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A couple days ago we were lucky enough to be one of the first batches of people to be fortunate enough to have a taste of authentic Sicilian cuisine at The Ritz-Carlton KL by the award winning Guest Chef Lino Sauro from Gattopardo Ristorante di Mare in Singapore.

This event happens from March 14-18, 2017 so you may still have a chance to participate in the last few sessions if you catch this article early enough; or of course, you can head to Singapore and visit the good chef at his home turf.

The Library at Ritz Carlton KL
The Library at Ritz Carlton KL

The dinner happened at The Library, a dining space that has an ambiance not unlike an extensive classy private library, complete with collection of books with topics ranging from film to art and travel. We were there for fine Sicilian food this time, so I’m afraid the books will have to wait for next round.

a bit of tid bit & bread prior to dinner
a bit of tidbit & bread prior to dinner

We started the night with a glass of sparkling wine, some bread, and a pre-dinner amuse-bouche of salmon with caviar which I thought was perfect to get us ready for what’s coming next.

For this first session of Sicilian dinner, we were also lucky enough to be joined by His Excellency Mario Sammartino, the ambassador of Italy to Malaysia.

amuse-bouche - ostrica
amuse-bouche – Ostrica

Then came the first course – Ostrica, or oyster with sherry vinegar jelly, wasabi chips, and Avruga caviar. This amuse-bouche was perfect in opening up the appetite with its refreshing taste and subtle sweetness from the oyster that is perfectly balanced with the slight salty flavor from caviar. Usage of wasabi showcase Chef Lino’s boldness in using contemporary technique and ingredients.

Sanfeletto conegliano valdobbiadene prosecco superior docg was the accompanying wine.

appetiser - polipo
appetiser – Polipo

Appetizer was Polipo, or charred citrus glazed octopus, risone, capsicum, sun dried tomato aioli, chilli, and pistachio pesto.

At the first glance, I thought we were having risotto, but as it turned out it was risone, or a rice shaped pasta that was much smoother, having a more controlled taste and texture that complimented the stronger tasting octopus well.

Vigneti zabu grillo terre siciliane igt was served with this seafood dish.

entree - Capellini con Aracosta
entree – Capellini con Aracosta

Then came entree, in the form of Capellini con Aracosta, or angel hair pasta, lobster, seafood, and carrot.

This is a deceptively simple looking dish that is again packed with the sweetness of what the Mediterranean sea has to offer. Lobster tail & angel hair pasta are two ingredients I enjoyed, and this combination did not disappoint.

Cecchi orvieto classico toscana doc would be the accompanying Sicilian wine.

main course - Manzo Australiano
main course 1 – Manzo Australiano

There were two choices of main course.

Manzo Australiano would be the Australian wagyu with morel mushrooms and horseradish sauce. Perfectly executed with the meat in the overused “melt in your mouth” texture, but that’s the best description I could give. The sauce was thick, strong, and go surprisingly well with the red meat (this coming from someone who loves his beef with only salt & pepper).

Wine pairing – mazzei zisola sicilia doc

main course 2 - Zuppa di Pesce Gattopardo
main course 2 – Zuppa di Pesce Gattopardo

Zuppa di Pesce Gattopardo, or the Signature Gattopardo Seafood Stew, would be the other equally worthy option. The stew is packed with several types of shellfish, prawn, as well as fish fillet. This stew is perfect in a cold rainy day, or any day actually.

Wine pairing – vigneti zabu grillo terre siciliane igt

dessert - Cassata
dessert – Cassata

Dessert was a unique interpretation of Sicilian Ricotta Cheese Cake, or Cassata by Chef Lino. The deconstructed dessert was a sweet treat with some strong sourish berries that wakens up the senses a bit, which I thought was nice. We also had some chocolates to go with coffee to end the session.

Sicilian wine pairing option available
Sicilian wine pairing option available

This specially curated Sicilian course dinner is priced at MYR 250 with an option of wine pairing at MYR 375 per person. Dinner is served from 7 pm but only available until 18th March 2017.

Executive Chef Lino Sauro
Chef Lino Sauro

Ritz Carlton, KL

Address:
The Library @ Ritz-Carlton Hotel
168 Jalan Imbi,
55100 Kuala Lumpur

GPS: 3.146960, 101.715406
Tel03-2141 8000

Jacob’s Creek has a bit of a special place in my heart, for the fact that one of the first wine events I’ve ever attended back in 2009 was hosted by this very brand, so when I got the invitation for Jacob’s Creek Double Barrel Wine Dinner last month, I immediately made plans to be part of the launch.

