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Category / By Invitation

Chinese New Year is around the corner, so I guess it is appropriate to participate in at least one CNY dinner review session, and since Intercontinental Hotel is nearby my workplace as well as having a sterling reputation in their culinary department, I decided that paying a visit to their Tao Chinese Cuisine for this very purpose should be a rewarding experience, and indeed it was.

Tao Chinese Cuisine at Intercontinental KL, with Chef Wong Lian You
Tao Chinese Cuisine at Intercontinental KL, with Chef Wong Lian You

Tao is headed by Chef Wong Lian You, who joined Intercontinental since 2012 to develop the concept behind this restaurant. The good chef has a long list of awards won in competitions, but above all, he is also humble character who does not shy away from being bold with his culinary inventions.

The CNY menu starts from 11 January to 22 February, 2016 and priced from RM 1,888. There’s also a 20% discount with payments made before 18 January 2016, but I guess this article is a little too late for that.

For our session, we tasted the Opulence set menu 3, priced at RM 2988 for a full table. A bottle of wine comes compliment with the dinner.

Bird’s nest with passion fruit sauce yee sang
Bird’s nest with passion fruit sauce yee sang

We started out with a rather special yee sang dish invented by Chef Wong – bird’s nest with passion fruit sauce yee sang. Other than traditional yee sang ingredients, there’s deep-fried salmon skin and bird’s nest in the mix, the use of fresh passion fruit as the base instead of palm sauce also made the experience rather unique.

I find myself enjoying it a bit too much actually.

Double-boiled fish maw with sea treasure soup
Double-boiled fish maw with sea treasure soup

Next up was double-boiled fish maw with sea treasure soup. The soup is served in individual bowl and packed with flavors  – there’s scallop, abalone, mushroom, chicken, and of course, fish maw. Certainly very satisfying, and beat the radish soup from my own kitchen by about 26.2 miles.

Braised eight treasureS duck
Braised eight treasures duck

Braised either treasure duck show cases the chef’s skill in combining different traditional ingredients in a duck braised to perfection. I don’t want to attempt to pretend that I remember the different individual ingredients, and was too busy chomping down the dish while other more serious journalists were taking notes.

Steamed Soloman star garoupa, stewed abalone with sea cucumber
Steamed Soloman star garoupa, stewed abalone with sea cucumber

CNY dinner menu is never complete without fish, and for this we have steamed Soloman star garoupa with braised tangerine skin, ginger, garlic and mushroom sauce. The fish was good and certainly packed with flavor, the tangerin skin gave it a bit of sophistication not usually associated with Chinese style fish. Part of me still want to have the good old old fashion steamed variety with soya sauce though.

Another classic dish served was the stewed abalone with sea cucumber and bean curd skin bag. This dish was executed as good as any I’ve tried in the past, and abalone is never disappointing.

Wok-fried AlaskaN king crab leg with salted egg sauce, lap mei fan
Wok-fried Alaskan king crab leg with salted egg sauce, lap mei fan

Fifth dish in the 7-course dinner is one that combines luxury with modern, perhaps Malaysian Chinese style of cooking – wok-fried Alaksan king crab leg with salted egg sauce.  Rich, strong tasting, and certainly delicious, the crab leg is also easy to handle and a definite joy to eat.

The penultimate dish was chef Wong’s lap mei fan – steamed glutinous rice with preserved duck leg, salted egg yolk and dried oyster. If you still have space left in your stomach by then, this dish will fit the bill just nice, if not, packing it home for next day’s breakfast is certainly a good alternative.

Pan-fried “ninko” with sesame seeds, salted bean paste dumpling served with chilled peach gum, papaya, snow fungus and glutinous dumpling in soya bean
desserts to end the night, KY & Xing Yi

For dessert, we had pan-fried “ninko” with sesame seeds, salted bean paste dumpling served with chilled peach gum, papaya, snow fungus and glutinous dumpling in soya bean, which actually sounds like two different dishes to me. I absolutely loved the ninko which carries a taste not entirely unlike salted caramel mixed with lotus paste + nian gao, you have to try it! The soya bean dessert also served as good and slightly sweetish ending to the awesome 7-course dinner.

