[Penang, Malaysia] Lunch at Arakawa GastroBar, Gurney Paragon

Lunch at Arakawa GastroBar at the plush Gurney Paragon mall today. It’s been around since April 2020, but never caught my attention as that was when the COVID lockdown began, and, secondly, I’d never fancied looking for a good eatery inside a shopping mall!

But all that changed when we had a good lunch at Chef Seiichi Arakawa’s other eatery, Kappo by Arakawa a fortnight ago. We then learnt about this other more casual izakaya-style outlet at Gurney Paragon.

I’d always preferred Kansai-style cooking, with its milder, gentler flavours, compared to Tokyo’s, with its saltier, darker soy sauces and miso. Chef Arakawa is from Osaka, and his subtler renditions of the ubiquitous items we ordered for our lunch today were pretty evident:

  1. Sake kawa sarada - crisp salmon skin atop a lettuce-cucumber-onion-cherry-tomato salad, drizzled with rich, dark vinegar and a piquant sesame-yuzu dressing which I absolutely love.

  1. Arakawa nigiri sushi

  1. Mentai dashimaki tamago - sweet egg omelette, filled with flying fish roe. The actual dish didn’t look anywhere as good as the picture on the menu, but was freshly-prepared and warm. Actually, it’s pretty hard to find authentic-tasting dashimaki tamago in Malaysia, which were made less sweet than the versions in Japan. Maybe Malaysians (who are actually more sweet-toothed than the Japanese) were loath to have sweet flavours in an egg omelette, which they regarded as a “savoury” dish.

  2. Unadon - grilled eel on rice, served with miso soup & radish pickles. This is one of my favourite dishes when dining in a Japanese restaurant, and the version here is as good as any.

  3. Spicy tonkotsu (pork) ramen - this was the only dish that I found to be too assertive for my taste. Its level of spiciness was beyond that which one can find in Japan, and very likely tweaked to suit Malaysian tastes.

I’ll be back to try other menu options. It’s a really good spot, and my find for the month so far.

Arakawa Japanese Gastro Bar
163D-1-31, Gurney Paragon, Gurney Drive, 10250 George Town, Penang
Tel: +604-293 7418
Opening hours: 11am to 11pm Mon-Thu, Sun.
11am to midnight Fri & Sat.