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Category / Japanese

Izakaya, or Japanese gastro pub, is a relatively new type of Japanese restaurant in Malaysia. It is basically a pub with a proper bar and a full kitchen. You want to have a few beer or sake? Sure. You want a full meal? They’ve got that covered too.

Robataya Izakaya at Publika
Robataya Izakaya at Publika

Robataya Izakaya is a relatively new comer of such restaurant in KL. Located in Publika, they have a pretty extensive menu offering raw fish, ramen, rice dish, tempura, salad, grilled items, and more.

Robataya Izakaya at Publika is our dinner spot tonight, we’re having boat loads of different items from the menu, from sashimi, sushi, to salad, teppan, and kushyaki at this review session. Momo tama and their salmon oyako sarada are definite must orders. #kyeats #izakaya #foodreview #sushi #sashimi #publika #yakitori

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A week ago, we headed there on an invitation to try out what they’ve got to offer.

Okan Sashimi, they have air flown seafood too
Okan Sashimi, they have air flown seafood too

We started with Okan Sashimi (RM 70), a sashimi platter with 5 different types of fresh seafood carefully arranged on ice. During our session, we had salmon, salmon belly, sweet shrimp, tuna, and I believe, butterfish.

While it may not be the super premium quality sashimi, (that’ll be their air flown, LIVE seafood as displayed by Haze) the portions were generous and it was actually quite a treat for the price.

Una Chizu Roll, Robataya Teppan Roll
Una Chizu Roll, Robataya Teppan Roll

For those wholikes rolls, The Robataya Teppan Roll (RM 28) is one you should try. There’s salmon inside, mayo, and grilled bacon on top! The taste was rather unique, and of course, anything is better with bacon.

Una Chizu Roll (RM 25) is a slightly more creative interpretation of your usual unagi roll, as they’ve decided to add cheese to the mix. I think the result was pretty good to be honest.

Salmon Oyako Sarada
Salmon Oyako Sarada

Salmon Oyaka Sarada (RM 26) turned out to be one of our favorite dishes of the night. Laden with plenty of crispy salmon skin, the salad also have quite a generous portion of raw salmon in all those mustard leaves & cherry tomato in the rather awesome sesame dressing. I’d have this for lunch anytime.

various kushiyaki (skewers) & gyoza
various kushiyaki (skewers) & gyoza

You can’t have a proper review of an izakaya without having some skewers. We tried teba (chicken wings, RM 6), buta (pork belly RM 6), uzura bacon (quail egg bacon, RM 6), banana bacon (RM 6), tomato gyumaki (tomato wrapped with beef, RM 7), tsukune (chicken meatball, RM 5), momo tama (chicken thigh wrapped with egg, RM 6), and negima (chicken with leeks, RM 5).

While these are some pretty good skewers, the one that stood out the most was the momo tama, the egg was prepared to a rather soft consistency and for some reason worked really, really well with the chicken thigh. We gobbled that up pretty fast.

San Ten Zeppin - pork belly, bacon, Australian beef
San Ten Zeppin – pork belly, bacon, Australian beef

If you enjoy BBQ, there’s only one way to improve the experience – by having it indoor, with air conditioning. The San Ten Zeppin sumiyaki (RM 55) gave us just that. There’re pork belly, bacon, and Australian beef. The meat are pretty thinly sliced so they cook rather quick, if you mess it up, it’s your own fault.

Teppan Ika Eeso, Spare Ribs Teriyaki, Akaebi Olive Ebi
Teppan Ika Eeso, Spare Ribs Teriyaki, Akaebi Olive

As if those weren’t enough food for 4 skinny Asians, we also tried their Teppan Ika Geso (cuttle fish, RM 15), Spare Pork Ribs Teriyaki (RM 33), and Akaebi Olive (RM 42).

The cuttlefish should make for a very good side dish for beer, and while I thought the ribs were a bit dry, I did enjoy the olive shrimp quite a fair bit, the olive gave it a bit of sweetness that complements the spicy deep fried shrimp quite well.

