PETALING JAYA, June 18 — These days when my old friends and I catch up, we eschew restaurants with long queues and crowded cafés. In their stead, convenient parking and unfussy cooking are what appeals to us.

What precious time we have together, we rather spend in conversation than hunting for the last available spot in the carpark or being on an eatery’s waitlist.

This time, given most of us have homes in PJ, we headed to Seventeen Mall in Section 17. We had already savoured some secret and not so secret delights here in the past, from the brunch café Superfine to sourdough doughnut purveyor Basket Break.

Chances are we’d find another satisfying discovery here. And so it was when we stumbled upon Yumeji — Tempura x Yakitori.

The shop itself is located at one end of the neighbourhood mall’s ground floor, hidden away from most of the food traffic. Which is a pity, for they offer donburi (Japanese rice bowls) laden with irresistible fried toppings.


These tempura toppings include ebi (prawns), vegetables or chicken and mushrooms. You can customise your tendon (tempura donburi) with your choice of tempura sauce: the Original, Spicy or Wasabi.

Have a hearty appetite? Try their Buta Tama Don, which is akin to an Osaka style pork okonomiyaki. The meat-filled omelette pancake ensures a bursting belly, even for those who are famished.

Of course, even before the first donburi arrived at our table, we shared a couple of izakaya favourites. Pop some bright green orbs of edamame or dip a fried gyoza into a blend of soy sauce and rice wine vinegar.

If these Japanese bar staples aren’t enough to keep you occupied, then there is always the fun pastime of observing the colourful murals on the wall while you wait. The surreal imagery — caps of prawn heads and swords of skewered meat — might just sate your hunger pangs... or make them stronger!

Finally, the trays of donburi make their much anticipated appearance.

Fried Gyoza.
Fried Gyoza.

Colourful murals.
Colourful murals.

I tried the typically safe pick of Gyuniku Don. Yumeji’s version pairs the simmered, thinly sliced beef with an onsen egg, the yolk oozing alluringly. The nearly melting, savoury-sweet onions made up for the meat, which wasn’t as tender as I would have liked.

The Chicken Nanban Don featured fried breaded chicken slathered with tartar sauce, served with plenty of sliced tomato and cucumber.

Other rice bowls include Tokachi Butadon (grilled pork), Hotate Don (scallops), Chicken Teriyaki Don and Chicken Katsu Don. For something creamier, opt for the Japanese Curry Donburi.

We came for lunch; we might have ordered differently for dinner. The shop’s yakimono menu is tempting — skewers of grilled chicken skin, pork belly with cherry tomatoes, squid and shiitake.

For fans of noodles, Yumeji also offers udon and soba. These are served hot, in soup, or chilled, in the fashion of zarusoba. The toppings for both are the same as that of the tempura donburi: ebi, chicken mushroom, vegetable, buta tama and even the Special Mix.

Gyuniku Don.
Gyuniku Don.

Chicken Nanban Don.
Chicken Nanban Don.

Yes, there is one bowl to rule them all — Yumeji’s Special Mix Tendon.

It’s a cornucopia of tempura toppings — from a wedge of pumpkin and disc of lotus root to branches of enoki mushroom, all coated with feather-light batter.

Try this with the Original Sauce; I reckon the heat of the Spicy Sauce or the sting of the Wasabi Sauce might overpower the tempura toppings.

Sure, the bowl looked impressive — designed to be photographed and shared on social media, perhaps — but even if it didn’t, a simple bowl of rice and fried ingredients will always go down easy.

This was effortless dining, straightforward fare to fill one’s stomach with sustenance even as the air is filled with laughter of old friends catching up.

Special Mix Tendon.
Special Mix Tendon.

Yumeji Tempura x Yakitori

L1-20, Ground Floor, Seventeen Mall, Jalan 17/28, Section 17, PJ

Open daily 11am-10pm

Phone: 019-504 5229



* This is an independent review where the writer paid for the meal.

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