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When it comes to Japanese restaurants, KL is spoiled for choices. Probably 80% of the hotels has an in house Japanese restaurant, there bound to be a place serving sushi at every shopping complex, and they are also represented in most newer commercial centers.

It is then very easy to get lost in the conversation, and higher end Japanese restaurants often have to offer something unique to set themselves apart. Be it ambiance, ingredients, or experience.

Zipangu at Shangri-La Hotel, KL
Zipangu at Shangri-La Hotel, KL

Personally, Zipangu at Shangri-La KL always have a special place in my heart as it was the restaurant where I first experienced foie gras back in 2007, as you would remember the first Kobe beef (at Elegantology), or the first ebiko (at Jusco Pyramid), first tempoyak (at Tenggol Island), etc.

So when I had the opportunity to be sample the Early Spring Lobster Kaiseki at Zipangu, I agreed to it immediately.

The six course menu is available from 15 to 31st March 2015, and priced at RM 280++ per person.

soy milk tofu with lobster & sweet sticky soya sauce
soy milk tofu with lobster & sweet sticky soya sauce

We started out with a dish that is visually very similar to chawanmushi, but what is usually made of steamed egg is instead chilled home-made soy milk tofu, with the topping of wasabi, sweet sticky sauce, and of course, lobster. The visual-almost-misrepresentation did not take away from the brilliance of the appetizer, it was simple yet elegant.

octopus with field mushroom and soba noodle
octopus with field mustard and soba noodle

The second course was octopus with field mustard and soba noodle. Another light dish showcasing not only seafood, but also the vegetables of the season in Japan. I particularly like the addition of bamboo shoots.

sashimi with salmon, lobster, and seabream
sashimi with salmon, lobster, and seabream

No Kaiseki is complete without some raw ingredients. For this we have sashimi with salmon, lobster, and seabream. If you haven’t had lobster sashimi before, I urge you to give it a try, it is one of my favorite raw seafood ever, in fact, I think it is the best way to enjoy lobster.

The soya sauce is mixed with lemon in this instance to give it an even fresher feel. I really enjoyed this.

hot dish - lobster and seasonal vegetables with Bonito fish gut sauce
hot dish – lobster and seasonal vegetables with Bonito fish gut sauce

The meal then turn up the heat just a bit with the next serving being a hot dish of lobster and seasonal vegetable with salted fish cream sauce. The star of this dish is the cream sauce, as explained by our server, it is actually made from Bonito fish gut.

It was subtle yet you can definitely feel its presence, sort of like how having Natalie Portman sitting at a quiet corner would make an impact to a room.

grilled Wagyu sukiyaki roll
grilled Wagyu sukiyaki roll

The next dish took a departure from seafood to honor another Japan’s famous ingredient – Wagyu beef. The good chefs at Zipangu simply called this Sliced Wagyu Beef Sukiyaki Roll.

It was stuffed with mushroom and other seasonal vegetables grilled with perfection. Dip the roll in raw egg infused sukiyaki inspired sauce, and you have an implosion of richness with savory overdose. It was really satisfying.

lobster fried rice with pickles
lobster fried rice with pickles

Like most course meals, the penultimate dish is usually something you can fill your stomach with, and for this we had lobster fried rice (you can also choose from garlic fried rice, seafood fried rice, claypot cooked rice or steamed rice.)

The fried rice tasted rather muted at first, but with the accompanying pickles, it suddenly became balanced and, well, good! The lack of salt/soya sauce in the rice was to make way for the pickles, this was the first time I had fried rice this way, though the concept isn’t totally unfamiliar to me since you have onigiri served in similar fashion as well.

KY & ahfa at Shangri-La KL, with our professional Japanese server
KY & ahfa at Shangri-La KL, with our professional Japanese server
(actually the Guest Service Manager – Yoshihiro Hattori)

Panna Cotta with Cherry Blossom Flavour ends the Early Spring Lobster Kaiseki dinner, an experience that is truly Japanese and executed perfectly at Zipangu. I really enjoyed this review and the walk from KLCC under hot sun to Shangri-La was definitely worth it.

The menu only lasts till end of this month, so if you’re a lobster lover, don’t miss out.

