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Category / Japanese

When it comes to Japanese restaurants, KL is spoiled for choices. Probably 80% of the hotels has an in house Japanese restaurant, there bound to be a place serving sushi at every shopping complex, and they are also represented in most newer commercial centers.

It is then very easy to get lost in the conversation, and higher end Japanese restaurants often have to offer something unique to set themselves apart. Be it ambiance, ingredients, or experience.

Zipangu at Shangri-La Hotel, KL
Zipangu at Shangri-La Hotel, KL

Personally, Zipangu at Shangri-La KL always have a special place in my heart as it was the restaurant where I first experienced foie gras back in 2007, as you would remember the first Kobe beef (at Elegantology), or the first ebiko (at Jusco Pyramid), first tempoyak (at Tenggol Island), etc.

So when I had the opportunity to be sample the Early Spring Lobster Kaiseki at Zipangu, I agreed to it immediately.

The six course menu is available from 15 to 31st March 2015, and priced at RM 280++ per person.

soy milk tofu with lobster & sweet sticky soya sauce
soy milk tofu with lobster & sweet sticky soya sauce

We started out with a dish that is visually very similar to chawanmushi, but what is usually made of steamed egg is instead chilled home-made soy milk tofu, with the topping of wasabi, sweet sticky sauce, and of course, lobster. The visual-almost-misrepresentation did not take away from the brilliance of the appetizer, it was simple yet elegant.

octopus with field mushroom and soba noodle
octopus with field mustard and soba noodle

The second course was octopus with field mustard and soba noodle. Another light dish showcasing not only seafood, but also the vegetables of the season in Japan. I particularly like the addition of bamboo shoots.

sashimi with salmon, lobster, and seabream
sashimi with salmon, lobster, and seabream

No Kaiseki is complete without some raw ingredients. For this we have sashimi with salmon, lobster, and seabream. If you haven’t had lobster sashimi before, I urge you to give it a try, it is one of my favorite raw seafood ever, in fact, I think it is the best way to enjoy lobster.

The soya sauce is mixed with lemon in this instance to give it an even fresher feel. I really enjoyed this.

hot dish - lobster and seasonal vegetables with Bonito fish gut sauce
hot dish – lobster and seasonal vegetables with Bonito fish gut sauce

The meal then turn up the heat just a bit with the next serving being a hot dish of lobster and seasonal vegetable with salted fish cream sauce. The star of this dish is the cream sauce, as explained by our server, it is actually made from Bonito fish gut.

It was subtle yet you can definitely feel its presence, sort of like how having Natalie Portman sitting at a quiet corner would make an impact to a room.

grilled Wagyu sukiyaki roll
grilled Wagyu sukiyaki roll

The next dish took a departure from seafood to honor another Japan’s famous ingredient – Wagyu beef. The good chefs at Zipangu simply called this Sliced Wagyu Beef Sukiyaki Roll.

It was stuffed with mushroom and other seasonal vegetables grilled with perfection. Dip the roll in raw egg infused sukiyaki inspired sauce, and you have an implosion of richness with savory overdose. It was really satisfying.

lobster fried rice with pickles
lobster fried rice with pickles

Like most course meals, the penultimate dish is usually something you can fill your stomach with, and for this we had lobster fried rice (you can also choose from garlic fried rice, seafood fried rice, claypot cooked rice or steamed rice.)

The fried rice tasted rather muted at first, but with the accompanying pickles, it suddenly became balanced and, well, good! The lack of salt/soya sauce in the rice was to make way for the pickles, this was the first time I had fried rice this way, though the concept isn’t totally unfamiliar to me since you have onigiri served in similar fashion as well.

KY & ahfa at Shangri-La KL, with our professional Japanese server
KY & ahfa at Shangri-La KL, with our professional Japanese server
(actually the Guest Service Manager – Yoshihiro Hattori)

Panna Cotta with Cherry Blossom Flavour ends the Early Spring Lobster Kaiseki dinner, an experience that is truly Japanese and executed perfectly at Zipangu. I really enjoyed this review and the walk from KLCC under hot sun to Shangri-La was definitely worth it.

The menu only lasts till end of this month, so if you’re a lobster lover, don’t miss out.

Map to Shangri-la Hotel, KL

Address:
Zipangu
Shangri-la Hotel
Jalan Sultan Ismail
Kuala Lumpur

GPS: 3.152139, 101.709419
Tel: 03-2032 2388

The fourth floor in Suria KLCC has been sort of a “restaurant” floor ever since the mall started its operation years ago. While different restaurants come and go, there are always a good mixture of different cuisines to choose from, and luck for people like me, there’s always at least a Japanese restaurant there.