I want to thank Lisa & Justina for the invitation, and Xing Yi for being the stand-in partner in crime for this session.

map to Intercontinental Hotel, KL

Address:
Tao Chinese Cuisine
Intercontinental Hotel

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

When thinking about Japanese restaurants, SS15 in Subang and KL city centre area usually spring to mind, and it wasn’t until I was invited by Logan to sample the food at Ishin Japanese Dining that there are actually good Japanese outlets in the relative older part of town that is Old Klang Road.

Ishin Japanese Dining, on Old Klang Road
Ishin Japanese Dining, on Old Klang Road

Ishin is located along Old Klang Road, between Scott’s Garden and the junction that leads to Mid Valley Megamall. It is unfortunately, also the part of OKR that is relatively congested during rush hour (as with most part of KL anyway). Good thing is, parking isn’t an issue here at all, as the restaurant provides free valet service.

menu is on a tablet
menu is on a tablet

The restaurant is formerly a residential bungalow building, and seating is split into upper and lower floors. Interior design and ambiance provides a comfortable and somewhat private dining experience due to the structure of the building.

Menu comes in the form of miPad, and pricing is on par with most Japanese restaurants of this statue.

For this visit, we sampled the New Year Eve Kaiseki, available only for one day on this new year eve at 31/12/2015. The set is priced at RM 160 NETT.

fugu skin vinegar jelly, kuri kanroni, anchovies in sweet sauce
fugu skin vinegar jelly, kuri kanroni, anchovies in sweet sauce

For the six course Kaiseki, we started out with quite an exquisite appetizer that comes in three – the fugu skin vinegar jelly, kuri kanroni, and anchovies in sweet sauce.

The fugu skin jelly is quite an experience, slightly sourish with a really soft, have it with the shiso leave and it’s perfect. Kuri Kanroni is boiled chestnut, and tasted a bit like a cross between sweet potato and water chestnut. Anchovies, well, is anchovies, sweet and slightly crunchy, good for a change of texture.

braised Japanese turnip with kani miso served clear soup
braised Japanese turnip with kani miso served clear soup

Second course was braised Japanese turnip with kani miso clear soup, with bits of crab meat tucked into the turnip, beautiful and rather delicious in a simple way. This beats the usual miso soup by miles.

premium sashimi (chutoro, salmon toro, kanpachi toro)
premium sashimi (chutoro, salmon toro, kampachi toro)

No proper Kaiseki is complete without some good sashimi.

The version here is served in a cute little shaved ice igloo with slices of fresh chutoro, salmon toro, and kampachi toro. These are the belly cuts of tuna, salmon, and yellow tail, and they’re absolutely wonderful. The little igloo also served to keep the fish in perfect temperature prior to entering your mouth, plus, they’re cute isn’t it?

unagi kabayaki, sujiko don
unagi kabayaki, sujiko don

The fourth course was pan fried gindara with tsubugai (top shell) butteryaki. The cod was expertly prepared, and the top shell went really well with the butteryaki sauce that carries a strong hint of miso taste to it. I can have this with a bowl of rice and be a happy camper.

unagi kabayaki, sujiko don
unagi kabayaki, sujiko don

Next up was unagi kabayaki, sujiko don. A simple dish with rice, eel, and salmon roe on top. The salmon roe here is cured in-house and has a firmer texture to it which we found rather nice, and unagi is never disappointing.

A thing to note, if you’re free, look up on eel’s life cycle, it is one of the nature’s mysteries. Absolutely fascinating.

cream tsutsumi, ao take macha ogura pudding, fruit tart
cream tsutsumi, ao take macha ogura pudding, fruit tart

The last course of the New Year Eve Kaiseki was a dessert – cream tsutsumi, aotake macha ogura pudding, and fruit tart. The pudding in the bamboo casing was good, fruit tart too was delicious, but what we really liked was the cream tsutsumi mochi, makes for a great ending to a wonderful meal.

