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Category / Foreign Food

A couple weeks ago I was invited to PJ Hilton’s Genji Japanese restaurant for a session of food tasting. Genji is in fact one of the older Japanese restaurants in PJ dining scene, having been in operation for some 30 years now.

Genji Japanese Restaurant at PJ Hilton
Genji Japanese Restaurant at PJ Hilton

Thankfully, the interior and furnishing was not the same one since the opening days. The decoration is quite typical of classic Japanese restaurant, simple, classy, and not over the top. For this session, we occupied one of the private rooms with floor seating and sliding doors for that extra feel.

The restaurant is headed by Chef Richard Teoh, a man with vast experience in Japanese cuisine who does not shy away from adding his personal touch to traditional recipe.

Maki Tamago,Chuka Kurage, with Yamamomo and Morokyu
Maki Tamago,Chuka Kurage, with Yamamomo and Morokyu

We started the meal with an appetiser dish specially prepared by the good chef, something that’s usually featured in Omakase Kaizeki meals (RM 300 for 7 course, RM 220 for 5 course menu). We had maki tamago (egg roll with unagi filling), chuka kurage (marinated jellyfish) with yamamomo (mountain berry), and morokyu (fresh cucumber with fermented miso bean).

I love the mountain berry and thought  that the pairing of natto with fresh cucumber somehow worked for me even though I really thought natto is usually quite nasty.

Tokyo salad
Tokyo salad

Tokyo salad (RM 30) came next, a combination of lightly boiled fresh seafood with fresh greens and seaweed. All these is then topped with a home-made sesame sauce that is infused by wasabi, one of Chef Richard’s recipes. I like the mild kick from the sauce that injects extra excitement in this salad dish.

Sashimi/ Sushi Combi
Sashimi/ Sushi Combi

Japanese food isn’t complete without some raw stuff, for this purpose we had the pretty unpretentiously named sashimi/ Sushi combi (RM 240). The selection of seafood in this dish varies, but you’ll usually get salmon, tuna, otoro (tuna belly), sacallop, sea bream, and more. The otoro was absolutely spot on, the sashimi fresh and delicious, with my only comment being that the sushi tends to carry a bit more rice than I like them to have.

The combination is big enough to be shared among 4-5 pax.

Kaizen Mushi - subtle and refreshing
Kaizen Mushi – subtle and refreshing 

Kaizen Mushi (RM 30) represented something from Japanese cuisine which I seldom had – a combination of prawns, salmon, scallop, and mussel steamed with assorted vegetable then served in a light sweet broth. The dish was served with a mixture of ponzu sauce with grated radish, yuzu skin, and a dash of tabasco.

While the sauce itself was quite interesting, it was ultimately unnecessary. The seafood soup was actually plenty good enough to be had by itself, I really enjoyed this dish and thought that it is of pretty good value as well.

Duo Combi - Kaki Chilli Mayo, Gindara Teriyaki
Duo Combi – Kaki Chilli Mayo, Gindara Teriyaki 

Our main dish of the night was duo combi  - kaki chilli mayo and gindarai teriyaki, a dish that’s part of the Omakase Kaizeki menu. The oyster chilli with mayo was an interesting interpretation with a local twist (chilli padi), while the cod fish represented the more traditional Japanese fair. I like them both, but wished that I can have another two servings of those sweet delicious cod.

Chef Teoh, Kelly, KY, Jean, and Azuki Banana Dorayaki
Chef Teoh, Kelly, KY, Jean, and Azuki Banana Dorayaki

We ended the session with azuki banana dorayaki (RM 30), or Doraemon’s favorite dessert with red bean and banana in the middle. A scoop of black sesame ice cream and a couple slices of melon (local) made up the rest of the dessert.

Overall it was a pretty decent dinner, one that sits in the middle-to-high tier of Japanese cuisine in Malaysia, something that is a step above your usual restaurant chains but a tad below some finer Japanese restaurants in Klang Valley.

Thank you Sabrina for the invite.

map to Petaling Jaya Hilton Hotel

Address:
Genji Japanese Restaurant
Hilton Petaling Jaya
No 2 Jalan Barat
46200 Petaling Jaya, Selangor

GPS3.10235, 101.64087
Tel03-7955 9122

Japanese restaurants are a dime a dozen in KL. Arguably one of the most mature foreign cuisine of all, you can find them in all price range and specializing in every sub-category. Today we’re going to look into Takumi Japanese fine dining, a pretty high end Japanese restaurant that emphasizes shabu-shabu and sukiyaki, among other dishes.