One of the latest Japanese restaurants to venture into KLCC market is Yuzu, and I’m glad that it is quite an improvement from the previous Japanese restaurant on the floor from a few years ago.

Yuzu Japanese restaurant at Suria Level 4, KLCC
Yuzu Japanese restaurant at Suria Level 4, KLCC

The restaurant itself isn’t big, and like pretty much any restaurant in this mall, seating is a bit cramped. The interior decoration is fresh and unpretentious, but best of all, it has a pretty good lunch menu at least as far as value for money is concerned.

Most importantly, service is also pretty fast, catering pretty well for the KLCC office crowd.

Soba Gozen (RM 40) and Yuzu Gozen (RM 58)
Soba Gozen (RM 40) and Yuzu Gozen (RM 58)

I’ve been there a couple times since I was moved to KLCC again, and every time we opted for their lunch set.

For RM 40, Soba Gozen gets you sushi, a small bowl of soba, a slice of unagi (eel), a couple shrimp tempura, miso soup, and a chawamushi, not bad huh?

Yuzu Gozen (RM 58) is one of their higher priced lunch sets, and it comes with assorted sashimi, half a dozen sushi, grilled beef, tempura, salad, chawamushi, appetizer, and fruits. Not a bad value at all.

Sanma Mentaiki set (RM 37)
Sanma Mentaiki set (RM 37)

For those who likes grilled fish, Sanma Mentaiki (RM 37) gets you the girlled fish stuffed with mentaiki (one of my favorite ingredients), tempura, fruits, salad, chawanmushi, and miso soup.

Food quality is more than decent, and considering the location and convenience, Yuzu is definitely a place worth considering if you’re in KLCC.

If you are willing to bump up your budget just a bit, Ten Japanese Fine Dining right across the road is the place to check out.

map of KLCC

Address:
Yuzu Japanese Restaurant
Level 4,
Kuala Lumpur City Center

Suria KLCC, Kuala Lumpur
GPS: 3.158126, 101.711833
Tel03-2161 4176

For someone who dines out quite a lot, I’m almost always in a lost when it comes to eating in shopping malls. Out on the streets, pasar malam, or random restaurants? I’m good at those, but under the giant roofs that house hundreds of shops? Good luck.

Manmaru Udon at Midvalley Megamall
Manmaru Udon at Mid Valley Megamall

So when we found ourselves at Mid Valley the other day, we did what most people do, randomly wandering around to find something to eat.

In this instance, facade of a restaurant is important, and that’s how we got into Manmaru Japanese Udon Restaurant, despite the fact that I’m not exactly an udon fan at all.

Signature Supreme Udon
Signature Supreme Udon

As it turns out, other than a good variety of udon, Manmaru also serves starters, salad, yakimono (grilled or pan fried stuff), agemono (deep fried stuff), and nabe (Japanese hot pot).

Since this is a primarily udon place, we had to try their udon, so why not choose the top of the range?

The Signature Supreme Udon (RM 28.90) comes with pretty good amount of prawns, scallops, and even abalone slices (not sure if it’s “real” abalone, but I don’t really care). The broth was thick, creamy, and actaully pretty delicious. I also enjoyed the udon noodle itself, having a pretty good texture.

By the way, the cheapest udon here starts at RM 11.90, with more than two dozen varieties to choose from.

ebi pizza & tuna carpaccio
ebi pizza & tuna carpaccio

The picture of their ebi pizza (prawn pizza, RM 19.90) looks too good to pass up, so I ended up ordering that. The thin crust pizza was loaded with cheese, had 8 pretty good size prawns, and all those mushroom, chunks of bell peppers, and spring onion. I really enjoyed it.

We also ordered one of their specials – tuna carpaccio. This starter actaully took the longest to be served, and while looking pretty decent on the photo, it was a disappointing dish. The tuna was a bit too “cooked” and the dish could use more olive oil. I’ll avoid this.

we had a pretty good meal I'd say
we had a pretty satisfying meal

That being said, Manmaru is a pretty decent place if you’re looking for udon or pizza, I’m assuming other standard dishes such as tempura and grilled items are worth trying as well. If I’m at Mid Valley again over meal time, I wouldn’t mind checking it out again.

Address:
Manmaru
S-045A, Mid Valley City
Lingkaran Syed Putra, 59200 Kuala Lumpur
GPS: 3.120346,101.677834
Tel: 03-2201 1663
Webhwww.manmaru.com.my

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A couple weeks ago I went down to Isetan looking for something to fill the stomach during the lunch hour. As it turned out, The Japan Winter Feast Fest was on going (28 nov – 8 dec, 2014). I walked around abit and saw this Japanese steamed rice stall that looked pretty enticing.