Jacob's Creek double barrel wine dinner, the menu
Jacob’s Creek double barrel wine dinner, the menu

The introduction for this special Double Barrel blend was held at Eight Gourmet Gala, with a rather big set up attended by media, celebrities, and people who has a bit of online real estate such as yours truly.

Brand Ambassador, Jenny Rothenberg was also present to explain what this whole “double barrel” is all about.

To put it simply, the wine (Double Barrel Shiraz & Double Barrel Cabernet Sauvignon) is matured traditionally in French and American oak barrels, before finishing it in old whiskey barrels, giving them a more complex palate.

pan seared French foie gras, with Jacob's Creek Pinot Noir
pan seared French foie gras, Jacob’s Creek Double Barrel Shiraz

Anyway, to the dinner.

We started out with pan seared French foie gras, paired with Jacob’s Creek sparkling chardonnay pinot noir, the citrus and toasted cashew flavors of chardonnay marrying the fresh bread crust characteristic of pinot noir complimented the richness of pan seared foie gras perfectly. Most certainly a good start to the night.

white truffle pumpkin potage, wine barrel vs whisky barrel
white truffle pumpkin potage, wine barrel vs whisky barrel

Second course was the white truffle pumpkin potage, a thick soup that tastes like a blend of pumpkin with a hint of white truffle, which, to be honest, was not particularly very exciting for me. It was OK, but not among the best soups I’ve tried.

smoke turkey drumstick w/ Jacob's Creek Double Barrel Shiraz & Reserve Shiraz
smoke turkey drumstick w/ Jacob’s Creek Double Barrel Shiraz & Reserve Shiraz

Next came the entree of smoke turkey drumstick, we had it with Jacob’s Creek Double Barrel Shiraz and Jacob’s Creek Reserve Shiraz. I thought the meat was handled very well, tender, juicy, and extremely smokey to a point of being spicy, which may not suit everyone, I liked it though.

That complimented the sweet red fruits & dark chocolate palate of Shiraz well. The direct comparison between the two Shiraz showcased differences due to additional treatment of finishing the wine in whisky barrel. Most agreed the double barrel version is a tad smoother.

pan seared Wagyu - marbling grade 9 with Jacob's Creek Double Barrel Souvignon
pan seared Wagyu with Jacob’s Creek Double Barrel Cabernet Souvignon

Then came my favorite dish of the night – pan seared Wagyu (marbling grade 9). The meat is done medium rare with very little distractions in terms of finishing. It was positively satisfying, with Jacob’s Creek Double Barrel Cabernet Souvignon doing an excellent job as accompanying side kick. A good red with a fine piece of meat never disappoint.

poached lobster with truffle garlic oil
poached lobster with truffle garlic oil

Another option for main was poached lobster with truffle garlic oil, a fine looking dish but unfortunately suffered slightly from being overly cooked in this instance. The seafood would have served as a good companion to the Cabernet Souvignon otherwise.

premium chocolate & French macaron for dessert
premium chocolate & French macaron for dessert, bok & sycookie

We ended the night with a simple dessert of chocolate & French macaron, a sweet ending to a pretty special night hosted by Jacob’s Creek. Looking forward to the next event and thanks for the invite!

map to Sunway Pinnacle Annexe

Address:
Eight Gourmet Gala
Suite G-01, Ground Floor,
Pinnacle Annexe, Bandar Sunway,
47500 Subang Jaya, Selangor
GPS3.070381, 101.609452
Tel017-948 8684

 

If there’s a Japanese food I have to choose to go with cold beer, there’ll be no doubt in my mind that it has to be yakitori, so when I got the invitation to review the offering at Torii at TTDI thanks to Kirin Ichiban, I was obviously more than happy to oblige.

After all, a premium Japanese beer with one of the higher end yakitori restaurants, you’d be foolish to not do it.

Kirin Ichiban promotion at Torii, TTDI
Kirin Ichiban promotion at Torii, TTDI

The reason we were here was to try the pairing of Kirin Ichiban with the dishes. Kirin is made with 100% malt, and brewed with an innovative “First Press” method by extracting the malt liquid from only the first press. Perhaps a little bit like “extra virgin olive oil” (I may be a bit off here), this is what contributes to the smoothness and premium taste.