Takumi Japanese Fine Dining at Grand Millennium Hotel
Takumi Japanese Fine Dining at Grand Millennium Hotel

Takumi is one of the restaurants located within Grand Millennium Hotel, which itself is directly next to Pavilion and opposite Fahrenheit 88. The interior is classy, and for lunch, you can find some pretty decent deals too (I’ve been a few times for Chirashi sushi etc).

Our food review session was arranged by HungryGoWhere Malaysia (where I am a contributor), so thank you Shing for inviting, and Ee Laine for being my sit-in plan B partner of the day.

edamame and Kani Salad
edamame and Kani Salad

We started the day with some greens in the form of edamame and Kani Salad (RM 18/28). The salad was refreshing, and I enjoyed the sesame dressing that’s been spiked up a little bit with wasabi.

The chef at Takumi likes to combine the traditional Osaka cuisine with a hint of boldness famous in restaurants at Tokyo, as we were told.

Sashimi platter
Sashimi platter

Sashimi platter (RM 180) was a work of art, with 18 pieces of fresh seafood served on a bed of ice with shiso leaves and even a bit of dried ice for mood. There were sawara (Spanish mackerel), maguro (tuna), kanpachi (amberjack), hotate (scallop), sake (salmon), and I believe, ohyuu (halibut).

Spanish Mackerel, grated Wasabi
Spanish Mackerel, grated Wasabi

The fish were fresh, delightful, and goes very well with grated wasabi. As always, remember that almost everything on a sashimi platter is designed to be consumed. For example, you can have mackerel with shiso leaf and a bit of daikon.

The shiso leaf is there to refresh your palate or to counter the “fishy” smell, getting your tongue ready for the next piece. Don’t waste them!

Lobster Mentaiyaki
Lobster Mentaiyaki

Next up was lobster mentaiyaki (RM 78 half), two of my favorite ingredients in the same dish – lobster and mentaiko.

The combination was perfect, the savouriness of mentaiko blends well with lobster meat, and if you’re one who can momentarily suspend the notion that cholesterol is bad for you, the lobster head is something you’ll absolutely enjoy.

Kawahagi, Chicken Curry Cutlet Maki
Kawahagi, Chicken Curry Cutlet Maki

We also had steamed Kawahagi (seasonal pricing) or commonly known as threadsail filefish. It was prepared not unlike a Chinese dish, with mushroom, some leek, and a hint of soya sauce. To be honest, I find the taste a bit bland and texture to be average. This isn’t up to par with the likes of steamed pomphret in my opinion.

I view Chicken curry cutlet maki (RM 30) as an interesting experiment, combining ingredients that otherwise would not appear together. The result is a bit of a mix, those who are allergic to soft shell crab can use this as a substitute, but the rest of us should probably avoid.

I do applaud the chef for being brave in experimenting with new recipes such as this, without such moves culinary art would never advance. So don’t take this as a negative criticism.

A5 Wagyu Sirloin and Angus Beef Shabu Shabu
A5 Wagyu Sirloin and Angus Beef Shabu Shabu

Then came the star of the night – A5 Wagyu Sirloin and Angus Beef shabu shabu.

Wagyu comes in many grades, with the alphabet denoting yield (A, B, C), and a number (1-5) indicating marbling score. Hence A5 is among the highest quality you can get, with fat contents equivalent to 8-12 BMS (Beef Marbling Standard).

The pricing at Takumi is as follow:

  • Shabu – shabu (Angus beef) : RM88.00
  • A5 Wagyu Roso : RM158.00
  • A3 Wagyu Sirloin : RM180.00
  • A5 Wagyu Sirloin : RM280.00
  • Matsuza Beef : RM490.00

Certainly not cheap, but of decent value, and the quality is certainly there.

just dip it for a few seconds, melt in your mouth
just dip it for a few seconds, melt in your mouth

For the wagyu, a dip in the boiling soup for just a few seconds is more than enough. We were supplied with a sort of ponzu mix but I love having the beef as is, the mixture of fat and beef melt in your mouth (pardon for the lack of a better description). It was so good!

The Angus beef was there just so we can make a comparison on the difference between a super high grade beef and a decent beef. To be fair, they were more than decent and would be of top quality beef on any menu without wagyu.