Map to Shangri-la Hotel, KL

Address:
Zipangu
Shangri-la Hotel
Jalan Sultan Ismail
Kuala Lumpur

GPS: 3.152139, 101.709419
Tel: 03-2032 2388

A couple weeks ago I participated in a pretty special gastronomical event – the Martell Tricentenaire Gala Dinner at Genting Highland. I think it is safe to say that having a product on the market for 300 years is an amazing feat.

Martell Tricentenaire Gala Dinner, Genting Highland
Martell Tricentenaire Gala Dinner, Genting Highland

When the house of Martell was founded in 1715, the Ottoman Empire still exists, United States as a country has yet to be formed for another 60 years, and KangXi emperor was ruling China (there’s a joke that goes “which Chinese emporer is blind?”). Who would have thought that the same product still exists after a dozen generations later?

Martell Cordon Bleu, Martell Cordon Bleu 1912, Martell XO
Martell Cordon Bleu, Martell Cordon Bleu 1912, Martell XO

To celebrate this occasion, Martell hosted a grand gala dinner at Genting International Convention Centre, and I was very lucky to be among the invitees. The gala dinner drew from the tradition of Jean Martell, the creator of this fine cognac 300 years ago, who loved to host his friends at Chateau de Chanteloup, purchased by the Martell family to receive prestigious personalities from around the world.

As a celebration of the art of gastronomy, Martell arranged for Elegantology to prepare food. I’ve sampled their food on a previous occasion before, so you could say that I have some high expectations.

Citrus Infused King Prawn & Salmon Tartare
Citrus Infused King Prawn & Salmon Tartare

We started the night with Citrus Infused King Prawn and Salmon Tartare. The dish came with poached king prawns on skewer with avocado, and marinated salmon tartare & a side of yee sang to keep honor the Malaysian Chinese New Year tradition of “Lou Sang” (which was done on stage as well). We paired the starter with Martell Cordon Bleu.

Black Chicken Ginseng Soup with Abalone, Sea Cucumber, Scallops, and Fish Maw
Black Chicken Ginseng Soup with Abalone, Sea Cucumber, Scallops, Fish Maw

The second dish was not on the menu, but turned out to be our favorite of the night. A luxurious black chicken ginseng soup that is laden with abalone, sea cucumber, scallops, fish maw, and mushroom.

It was one of the best double boiled soup I’ve ever had, I would place it even higher than the one from Elegant Inn, which I really liked. It was complex, sweet, and yet not overly thick or complicated. If I can have one soup for the rest of my life, it’ll be a toss up between this and the best of what bak kut teh can offer.

Peppercorn Marinated Smoked Duck & Foie Gras Terrine
Peppercorn Marinated Smoked Duck & Foie Gras Terrine
Sea Bass, Steamed on Rich and Spicy Broth Infused with Tumeric & Egg

Continuing with the European theme, we then had peppercorn marinated smoked duck & foie gras terrine served on onion confit and raspberry vinaigrette. Smoked duck did not disappoint, but I had wished that they would serve foie gras as is instead of in the form of terrine. Then again, if you have to prepare food for some 1000 people, I suppose getting perfectly seared foie gras and served while hot may be a tall order.

Next up was steamed sea bass on rich and spicy broth infused with turmeric and egg white on asparagus. We paired this seafood with Martell Cordon Bleu 1912, a special re-edition of the classic cognac Martell Cordon Bleu, originally created by Edouard Martell in 1912.

The spicy broth gave the dish a hint of South Asian style, which is just as well since a slice of pita bread is served along side with the fish. Quite a bold play, and I think it worked.

Mediterranean Herb Crusted Loin of Lamb
Mediterranean Herb Crusted Loin of Lamb

Mediterranean Herb Crusted Loin of Lamb was our main dish – oven baked lamb with a medley of braised rice cake, cep mushroom essence and truffle. The lamb went really well with Martell XO, as with any perfectly prepared red meat would.

The herbal crust gave the lamb a bit of texture and character, while the truffle infused sauce made it richer, thus perfect for XO as a companion.

Ashley, KY, Haze, Garick, Sam, Michael
Ashley, KY, Haze, Garick, Sam, Michael

We did not stay for dessert as we had something planned early in next morning. The gala dinner, like other Martell gastronomy events I had the privilege to attend, was grand and impressive. I want to thank Angie for the invitation, until next time!

A week or so ago I was invited by Haze’s friend to a small food review session at Scott Garden’s AfterWerk pub/bar. This isn’t usually my type of place to look for food, but since it’s a friend, why not?

