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Category / By Invitation

A couple weeks ago we were invited to a special Japanese food event held at Yakitori Fukuda Dining at Evolve Mall, and since I had very good impression with their ten don (deep fried seafood with rice) dishes at Shitamichi Tendon Akitmitsu, it was a no brainer to participate. After all, these two restaurants share the same kitchen that is smacked right in between them.

Yakitori Dining Fukuda at Evolve Concept Mall, Ara Damansara
Yakitori Dining Fukuda at Evolve Concept Mall, Ara Damansara

For those of you who aren’t familiar with Evolved Concept Mall, it is one of the newest malls in town and located right next to the Ara Damansara LRT station. You can walk to the mall from the station in 5 minutes. Occupancy at the new mall isn’t quite close to full yet but there’s Jaya Grocer as the anchor tenant, so I assume it’ll do fine.

somen with chicken, eel, shrimp & vege, somen with chicken and lime
somen with chicken, eel, shrimp & vege, somen with chicken and lime

We started the day with a demonstration of somen, these are wheat flour noodle that’s pretty fine, almost “mee suah” fine and usually served cold. That proved to be very appropriate on a hot day. It was a good blend of savoury taste with sourish freshness especially for the version with lime. I think I may actually like this more than cha soba, and I do like cha soba on a hot afternoon.

You can also buy these pre-packaged somen and the associated sauce to be cooked at home.

pressed sushi with grilled conger eel
pressed sushi with grilled conger eel

Then there’s pressed sushi with grilled conger eel. Conger eel a different marine species of eel. The texture is a little more firm from unagi, though taste wise they do not differ very far. To be honest, I do like unagi just a little bit more, but anything with a dash of ikura never disappoint, as in this case.

deep fried Japanese yam with seaweed, chicken meatball with grated yam
deep fried Japanese yam with seaweed, chicken meatball with grated yam

Finally, we also sampled some of the dishes prepared using the imported Japanese yam. The deep fried Japanese yam with seaweed was my favorite, it was very light and packs a punch in flavors, which I suspect contributed by the seaweed. The deep fried yam in strips was much more muted in comparison.

The other yam related dish we tried was the bowl of rice topped with homemade chicken meatball and grated Japanese yam, which is served with a raw quail’s egg yolk, super creamy and perhaps a bit gooey if you’re not used to those type of taste.

and there's me with cheesiepetite!
and there’s me with cheesiepetite!

The food at this event was pretty decent, but I would certainly suggest that you try their ten dons first, especially if you’re those in favor for stronger taste. I’d want to go back to Fukuda to try their yakitori.

Evolve Concept Mall map

Address:
Yakitori Fukuda Dining

EV-G-09, Ground floor
Evolve Concept Mall
Pacific Place @ Ara Damansara
Petaling Jaya Selangor
GPS: 3.110532, 101.586864
Tel: 03-7831 9929
Hours: Monday to Friday, 11am to 3pm and 6pm to 9pm; Weekends and public holiday, 11am-9pm

We Malaysians love buffets, but more often than not, most buffets around Klang Valley offers a variety of many different cuisines, much like the cultural make up of the country, which allows us to sample many varying dishes at the same time. Now that’s not a bad thing, but sometimes, you just want to concentrate on (mostly) one single cuisine, and you want it buffet style.

If that’s your calling and your choice of cuisine happens to be Japanese food, then Tatsu’s Saturday dinner buffet may just be something you want to check out.

Authentic Japanese Buffet at Tatsu
Authentic Japanese Buffet at Tatsu

The Saturday dinner buffet featuring authentic Japanese cuisine started at on the 6th of August and will run through 26 November 2016. We were among the few fortunate invitees to be sampling the spread on the first day of its offering at Intercontinental Hotel.

The all-you-can-eat deal is priced at RM 118 nett per adult and RM 69 nett for children between age 5-11 years.

Sushi or Sashimi anyone?
Sushi or Sashimi anyone?