Haze, Calvin, Haze, Sim
Haze, Calvin, Haze, Sim

Overall, we did enjoy our dinner at Robataya. There are actually 2 other izakaya at Publika, and it’ll be tough to try to put a ranking on the list as they each have their strength and offers quite a different set of menu. You can’t realy go wrong if you pick Robataya for a meal, or some sake.

map to Solaris Dutamas

Address:
Robataya Izakaya
D4-G3-09, Publika

Solaris Dutamas, Kuala Lumpur
GPS3.170961, 101.665721
Tel03-6211 2785

Kame Sushi is one of the first Japanese restaurants in KL to offer omakase style dining. For those who aren’t familiar with the term, omakase simply means “a meal consisting of dishes selected by the chef”, so basically you tell the chef what you don’t eat, or allergic to, and the restaurant decides the rest.

Kame Sushi, Sri Hartamas
Kame Sushi, Sri Hartamas

So in essence, you never really know what you’re going to get. In a good omakase restaurant, the chef usually decides on the menu based on what’s in season, and what he or she deemed the best they can offer based on the price, availability, and the skill set of those in the kitchen.

We first go to know about Kame from Cheesie, but it wasn’t until earlier this year that Haze and I decide to head there for her birthday dinner.

fresh imported sashimi
fresh imported sashimi

Since we had the meal was some half a year ago, name and exact ingredients in the dishes have became a bit fuzzy. In this post I could only describe what I remember from looking at these pictures, but better late than never, right?

Our course was priced at RM 350 per person, it was the 2nd most expensive from the menu at the time.

second course
second course

The dinner consists of mainly top grade seafood selections, starting with some of the best sashimi cuts. The oyster was fresh, sweet, and alluring. There were also tuna otoro (fatty tuna), yellow tail, snow crab, amaebi (sweet shrimp), hotate (scallop), and uni (sea urchin).

Then came the grilled items with more seafood and mushroom wrapped with wagyu beef, simple yet exquisite.

warm dish, light battered fried fish
warm dish, light battered fried fish

Stewed dish and a lightly battered deep fried fish dish came next, and frankly the exact name of the seafood content escaped my mind. They were done just right and quite delightful even if not entirely special.

tuna belly , ume, ikura on rice
tuna belly , uni, ikura on sushi rice

Our main dish came in the form of minced tuna belly, ikura (salmon roe), uni (sea urchin), and hand grated wasabi on sushi rice. As a chirashi sushi lover, this was rather delightful. This rice dish was very rich and did its job as a highlight to the evening.

natto beans, Japanese pear
natto beans, Japanese pear

Dessert came in a couple slices of Japanese pear. They were as good as any Japanese fruits – soft, sweet, and fresh.

Ultimately though, at RM 350++, this omakase dinner was good, but in today’s level of competition with the likes of Oribe, SOU Omakase, and Sushi Azabu, you may find similar or even better value hunting around.

map to Kame Sushi, Sri Hartamas

Address:
Kame Sushi
20, Jalan 31/70A,
Desa Sri Hartamas,
50480 Kuala Lumpur
GPS: 3.162555, 101.648655
Tel
03-2858 7739tel:03-2858 7739

I don’t do a lot of invited reviews these days, mostly due to work commitments and staying quite a fair bit away from the city. However, every now and then there are something intriguing enough that warrant the time and effort.

The invitation for Festive Menu at Babe Gastro was one of such events.

Babe at Clearwater, Damansara Height KL
Babe at Clearwater, Damansara Height KL

Located at the top floor of Clearwater at Damansara Height, Babe is a tastefully decorated cozy restaurant with a perhaps one of the best views of the city. There’s the infinity pool, an unobstructed post-card worthy view of KL, neat looking cutlery imported from Spain, and even air conditioned alfresco dining area.

What’s there not to like except? Well, there’s the rather confusing elevator system where you have to select which floor to go BEFORE getting in.

refreshing mocktail, Chef Jeff Ramsey
refreshing mocktail, Chef Jeff Ramsey

Babe is headed by Chef Jeff Ramsey, a Michelin starred chef who previously headed the Tapas Molecular Bar at Mandarin Oriental Tokyo.

The menu here is a unique creation of Jeff Ramsey using a lot of Japanese & other international ingredients while infusing local flavors. Some of these are coined “Japas”, or Japanese style tapas.