At Torii, there’s also a promotion going on every Wednesday and Thursday night, with a glass of Kirin going for only RM 10.

veal chunk, squid tentacles, and crispy cheese beef yakitori
veal chunk, squid tentacles, and crispy cheese beef yakitori

The restaurant is located at the inner, slightly quieter part of TTDI that isn’t plagued with crazy parking problems like some of the busier areas a couple minutes away. It is simple, elegant, and exude a very classy, fine dining feel without having a menu that is, I think, quite accessible to many of us.

broiled lobster chowder, bonded unagi & foie gras, upper thigh
broiled lobster chowder, bonded unagi & foie gras, upper thigh

Like its name suggests, yakitori is the speciality here at Torii. We tried wings (RM 8.90), squid tentacles (RM 10.90), sweet potato (RM 5.90), upper thigh (RM 6.90), rock lobster (RM 11.90), crispy cheese beef (RM 12.90), and veal chunk (RM 15.90). None of these disappoint, but if I have to pick, upper thigh, rock lobster, and cheese beef would be those you should try.

If you’re having these with beer, the chef will usually make the yakitori just a tad saltier, which really enhances the tasting experience, and Kirin with it’s crisp and refreshing taste provides excellent contrast to the strong tasting yakitori.

If you like something soupy, go for the broiled lobster chowder with crab croutons (RM 18.90) that also prepared with porcini mushroom, shallot, and olive oil. I’d love to have this on rainy days.

triple peaks - toro, unagi, and amoebi sushi
triple peaks – uni, amoebi, toro sushi

Perhaps surprisingly, cold beer goes rather well as a stand-in for green tea when paired with sushi. The triple peaks (RM 26.90) is a plate of three premium sushi with uni (sea urchin), amoebi (sweet shrimp), and toro (tuna belly). For under RM 30 this is not only awesome, but also provides very good value for the ingredients provided.

Then there’s Autumn risotto (RM 27.90), a deceptively simple dish with crab claw, egg yolk & asparagus. Beautifully presented and equally satisfying in the taste department. This dish would  not disappoint any Italian food connoisseur.

wings, avocado de la mer, sweet potato, green tea creme brulee, nutella gyoza
wings, avocado de la mer, sweet potato, green tea creme brulee, nutella gyoza

Other dishes we sampled include the bonded unagi & foie gras (RM 29.90), kampachi uni jalapeno (RM 34.90), and avocado de la mar (RM 19.90). These aren’t exactly yakitori nor are they strictly traditional Japanese dishes, but they went so well with Kirin and left us wanting for more even as our stomach was filling up to the brim.

Of course, no fine dining meal is complete without desserts. For this we had green tea creme brulee with white chocolate lavender ice cream (RM 24.90) and nutella gyoza with chocolate ganache & whisky raisin ice cream (RM 24.90). I like the creativity in nutella gyoza, and while the desserts may not stand out as much as their yakitori and other delicacies, they were certainly more than decent.

Yen & hubby, KY & Haze enjoying some awesome food and Kirin Ichiban
Yen & hubby, KY & Haze enjoying some awesome food and Kirin Ichiban

If you love yakitori, a fan of beer, or just generally love some good food in fine dining environment without breaking the bank, this is definitely one of the places worth checking out.

Also get more information on Kirin Ichiban at their FB page at https://www.facebook.com/kirinmalaysia

Torii at TTDI map

Address:
18, Lorong Datuk Sulaiman 1,
Taman Tun Dr Ismail,
60000 Kuala Lumpur
GPS: 3.148787, 101.629781
Tel03-7733 9309

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

With the on-going house renovation work, I’ve been rejected (or accidentally ignoring) quite a lot of food review invitation, but when Sarah from Kimpachi messaged and invited me to Kampachi Sake Dinner Series, I just couldn’t say no.

When Kampachi comes calling, you just don’t reject, and I’ve never regretted the decisions.

kampachi sake dinner series featuring Izumibashi Sake
kampachi sake dinner series featuring Izumibashi Sake

In conjunction with Izumibashi brewery’s first visit to Malaysia, Kampachi hosted a dinner series that took place at their Troika outlet on the 16th June, 2015, and the day after in Kampachi Equatorial, Penang.

The dinner features a 9 course Kaiseki menu by Kampachi’s Executive Chef, Koji Tamaru, using produce and seasonal seafood directly sourced from Japan. The meal was paired with four types of Izumibashi sakes.

Izumibashi Tonbo Sparkling with edamame
“welcome drink”, edamame, and brewery founder/owner Yuichi Hashiba

We were joined by the 6th generation founder/owner of Izumibashi brewery, Yuichi Hashiba, and sake sommelier, Shigeyuki Masaki. Together they shared the history of the brand, how they produce the sake, and what made them special.

