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Category / Foreign Food

Tonkatsu Anzu is one of the five premium restaurants located on the 4th floor of Isetan The Japan Store KL that serves one of my favorite ingredients of all time – pork.

We were lucky enough to be part of the launch event a week ago, allowing a sneak peek to what this space has got to offer.

Tonkatsu Anzu, The Table, Isetan The Japan Store, KL
Tonkatsu Anzu, The Table,  Isetan The Japan Store, KL

Tonkatsu Anzu uses only premium aged black pork from Kyushu, making it the first tonkatsu restaurant in Malaysia to have that distinction, which sets it apart from the likes of Tonkatsu by Mai Mason and Tonkatsu at Pavilion.

pork fillet, with that perfect strip of fat on top
pork fillet, with that perfect strip of fat on top

The pork loin katsu set starts from RM 35 to the premium Gin-Jo-Pork Fatty loin katsu set at RM 55, and for those who may want to skip pork for whatever reasons, they also offer some seafood options, such as fried shrimp set (RM 52), salmon katsu (RM 48), and chicken katsu (RM 32) sets.

sycookie is very serious with photo taking, I love it with salt and some mustard
sycookie is very serious with photo taking, I love it with salt and some mustard

However, pork is the name of the game here and their version of tonkatsu is definitely on point. I love the light batter and those almost melt-in-your-mouth texture. My preference is to sprinkle some salt and have those fatty loin with the supplied mustard. There’s also tonkatsu sauce should you prefer a more complex flavor.

the menu at Tonkatsu Anzu
the menu at Tonkatsu Anzu

I think Tonkatsu Anzu did live up to the expectations and manage to set itself apart from the other offerings around town when it comes to Japanese fried pork cutlets, the slightly premium price is definitely worth it.

map to Lot 10, KL

Address:
Tonkatsu Anzu
The Table, Level 4
ISETAN The Japan Store KL
Lot 10 Shopping Mall
Jalan Bukit Bintang
GPS: 3.146462, 101.711758
Tel: 03-2119 2625

Thai food is probably the most matured international cuisine in Malaysia, we now get most everything Thailand has to offer, thanks to our proximity to the nation of origin, as well as our generally rather similar taste buds.

If you’re not far from Setia Alam area and love a good meal of non-halal Thai food, then perhaps Thai Syok Seafood Restaurant should be on your short list.

Thai Syok Seafood Restaurant at Setia Alam
Thai Syok Seafood Restaurant at Setia Alam

Located in the middle of the busy commercial area within Setia Alam, Thai Syok takes up a couple units of shop lots. The place gets quite busy over on weekday lunch hours and especially so during weekend dinner sessions. If you get there later than 7 or so, expect to wait for a table, or perhaps even get seated outside ala mamak style. I guess you can also call it alfresco dining to be more classy.

dinner is best served in varying colors
dinner is best served in colors – lemon steamd fish, prawn in coconut milk

I’ve so far tried quite a few dishes over two different dinner sessions at Thai Syok, with rather favorable experience overall.

The tomyam (RM 15.90 – RM 39.20) is served in the old school hotpot, properly seasoned, and carries quite a kick. The small portion should suffice for up to 4 pax or so.

Their lemon steam fish (siakap RM 44.50 – RM 59.30) is a great substitution if you don’t want to go with tomyam, The fish is fresh, and you get the soup base that’s properly sour, spicy, and very appetizing. Just thinking of this soup makes my saliva going.

If you are into spicy lemak food, prawn in coconut milk (RM 40) should fit the bill. This dish is rich, spicy, and flavorful.

raw prawn salad, moo ping (pork skewer), classic tomyam
raw prawn salad, moo ping (pork skewer), classic tomyam

Think raw seafood is only associated with sushi/sashimi? Then you gotta give the raw prawn salad a go (RM 22.20). Over here they serve it with a slice of bitter gourd, which I think accentuate the sweetness of the prawn quite well. My first time having this particular dish was at Kepong’s Thai Village, and subsequently at Khun Thai, Klang. I’ve been ordering this dish whenever available these days.