The spread is concocted by Assistant Chef Tommy Kuan and comprises of some 75 items, and obviously, we got the night started at the raw bar with some sushi & sashimi.

Here you find a selection of salmon, tuna, and butter fish sashimi in pretty generous cuts. There’s ebi, tamago, inari, sake, and maguro sushi as well as some sushi rolls to pick from. Quality are more than decent, though lacking some of the more premium ingredients like amaebi or otoro, this is to be expected at this price point I suppose.

onsen egg, baby octopus, and other small dishes
onsen egg, baby octopus, and other small dishes

Other dishes from the “appetizer” bar includes those perfectly prepared Onsen eggs, salad, baby octopus, and a selection of small Japanese vegetable dishes which I really enjoy.

some pre-cooked Japanese dishes too
some pre-cooked Japanese dishes too

For those who likes pre-cooked items, there are a few selections too. Udon, soup, chawamushi, edamame, spicy tofu, miso soup, and even Japanese curry. To be honest, these aren’t my usual dishes to go for in a buffet such as this, because what I really enjoy more is up next…

made to order teppanyaki dishes
made to order teppanyaki dishes

The live teppanyaki cooking!

Here you pick the ingredients (salmon, prawns, squid, butter fish, chicken, beef, mushroom, vege etc) and have the chef cook on the spot. They’re usually ready in 5-10 minutes and then you can enjoy the piping hot teppanyaki dishes. I thought their chicken teppanyaki was particularly delicious.

"ala minute" dishes - ebi tempura, saba, kaki furai, sawara teriyaki
“ala minute” dishes – ebi tempura, saba, kaki furai, sawara teriyaki

In addition to teppanyaki, there are also a selection of “ala minute” dishes you can order to be served to your table. These includes ebi tempura hand roll, California hand roll, salmon teriyaki, saba shioyaki, sanma shioyaki, chicken teriyaki, sawara teriyaki, tempura moraiwase, and kaki furai.

Some of these dishes tend to get tepid & tired looking on a buffet spread if they’ve been left there for a while, so having them freshly made to order is a great idea.

beautifully crafted desserts
beautifully crafted desserts

Then of course, there’s Japanese desserts such as shiratama zenzai (red bean soup with mochi), manju (traditional Japanese confection), and assortments of ice cream, including one of my favorites – black sesame flavor.

fruits, black sesame ice cream, onsen eggs, Haze & KY
fresh fruits, black sesame ice cream, onsen eggs, Haze & KY

I really enjoyed the buffet spread, and though it offers pretty decent value for the price at a up class hotel restaurant in the heart of KL. If you’re up to some authentic Japanese buffet, do not that the last day to enjoy this at Tatsu is at the end of November 2016, don’t miss out.

map to Intercontinental Hotel, KL

Address:
Tatsu Japanese Cuisine
Intercontinental Hotel

165 Jalan Ampang,
50450 Kuala Lumpur
GPS3.159767, 101.718045
Tel03-2161 1111
Webwww.intercontinental.com

The weekends before heading up to Mt. Kinabalu (will post that entry soon), we had the good fortune of having a proper French dinner at Rendez-Vous.

Rendez-Vous Traditional French Restaurant at Bangsar
Rendez-Vous Traditional French Restaurant at Bangsar

Situated at Lorong Maroof, the tagline for Rendez-Vous is “Your traditional French restaurant in Bangsar”. The restaurant does not pretend to be a fine dining establishment, but at the same time they do run it the “proper” way, utilizing imported ingredients in Chef Benjamin’s creation of succulent, seasonal dishes, maintain a comprehensive wine list, and having well trained staffs.

like all good meal, we started off with a simple amuse bouche
like all good meal, we started off with a simple amuse bouche

Impressively, they manage to do this at a price point that is accessible to most, with the three-course menu starts at RM 69 (four-course RM 115, five-course RM 159). Main dishes are priced from RM 36 (stuffed chicken) to RM 89 (ribeye), again, rather reasonable.

cocktails, and “Meli-melo de rillettes de poisons”
cocktails, and “Meli-melo de rillettes de poisons”

Our first starter for the night was “Meli-melo de rillettes de poisons” (RM 23), or duo of seabass and tuna mousse served with baguette and crostini bread. I’ve had tuna mousse before, but seabass was my first, and I must say the lighter and more refine taste works out pretty well in this.