Ee Laine, KY, Shing, Weizhi
Ee Laine, KY, Shing, Weizhi

We ended the night with some complimentary fruits, and coincidentally it was Weizhi’s (of KampungBoyCityGal) birthday too, so we had some cupcakes and sang a birthday song. It was a great night with awesome company. I can certainly do more of this.

map to Grand Millennium Hotel, Kuala Lumpur

Le Midi is a name that I’ve came across for quite sometime, and it was a privilege to finally be invited for a food tasting session in conjunction with the arrival of Chef Andrea Alimenti, who has some 30 years of culinary experience since graduating from Aurelio Saffi Florence Hotel School in 1983.

Chef Andrea Alimenti is a multiple Michelin star chef, with his first coming at the tender age of 20, then at age 30 he left Florence to open his own restaurant with some partners (the renowned Aquamatta in Capolona) for 15 years… which also received a Michelin star. It is not common that we have the opportunity to sample creations from a chef with such pedigree, we felt very honored.

Le Midi at Bangsar Shopping Center, with live nautilus
Le Midi at Bangsar Shopping Center, with live nautilus

The restaurant is located on 3rd floor in the East wing of Bangsar Shopping Centre, the interior oozes a sense of mystic and class, with a couple nautilus in a round aquarium at the centre of the dining hall. This was actually the first time I witness these pelagic marine mollusks outside Aquaria, way cool.

Anyway, we’re here for the food, and you can’t order the nautilus.

eggplant nest with truffle egg yolk and parmesan cheese
eggplant nest with truffle egg yolk and parmesan cheese

Out first dish was eggplant nest with truffle egg yolk and parmesan cheese. A dish with deceptively simple base ingredient – poached egg and eggplant, manage wow us with it’s wonderful combination of texture and taste. The eggplant fried to a texture not unlike bacon, the egg poached perfectly, and shaved parmesan with truffle gives it that touch of complexity. I was impressed.

mozzarella ravioli in tomato consommé
mozzarella ravioli in tomato consommé

Next up was mozzarella ravioli in tomato consommé, a classic Italian dish with a well balanced taste of acidity from tomato consommé countering the stronger mozzarella cheese within the ravioli.

A glass of Secret de Berticot Sauvignon Blanc proved to be a worthy companion for the above two dishes.

homemade Tagliolini in saffron butter whiskey salmon cream and crunchy almonds
homemade Tagliolini in saffron butter whiskey salmon cream and crunchy almonds

Next we had homemade Tagliolini in saffron butter whiskey salmon cream and crunchy almonds. A type of pasta popular in Emilia-Romagna, a region in Italy.

While we love the soft smooth texture of the pasta, I thought the salmon cream was a little too mild, but nothing a dash of sea salt won’t help. We also had Secret Berticot Rosé to go along with the pasta. Though the Rosé was a decent pairing with pasta, we felt that the Savignon Blanc was actually suited for this occasion.

seabass with fine herb crust on spinach bed
seabass with fine herb crust on spinach bed

Next up - seabass with fine herb crust on spinach bed. Seabass, or barramundi, is quite a popular fish in local cuisine, but I’ve never had it prepare this way before. The crust gives it a crispy herbal taste while leaving the texture of the fish still tender and moist. The spinach did a fine job as a side kick, and we had more white wine to go with this.

It was already a rather good night at this point.

tenderloin in old Madeira sauce with foie gras and fig
tenderloin in old Madeira sauce with foie gras and fig

Then came my favorite dish of the night, tenderloin in old Madeira sauce with foie gras and fig.

When it comes to beef, I’m usually one who likes to have it as is. Be it ribeye, NY strip, tenderloin, of Black Angus, Wagyu, you name it. I like to have it medium rare with nothing on it.

On this occasion though, I was proven wrong. The Madeira sauce and fig really enhanced the taste of the already excellent beef. The foie gras, of course, managed to kick it up a notch. Give me this any day and I’ll be the happiest man.

Red meat deserves some red wine to go with, so we had a glass of Château Pouroutou red to go with (I believe it was merlot). Perfect.

dessert galore!
dessert galore!

As usual, by the time we were well full, dessert is served. Not one, but five creations from the good chef. I took a bite from all of them and wished that I had a bigger stomach to properly devour them. They are:

  • Millefoglie with Chantilly cream and caramel
  • Vanilla panacotta and strawberry coulis
  • Chocolate fondente and mini chocolate cup
  • Chocolate tender heart with Amarena cherry parfait
  • Orange cheesecake and chocolate drawing

KY, Haze, Mei & Josen, Melissa, Kelly, Chengyi, Chef Andrea Alimenti
KY, Haze, Mei & Josen, Melissa, Kelly, Chengyi, Chef Andrea Alimenti

It was a great dinner with even better company, thank you Melissa for being a generous and wonderful host. We will be back to Le Midi.

map to Bangsar Shopping Center

Address:
Le Midi Restaurant
3rd Floor, East Wing,
Bangsar Shopping Centre,

285 Jalan Maarof,
Bukit Bandaraya, 59000 Kuala Lumpur

GPS: 3.142808,101.667448
Tel:  03-2094 1318

Several weeks ago I was invited to sample one of the latest non-halal authentic food joints in PJ at Thai Camp.