The moo ping (grilled pork satey, RM 12 for 3) is Yuki’s favorite, and nobody rejects the order either as we all enjoyed it as well, but I would also like to try out some of their other yakitori dishes next time (such as prawn, basil pork, orchicken wings).

red ruby has got to be my favorite Thai dessert
red ruby has got to be my favorite Thai dessert

Perhaps due to the amount of crowd or their extensive menu, my experience was that we always had to wait for quite a bit before dessert is served. That being said, their red ruby (RM 6.90) is on point.

I’m quite sure this is a restaurant that’ll repeating business from us for time to come.

thai syok seafood restaurant map at Setia Alam

Address:
Thai Syok Seafood Restaurant
No. 7-1-2, Ground Floor,
Jalan Setia Prima H U13/H,
Setia Alam,
40170 Shah Alam, Selangor
GPS: 3.096934, 101.445174
Tel03-3359 6283
Hours
11:30AM–2:30PM, 5:45–10:30PM

One of the reasons I’ve been to Vietnam 9 times prior to this trip was due to work. Back then, we were developing a pretty complicated web based program with a team of programmers based in Ho Chi Minh City, and the team lead for that project was none of ther than Trinh, a friendly local chap whom I’ve developed a friendship over the years.

Quán Lẩu Cá Kèo Bà Huyện is the name of the restaurant
Quán Lẩu Cá Kèo Bà Huyện is the name of the restaurant

So on this trip, I took the opportunity to catch up with Trinh again after not seeing each other on flesh for the past 9 years or so.

Haze and I was on a rented scooter, following Trinh on his bike heading to District 3 towards Quán Lẩu Cá Kèo Bà Huyện 2 restaurant for dinner involving fish. A place I have visited in my previous trip, courtesy of another Vietnamese colleague’s introduction. I actually consulted the same person for address, too bad she was not able to join us over the holiday season.

fish is as fresh as they come, they're alive!
fish is as fresh as they come, they’re alive!

What we came here for was Keo fish, a type of freshwater goby/mudskipper measuring some half a feet or so (scientific name – pseudapocryptes elongatus). According to Trinh, this delicacy is only available in South Vietnam.

The fish is usually served in two different ways – grilled, or in soup.

The grilled version is served on a stick not entirely different from shishamo in Japanese cuisine, but of course with plenty of vege on the side, and some fish sauce based condiment on the side.

grilled keo fish vs steamboat version, Trinh & me
grilled keo fish vs steamboat version, Trinh & me

The soupy version though, came in a hotpot with even more vegetable and a side of vermicelli noodle as well. The texture is smooth and it also has a naturally sweet seafood flavor.

We didn’t know how fresh the fish were until Trinh ordered additional fishes when we ran out. They came to the table ALIVE! The waiter then carefully dump the live fish into the hotpot and close the lid real quick to spare us the death scene. A few minutes later, we were enjoying some of the sweetest and freshest seafood, the taste is not overly different from marble goby, in fact.

If you’re into some special type of seafood, this place would offer quite an experience.

P/S: I believe it was something below 300,000 VND for the three of us for this meal.

map to ba huyen 2, ho chi minh city

 

Address:
Quán Lẩu Cá Kèo Bà Huyện 2
10 Nguyễn Thông, phường 7
District 3, Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam
GPS: 10.777475, 106.685398
Tel: +84 8 3930 0636

When it comes to foriegn cuisine, it is safe to say that the most popular of all out of South East Asia is that of our Northern neighbor – Thai. You can find a good bowl of tomyam most anywhere in the world.

For us in Malaysia, we had the good fortune of being able to indulge in some of the most authentic dishes Thailand has to offer thanks to our proximity and our shared history across the border.

Tigerlily at DC Mall
Tigerlily at DC Mall

This tradition continues at Tigerlily, one of the latest Thai restaurants located at DC Mall, the new spanking shopping complex located at Damansara Height, and we were lucky enough to get invited to sample some of their dishes.

To properly prep for the restaurant, the local chefs were sent to Thailand to sample and learn about the different dishes from its origin so they can be recreated at this outfit. Don’t let the interior decoration and plating style fools you, what you get here is not far from what you’ll find in some of the old school Thai restaurants.

