Almost 4 years ago, I went to Tokyo as a stranger in strange land. The city was so packed with people it felt like rush hour at LRT station at all times. The language was incomprehensible, fashion was weird, everyone was so courteous and everything was uber orderly.
I arrived there at late March partly to coincide with the Hanami season (viewing of cherry blossom, or sakura). A friend had to reserved a spot at Ueno park from a night before just so that we get to picnic under the trees at the most famous hanami spot in Tokyo. We had loads of fun (despite my inability to communicate with most of them), it was an experience.
iketeru Japanese restaurant at KL Hilton
With that experience, I knew exactly what Hanami meant when Jean of KL Hilton contacted me for a food review at Iketeru for their Hanami Bento promotion. As to what would be in the bento, I had absolutely no idea.
I’ve heard good things about Iketeru, but this was the first time I went to this Japanese restaurant located on the 8th floor at Hilton. As you would expect from a 5-star hotel, the restaurant is beautifully decorated and has a very nice ambiance.
shrimp, octopus, and tempura, sea bream & tuna sashimi
Anyway, lets get on with the Bento.
There were nine dishes in all on the rather big bento box. As a rule of thumb, you should always start with dishes that are more subtle before moving to the stronger tasting ones. This applies to all sorts of cuisine and not just Japanese food.
The Tai (sea bream) and Toro (tuna belly) sashimi were of the finest quality and served with grated wasabi. That opened up my appetite pretty good.
The shrimp, green bean, egg custard, and octopus were very delicious too, but that little bowl of marinated something next to the shrimp (I couldn’t quite remember, a type of seafood it must be) was a bit too strong tasting for me, I’ll place that in the “too authentic” category. The small portion of tempura were just nice, and includes one of my favorite items, the Japanese pepper.
spring chirashi sushi, chilled sesame bean curd, teriyaki trout
The chilled sesame bean curd with bonito soya sauce tastes as exquisite as the way it was presented, and I love the little bowl of simmered bamboo shoot, eggplant, and especially the Japanese yam too.
The only grilled item on the bento was the teriyaki trout, and while trout isn’t exactly my favorite fish for grilling (I love salmon belly), this was rather good too.
Spring Chirashi Sushi serves as the main dish. I could taste plenty of tuna, ikura (salmon roe), amaebi (sweet shrimp), and even mushroom and a bit of vegetable in it. Very good combination.
nanohana blossom (vege), soup with bamboo shoot, mochi & fruits
The unsuspecting plate of vegetable is actually boiled nanohana blossom with mustard sauce. Nanohana has the unfortunate name in English as “Rape”, it tasted similar to “kai lan flower” but smoother and more refined.
Instead miso, we had clear soup with bamboo shoot and seaweed, subtle tasting, but a very good way to cleanse the palate before moving on to the final item, dessert, which consists of mochi with red beans that tasted as good as it was presented, and some fruits.
KY & chef Ricky Kamishi, Li Zhi & Jean from Hilton
Chef Ricky Kamishi joined us for a while and told us about the idea behind this Hanami Bento. I shouldn’t bore you with the whole experiencing “four season” through food and philosophies like that, but the guy is cool, and with a sense of humor too.
The bento is available all throughout March this year as some of the ingredients are seasonal. Priced at RM 220++ per box, it might come across as a bit steep for the common salary earner, but that is pretty much average for something of this quality and setting.
KL Hilton is located right next to KL Sentral
These shots were taken with my aging and pretty bulky SLR, Olympus just launched their latest micro four third camera – the Olympus PEN E-PL1 which combined the portability of a compact and prowess of an SLR. I’m gonna be getting one for review, but in the mean time, check out their microsite at evolvewitholympus.com.my
Iketeru Japanese Restaurant
8th floor, 3 Jalan Stesen Sentral,
50470 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: 03-2264 2264