As it turns out, you can sometimes find decent food at unsuspecting places.

AfterWerk at Scott Garden, ground floor at the left corner
AfterWerk at Scott Garden, ground floor at the left corner, with live band

AfterWerk is operated by the same people who used to run Pedro’s Place, a new management/owner for the last half a year or so.

The restaurant/pub is located on the left corner of Scott’s Garden on the ground floor, you can park your car in the huge indoor parking, or right outside the restaurant aka valet/illegal style.

Like most pubs/bar, AfterWerk offers a variety of cocktails, beer, whisky, and there’s dart machine, and most importantly, an ass-kicking 8 piece Filipino band that actually sings very well! (We stayed for quite a few songs after the food review session)

we started with French Onion Soup
we started with French Onion Soup

Anyway, since the owner previously ran proper restaurant, food isn’t something of an after thought here. The menu consists of a mixture of Mexican/Western and local dishes. Prices are pretty decent, as with most pubs that usually make a lion’s share of their revenue from drinks instead.

For the purpose of this visit, we sampled four of their dishes.

We kicked off the night with French Onion soup that comes with a floating piece of cheese and a side of garlic/cheese bread. The serving was rather big for a starter but I don’t even mind, it was really delicious. The savory of cheese with those broth really worked well.

Chili Burger with a side of fries
Chili Burger with a side of fries

Next up was their Chili Beef Burger. This rendition of the popular American staple comes with a rather thick patty and plenty of chili with a layer of melted cheese on top. You can request the chili to be mild or really hot, we had it probably somewhere in the middle.

While I liked the chili, I thought the thick patty was not nearly as fatty as I usually liked them. Then again it is probably a good thing for those who are slightly more health conscious. A pretty decent burger otherwise.

half a rack of ribs, jalapeno poppers
half a rack of ribs, jalapeno poppers 

The four of us then shared a half rack of pork ribs. The ribs properly prepared and came with a layer of BBQ sauce plastered all over. The meat was soft and savory, I find myself really enjoying it despite being pretty stuffed from the previous two courses. Definitely worth checking out if you’re a fan of pork ribs. It could maybe be slightly saltier, but I’m just nitpicking.

Other than the three dishes,  we also sampled one of their beer food – jalapeno poppers. This turned out to be pretty hot, and perhaps slightly too hot even for me but I imagine it’d be pretty awesome with some ice cold beer. Jalapeno is like any peppers, the level of spiciness is not constant, sometimes you get it hot, and sometimes they are mild.

Haze & KY, Reiko & friend
Haze & KY, Reiko & friend at work

If you’re close to the vicinity of Scott Garden, AfterWerk is definitely a decent place to check out if you’re up for a beer of three, but I would also consider it a good option for some late dinner as well.

map to Scott Garden at Old Klang Road

Address:
Afterwerk
Scott Garden
Jalan Klang Lama,
58100 Kuala Lumpur
GPS: 3.094886, 101.674963
Tel: 03-7982 0700
Hours: 4pm to 2am

I don’t go to a lot of invited dinners, usually preferring local fair and hawker delights over dine-in restaurants, but when the invitation from Svago via MyCloudTable promising a 5-course all-truffle arrived, I just couldn’t say no.

'Diamond of the Kitchen" Fine Dining Event at Svago, KLCC
‘Diamond of the Kitchen” Fine Dining Event at Svago, KLCC

Svago is located at KLCC, around the fountain and closest to Mandarin Oriental Hotel. A pretty classy set up overlooking the greenery that is the KLCC garden.

Our dinner was called “Diamond of the Kitchen”, which denotes to black truffles, one of the most prized ingredients in European cuisines. Svago’s Chef de Cuisine, Miguel Huelamo Estrada, was the man behind this creation of 5 course dinner. We also had 4 exquisite wines to be paired with for the evening’s dinner.

Fantastic, isn’t it?

Butternut Squash Crème with White Truffle Yogurt
Butternut Squash Crème with White Truffle Yogurt

To start with, we have Butternut Squash Crème with White Truffle Yogurt, with the pairing of Craggy Range Te Muna Road Riesling, New Zealand.

