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Malaysian Food Blog, Travel, Diving & More

Category / Foreign Food

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

A few weeks ago while walking from KLCC to Pavilion I strolled pass Vipod Residence and noticed that there’s a new Japanese restaurant opening up on the ground floor – Oribe Sushi. I’m a huge fan of proper Japanese food, so there’s no other reason needed to give it a try.

Oribe Sushi at Vipod Residence (between Pavilion & KL Convention Centre)
Oribe Sushi at Vipod Residence (between Pavilion & KL Convention Centre)

A peek on the menu shows that Oribe Sushi only serves Omakase (literal translation: “I’ll leave it to you”). For lunch, there are 4 choices priced at RM 88, RM 150, RM 180, and RM 250. Dinner omakase are priced at RM 120, 168, 198, and 350.

We took a seat at the sushi bar and then of course, I chose the cheapest – “Seto”.

appetizer & chawanmushi
appetizer & chawamushi

This set starts out with appetizer in the form of some carefully stirfried bean sproud, tiny shrimps, and other vege.

Then there’s the chawanmushi that’s smoother than most tofufa I’ve had, it was delicious. So far, so good.

sea bass, flounder, bluefin tuna, yellow tail
sea bass, flounder, bluefin tuna, yellow tail

Then came what we were here for – the sushi.

The experience here is pretty unique. While seated at the sushi bar, the chef is dedicated to your meal. He will prepare one sushi meticulously, serve it on your plate, explained what it is, and then only start preparing the next piece after you’ve consumed the current piece.

This way, the sushi never sit on the plate longer than a few seconds (or however long you take to snap a pic to show your jealous friends on instagram).

mackerel with seaweed, barracuda, scallop
mackerel with seaweed, barracuda, scallop

The 8 types of sushi we had were sea bass, flounder, bluefin tuna, yellow tail, mackerel with seaweed, barracuda, scallop, and ikura.

These were not just simple slices of fish (or other seafood) on rice, but also with addition of seaweed, blow torch treatment, bits of citrus peel, a wipe of sauce/oil and so forth. It was a work of art. I found myself not even really needing those grated fresh wasabi to accompany the sushi.

ikura (salmon egg), and er.. some vegetable roll
ikura (salmon egg), and er.. some vegetable roll

The ginger used here too is not of the usual variety. It was less spicy but carries a slightly sweet flavor which I really liked. They will refill it should you find yourself finishing them like I did.

After 8 pieces of nigiri sushi, we were treated with three pieces of vegetable roll (I think it was Japanese bamboo shoots?) to end the main course part of the meal.

miso soup and mochi with red bean to conclude our omakase
miso soup and mochi with red bean to conclude our omakase

Our omsake ended with a small bowl of miso soup and mochi with red bean as dessert. While the dessert wasn’t as exquisite as the other dishes, it was certainly not disappointing either.

While RM 88++ is certainly no chump change for lunch, I do feel that it provides value for money so far as the quality of food, and the excellent services goes. If you are a fan of proper Japanese food, this is one place you should check out.

map to vipod residence, KL

Address:
Oribe Sushi @ Vipod Residence
19, Jalan Kia Peng,
50450 Kuala Lumpur

GPS: 3.152181, 101.712662
Tel: 03-2181 4099

If you were to tell me 10 years ago that salad can make a healthy, hearty, and really delicious meal, I’d only believe you 1/3. After all, salad are for girls who wants to look demure and polite having meal in public, right?

Well, Chai Bar proved me wrong.

Chai Bar at Oasis Square, Ara Damansara
Chai Bar at Oasis Square, Ara Damansara

One of the Chai Bar’s co-owner, Dennis, is a close friend of Haze. So to be honest, we’ve heard of the concept and already been to the pre-tasting events before the restaurant was even opened.

It was a concept that isn’t completely new, salad bars such as these are already quite popular in Singapore and other countries.

salad isn't just lettuce with thousand island sauce
salad isn’t just lettuce with thousand island sauce

The concept is simple, choose from some 70 different ingredients such as freshly washed and cut vegetables to beans, cheeses, nuts, pickles, and roasted vegetables. Plus, you also get to add smoked salmon, shrimp, poached chicken or grilled beef (just in case you think salad is only all about greens). To complete the meal, pick from some 15 different dressings.

Voila, you have yourself an awesome healthy meal.

chicken rice, superfood, steakhouse, sombrero
chicken rice, superfood, steakhouse, sombrero

For the review session we tried 7 different salads with some from their “fab 10″ selections, basically ten different mixes of salad for those who doesn’t want to scratch their heads choosing your own combination from 70 different ingredients. These salads are priced from RM 16-20, a very good value for what you get in my opinion.