While “fusion” has a bit of a negative connotation, I love chefs who aren’t afraid to experiment and push the boundary in culinary space. Without these trailblazers, we’d forever be stuck with “traditional” dishes. What’s the fun in that?

Babe Gastro invited us to try out Michelin star Chef Jeff Ramsey’s unconventional approach to Malaysian flavors with the unveil of their new tasting menu with lots of Japanese ingredients. The 12 course menu includes dishes such as foie gras and jackfruit, snow crab donburi with sambal, and dinosaur egg. Priced at RM 300++ per pax. Available from 26/5 to 30/6 . @babegastro #babegastro #kyeats #foodreview #japas

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The Festive menu is perhaps the most unique buka puasa meal you can get this Ramadhan season. Priced at RM 300++ per pax, the 12-course dinner is available from 26/5/2017 to 30/6/2017. If you are tired with the same Selera Kampung buffet, this would be a place worthy of your consideration.

"down the rabbit hole", Foiegras and Jackfruit
“down the rabbit hole”, Foiegras and Jackfruit

We started the night with “down the rabbit hole”, a shot of drink that tastes like chicken rice, or roti canai, or something that’s completely unfamiliar. An interesting start, and certainly a precursor as to what to be expected for dinner.

The first course was Foiegras and Jackfruit, finely chopped jackfruit in a crispy shell and foie gras proved to be a good combination and served as a perfect start to open up our appetite.

Onsen Chowder
Onsen Chowder

Then came Onsen Chowder, a potato mousse with smoked coconut, 63c egg (molecular gastronomy magic), and chives. It was actually unexpectedly good! The smoked coconut, or what Celina the “top babe” described as coconut bacon brought the dish a very unique crispy contrast to the texture of the potato mousse.

Laska Injection, Mango and Curry Sphere
Laksa Injection Canapé , Mango & Curry Sphere

Then there was Laksa Injection Canapé and Mango & Curry Sphere.

The former is like mouthful of my favorite ingredients in a bowl of curry laksa – prawn & soup, though perhaps a slightly bigger syringe that contains those soup would make it even better.

Mango & Curry Sphere utilizes another Molecular gastronomy technique called “spherification”, utilizing calcium chloride or some other voodoo in making an eggyolk lookalike sphere that explodes in your mouth with the tangy & spicy taste of the liquid ingredients within. Quite an experience.

Crispy Chicken Terrine, Marinated Roast Kabayaki Ikan Keli
Crispy Chicken Terrine, Marinated Roast Kabayaki Ikan Keli

Next were two of the more creative dishes that may looks and taste almost exactly alike what they are supposed to be, but made up of entirely different ingredients that is halal.

Crispy Chicken Terrine looks and taste like a good piece of charsiu, but actually made up of up to 40 layers of crispy rendered chicken skin (sans the fatty part) and charsiu sauce, while Marinated Roast Kabayaki Ikan Keli is their interpretation of bak kwa, but instead of pork/chicken, catfish is the main ingredient.

I’d have never guessed the ingredients in a million year.

Prawn and Curry Leaf Ice Cream, Manga Crab, Snow Crab Donburi with Sambal
Prawn and Curry Leaf Ice Cream, Manga Crab, Snow Crab Donburi with Sambal

Next up was Prawn and Curry Leaf Ice Cream, which was quite a unique combo, you don’t have a seafood ingredient with ice cream very often.

Manga Crab is perhaps one of the more “normal” dish, but they actually print the sauce on the plate manga style, and serve with coriander sauce.

Snow Crab Donburi with Sambal is basically just as what the name suggests, a small portion of snow crab rice bowl, but with sambal and Dashi jelly to give it that extra dimension. To be honest, I may enjoy this without the sambal just a tad more, maybe.

Smoked Chicken Percik, Stanbroke Farms Striploin with Japanese Sambal
Smoked Chicken Percik, Stanbroke Farms Striploin with Japanese Sambal

If you’re still hungry by this time, well, afraid not. The Smoked Chicken Percik is a whole ayam kampung to be shared by two. Four hour was spent preparing the chicken, and the result was a prefect tenderness and flavor, definitely one of the benefits of utilizing molecular methods in traditional dishes.