Izumibashi Tonbo Sparkling with Amera Tomato Mizu Nasu
Izumibashi Tonbo Sparkling with Amera Tomato Mizu Nasu

The first three courses were paired with Tonbo Sparkling, this is an unfiltered sake with a cloudy appearance, only very lightly gassy and quite wholesome in taste. Apparently filtered sake is a bit of an imitation to sparkling wine of the West, and Izumibashi purposely left it unfiltered to show it’s true Japanese origin.

We started the dinner with something that is utterly simple yet surprisingly delicious – Amera tomato and slices of Raw Japanese Eggplant. These raw vegetables were just lightly seasoned with salt and pepper.

I’ve had tomato of similar calibre a couple times and these were equally as crunchy and refreshing, the eggplant though, was a total revelation.I never thought eggplants could be consumed raw, and I’m glad I was wrong, it was most excellent.

Niawabi Shake Toba Morokyu Kinsanji Miso, Hamo Kuzuuchi Junsai Janome Kyuri Bainiku
Niawabi Shake Toba Morokyu Kinsanji Miso,
Hamo Kuzuuchi Junsai Janome Kyuri Bainiku

Next came Simmered Abalone, Dried Salmon & Cucumber with Miso. A beautifully arranged dish with very contrasting texture offered by the soft and slightly chewy abalone, the very crispy dried salmon, and those crunchy cucumber. I particularly loved the dried salmon which is almost like the best salted fish I’ve ever had, and you can eat it straight.

The Clear Soup with Pike Conger Eel, Water Shield, Ring Shaped Cucumber & Plum came next. While the eel, cucumber, and plum were not stranger to most diners, I found the water shield provided quite a new experience to me. It tasted a bit like some sort seaweed encased in a slimy exterior. A good change of pace but I’m not quite sure I really enjoyed it.

Maguru & Kanpachi sashimi with Izumibashi Junmai Ginjo Megumi Blue Label
Maguro & Kanpachi sashimi with Izumibashi Junmai Ginjo Megumi Blue Label

The next three dishes were paired with Izumibashi Junmai Ginjo Megumi Blue Label, made with Yamada Nishiki rice grown in house by Izumibashi. This particular type of rice produces good sake as it absorbs water and dissolves easily.

Sashimi came in the form of Maguro & Kanpachi – Tuna and Amberjack. These fish were flown fresh from Tsukiji market and of course, did not disappoint. The sake complimented the seafood perfectly well.

Gindara Shio Kouji Yaki, Awafu Ageni Harinegi Kinome
Gindara Shio Kouji Yaki, Awafu Ageni Harinegi Kinome

The fifth course was the simple Grilled Cod Fish Marinated with Salt Crust, with superb execution by the chef. I absolutely loved the texture of cod skin and the way the fish is cooked, it was spot on.

Awafu Ageni Harinegi Kinome translates to Simmered Yellow Wheat Gluten served with Fine Julienned Leek & Leaf Bud. Quite a fancy name and description, and tasted a little bit like a more sophisticated version of tofu with a richer texture.

Tatake Ebi Kesho Age with Shishito, Yaki Onigiri Chazuke Shio Konbu
Tatake Ebi Kesho Age with Shishito, Yaki Onigiri Chazuke Shio Konbu

The last three dishes were paired with Izumibashi Yamahai Junmai Shinriki. Shinriki translate to “power of god”, and in this case this sake is made with the most tedious and labour intensive method that helped produce the most “umami” flavour.

Deep Fried Chopped Prawns with Japanese Green Pepper was the first dish we sampled with this sake. The greenish “powder” you see next to the chili was actually salt, together with the fried ingredients, it was simple yet very delicious.

Grilled Rice Ball in Broth with Salted Kelp came next, it was almost like the Chinese dinner where you always have a rice dish at the penultimate dish (sort of, but not really). You appreciate the rice and wasabi in broth with a bit of a grilling treatment to bring out the flavour, subtle but quite delightful.

Yuzu Sorbet, Yuzu Mousse, Yuzu Kaki with Yamada Jyuro Plum
Yuzu Sorbet, Yuzu Mousse, Yuzu Kaki with Yamada Jyuro Plum

We concluded the dinner with Homemade Japanese Citrus Sorbet, Mousse and Dehydrated Persimmon. If you haven’t had yuzu before, go get some yourself, it is the best citrus there is (to me anyway).

We each also had a glass of Yamada Jyuro Plum, it was a fantastic dinner with some really fine sake. Made for an excellent night. Thank you again Sarah and Kampachi for the lovely dinner.

Check out Angeltini’s post for write up from the sake angle.

map to Kampachi at Troika

Address:
Kampachi
The Troika Jalan Binjai
Kuala Lumpur

GPS: 3.158052, 101.718122
Tel: 03-2181 2282