Miraku Japanese, G Hotel - Georgetown, Penang

Cold tea flavoured infused soba (buck wheat noodles) were sitting on a bamboo weaved mat on a shallow bento box.  It was a lovely time catching up with Michael, who had studied at university in Wollongong and his family, which included a good mate and his own wife and two boys.

The only apparent condiment, sitting precariously on top of the sloping long noodles, were delicate pieces of sea weed and intense tasting small fish, with their eyes gleaming up at me.  There are many utensils in a Japanese meal, with ladles, chopsticks, sauce plates and small bowls, all looking petite and in the deep colours that Japanese culture appreciates. Ten of us were provided a private function room in a restaurant sited on the first floor of a trendy hotel.   It is best to savour the well appointed surroundings inside the restaurant rather than have takeaway, which Miraku offers as well - mainly don sets accompanied by steamed rice and small servings of salad with mayonnaise.

The venue was spacious, with both sliding door locations and outside seating.  Decorative and studied presentations of meals were emphasised throughout, with obvious well arranged meals served like miniature pieces of art.   Apart from the expected offering of Japanese beer and sake, including brands like Shouchikubai Nigori, Suishin, Kirin, Yebisu and Sapporo, the drinks list was highlighted by Ruffino wine and ume shu or plum wine options.  Tea choices were rather like cocktails or mixed with fruity options.

Tradition does run deep in the Miraku (which signifies a place where one can enjoy great food), as illustrated by the offering of a quail egg to take with the soba (refer to photo above).  Appetisers of note are the grilled skewer scallops, fermented soya beans, crispy deep fried white bait and a whole garlic (Ninniku Age).  For those on the run, the lunch sets can be considered - I recommend the Hokkai Chirashi for those who like their raw seafood and their signature Miraku bento set itself - looking as much pretty as tasty.  Premium items are available as part of a Grand or Course menu.

My group had plates passed around the table often as supplementing our personal main choices. The staff seemed well trained and were quick on their feet that Sunday afternoon. the most interesting side and communal dish taken that day was one labelled a Ladies Special - delicate tofu in a hotpot exquisitely steamed with some fresh greens.  Kar Wai's sons thoroughly examined the room even if they had been there before. My group chatted about outsourcing, changing competitiveness amongst economies and more in a cocooned environment.  The rains may have poured down incessantly for days in Penang Island but in the Miraku, we found refuge, good company and tasty cuisine.