We also had a couple cocktails to get the mood flowing. If you have specific preference, do tell the in-house mixologist as he’ll be more than happy to customize a cocktail to your taste.

“Escargots a la Bourguigonne”, Narrow Valley Souvignon Blanc
“Escargots a la Bourguigonne”, Narrow Valley Souvignon Blanc

Second starter was the snails with parsley and garlic butter sauce in vol au vent, or “Escargots a la Bourguigonne” (RM 28). This doesn’t come with any shells (they’re recycled shells at any restaurants anyway) and the garlic butter sauce gives the snail meat a really smooth and buttery texture which was really complete with the Souvignon Blanc pairing with its contrasting mild acidic taste.

“Foie Gras de Canard”, Porto Cruz Tawny
“Foie Gras de Canard”, Porto Cruz Tawny

Then there was “Foie Gras de Canard” (RM 48), or duck foie gras de terrine, port wine and spices, mushrooms flavours. We had this with Porto Cruz tawny, a sweeter drink that complements the really rich starter pretty well. I though the bits of smoked duck breasts adds to the complexity of the dish and break the monotony of those blended liver.

“Fillet de daurade en croute”, Colombelle Coeur de Gascogne wine
“Fillet de daurade en croute”, Colombelle Coeur de Gascogne wine

We shared a couple different main dishes between the two of us, starting with “Fillet de daurade en croute” (RM 58) or seabass filet, creamy carrot puree and avruga caviar, citrus vinaigrette. The fish was cooked just right those caviar really does add a dash of luxury to the dish. I did enjoy having the citrus with the fish more than I thought I would, quite a bit of revelation really.

We had another glass of wine to pair with our main dishes, but I’d be lying if I tell you I know anything about.

"Poulet façon cocotte", or stuffed chicken with French mash potato and creamy mushroom
“Poulet façon cocotte” – stuffed chicken w French mash potato & creamy mushroom

The 2nd main dish was their cheapest on the menu – “Poulet façon cocotte” (RM 36), or stuffed chicken, French mash potato and creamy mushroom. I was rather curious on how they manage to prepare the chicken into a big ice hockey puck shape, but it was easy to eat. The poultry was quite moist and succulent. It is a modest dish but one that is more than decent if you’re not into fancier dishes.

Other main dishes available here includes pork belly, pork blood sausage, braised beef chunks, pan seared lamb, and a few other fish dishes.

Fromages - Seasonal selection of French cheeses
Fromages – Seasonal selection of French cheeses, Bonpas Côtes du Rhône

We bridged the main dishes and desserts with a selection of cheese (RM 29 small, RM 46 big platter) to go with Bonpas Côtes du Rhône. If you’re a cheese lover, you’d definitely enjoy this, the brie was really soft and rather strong, but my favorite was the blue cheese, positively pungent and really really strong. It’s a bit like durian, you either love it or you despise it.

“Delice au chocolat et caramel”, “Tarte au citron meringue”, Le Contesse Prosecco di Treviso Extra Dry
“Delice au chocolat et caramel”, “Tarte au citron meringue”,
Le Contesse Prosecco di Treviso Extra Dry

By the time we reached desserts, I’ve already had way too much alcohol & food in me, but we were still presented with two plates of beautifully crafted dishes it was tough to resist.

Delice au chocolat et caramel” (RM 22) was  as expected, rich, smooth, and not overly sweet, while the “Tarte au citron meringue” (RM 17), or lemon tart with hard and soft meringue was perfect if you don’t want something overly heavy to end the night. The tart was quite light and fluffy.