I, for one, am happy to see this emerging trend of Thai restaurants that offers pork dishes. Currently, within 15 minutes drive in PJ, we have My Elephant at Seksyen 17, Surisit Thai kopitiam at TTDI, and I’m Spicy at Seksyen 17, adding Thai Camp into the mix is certainly a good news.

Thai Camp is situated next to restaurant Mei Yun, Taman Paramount
Thai Camp is situated next to restaurant Mei Yun, Taman Paramount

Thai Camp occupies just half a shop lot along Jalan 21/1 at Taman Paramount, directly next door to Mei Yun kopitiam that is famouse for it’s lala dishes and Hokkien mee at night (though we found better versions these days at Alisan’s mamak row at PJ SS4).

There are only some 10 tables in the air conditioned restaurant. Interior decoration is simple but offers a conducive dining environment.

Even though the restaurant is fairly small, kitchen is manned by owner’s Thai wife and mother in law who insist on preparing food in traditional way, hence efficiency is something that they are still overcoming. Be prepared to wait for a bit before food is served. Do call in to book and perhaps speak to the owner to avoid disappointment in wait time.

Pla Neung Ma Naw, Thai steamed fish
Pla Neung Ma Naw, Thai steamed fish

We started off with Pla Neung Ma Naw (Thai steamed fish, RM35), steamed tilapia on a bed of Chinese cabbage and soaked in gravy with generous amount of lime, garlic, chili padi, and more. The somewhat light tasting fish combines well with the intense gravy, goes very well with steamed rice.

I can only imagine that this dish would be even better if we have Barramundi instead (though it’ll certainly be more pricey)

Tom Ka Kai (coconut milk tomyam chicken), Moo Ma Naw (spicy pork salad)
Tom Ka Kai (coconut milk Thai chicken soup), Moo Ma Naw (spicy pork salad)

Next up was Tom Ka Kai (Thai soup with coconut milk, RM 18), a departure from the usual tomyam soup that is served at basically every Thai restaurant. The soup has a strong santan flavor and isn’t nearly as spicy as most tomyam dishes. Those who love coconut milk will enjoy this.

Moo Ma Naw (spicy pork salad, RM15) consists of sliced pork with cabbage, fish sauce, lime, garlic, chili padi, and other ingredients, a good substitute for Thai mango salad, both are sourish but this packs a bit more punch in spiciness and porky sweetness.

Phad Phak Ruam (stir fry assorted vege), Phad Kra Pao (roast pork with holy basil & long bean)
Phad Phak Ruam (stir fry assorted vege), Phad Kra Pao (roast pork with basil)

Phad Phak Ruam (stir fry assorted vegetable, RM 15) comes with cauliflower, carrot, broccoli, and some small shrimps for sweetness. The sauce tastes of a mixture of Thai concoction that includes fish sauce. I really liked it, but at the same time also find that the side of shredded raw cabbage on the side (comes with every dish) is a bit unnecessary.

Phad Kra Pao (roast pork with basil, RM 18) turned out to be one of my favorite dishes here. Chopped long bean, chili padi, and roast pork can’t really go wrong.

Kai Yeaw Ma Khra Prao Grob (fried century egg)
Kai Yeaw Ma Khra Prao Grob (fried century egg)

The last dish we tried was Kai Yeaw Ma Khra Prao Grob (fried century egg, RM 18). It was really something that I haven’t tasted before. I’ve had century egg as is, or steamed, but never fried. The treatment gave it a slightly crispy exterior that I thought was pretty interesting, and the deep fried kailan accompanying the dish proved to be a worthy side.

map to Thai Camp, Taman Paramount

We had a rather good dinner at Thai Camp, and I actually went there again a week or so later. This is definitely a more than decent Thai restaurant to visit, but until they improve kitchen efficiency, don’t head there when you’re already very hungry.

At the time of review, Thai Camp hasn’t yet started to serve desserts, but it is something that will come in the future.

