THE soothing Japanese music filling the air was slowly making me drowsy as we waited for our food orders very late on Saturday night. Seated at a corner table inside Kuri-ya Japanese Cuisine & Pub on Middle Road, I fought the urge to recline on the comfortable bench and fall asleep by munching on ice cubes I forked from my glass of water to stay awake.
My buddy Eric had been raving about Kuri-ya Japanese Cuisine & Pub for months, but each time we get a chance to eat out, it was always too late or too early and Kuri-ya was not yet open.
Food was the last thing on my priorities after a tiring afternoon of exploring the jungles of Marpi but I grabbed the chance to c
heck out this place. We thought it was already closed as Kuri-ya’s façade did not exactly offer a warm welcome but when we pushed open the doors, we were transported into one of the typical restaurants like those in Tokyo — dimly lit lanterns hanging from the ceilings, a full bar carrying a wide variety of wines and drinks, and partitions betwe
en tables that allow privacy. It was a cozy ambiance.
As Eric had been “campaigning” for the Saba Hiraki or grilled mackerel for so long, it took me just a few seconds to find it on the menu. I would have opted for the Hamachi Hiraki or grilled yellowtail but I was told it was not available.
My mackerel was perfectly grilled and I wasted no time in spearing it with my chopsticks, savoring the freshness with its natural juices penetrating into the insides of the fish. I added the $3 rice set which included misu soup served in a small wooden bowl.
We also ordered grilled salmon belly with rice set and katsudon, served in a huge bowl of steamed rice and topped with fried breaded pork.
The food staffer told us that Kuri-ya is mainly a pub or bar, and not a full restaurant but they serve delicious Japanese dishes that go ideally with any drink.
Check out Kuri-ya’s long list of fresh salad, ochazuke or rice in green tea with grilled fish, favorite appetizers such as deep-fried oyster, fried pork dumplings, assorted sashimi or grilled selections using a variety of fresh fish including skipjack, moonfish, salmon, yellowtail, tuna and other fish; grilled pork cutlets, beef tongue with salt, sparerib and more dishes.
Kuri-ya’s drink menu includes beers from $3.50 to $8, Shochu which ranges from $28 to $50 a bottle, sake which is available in glasses from $7 to $11 or bottles from $30 to $48, or soft drinks and tea for $3. Kuri-ya’s dishes falls mainly within a budget-friendly $4 to $10 price range, reasonable for a delicious meal in a comfortable setting.
Kuri-ya is in Gualo Rai on Middle Road across from the Division of Environmental Quality office. It is open from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m., Monday to Saturday. All major credit cards are accepted. For reservations, call 234-5878. (This article was first published HERE)