Haze & KY at Rendez-Vous, Bangsar
Haze & KY at Rendez-Vous, Bangsar

If you haven’t had proper French cuisine due to price or you’re not one of those who likes to dress up for a fancy fine dining meal that lasts 3 hours, Rendez-Vous is a place you need to check out.

rendez-vous bangsar direction

Address:
Rendez-Vous Traditional French Restaurant
100, Lorong Maarof, Bangsar Park,
59000 Kuala Lumpur
GPS: 3.132636, 101.673110
Tel: 03-2202 0206

The weekend prior to Hari Raya, we went up to Penang for a little staycation getaway at Rasa Sayang Resort and Spa. The trip was quite a special one for me for reason that may be different from most. Close to two decades ago, I worked at the very same hotel as a casual worker and used to think “what if I was a guest there one day…”, and that day came true.

The Spice Market Cafe at Rasa Sayang, Penang
The Spice Market Cafe at Rasa Sayang, Penang

I will write about the hotel and our experience staying there next, but today let’s talk about their huge dinner buffet at Spice Market Cafe located at the Garden Wing (the “right” side).

seafood on ice, baked salmon
seafood on ice, baked salmon

Dinner starts at 6:30 pm to 10:30 pm every evening and it’s the all you can eat affair. Priced at RM 185 nett for adults, it is also the buffet that offers one of the biggest selections of dishes on the island.

You have a choice of indoor seating that requires fewer steps to get to all those dishes, or alfresco dining area right next to the unique free-form swimming pool surrounded by their huge garden complete with giant rain tree by the beach.

Indian & Malay cuisines, selections of salad
Indian & Malay cuisines, selection of salad

The dishes include authentic ethnic cuisines from diverse cultures – including Chinese (with chef from China doing freshly made “knife slice noodle”), Indian, Nyonya, Japanese, Thai, Malay, and Western.

freshly made noodle, slipper lobster, local dishes, juices
freshly made noodle, slipper lobster, local dishes, juices

Some of the must-tries are the slipper lobsters either as-is, or covered in sauce, sashimi, roast beef, and snow crab. We also really enjoyed their selection of cheese, but the number one favorite for all three of us for the night though, was their deep fried soft-shell crab, it had just the right amount of seasoning that reminds me of some of the best banana leaf side dishes I’ve had the pleasure to taste.

desserts, ice cream, fruits, and even roast beef
desserts, ice cream, fruits, and even roast beef

If you just try a spoonful from each dish, you’ll probably need at least several visits to sample everything, the selection is huge. Unlike most buffet places that only serves water, there are also a selection of juice to go about.

mom, Haze, KY & Kit the F&B guy at Rasa Sayang
mom, Haze, KY & Kit the F&B guy at Rasa Sayang

If your wife or girlfriend can’t decide what to eat, this is not a best place to be. There bound to be something that’ll tickle her senses. I know my mom was more than satisfied.

map to rasa sayang

Address:
Spice Market Cafe
Rasa Sayang
Batu Ferringhi Main Road,
Kampung Tanjung Huma,
11100 Batu Feringgi, Pulau Pinang
GPS5.478865, 100.254181
Tel+604-888 8888

I’ve always had problems with parking and navigating within Publika. The place has the most confusing lettering/numbering system for floors. There are numerous different “ground levels”, and some parking lots aren’t connected to each other the way a logically sound person may expect.

That being said, the place is also packed with huge amount of restaurants offering various different dining concepts, and often in relatively affordable price range due to the immense competition. Today, we’re going to look at Tsubohachi Hokkaido Izakaya. One of the Japanese restaurants that is undoubtedly among one of my favorites in the area.

Tsubohachi Hokkaido Izakaya, Publika
Tsubohachi Hokkaido Izakaya, Publika

Izakaya is basically an informal Japanese gastropub, a place caters for after-work drinking and dining session not entirely unlike many of the Western pubs/bars, but one that obviously serves Japanese cuisine.