Ishin is now definitely in my mind as one of the choices for good Japanese food at reasonable prices in Klang Valley. Check it out.

map to Ishin Japanese restaurant

Address:
Ishin Japanese Dining
No. 202 Persiaran Klang,
Batu 3 3/4, Off Jalan Klang Lama
Kuala Lumpur
GPS: 3.102737, 101.677789
Tel03-7980 8228

While having visited Intercontinental’s buffet spread a couple times and came away impressed, we had never been to their new Japanese outfit – Tatsu. Hence, when I received the invitation from Lisa to participate in the Vina Maipo wine dinner late last month, I said yes without hesitation.

Vina Maipo wine dinner Tatsu Intercontinental KL
Vina Maipo wine dinner Tatsu Intercontinental KL

Vina Maipo was founded in 1948 in the Maipo Valley, renowned as the most famous wine growing region in Chile. The brand underwent an aggressive development since the year 2000 and is now the 4th biggest Chilean winery.

the selection Vina Maipo wines for the night
the selection Vina Maipo wines for the night

For the wine dinner, five different Vina Maipo wines were paired with various Japanese dishes thought up by the more than capable chef at Tatsu. It was priced at RM 280 nett per pax, a more than fair price considering the dishes and drinks offered, I thought.

sushi, sashimi, & chawamushi with Hokkaido uni
sushi, sashimi, & chawamushi with Hokkaido uni

As with most Japanese course dinner, we started out with a selection of sushi, sashimi, and cucumber spider roll. The seafood was top notch, and the freshness of cucumber combined with the savoury deep fried soft shell crab worked out rather well. We had this with Vina Maipo Varietal Sauvignon Blanc/Chardonnay, Casablanca Valley. The well-bodied wine was sharp and balanced, went well with the seafood.

Next dish was steamed egg custard with Hokkaido sea urchin paired with Vina Maipo Vitral Chardonnay, Casablanca Valley. The wine carries a creamy butter texture with crispy acidity.

Himalayan salt and Sansho roast duck breast
Himalayan salt and Sansho roast duck breast

Then came the first of our three “main dishes” in the form of Himalayan salt and Sansho roast duck breast with grilled Japanese eggplant, baby bok choy, and Haccho honey sauce. The duck breast was juicy and I thought the Haccho honey sauce gave it quite a distinct taste.

For this dish, we went up a notch on the range and had the Vina Maipo Gran Devocion Carmenere Syrah, Maule Valley. It has a good body, soft tannins and complex finish that went well with the meat.

oven baked teriyaki salmon, Vina Maipo Gran Devocion Carbernet Sauvignon Syrah
oven baked teriyaki salmon,
Vina Maipo Gran Devocion Carbernet Sauvignon Syrah

We continued with our second “main dish” in the form of oven baked Yuzu teriyaki salmon, kani cream croquette, char kyuri cucumber, and crispy puff rice. Yuzu is all the rage these days, and the treatment of salmon with this fruit in this instance was interesting, though ultimately I found perhaps slightly forced. I enjoyed it, but it could have been slightly better.

The wine paired with the salmon was Vina Maipo Gran Devocion Carbernet Sauvignon Syrah, which has a fresh acidity that carries a long nice finish.

grilled Australian Black Angus beef, shimeji mushroom
grilled Australian Black Angus beef, shimeji mushroom

The third main dish was the cha-grilled Australian Black Angus beef with king brown, shimeji mushroom, sweet peas, truffle oil topped with spicy mayo. An interesting dish to say the least, the beef was prepared perfectly in this instance, and those spicy mayo did go surprisingly well with the greens & mushrooms.

We had the Vina Maipo limited edition Syrah, Maipo Valley with this penultimate dish in the wine dinner course. The official tasting note says – “This Syrah rests on a sophisticated structure. In mouth tannins are ripe, elegant and the finish is smooth and persistent”. Well, I’m not one to come up with a different description, but I liked the wine!

Japanese green tea Panna Cotta, Haze, BabySumo & her big boy
Japanese green tea Panna Cotta, Haze, BabySumo & her big boy

Dinner was concluded with Japanese green tea panna cotta, chocolate soil, red beans, lychee jelly and vanilla bean ice cream.  Quite fancy and rather beautifully decorated. The mixture of different ingredients and texture in this dessert somehow came together quite well to provide a sweet ending to this more than decent dinner.