The creme did have a pretty strong white truffle aroma and the butternut squash was smooth and creamy, but the sourness of yogurt was perhaps a little too strong for me. The riesling though, was fantastic, with intense aromatics of orange blossom, lime peel, and jasmine (of course this is from the tasting note, but I really liked the reisling)

Tuna Tartar with Shaved Truffle, Avocado, Pickled Red Radish, Corn and Alfalfa Sprouts
Tuna Tartar w Shaved Truffle, Avocado,
Pickled Red Radish, Corn and Alfalfa Sprouts

The second dish of the night was Tuna Tartar w Shaved Truffle, Avocado, Pickled Red Radish, Corn and Alfalfa Sprouts to paired with Klein Constantia KC Rose, South Africa.

The tuna tartar was one of my favorite dishes of the night, and thankfully the portion was pretty big as well. Those shaved truffles gave the tuna an extra dimension that really complements each other well. Avocado, pickled red radish and alfafa sprouts adds to the complexity and gave it texture. Excellent dish.

The Rose had a hint of citrus and orange blossom aroma while being crisp and displaying balanced acidity, a wine that’s very easy to drink and I suspect would go well with any sort of dessert.

Shrimp, Chicken and Sherry Wine preserved Truffle Empanada (European baked dumpling)
Shrimp, Chicken and Sherry Wine preserved Truffle Empanada
(European baked dumpling)

We continued the night with Shrimp, Chicken and Sherry Wine preserved Truffle Empanada (or European baked dumpling). An interesting dish that was a little crispy and really not too different from your regular Chinese style fried dumpling, though the presence of truffle did add to the flavor just a little bit. I wasn’t particularly impressed with this version to be honest.

We had Val de Sil Godello D.O Valdeorras from Spain to go with this dish. With the aroma of white flower and ripe pear and almonds with lemonpeel palate, the white wine did not disappoint.

Black Angus Prime Roast Beef with Truffle Buttered Potato Mash*
Black Angus Prime Roast Beef with Truffle Buttered Potato Mash

Main dish came in the form of Black Angus Prime Roast Beef with Truffle Buttered Potato Mash. As far as roast beef goes, you can’t really get much better than this, it’s soft, tender, and succulent. Though I would prefer a thick steak any day, you still can’t fault this dish. The truffle buttered infused mash too is something no mash potato fan can shy away.

The red wine that was chosen to be paired with the red meat was Bodegas Sottano Reserva de Familia Malbec, Argentina. The red was balanced yet complex while carrying the aroma of cherry and blackberry. I like its fruitiness.

White Chocolate Mousse Apricot Truffle and Shortbread
White Chocolate Mousse Apricot Truffle and Shortbread, KY & Joyee

We ended the night with White Chocolate Mousse Apricot Truffle and Shortbread, a dessert that is pretty ordinary except for the apricot truffle. Those bits of apricot had a taste that is very unique, I’ve had truffle with meat, butter, and even bread, but never with fruit, and I could only describe it as excellent!

Overall it was a more than decent meal with certainly more hits than misses. We love the atmosphere and certainly welcomed the explanation of the wines by the Sommelier.

I also want to thank mycloudtable.com for organizing this session.

map of KLCC

Address:
Svago Cucina e Musica
Kuala Lumpur City Center
Lot G45B-136,
Suria KLCC, Kuala Lumpur
GPS: 3.158126, 101.711833
Tel: 03-2163 0188

It’s that time of the year again, CNY dinner previews is in vogue, so a few days ago I stopped by Ti Chen Chinese Restaurant at Saujana Golf & Country Club to sample what they have to offer for the year of Goat.

Ti Chen is actually under the same management as Saujana KL, situated just a stone’s throw away from the hotel. Parking is quite a hassle free experience, and the restaurant has a nice overview of the lush green lawn and gentle slopes of the golf course, which exudes a very nice ambiance that promotes tranquility out of the hustle and bustle of the city life.

Ti Chen Chinese Restaurant at Saujana Golf & Country Club
Ti Chen Chinese Restaurant at Saujana Golf & Country Club

For 2015, Ti Chen offers three different set menus priced from RM 1168++, RM 1468++, and RM 1968++ to choose from. You can also add 200++ to each of those menu to add alcoholic beverages to the package (some pretty good House label wine selections).

For the purpose of this media review, we sampled 9 dishes hand picked from the 3 menus.

