[编辑 Editor 吕大人 英译 Translator 刘大人 摄影 Photographer 刘大人]
If you’re anything like us, then you probably won’t make good foodies, or really?
Imagine us with a pesco pollo vegetarian who avoids red meat but eats chicken, fish and loves all kind of seafood, while another is allergic to shellfish and deprived of some of the best culinary treasures in life but remains thankful to be spared of the rashes that come with every crustacean. As all great minds taste alike, we managed to overcome our personal shortcomings and band together as one of the most inquisitive food & beverage investigators in town (FBI)!
「禀报大人！您或许能在 Samurai Ramen Umami Premium 觅得答案。 」
Then again, some people around us react with hypersensitivity when eating certain foods or additives. Surprisingly, it is ordinary foods like lactose found in dairy products, gluten (protein) from wheat, bread or baked goods, caffeine, fructose, MSG, alcohol and even eggs that can cause reactions such as bloating, migraines, bowel irritation, or simply feeling under the weather. You can imagine our food options to be very much restricted when gathering everyone for a good meal in town, catering to their every whims and desire so much so that we almost gave up, until someone mentions Samurai Ramen Umami Premium.
提起 Samurai Ramen，这又得追溯至一年前的某日餐聚后，日籍友人送了一份包装精美的 Vegan 即食拉面让大人我尝鲜，据悉这自2014年起於日本南九州鹿儿岛面世的拉面品牌乃是素友们口耳相传的热门拌手礼啊！大人虽非茹素之人，却也对它充满了好奇，「无肉类、无鱼、无味精、无酒精的拉面口味怎能风靡众人？ 」当锅里的水终于来到了与拉面共欢的温度，随着大人亲自将面条与以酱油及味噌所调制而成的液体调味料摆入锅内，汤色经缓缓交融后变得浓稠，香味四溢，「这瞬间，大人还以为自己是赫赫有名的拉面师傅呢！」
负责人矢野美帆小姐透露，这拉面乃因创办人的茹素好友因遍寻不获滋味道地的即食素拉面而有了生产的契机。有需求自然造成供应热潮的即食素拉面，推出市场后自是大获好评，海内外素友除了可在日本十多处分销点与官网购得外，亦可於日本境内唯一的直营餐馆 － 位于东京的 Samurai Ramen 现场享用精致蔬食料理。据悉，近年来日本政府因应2020年东京奥运会即将迎来世界各地参赛者与旅客，而在推广蔬食料理这一环节上不遗余力，「在日本，他们家的料理极受旅居当地的穆斯林族群热荐。」
幸福如我，无需微服出巡至日本，亦可享用与东京直营店同等美味的精致蔬食，「只因日前海外首家 Samurai Ramen Umami Premium 拍板落户新山富力广场二楼啊！」
The name Samurai Ramen certainly rings a bell, as we look recalled an “omiyage” we received more than a year back from our tomodachi from Japan that’s made without any poultry, pork or beef products whatsoever. To us, Japanese ramen is inherently comforting, with warm, creamy soup paired with springy noodles and delicious ingredients that never fail to make our day better, but surprisingly, this “meat-less” ramen still has the authentic Japanese flavour that we can safely enjoy at home and turn us into an instant master chef in no time.
To be honest, Japanese food still has plenty to offer for vegetarian and vegan eater! If you’re a raw-fish hater or have vegetarian friends, then Samurai Ramen is now right up our alley. As a strong advocate of whole food which contains NO Animal. NO Fish, NO MSG and NO Alcohol, we don’t have to be a meat eater to enjoy Japan’s favourite comfort food, thanks to our friends from Funfair Co., Ltd from Japan. Since 2014, Samurai Ramen has been a vegetarian restaurant that specialises in modern meatless cuisine, which is quite affordable. With the growing popularity of plant-based diet and its benefits within and outside of Japan and in anticipation of the upcoming Tokyo 2020 Olympics, locals and visitors can now enjoy Japanese food at its best, vegetarians and vegans alike!
或许新山的看官们觉得这品牌好似在哪儿看过吧？其实 Samurai Ramen 首家海外连锁就位于东北区的 AEON Mall Tebrau City，两者经营概念迥然不同，前者更适合阖家共享；位于 R&F Mall 富力广场、可容40人的首家 Premium 料理店则主攻精致蔬食，「矢野小姐透露，经过三次改良的拉面这回做到了极致，不含五辛 (无肉、无鱼、无酒精、无葱蒜、无味精、无化学调味料，无化学着色料) 的全素版本能让更多饕客无忧享用。」
If you find the name familiar, that’s because Samurai Ramen is available at two locations – AEON Mall Tebrau City and now in R&F Mall. Thanks to Miho Yano, our tomodachi from Japan who first introduced us to the original Samurai Ramen, we can now savour an array of traditional Japanese food made with high-quality ingredients that are bound to leave us with happy tummies.