Stanbroke Farms Striploin with Japanese Sambal was another welcoming meat base dish which I really enjoyed, especially with the accompanying Yuzu Kosho Sambal.

Dinosaur Egg
Dinosaur Egg

Then came the twelveth course – another playful dish by the name of Dinosaur Egg, a  dessert made from DaunKaduk, Yoghurt, Tropical Fruit, and Nutty “Birds Nest”. Crack it open with your spoon and viola, an egg looking thing that by now, you should know it tastes entirely not like an egg, but a sweet concoction that’s apt to end the night.

map to Clearwater, Damansara Height

Address:
Babe Gastro
Level 11, Clearwater,
Jalan Changkat Semantan,
Bukit Damansara, KL
GPS: 3.152327, 101.666762
Tel 03.2095 8599
Web: babe.com.my

Japanese cuisine started in Malaysia with sushi and sashimi, and thankfully over the years, we are introduced to more and more different Japanese dishes to the country. Now we have Japanese bakery, cafe, egg tarts, teppanyaki, tendon, izakaya, ramen, pasta, pizza, and of course, one of my favorites – tonkatsu restaurants.

Tonkatsu by Ma Maison, now at Subang Main Place
Tonkatsu by Ma Maison, now at Subang Main Place

Two rosu katsu set please! Rosu is the loin while Hire katsu is the less fatty fillet. What'd be your choice at Tonkatsu by Ma Maison? #kyeats #pork #mainplace #subangjaya #tonkatsu #japanese

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For the uninitiated, tonkatsu is basically breaded, deep-fried pork cutlet that is usually served with shredded cabbage. For those who are in low carb or keto diet (not that I am), this would make a fine meal.

salt, sweet, or slightly spicy sauce?
salt, sweet, or slightly spicy sauce?

Tonkatsu by Ma Maison is one of the few Japanese restaurants serving tonkatsu in the country at the moment, and they’ve opened up a branch at Main Place in Subang, which is quite a fair bit closer to home for us than their 1-Utama or Publika branches.

Furthermore, I’ve recently being introduced to the ENTERTAINER Malaysia App which offers a buy 1 main and get 1 free offer for Tonkatsu, so why not?

Yep, we only paid for 1 main out of the two, more on this below

pork loin has that perfect amount of fat I love
pork loin has that perfect amount of fat I love

If you’re not familiar with Tonkatsu, there are basically two cuts you should concentrate on – pork loin, or rosu katsu is the version with a layer of rich fat, and hire katsu, pork fillet, which will be less fatty. I almost always went for rosu katsu.

miso katsu anyone?
miso katsu anyone?

At this restaurant there are a few sauces available, and here’s how you use them – the sesame sauce is for the cabbage, raw sesame for rice, sweet, or spicy sauce for the meat, as with the salt as well. Additionally, they also provide mustard on the side (feel free to ask for more). I find myself enjoying the combination of mustard and salt with the meat the most.

Rice, shredded cabbage, and even the miso soup is bottomless here, so knock yourself out.

The Entertainer app, buy one tonkatsu, get another free
The Entertainer app, buy one tonkatsu, get another free

Now about the ENTERTAINER Malaysia app. Well, it is basically an Android and iOS application that is full with buy one get one free offers. You browse through the offer via current location or by searching, click on the offer and redeem it at the venue (other services and attractions too, not just food).

The application is priced at RM 145  for the Malaysia version. If you’ve used it at a decent restaurant a couple times (or even just once at a higher end place), you’d have gotten your return of investment already.

Furthermore, if you purchase it with Promo Code KYSPEAKS2017, you get RM 50 off, just cos you hear it for me. Yah, RM 95 for all those deals is really quite a steal.

 

map to Main Place, Subang

Address:
Tonkatsu by Ma Maison
Lot 2F- 2nd Floor, Main Place,
19, Jalan USJ 21/10, Usj 21,
47630 Subang Jaya, Selangor
GPS3.026153, 101.581200
Tel03-8081 9913

Of the five restaurants recently opened at Isetan The Japan Store’s 4F The Table, Sushi Azabu would be the one that has the most prestige. An offshoot from the Michelin star restaurant from New York, Sushi Azabu promises authentic and intimate dining experience in its 40 seat set up.