Chicken rice came with spinach, red rice, onions, cucumber, bean sprouts & poached chicken and dressed with Sesame Soy. Here the chicken is cooked sous vide so even though it’s breast meat (my least favorite but healthiest option), it was still very juicy and rather delicious.

Superfood had mixed leaves with sweet potatoes, beets, avocado, dried cranberries, pine nuts, pumpkin seeds & quinoa dressed in peanut sauce. A mixture of all the healthy ingredients you can think of. Very nice texture to munch on.

Steakhouse is a salad for the men, I mean, steak, kan? Baby spinach with baby potatoes, tomato, caramelised onions & grilled beef. I like the dressing in this one – blue cheese! If you’re not a fan of blue cheese, you can always opt for another dressing.

If you like a little bit of Mexican, try Sombrero. Mixed lettuce with 3-bean mix, corn, tomatoes, onions, mixed peppers, cheddar cheese, tortilla chips & grilled beef. This salad is dressed with avocado and topped with salsa.

bibimbap, caesar, california girls
bibimbap, caesar, california girls

Fancy Korean style salad? Baby spinach with red rice, cucumber, carrot, mushrooms, bean sprouts, hard boiled egg and grilled beef. Sweet Gochujang. Sprinkles of kimchi makes for a bowl of Bibimbap.

Caesar, the most common of all salad, turned out to be our favorite. The sous vide chicken that’s lightly grilled was superb, and the Green Goddess dressing compliments romaine lettuce, croutons, onions, hard boiled egg, beef bacon, Parmesan cheese and grilled chicken really well.

According to Dennis, California Girls is one of the most popular salads with the ladies. A bowl that’s inspired by Japanese cuisine, with mixed lettuce, red rice, avocado, carrot, cucumber, cherry tomatoes, hard boiled egg, pickled seaweed & kaori-hako. Wasabi Mayo. Dusted with roasted seaweed and ebiko. I thought the ebiko was a really nice touch.

refreshing drinks at Chai Bar
refreshing drinks at Chai Bar

Juices goes for RM 7.50 and smoothies RM 8.50. We had kaffir lemonade, watermelon & mint, and of course I went for avocado. They complements the food well, and I think make for good afternoon “snacks” on their own too.

KY, Haze, Dennis (co-owner), Cheesie & Junya
KY, Haze, Dennis (co-owner), Cheesie & Junya

Chai Bar is really a trailblazer for salad in this side of Klang Valley, I really hope they thrive and open up more restaurants, and hopefully one near my workplace. Good job Dennis!

map to Oasis, Ara Damansara

Address:
Chai Bar
G31, Oasis Village
Oasis Square Ara Damansara, 

2, Jalan PJU 1A/7A, Petaling Jaya
GPS: 3.114834, 101.574750
Webchaibar.my
Tel03-7832 3138

A few weeks ago we had the craving for roast duck, and there is no better place for roast duck than Loong Foong at Taman Paramount, so we headed there… just to discover that while the restaurant was open, the roast duck shop wasn’t.

Time for plan B – the classy looking Japanese Curry restaurant a few shops down the same row – Shokudo Japanese Curry Rice.

Shokudo at Taman Paramount
Shokudo at Taman Paramount

The restaurant is a blend of class and practicality. There are long wooden tables and benches for sharing, which exudes a bit of high school dining hall feel.

Ordering is done by heading to the counter, but they’re kind enough to serve the food to your table. Green tea and water refill is a DIY affair, which we didn’t mind.

tidbits to munch on before main meal
tidbits to munch on before main meal

The menu consists of some two dozen dishes, including curry rice and appetizers. We tried aigamo rousuni (marinated duck breast, RM 8), hiyayako (cold beancurd, RM 4), koebi karaage (deep fried shrimps, RM 5), and kani salad (crab stick salad, RM 10).

The appetizers were generally pretty good and priced rather competitively, I can totally imagining chilling out with some Asahi & deep fried shimps.

prawns, pork, or beef curry rice
prawns, pork, or beef curry rice

There are almost a dozen different curry rice to choose from. From chicken, pork fillet, prawn, vegetable, egg, and even cream croquette, all of which are priced between RM 13-15. For an additional RM 3, you also get a small salad, soup, and green tea, which is a pretty decent deal especially since the price is net.

After trying a few dishes, my favorite has to be their prawn curry rice. The seafood tasted fresh, juicy, and goes very well with creamy flavorful Japanese curry. The pork fillet is pretty decent, though I’d recommend Tonkatsu by Mai Mason over this version any day.