Genmai Cha & Grape Green Tea
看官们可别以为大人我夸大其词，仅微微掀开这从日本进口的玄米茶及葡萄绿茶 (Genmai Cha, RM13 & Grape Green Tea, RM18) 的盖子后，一股清香立即扑鼻而来！我本是玄米茶拥趸，「这一回与迢遥而来的日本葡萄绿茶打了照面后，竟有移情之心。」
For a start, we were served pots of refillable Genmai Cha and Grape Green Tea and were pleasantly surprised by latter, in particular, its aromatic yet subtle hint of sweetness as a bitter tang took centre stage after every sip.
言谈间大人才得知矢野小姐原来不知不觉在新山落户已有近2年光景，大伙儿热络聊着本地美食的同时，当然也不忘询问新山的 Samurai Ramen 滋味是否为迁就本地饕客口味而作出调整，「新山店的食谱与特调酱汤 (如图示)，皆根据日本直营店如法炮制。每年返日期间，当然也会趁机向东京店里的老师傅讨教并引进当季最新料理。」
As we cosy up in this new 40-seater and quaint restaurant on Level 1 of R&F Mall that boasts a clean, Japanese-inspired minimalist feel, our foods are bound to look even more appetising and “atas” (hopefully) when photographed against the interior. Before we knew it, Miho-san has spent nearly two years in Johor Bahru, with regular trips in between to and fro Japan to work with the chefs in keeping up with the food trends. We were also given a massive tip-off that the third iteration of their famous Samurai Ramen instant noodles specially created for the Malaysian market will soon hit the shelves in late June!
If you think that vegan and vegetarian food equates to a boring menu, Samurai Ramen will prove you wrong, with its vast array of vegan options on their menu, ranging from bento to noodles.
Onmen Lunch Set (Mushroom Clear Soup Noodle)
光顾那一日正逢卫塞节，「大人我平日初一十五就有茹素的习惯，今日正好可以感受蔬食与素食究竟有何分别。」 Samurai Ramen Umami Premium 所推出的午间套餐相当超值，每套仅需 RM39，即可从六种斎麺 (面条) 或六种ご飯物 (米饭) 中二选一为主食 ，再搭配斉汤 (蔬菜汤)、斉绿 (沙拉) 与ほうじ茶 (Houjicha 烘培茶)，「蔬食食品的涵盖面较素食更广泛。在 Samurai Ramen，大人第一次觉得原来全蔬食料理也能富有仪式感。」
Being devoted Buddhists who observed eating vegetarian food on the 1st and 15th of the lunar calendar, “find-dining” on these days can be a real challenge. Incidentally, our visit to Samurai Ramen Umami Premium falls on Vesak Day so we couldn’t be more “lucky”.
With a plethora of dishes on its new menu, we have a hard time deciding what to order, so Miho-san recommends getting the highly-rated lunch set that comes with a side of saito soup, sairyoku salad and a glass of houjicha. All we need now is to take our pick from six noodles and six rice main courses and sit back for our food to arrive. Take note, however, that the lunch set is only available daily from 10am to 4pm only.
看官们！不消说当然得挑选店内人气第一的料理来尝鲜啊！温麵套餐 Onmen Lunch Set (Mushroom Clear Soup Noodle) 的超浓郁汤底以八种野菜加上日本天然调味料精心烹制，搭上素拉面、菌菇、腐皮虾、食蔬、酥炸粉丝等，摆盘超精致，与大人所想像的既定素食大不同！「还有撒上金箔、滋味非常特殊的斉汤，与滋味超似烟熏三文鱼、外形犹如温室植栽的斉绿，上桌那一刻的确让大人诧异，也太用心了吧！」能把蔬食处理得如此精巧，滋味一点也不马虎，大和民族对待料理的认真态度又再让大人上了一课。大快朵颐前，矢野小姐当然也不忘指点迷津，「进食温麺之前先喝斉汤，有助消化噢！」遵命！
O-M-G, what a spread! Just by the look of this set, we wouldn’t know that the dishes are meatless, but we liked that the ingredients were fresh and it came in a generous portion. Our choice of their signature Onmen Lunch Set is rather substantial and features tangy homemade noodles, loaded with textural toppings in steamy, aromatic mushroom dashi clear soup that’s good to the last drop – with the added bonus of not leaving us feeling as heavy by the time we get to the bottom.