3 layer coffee? Lemongrass? or classic Thai iced tea?
3 layer coffee? Lemongrass? or classic Thai iced tea?

To start the night, we ordered their Thai iced tea & iced coffee with gula melaka (RM 6.90) which looked stunning, but for those who liked it old school, their traditional Thai iced tea (RM 4.60) would be the one to go for. For those who like it plain & soothing, perhaps a glass of lemongrass drink (RM 3.50) would do the trick.

fried calamari, lemongrass satey
fried calamari, lemongrass satey

There’s no alcohol served here (they’re in process of obtaining halal certification), but the fried calamari & lemongrass satey (RM 9.90 for 5) really begs for a cold one. We particularly like the zesty homemade sauce that is served together with the squid.

four angle beans, steamed otak otak
four angled beans, steamed otak otak

Another snack we ordered was the steamed otak-otak (RM 5.90), it came in an aluminium cup similar to those you’d find holding larmaikai, but instead of chicken you’d have seafood in classic Thai otak fillings. I thought it was decent, though if I have to choose between this and regular Penang style otak-otak, the latter would be my pick.

We then proceed to main dishes to go with rice and started out with the veges.

First was four angled beans with peanuts (RM 9.90), a juicy and crunchy affair that’s fitting to open up one’s appetite.

stir fry kailan, spicy eggplant with dry shrimp
stir fry kailan, spicy eggplant with dry shrimp

The stir fry kailan (RM 12.90) here is a simple dish that’s not out of place from any ‘tai-chao’ restaurants around town. My favorite though, would be the spicy eggplant with dry shrimp (RM 14.90), really rich, savory, and comes with a kick, steamed rice is really compulsory with this.

tomyum seafood, Thai red curry chicken, Thai green curry prawn
tomyum kung, Thai red curry chicken, Thai green curry prawn

No Thai meal is complete without a good serving of tomyam, their tomyum kung (shrimp, RM 26.90) really packs a punch. You’d have to be a bit careful not to treat everything green here as scallions, for there are a lot of whole green chili padi in the mix, just the way a good bowl of tomyam should be.

The Thai red curry chicken (RM 15.90) is slightly less hardcore on the spicy scale, but it makes up for being creamy and flavorful. A decent interpretation of the dish in my opinion.

Then there’s the Thai green curry prawn (RM 26.90), served with generous amount of eggplant, this dish delivers a mix of seafood sweetness and the unique taste of green curry, I really enjoyed it (mostly cos eggplant is one of my favorite veges too.)

Thai grilled fish
Thai grilled fish

The Thai grilled fish (RM 46.90) was our final main dish of the night, and would be for you anyone who orders it as Tigerlily makes this from scratch when you order and it takes the longest amount of time to prepare.

To be perfectly honest, I didn’t particularly find the dish impressive, and not to the fault of the chef or how they prepare this. Tilapia is quite a bland tasting fish and I find this classic Thai preparation method did not sufficiently add enough flavor to the fish. It was okay, if you love this street style fish, you’d like it here, otherwise I’d probably give it a miss. My favorite Thai fish dish is still the steamed siakap (which they also serve)

mango sticky rice, ice kacang, tub tim crob, cendol
mango sticky rice, ice kacang, tub tim crob, cendol

Then of course, we proceed to desserts.

We sampled their mango sticky rice (RM 9.90), ice kacang (RM 11.90), tub tim crob (red ruby, RM 7.00), cendol (RM 4.90), and banana fritters with ice cream (RM 12.90).

With the exception of the banana fritters, every dessert looked like a piece of art, the presentation is really stunning! Thankfully, they do taste the part as well.