Cher Saito, Sushi Azabu at Isetan The Japan Store KL
Chef Saito, Sushi Azabu at Isetan The Japan Store KL

We sampled a 5 pieces of sushi from Chef Saito Makoto Sam during the launch and came away impressed. So a week after the event, we decided that a proper meal at Sushi Azabu was required.

The course menu here consists of three choices – Koi at RM 120 will get you appetizer, 10 pieces of sushi and miso soup. The Azabu course at RM 220 that promises the following:

  • Appetizer
  • 2 kinds of sashimi
  • Chawanmushi
  • Palate freshener
  • Nigiri 7 pieces
  • Maki mono
  • Miso soup
  • Dessert

Or you could go all out with the Omakase menu for RM 420 and let the chef decides what you should have for dinner. Obviously, we went for broke.

nasu nibitshi - fried eggplant
nasu nibitshi – fried eggplant

So these are the dishes we had for dinner on the 1st of March 2017 off the Omakase menu at Sushi Azabu.

Nasa Nibitshi was our appetizer, a deceptively simple dish consists of fried eggplant in some very light broth/sauce and topped with finely shaved bonito flakes. Light with very subtle flavor, it does the job well to leave us wanting for more.

sashimi - kampachi, tai, aji
sashimi – kampachi, tai, aji

Next was sashimi in the form of kampachi, tai, and aji; or yellow tail, sea bream, and horse mackerel. The quality was top notch, and somewhat surprisingly our favorite was the horse mackerel. The freshly grated wasabi too was a treat in itself and we wasted none of it.

chawanmushi
chawanmushi

Chawanmushi was our next dish, the version here is simple, no fuss, but very well executed.

grilled Spanish mackerel
grilled Spanish mackerel

Grilled Spanish mackerel came next, we thought that chewing this together with the pickle yield the perfect combination of flavor that simply explodes in your mouth. This was a very well seasoned traditional dish.

stewed sowrd fish
stewed sword fish

Stewed sword fish came next, a dish that is new to me. The fish is topped with a piece of starchy cube that compliments this savory dish quite well, though I felt that perhaps the sophistication of this dish escapes me. Someone with more experience in Japanese cuisine will probably enjoy this more than me.

firefly squid with sweet miso
firefly squid with sweet miso

Then came the cutest dish of the night – firefly squid with sweet miso. A perfect balance of sweet, salty, and savory taste that is further accentuated by the freshness of firefly squid, this was one of my favorite non-sushi dish of the entire course.

Sushi Azabu

The main dish was of course, sushi, and we got ten pieces of these goodness in the form of chutoro, cattlefish, snapper, golden eye red snapper, striped jack, sea urchin, fat tuna roll, and raw prawn.

At Sushi Azabu, they take the guesswork out of eating sushi. Chef Saito expertly apply the perfect amount of soya sauce on each piece, as well as the appropriate amount of wasabi his experience hands deemed worthy of the sea bounty. So you simply just.. eat, no dipping into the saucer or fiddling with wasabi, grated or otherwise.

sushi - chutoro, cattlefish, snapper, golden eye red snapper, striped jack, sea urchin, fat tuna roll, prawn
sushi – chutoro, cattlefish, snapper, golden eye red snapper,
striped jack, sea urchin, fat tuna roll, prawn

The result was an experience worthy of the asking price. Each piece was perfect, and each offers an expression in some of the bests Japan has to offer. We thoroughly enjoyed and if I say I don’t miss it as I am writing this, I’d be lying.

miso soup & yuzu shaved ice
miso soup & yuzu shaved ice

A relatively simple bowl of miso soup with prawn head helped wound us down, and we concluded the dinner experience with a simple dessert of yuzu shaved ice.

the menu at Sushi Azabu KL
menu at Sushi Azabu KL

If you’re a sushi lover, this is surely a place to check out. I think I’m going to be back to try their more affordable menu one of these days.

map to Lot 10, KL

Address:
Sushi Azabu
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