Tsubohachi is a renowned chain with over 300 outlets in Japan since its inception 40 years ago at Hokkaido, and currently is one of the two izakaya outlets in Publika, the other being Senya Izakaya owned by the Sushi Train group.

Our first time visiting Tsubohachi Hokkaido Izakaya was with Cheesie sampling their normal menu, but this time around we were invited to try their special Zuwaigani (snow crab) menu. How could I say no?

zuwaigani nabe (snow crab hotpot)
zuwaigani nabe (snow crab hotpot)

The snow crab menu is available till late July, but do call up to make sure its availability. Then again, the usual menu is quite extensive and certainly worthy of a visit or three.

Our session started with zuwagani nabe, or snow crab hot pot (RM 79.90). Basically half a raw snow crab (male, female would have too little meat) with fresh vegetable, tofu, and mushroom in a hot pot. Certainly a luxury comfort dish that is perfect especially on a rainy day, or any day for that matter.

The crab made the soup oh so sweet, it was as good as I had hoped.

aburi zuwaigani, kani chawanmushi
aburi zuwaigani, kani chawanmushi

For those who likes it grilled, aburi zuwaigani (RM 58) should satisfy your cravings. A no-nonsense and unadultered way of enjoying snow crab with maybe just a little squeeze of lemon. Snow crab has a much softer shell than our Malaysian mud crabs, so getting a “perfect” peel is an easier job.

Kani chawanmushi (RM 12.90) too is worth trying if you just want to lux up the ordinary Japanese steamed egg with some snow crab meat.

zuwaigani sarada, aburi zuwaigani hakozushi
zuwaigani sarada, aburi zuwaigani hakozushi

Want more greens? Try zuwaigani sarada, or snow crab salad (RM 22.90), though all those mayonnaise may discount the perceived healthiness of this salad dish, but those savory taste combined with sweetness of snow crab makes it worth the extra calories.

Aburi zuwaigani hakozushi (RM 35.00) is another dish we tried that incorporate liberal use of those savory Japanese mayo. The pressed sushi was certainly delicious, though I always find mayo & wasabi sort of clashes a bit with each other.

ankake kani chahan, kani zosui, zuwaigani masu-zushi
ankake kani chahan, kani zosui, zuwaigani masu-zushi

Rice or porridge? Take your pick in ankake kani chahan (RM 22.90), or kani zosui (RM 29.90). Neither should disappoint as they were both expertly prepared and show cases the sweetness of snow crab through the simplicity of the dishes. I can have either of these for lunch and be a happy man.

If you like things in small packages, try the zuwaigani masu-zushi (RM 21.90). A tiny box of sushi rice with generous amount of snow crab meat on top. Just enough to taste, but unless you have had stomach stapling surgery, this can’t be your only dish for the night.

a selection of yakitori, chicken, pork, mushroom
a selection of yakitori, chicken, pork, mushroom

All the trying pretty much all the snow crab dishes sans tempura & sushi, we got greedy and decided to sample some of their signature yakitori dishes.

We tried chicken skin, bishop’s nose, chicken soft bone, chicken neck, pork belly, and mushroom. They came in both salted or in teriyaki, and I wished I had enough stomach space left to order a beer to go with these. Yakitori dishes are priced mostly at RM 7.80 to 9.80 for two sticks, pretty decent deal if you asked me.

Johnny, KY, Kelvin, Haze, macha de roru
Johnny, KY, Kelvin, Haze, macha de roru

Our final dish of the night was macha de roru as dessert, a sweet ending to a satisfying review session. I certainly don’t mind coming back here again, good food, great value, and without fuss, there should be more izakaya around town!

map to Solaris Dutamas

Address:
Tsubohachi Hokkaido Izakaya
A2-UG1-9, Publika

Solaris Dutamas, Kuala Lumpur
GPS3.170961, 101.665721
Tel: 03-6206 5526
Website: www.tsubohachi.com.my