Isetan Japan Winter Feast Fair 2014
Isetan Japan Winter Feast Fair 2014

The stall offers two different dishes – Sansai Okowa & Chestnut Steam Rice. You can have them at RM 15 per portion, or alternatively, have them mixed with 1/2 portion each. To maximize my taste bud exposure, I chose the latter, of course.

They were both vegetarian dishes, with the Sansai Okowa, or wild vegetable sticky rice packed with quite a variety of mushroom and thus having a slightly savory taste to it which I like. The chestnut steamed rice, on the other hand, is packed with chestnut, sesame, and red bean which gave it a sweeter taste. I personally prefer the Sansai Okowa, but both were pretty good.

you can mix the two different steamed rice too
you can mix the two different steamed rice too

Isetan run these type of food fair pretty often, so be sure to check it out if you’re at KLCC. They also have a smallish eating area at the lower ground floor where you can noms away these takeaway food.

map of KLCC

Address:
Isetan KLCC
Kuala Lumpur
GPS: 3.158126, 101.711833

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A few weeks ago we decided to have a little “not very surprised” birthday party dinner for Suan, one of the pioneer of Malaysian blogsphere, who also happens to be one of my dearest friends.

Since she’s been the yakitori sort of phase, we decided that Maruhi Sakaba at Taman Desa would make a good venue for this purpose. It turned out to be an excellent choice.

Maruhi Sakaba at Taman Desa, they could use a better signboard
Maruhi Sakaba at Taman Desa, they could use a better signboard

Getting to Maruhi Sakaba isn’t a problem, but identifying the exact shop lot proved to be a bit of a challenge. For some strange reasons, the owner decided that a Kanji signboard designed for ants would be sufficient. Nonetheless, if you walk towards the center of the shop lots (Faber Plaza) from Public Bank at the corner, you won’t miss it.

Interestingly, the “Japanese BBQ” at Taman Desa is situated just behind at the alleyway of Maruhi Sakaba.

chicken sashimi, baby intestine carpaccio, organ meat stew
chicken sashimi, baby intestine carpaccio, organ meat stew

There are two menus at Maruhi Sakaba, the laminated version showcase over two dozen dishes, while another portable white-board menu gives you an additional 15-18 dishes that aren’t as “permanent”.

We ended up ordering over 3 quarters of what they offer.

Lets start with the non-grilled items. Chicken sashimi (RM 15) is something that we haven’t tried before, it tasted a bit like tuna carpaccio with a slightly more chicken taste, not particularly impressive but rather interesting for a first timer. Baby intestine carpaccio (RM 10) was crunchy and rich, goes well with beer. Then there’s the organ meat stew (RM 10), with the broth so sweet we just had to order a few more bowls, you need to order this if you’re there.

pan fried egg on rice, grilled pork rice, and cold appetizers
pan fried egg on rice, grilled pork rice, and cold appetizers 

For those who want to fill up their stomach quicker, there are rice dishes such as the medamayaki (fried egg on rice, RM 7) or yakibula don (grilled pork & vege on rice, RM 20), both versions were pretty tasty according to those who ordered.

There are also some vegetarian appetizers here, including tofu and wakame salad, (RM 8), pickled cucumber (RM 5), Hiyashi tomato (RM 5), and shio cabbage (RM 5). I recommend not having these as appetizers but use these dishes as refreshers for your tongue in between the yakitori sticks that tends to be a bit more oily and savory.

chicken, pork, mushroom, tomato, okra, and even brinjal yakitori
chicken, pork, mushroom, tomato, okra, and even brinjal yakitori

Then the question is, how are the yakitoris?

Well, for the most part, they are pretty darn good. Prices per stick ranges from about RM 3 to RM 5, and service was rather fast. We never had to wait for more than 10-15 minutes for our dishes to come, so ordering in the middle of eating won’t really interrupt the “flow” at all.

I liked their chicken wings, chicken skin, and pork belly sticks, and also particularly happy that they have quite a few choices of vegetable yakitori as well. The brinjal and lady’s fingers were quite awesome too.

we sure had a great time at Maruhi Sakaba
we sure had a great time at Maruhi Sakaba, it was Suan’s birthday!

Maruhi Sakaba also serves a few types of Japanese beer and sake.

Of course, this place is not without flaws, for one, it would be great if there’s air conditioning and maybe better chairs. But for the price and quality of food and services, we’re not going to complain much. Filling up our belly with plenty of meat and a few glasses of beer totaled up to RM 40-50 per pax. Would go again.

map to Maruhi Sakaba at Taman Desa

Address:
Maruhi Sakaba
6A, Faber Plaza,
Jalan Desa Jaya,
Taman Desa, Kuala Lumpur
GPS: 3.102578, 101.682947
Hours 6 pm-11 pm daily, closed on Mondays