Address:
Thai Camp
37 Jalan 20/7
Taman Paramount
Petaling Jaya,
46300 Selangor

GPS: 3.109748, 101.626287
Tel: 012-345 1768
Hours: 11:00 am – 3:00 pm, 6:00 pm – 10:00 pm

A week or so ago, I was lucky enough to get invited to one of the more exclusive dinner previews in town – to sample the All Kansai Festival dinner at Kampachi Pavilion KL.

The festival runs from 15th – 23rd of February 2014, including traditional street performances, takoyaki workshop, stage performances, and of course, Kaiseki dinner, which happens on 19, 20, & 21 February 2014 (priced at RM 300+)

All Kansai Festival, only at Kampachi, Pavilion KL
All Kansai Festival, only at Kampachi, Pavilion KL

The festival is exclusive only to Kampachi at Pavilion. For the tasting session, we had a subset of the menu. Instead of the full 9 course dinner, we sampled 6 dishes, mainly due to the fact that certain ingredients for other dishes will not arrive until the slated days to ensure freshness.

Anyway, lets get started.

Fresh Oyster with Ponzu Vinegar Gelée, Clear Soup with Clam
Fresh Oyster with Ponzu Vinegar Gelée, Clear Soup with Clam

Our first course was Kaki no Ponzu Jure (Fresh Oyster with Ponzu Vinegar Gelée). Served on a bed of ice, the oyster was huge and succulent, with the ponzu gelée giving it that extra sophistication. This version is the best way I’ve had oyster yet, beats the usual lemon or worse, tabasco sauce by a mile.

Next up was Hamaguri, Uguisuna, Harinegi, Kinome (Clear Soup with Clam, Japanese Mustard Spinach, Julienned Leek & Young Japanese Pepper Buds). This was not your ordinary miso soup, it was subtle and very refreshing. The huge clam certainly provided an unmistakable seafood sweetness to the clear soup.

Slices of Raw Fish – Tuna, Ark Shell & Yellowtail
Slices of Raw Fish – Tuna, Ark Shell & Yellowtail

No Kaiseki menu is complete without sashimi. We had Maguro, Akagai, Hamachi (Slices of Raw Fish – Tuna, Ark Shell & Yellowtail). The premium raw seafood was served on a bed of ice with grated wasabi. My favorite out of the three was the ark shell, fresh, crunchy, with a blend of sweetness and savoury taste. Excellent.

Grilled Yellowtail with Teriyaki Sauce
Grilled Yellowtail with Teriyaki Sauce

Tennen Hamachi Teriyaki Manganji Togarashi Syoyuzuke (Grilled Yellowtail with Teriyaki Sauce garnished with Marinated Manganji Green Pepper) came next. While it was a more than decent dish on its own, I believe that with wild Amberjack (as intended during the festival) would elevate this dish to a new height as the texture of Amberjack would be superior to Yellowtail when grilled.

Boxed Sushi with Seabream, Prawn, & Conger Eel
Boxed Sushi with Seabream, Prawn, & Conger Eel

Sushi came next, in the form of Sanshoku Oshizushi (Box Sushi with Sea Bream, Prawn & Conger Ee). To be honest, this was the first time I had pressed sushi, the texture is a quite a bit different from the usual nigri sushi (hand made rice ball with raw seafood on top), maki (rolled sushi), or temaki (hand roll). The rice in boxed sushi is a bit denser, providing a different experience.

Yuzu Mousse, Kampachi Signature Peanut Mochi
Yuzu Mousse, Kampachi Signature Peanut Mochi

Our dessert was Yuzu Mousse (Japanese Citrus Mousse), refreshing and perfect for a sweet ending.

We couldn’t help ourselves and asked for Kampachi’s Signature Peanut Mochi as well. The mochi is served warm and covered with mountain of crushed peanut and sugar, similar with the traditional mochi found in Penang’s hawker scene, except more refined. I find myself enjoying this very much.

The seats for Kansai Festival dinner menu is fast selling out (I believe 21st Feb already sold out), so book yourself an awesome dinner if you’re a fan of Japanese food. Check their website for full menu and other information.

we had a great time sampling the Kansai Festival Menu
we had a great time sampling the Kansai Festival Menu

map to Pavilion KL

Address:
Kampachi
Level 6, Pavilion
Jln Bukit Bintang, 55100 Kuala Lumpur

GPS3.148872, 101.713368
Tel03-2148 9608
Websitewww.kampachi.com.my
Hours: 10 am to 10 pm

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