I’d want to return to Tatsu again to perhaps try some of their more traditional fare, and if I’m looking for a good bottle of wine for a party of four, Vina Maipo is now on my radar.

map to Intercontinental Hotel, KL

Address:
Tatsu
Intercontinental Hotel

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

Back in September I was fortunate enough to get invited to a tasting event at Sheraton Imperial’s Sasagawa Japanese Restaurant to sample their Kansai Menu. While this write up is a little late, the Kansai Fair running through 20th December 2015, so we’re actually only about half way through.

The following 8-course meal is the brainchild of Chef Hitoshi Sasagawa, with premium ingredients from Kyoto, Osaka, Mie, Kouchi, Nara and Shiga. It is priced at RM 300.

mixed autumn vegetable with sesame cream, fresh sashimi
mixed autumn vegetable with sesame cream, fresh sashimi

The 8 course Kansai Menu started with fresh appetizer in the form of Mixed Autumn Vegetable with Sesame Cream. The daikoku shimeji mushroom in this dish was harvested from Kyoto, I also enjoyed the little bulb of yam in this dish, very refreshing.

It’s certainly an expectation that Japanese course dinner should have some form of sashimi, and in this case, we had a selection of fresh raw seafood handpicked by the chef. Instead of the usual soya sauce, the sashimi was served with Tanimachi ponzu from Osaka, the citrus based sauce gave it a hint of acidity which I find quite enjoyable.

Ise lobster from Mie
Ise lobster from Mie

Third course came in the form of Ise lobster, from Mie prefecture by the Pacific coast. The fresh lobster is lightly boiled with vegetable broth, preserving it’s natural seafood sweetness without over seasoning. Simple yet elegant.

pot stew with yuzu stock
pot stew with yuzu stock

Next up was a pot stew dish with Yuzu flavored stock to go with red snapper from Kouchi and Saikyo miso from Kyoto. Another rather simple dish that exudes a feeling of traditional home-cooked goodness. No complain from this happy camper, certainly.

Echizen soba salad, grilled sea eel with steamed Yoshino-kuzu ankake
Echizen soba salad, grilled sea eel with steamed Yoshino-kuzu ankake

The fifth item on the menu was Echizen soba salad, from Fukui, the cold soba provided a change from the previous two warm dishes.

Next up was the Grilled Sea Eel with Harvest Steamed Yoshino-kuzu Ankake. The eel was certainly delectable, and I thought the starchy broth complemented the seafood well. This dish has ingredients from Osaka, Kyoto, and Nara.

miso soup, seaweed pickle, salted bean rice cake dessert
miso soup, seaweed pickle, salted bean rice cake dessert

The penultimate dish was a combination of Aosa miso Soup with Japanese pickles served with rice. I find the pickle very very strong tasting, but a small bite with a healthy scoop of rice can work in a way not entirely unlike banana leaf with chutney. The seaweed laden miso soup though, was lovely.

The 8-course dinner was concluded with salted red bean rice cake from Shiga, a rather simple end to this enjoyable Kansai Course.

chef Sasagawa, Ringo, Haze, KY at Sasagawa Sheraton Imperial KL
chef Sasagawa, Ringo, Haze, KY at Sasagawa Sheraton Imperial KL

Overall it was quite an impressive course that showcases the various offerings from Kansai. The Premium Kansai menu is available through 20th December, 2015, it’s not too late yet, and I think I’ll be back to Sasagawa to sample some of their other dishes for sure.

map to Sheraton Imperial KL Hotel

Address:
Sasagawa Japanese Restaurant
Jalan Sultan Ismail,
50250 Kuala Lumpur
GPS3.158659, 101.700124
Tel03-2602 3288
Web: www.sasagawakl.asia

Several weeks ago I was invited to Kurata Japanese Restaurant to preview their Okayama Fruit Fair. Fine Japanese food is among the top of my list, so obviously I accepted the invitation without hesitation. Furthermore, the invitation was referred to by Ringo, a dear friend, which made it all the better.

