beef first, so be sure to spread the meat throughout with each mouthful. On the other hand, we think this would go down well with some icy cold beer, especially in this sultry hot weather.
Salt Mackerel Teishouku
The Salt Mackerel Teishouku is one of our new favourites, which comes with rice, pickles, salad and miso soup. Noticeably larger in portion size and smelt less fishy, the mackerel is grilled to a light crisp and managed to retain a nice amount of juiciness. The amount of salt used was also spot-on, and a drizzle of lemonade further highlight the fish’s natural flavour. Extremely value for money, considering the portion and location!
Catastrophic Planetary Devastation Unagi Sushi Rice Bowl
O-M-G! How could we not agree with the “catastrophic” nature of this dish, with plump unagi of epic proportion practically covered the entire bowl and the well-seasoned rice beneath? Aptly named Catastrophic Planetary Devastation Unagi Sushi Rice Bowl, the generous portion could easily make us over a dozen unagi sushis to fill our tummies to our hearts’ content. This right here is probably the best unagi set we’ve had in town, especially with its pocket-friendly price given it’s a relatively premium dish if we were to buy the fish and cook it for ourselves.
Mango Royalty Soft Shell Crab Uramaki
Think of uramaki as an “inside out rolls”. the Mango Royalty Soft Shell Crab Uramaki was a sight to behold with a novel taste that’s highly palatable. Dressed with succulent slivers of mango, the refreshing combination worked well, with the fruity flavour complementing the soft shell crab. We also like the fact that they are easy to pick up with our chopsticks with their square shape somehow!
Heavenly Subjugation of the Omnipresent God Sashimi Set
It’s not easy to find affordable sashimi, as fish is already expensive, and the effort to keep raw fish fresh enough for sashimi further hike up prices. With the Heavenly Subjugation of the Omnipresent God Sashimi Set (9 types, 3 pieces) among others, we able to satisfy our cravings for these raw fish indulgence to our hearts’ (and stomachs’) content!
Sumimasen, (bring on the) wasabi and soy sauce onegaishimasu!
Staying true to the traditional sashimi and sushi-making technique that he’d learned in Japan, Ashton also offers some interesting flavours with his teishoku, bento and other Japanese food with an “otaku” twist. While 八幡神 Yawata-No-Kami may not boast its own native owner or chefs, but expect nothing less from Ashton and his team of talented local chefs in serving authentic Japanese cuisine with his own flair in flavours and finesse in the presentation, much to the approval of Yoshiko and his growing legion of Japanese native expats and residents!
📍 G-02, Block A, Akademik Suite, Jalan Austin Heights Utama, Taman Mount Austin, 81100 Johor Bahru, Johor
📞 +6018-227 6861
🕙 12:00pm to 4:00pm, 6.00pm to 10.00pm (Tuesday to Sunday), Closed on Mondays
💻 八幡神 Yawata-no-Kami