I like how the cendol, ABC, and red ruby all uses the really fine shaven ice (sort of like those Korean style desserts) which makes the sweetness melt in your mouth that much quicker. Careful not to get brain freeze though.

banana fritters & friends we were with at the session
banana fritters & friends we were with at the session

If you haven’t find a reason to head to DC Mall, perhaps Tigerlily would be a good excuse.

map to DC Mall

Address:
Tigerlily
Damansara City Mall,
Lot LG 18 Lower Ground,
6, Jalan Damanlela,
50490 
Kuala Lumpur
GPS: 3.146140, 101.661675
Tel03-2011 2912
Web: www.tigerlily.com.my

Last weekend I had the good fortune of attending a pretty special food event, the Flavours of Hanami live presentation and tasting at Isetan the KL Store. For those who aren’t familiar with Isetan the KL Store, it is the re-branded up class retail at the exact location previously occupied by regular Isetan at Lot 10.

The place is tastefully decorated and packed with premium Japanese wear, everything from fashion items, watches, gadgets, grocery and food.

chefs from Tsuruse, Chikurin, & Kinobu restaurants
chefs from Tsuruse, Chikurin, & Kinobu restaurants

The Flavors of Hanami features four chefs each from Izuu, Tsuruse, Chikurin, and Kinobu restaurants of Kyoto in live presentation and tasting format at the following schedule:

  • Shogo Sasaki of Izuu – 21, 22 Jan 2017
  • Nobyuki Tanaka of Tsuruse – 18, 19 Feb 2017
  • Hideki Shimoguchi of Chikurin – 4, 5 March 2017
  • Takuji Takahashi of Kinobu – 18, 19 March 2017

dishes from which chef fancies you? the mock-ups sure look interesting
dishes from which chef fancies you? the mock-ups sure look interesting

Each day features 3 separate sessions at 12 pm to 1:30 pm, 3 pm to 4:30 pm, and 6 pm to 7:30 pm and priced at RM 100 per person including GST. The venue is at 3F THE CUBE/CUBE_1 Isetan The Japan Store KL.

One thing to note, each session is limited to 25 pax only so get your tickets as soon as possible at CUBE_1 ticket counter, Isetan.

The Hanami theme is an ancient tradition of welcoming spring, and this event is a chance for Malaysians to experience the cultural aspects as well as the delicacies associated with the Hanami season.

chef Shogo Sasaki of Izuu with his signature dishes
chef Shogo Sasaki of Izuu with his signature dishes

We were fortunate to participate in the first session with Chef Shogo Sasaki, the 7th generation owner of IZUU, a Kyoto sushi restaurant established in 1781, a restaurant that has its history 176 years before we yelled Merdeka and formed this country, talk about tradition.

chef Shogo Sasaki of Izuu preparing the famous saba-sugatazushi
chef Shogo Sasaki of Izuu preparing the famous saba-sugatazushi 

Chef started out with the live demonstration in preparing the most famous dish of IZUU – their saba-sugatazushi, or whole mackeral lightly matured sushi. The fish is expertly prepared and then wrapped in vinegar-ed kelp to draw out  a stronger umami flavor to the sushi.

We then got to try two versions of it, one freshly prepared and the other matured for a day. It was well balanced with a pretty complex taste unlike normal “fresh” sushi. Best thing is, you can actually buy this wrapped up to bring back to home country from his restaurant in Kyoto as the sushi would last for about 2 days.

and here's Izuu's signature chirashi sushi
and here’s Izuu’s signature chirashi sushi

Next up was their signature Chirashi sushi. Chirashi sushi is often my go-to dish in any Japanese restaurant, and the version prepared by chef Sasaki is as good as any. While it is slightly lighter on seafood, the seasoning of rice and other ingredients were right on point, making it quite a delightful dish.

we ended the day with green tea and mochi
we ended the day with green tea and mochi, notice the bunny?

The chef also showed us how the saba-sugatazushi cross section resembled a bunny, which is how IZUU got it’s logo all the way from 200+ years ago.

We then ended the session with a piece of traditional mochi and a cup of green tea so good we had to go downstairs to get the packet to enjoy at home.

If you love authentic Japanese cuisine with a cultural twist to the whole experience, don’t miss out on this event.

map to Lot 10, KL

Address:
3F THE CUBE / CUBE_1
ISETAN The Japan Store KL
Lot 10 Shopping Mall
Jalan Bukit Bintang

GPS: 3.146462, 101.711758