Okayama fruit fair at Kurata Japanese restaurant, Parkroyal KL
Okayama fruit fair at Kurata Japanese restaurant, Parkroyal KL

Kurata is located at the lower lobby of PARKROYAL Hotel, which itself is situated right across from Sungai Wang. While being quite familiar with Bukit Bintang, I must say that this was the first time I stepped foot into this restaurant.

First timer to the restaurant may find it a little bit difficult to find, and this is because for some reason unknown to me, Kurata is located WITHIN another hotel restaurant, but trust the signs, and you shall get there.

Shine Muscat, White Peach and New Pione, sesame short bread with fruit topping, macaroon
Shine Muscat, White Peach and New Pione,
sesame short bread with fruit topping, macaroon

Okayama, a prefecture in Chugoku, Japan, is also regarded as the “Kingdom of Fruits”. The region is known as the birthplace of some of the finest fruits Japanese has to offer, including the white peach.

Since this post is about Okayama, lets start with the fruits & desserts (although we were served with them last).

The fruit platter comes with shine muscat, white peach, and new pione. The muscat is seedless and has very high sugar content with low acidity, while the new Pione (also called black pearl) is so rich in flavor it’s almost like biting into wine, I love it. White peach needs no introduction, each bite is so delicate and juicy it’s unlike any peach I’ve ever had. Fantastic.

You can also have the fruits served on sasame short bread, with the pastry providing a contrast to bring out the sweetness of fruits even more. Alternatively, for macaroon lovers, how about some beautifully crafted macaroon stuffed with fresh Okayama fruits?

white peach roll cake in vanilla sauce, Peach and Tofu Parfait
white peach roll cake in vanilla sauce, Peach and Tofu Parfait, Ringo & Haze

For those who like something richer, the white peach roll cake in vanilla sauce will certainly fit the bill, though you do lose the taste of freshness from the peach that some of us love so much.

The peach and tofu parfait is yet another way to enjoy the white peach, this dessert is delicate and doesn’t come with strong artificial sweetness like most parfait do, so for those who doesn’t like their desserts too sweet, this is perfect.

The fair run till end of August, 2015. (yeah, this post is a little late).

appertizer for Sushi Course at Kurata
appetizer for Sushi Course at Kurata

Prior to all the Okayama goodness, we were also treated with the Sushi Course at Kurata (RM 190).

The course comes with appetizer in the form of beans, tofu, and angler fish liver with jelly. I can’t exactly remember the details of each ingredients, but they made a pretty good combination to kickstart the meal.

sashimi on ice
sashimi on ice

Next up was air flown sashimi – and no expenses were spared. We had kanpachi, otoro, and sake (salmon). The fresh fish were accompanied with grated wasabi, and if you haven’t had otoro with high grade soya sauce and grated wasabi, you haven’t experience the finest of sashimi. It was as good as any.

grilled alfonsino, wagyu beef, miso soup
grilled alfonsino, wagyu beef, miso soup

The course next switched to something more savory, in the form of grilled alfonsino fish with a side of pickled bamboo shoots.

To be honest, I think grilled alfonsino is perhaps a dish that requires a bit of an acquired taste. This is not the first time I had it, but I still think the rather firm texture and sweetish taste isn’t something that “blows my mind”, so to speak. It was nice, but it wasn’t great.

We were then served with miso soup.

assorted sushi, including my favorite - uni (sea urchin)
assorted sushi, including my favorite – uni (sea urchin)

The main dish of assorted sashimi were then served, and it was among some of the best I’ve had. The presentation was basic and straight to the point, but the sweet shrimp, sea urchin, salmon, kanpachi, salmon roe, and even the sushi roll were really well crafted and more than meet expectations.

Food at Kurata is certainly worth exploring, and for those who like a quiet and romantic ambiance, this may fit the bill perfectly.

map to PARKROYAL KL

Address:
Kurata Japanese Restaurant
Lower Lobby, PARKROYAL HOTEL.
Jalan Sultan Ismail, 50250 Kuala Lumpur
GPS: 3.144423, 101.712351
Tel03-2110 0226
HoursWednesday and Thursday Lunch close, Sunday dinner close