That being said, Shokudo is a pretty fine place for Japanese curry rice for any fan of this dish.

map to shokudo Japanese Curry rice, Taman Paramount

Address:
Shokudo
9, Jalan 20/13,
Taman Paramount,
Petaling Jaya Selangor
GPS: 3.106145, 101.625387
Tel03-7863-0922
Hours: lunch & dinner, closed on Monday

Every once in a while, I get invited to one of these fancy dinners that I imagined myself being a part of when I was working as a casual worker at a five star hotel in my high school days.

I thought that it’d be pretty awesome sitting down having a number of different courses of almost bite size food served in plates that are unnecessarily large, and wouldn’t it be even more cool if they have different drinks for each dish?!

That’d really be living the life, won’t it?

Senja at Saujana Hotel
A Premium Wine Affair, Senja at Saujana Hotel

Well, last Friday was one of such days, and yes, that’s another teenage-hood dream come true moment (though not the first time).

I was invited to “A premier Wine Affair of the Saujana Hotels & Resorts Wine Collection“, a private event hosted by the Saujana to unveil its new wine collection.

Charcoal's Australian Chef Robert Johnston
Charcoal’s Australian Chef Robert Johnston

The wines were specifically made from Frankland Estate, Margaret River, Western Australia, a well-renowned winery with an approach to winemaking that values the importance of soil and environment.

In the kitchen was Charcoal’s Australian Chef Robert Johnston who prepared a distinctive five course menu to pair with the wines for a night of, well, wine and dine.

By the way, you can only get these wines from The Saujana

Note: Instead of paraphrasing the note and pretend that I know exactly how to describe these wonderful wines, I’m going to include the tasting note here verbatim, and by the way, most media/writers do get tasting notes for wine/whisky, we can’t magically come up with fantastic descriptions that are all pretty much the same.

lightly cured salmon, pomelo, cucumber, verjuice jelly
lightly cured salmon, pomelo, cucumber, verjuice jelly

After socializing a bit with the crowd, we sat down and dinner began, our first dish was the lightly cured salmon, pomelo, cucumber, verjuice jelly to be paired with Souvignon Blanc Semillon 2014. Refreshing and easy on the palette.

Tasting note: On the nose it shows exotic fruit aromas, lychee, mango, rose, quince and spices. On the palate it exudes a powerful, burst of fruit, flattering and round with lightly spicy finishing. 

poached chicken and crispy noodles, shitake tea
poached chicken and crispy noodles, shitake tea

Second course was poached chicken and crispy noodles, shitake tea. Paired with Chardonnay 2013, Miles from Nowhere.

The shitake tea makes an interesting base with its slightly bitter after taste, reminding me of chicken essence in a way. Crispy noodle provided interesting texture to the otherwise quite muted poached chicken. Very Asian-ish.

Tasting note: Butterscotch and ripe stone fruit flavours, with a rich and luscious creamy mouth feel. A complex wine with a spicy oak finish

char grilled duck breast, sweet onion puree, apple and radish, balsamic reduction
char grilled duck breast, sweet onion puree, apple & radish, balsamic reduction

Third dish was char grilled duck breast, sweet onion puree, apple and radish, balsamic reduction. Paired with Merlot 2014.

Really love the duck breast with the hint of charred taste. The Merlot carries mulberry and red plum fruit aromas, a touch of earthy complexity that went well with duck.

Tasting notes: Medium ruby red in colour. Alluring strawberry, mulberry and red plum fruit aromas with subtle hint of French oak spice and a touch of earthy complexity.

Black Angus tenderloin, roasted pumpkin risotto, oyster mushroom, bone marrow and parsley sauce
black Angus tenderloin, roasted pumpkin risotto,
oyster mushroom, bone marrow and parsley sauce

The main dish was black Angus tenderloin, roasted pumpkin risotto, oyster mushroom, bone marrow and parsley sauce. Paired with Cabernet Souvignon 2012. While the Wagyu from Hanaya a couple days ago was heaven, I still enjoy Angus beef with its more profound texture.

Tasting notes: A powerful yet elegant wine. Soft and rich with full body. Well rounded tannins on the palate with concentrates fruit flavours and provides a great length on the finish.

Coconut rice, caramelized banana, candied coconut and chili
coconut rice, caramelized banana, candied coconut and chili

Coconut rice, caramelized banana, candied coconut and chili as dessert to end the night. Good food with excellent company, what a great way to start the weekends.

great company and awesome food with delectable wines
great company and awesome food with delectable wines

The other wines we tried were  Sauvignon Blanc Semillon 2014 from Grape Expectations Estate, Margaret River, and Merlot Cabernet Sauvignon Cabernet Franc from Frankland Estate.

map to Saujana Kuala Lumpur

Address:
Senja
Saujana Golf & Country Club,
Jalan Lapangan Terbang SAAS,
40150 Selangor
GPS3.106865, 101.575285
Tel03-7846 1466
emailinfo@thesaujana.com