To aid digestion, take a sip of the complimentary saito soup made from an espresso of vegetables, before indulging ourselves in a crystal salad ball with multi-grain rice sauce boiled with roasted green tea that’s reminiscent of smoked salmon! 😋
Unaju – Japanese Special Eel Rice Bowl
老实说，打开便当盒后我有几秒质疑打着蔬食旗号的店里怎么可能会出现鳗鱼啊！这道鳗重 (Unaju – Japanese Special Eel Rice Bowl, RM34) 其实乃是以特质甜口酱油烧制的素鳗「鱼」饭！平日就极爱点选鳗鱼料理的我，对于这由店家自制的鳗重赞不绝口，「口感真的很细致，而且没有一般素食炸物的油腻厚重，搭着铺满紫菜丝的米饭非常开胃！」
Just marvel at how beautiful this bento box looked and guess what’s serving? It was almost too pretty to eat, but our hunger hesitated no further. The Unaju comes with a satisfyingly generous portion of “unagi”, with the fillet size something we don’t usually get at many Japanese restaurants, not for that price at least! That said, the “fish” made from tofu and seaweed was delightfully tender and sweet, the slight char on it made each bite smoky and umami. We can also turn this into a lunch set which also comes with a side of Saito soup, Sairyoku salad and Houjicha for a more hearty meal, as this Japanese Special Eel Rice Bowl convinced us that this bento without a slab of succulent unagi can be just as tasty and filling.
Samurai Curry – Special Spices Curry Rice
日式咖哩向来予人温和的形象，不似本地咖哩辣味厚重。「只能说，大人太轻敌了！」今次在 Samurai Ramen 所尝到的侍カレー (Samurai Curry – Special Spices Curry Rice, RM32) 完全让大人体验到了逾10种中印香料一起向我呛声的狠劲！话说这日式咖哩素猪排饭份量颇巨，刚刚才被鳗重惊艳到的大人，瞬间又被素猪排给迷惑了，「厨房里到底藏了什么秘密，可把蔬食炸物处理得如此有模有味？！」
If you think tonkatsu is no off limits in a plant-based restaurant, think again. Ideally suited for our local palates with a blend of ten kinds of special spices, the “meat” in this Samurai Curry dish taste uncannily similar to actual cutlets, even without the help of pork. The secret? A mushroom and soya patty mixed served with fried beancurd, lotus root, lady finger, pumpkin, capsicum, cherry tomato, purple cabbage and yet more mushroom, we’ve no qualms about polishing every item in the bowl to the last bit. The only gripe we had was that the curry gravy could be more generous with their serving.
とり天ぷら & 焼き鳥
Tori Tempura & Yakitori
和食里怎能少了とり天ぷら & 焼き鳥 (Tori Tempura, RM12 & Yakitori, RM9)？ 这儿的天妇罗瞧不见炸虾，却有了新成员的加入，「是… 葡萄！」想不到葡萄蘸酱如此搭调，「就连随后加入饭局的日籍友人也觉得新奇呢！」
What is Japanese food without tempura and Yakitori, right? Even if we avoid fried foods, tempura is light and crisp, rather than greasy, and it only fries for a minute or two, rather than until inundated with oil. Made using finely cut vegetables and even without our common seafood variant, these crunchy Tori Tempura are absolutely addictive. And YES, the crisp pieces of green grapefruit tasted refreshing and unique too.
Likewise, the Yakitori is not just catered primarily to carnivorous folks but can also be skewered toward non-meat eaters as well. Made using king mushrooms and best enjoyed with sanshou and ichimitougarashi seasoning, the “skewers” still retain a chewy and springy texture. Oiishii ne!
没有千篇一律的勾芡酱汁，高质感的蔬炸物更是让人无限回味，Samurai Ramen Umami Premium 所呈献的蔬食，制作与摆盘皆有着不可复制的精致感，犹如让蔬食者体验了一回无肉版的 Fine Dining！「好蔬畅！终于不必在用餐时对食材有所猜疑与顾忌，能随心所欲地品尝每一道料理，想必是热爱蔬食与过敏者的最大福音！」
To all our non-vegans friends out there, have a try at these plant-based foods if you haven’t, before passing any judgement. From ramen to unagi, to tonkatsu curry – almost anything can be vegan-ised! Though we’re meat-loving carnivores, the thought of turning vegan isn’t impossible now, after realising how diverse plant-based diet can be.
Yes, Japanese cuisine without meat is a sin, but thanks to Miho-san and the folks at Funfair for saving us and our vegan friends from J-culture deprivation, at least where food is concerned, Samurai Ramen Umami Premium is definitely our go-to when cravings for Japanese cuisine without risking an expanded waistline.
And Happy Vesak Day (on the date of our visit) to all fellow Buddhists too!
Samurai Ramen UMAMI Premium
📍 Lot-105, Level 1, R&F mall, Tanjung Puteri, 80300 Johor Bahru, Johor
📞 +6017-713 2316
🕙 Daily from 10.00am – 10.00pm
💻 Samurai Ramen UMAMI Premium
🍽️ NO PORK, NO LARD; NO MSG, NO meat, NO egg, NO garlic, NO onion!