For more details on the promotion, head to shr.my/the-saujana-hotel/dining/ti-chen/

Sea Bird's Nest Yee Sang with Cheery Sauce
Sea Bird’s Nest Yee Sang with Cheery Sauce

We started the night with Sea Bird’s Nest Yee Sang with Cheery Sauce (and added some smoked salmon for good measure too).

The Yee Sang here is closer to the traditional type with crispy crackers and colorful ingredients, with the chef’s special cherry sauce separating it from other run-off-the-mill yee sang. It is a little more fruity and interesting, though I still find myself preferring the more modern type of yee sang with fresh fruits and vegetables that is fast gaining popularity.

double boiled free range chicken with ginseng soup
double boiled free range chicken with ginseng soup

Like all decent Chinese set menu, the second dish is always some type of soup, and I’m again happy to see the departure from the shark’s fins.

The double boiled free range chicken with ginseng soup packs a punch. It was overloaded with sweetness from the chicken and dates with a great balance from herbal ingredients. I really enjoyed this.

homemade roasted sesame pei pa duck & steamed sabah sea garupa
homemade roasted sesame pei pa duck & steamed sabah sea garupa

Continuing with another poultry dish was the homemade roasted sesame pei pa duck that I thought went very well with some Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon. The red wine compliments the duck rather well. Though I’ve had better pei pa duck, this version could hold its own.

Steamed Sabah sea garoupa with tong kwai soya sauce came next, and this was easily my favorite dish of the night. The fish was steamed just right, preserving the freshness and sweetness from the seafood with the light superior soya sauce and tong kwai subtly giving the dish a little bit of character. I also love the way the way our server expertly carved out 10 different pieces of the fish for everyone. It was delightful.

braised seasonal vegetable with dried oyster, wok fried prawns
braised seasonal vegetable with dried oyster, wok fried prawns

Braised seasonal vegetable with dried oyster and duo mushrooms is another pretty common dish in Chinese set menu, and this version is certainly up to the standard. I particularly enjoyed those thick and juicy “abalone mushroom”.

For those who loves shellfish, there’s wok fried prawns with butter sauce. This version is the wetter and non crispy type that is a little messier to consume, but as a bonus it is also a little more flavorful with the butter sauce seeping into the seafood. I also find that the prawns were very fresh as well.

braised crispy noodle with seafood & crab roe, desserts
braised crispy noodle with seafood & crab roe, dessert

The stomach stuffer in our session was the braised crispy noodles with seafood and crab roe, a pretty luxurious dish that you could have as a whole meal in itself. The seafood, and especially those crab roe were super sinful and delicious, it was too bad that I was rather full by this time.

Like any other CNY set menu, a sweet ending was provided. For this purpose we were served with chilled dried lime and sea cococnut with aloe vera in longan soup (what a long name) and chilled mochi & Shanghai lotus pancake.

I thought the longan soup was perhaps a little bit too sweet, but the lotus pancake, being one of my all time favorite Chinese desserts, was quite awesome. The mochi was not something I remember though.

KY & Kerol at Ti Chen, Saujana Golf & Country Club
KY & Kerol at Ti Chen, Saujana Golf & Country Club

Overall I thought the experience at Ti Chen was pretty positive. Food was right up there with the other big boys and Saujana certainly provides a superior location in terms of ambiance and hassle free parking.

Details of the sets:

  • 9 course auspicious good luck set (RM 1168++): salmon yee sang, braised crab meat seafood treasure soup, steamed river patin with hot & sour sauce, braised seasonal vegetables with dried oyster & duo mushrooms
  • 9 course auspicious good fortune set (RM 1468++): double boiled cordyceps, flower with spring chicken soup, homemade roasted sesame pei pa duck, steamed sabah sea garoupa with tong kwai soya sauce, braised fish maw, sea cucumber & dried oysters with broccoli flower
  • 9 course auspicious good health set (RM 1968++): double boiled free range chicken with ginseng soup, stewed chicken with chestnut, shiitake mushrooms and young bamboo shoots, steamed white pomfret with suprior soya sauce, wok fried prawns with butter sauce

The sets are priced for 10 pax, but you can also order them for minimum of 5 pax.

map to Saujana Kuala Lumpur

Address:
Ti Chen
Saujana Golf & Country Club,
Jalan Lapangan Terbang SAAS,

40150 Selangor
GPS3.106865, 101.575285
Tel03-7846 1466
emailinfo@thesaujana.com