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Malaysian Food Blog, Travel, Diving & More

Category / Japanese

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.

Address:
Isetan KLCC
Kuala Lumpur

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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

One of the little secrets every food lovers should know is that the way to enjoying awesome meals without breaking the bank is to just do it during lunch. Many higher end or even fine dining restaurants usually have a rather affordable lunch menu that offers dishes that are of very high quality but at substantially chaper price tag than after sun down.

Ten Japanese Fine Dining at Marc's Residence
Ten Japanese Fine Dining at Marc’s Residence

Hence, my favorite time to visit good Japanese restaurants is during lunch time.

Today, lets look at Ten Japanese Fine Dining’s offering.

I’ve been to Ten for an invited food review but was never a paying customer until recently when I was told that they serve lunch. See, even though I really loved what they do, fine dining prices just isn’t something I can afford often.

Assorted Sushi & Ten Special Bento
Assorted Sushi & Ten Special Bento

Ten offers about two dozen different dishes priced from RM 28++ onwards for lunch. There are also four different omakase courses priced at RM 100, RM 118, RM 148, and RM 240++ per person.

So far my friends and I have tried about half a dozen of the set lunches.

The Assorted Sashimi (RM 60++) and Assorted Sushi (RM 60++) featured some of the freshest seafood ingredients anywhere, with grated wasabi and chawamushi that’s packed of ingredients on the side.

Interestingly, they also have a Vegetable Sushi (RM 28++) option that Jean tried, and according to her, it was very unique and absolutely awesome. Instead of fish you get asparagus, tomato, baby corn, mushroom, cucumbers and so on presented in a way that’s not unlike seafood.

Assorted Sashimi, Saba Shioyaki, and Vegetable Sushi
Assorted Sashimi, Saba Shioyaki, and Vegetable Sushi

Other dishes we tried were Bara Chirashi (RM 48++), Saba Shioyaki (RM 35++), and Ten Special Bento (RM 55++). None of these disappoints and I wouldn’t hesitate to order any of them again.

The only item that’s still at fine dining price would be their green tea at RM 6++ with unlimited refill. I guess you somehow have to pay for the great ambiance and excellent service somehow.

Haze, Sophia, and Jean all agreed the lunch sets were awesome
Haze, Sophia, and Jean all agreed the lunch sets were awesome

So now I have Ten Japanese Fine Dining together with Fukuya and Ozeki as the few Japanese restaurants that serves really good and value for  money lunch sets.

map to Marc Residence

Address:
Ten Japanese Fine Dining
A-G-1, Marc Residence, Ground Floor,
No.3 Jalan Pinang,
50450 Kuala Lumpur
GPS: 3.155396, 101.710203
Tel03-2161 5999
Hours: 11:30 am – 2:30 pm, 6 pm onward, closed on Mondays
Webtenrestaurant.com.my

Tonkatsu remains to be one of the latest Japanese foods to be introduced in Malaysia. For those who aren’t familiar with this Japanese dish, it is basically a breaded, deep-fried pork cutlet served with shredded cabbage. In fact, this dish is originated in Japan in the 19th century, so even in Japan it isn’t a particularly old dish.

Tonkatsu at Ma Maison, at One Utama shopping mall
Tonkatsu at Ma Maison, at One Utama shopping mall

My first time trying tonkatsu was at the version by Wa Kitchen at Pavilion, then probably the first and only tonkatsu restaurant in Malaysia in 2011.

Fast forward a few years later, we have another worthy contender in the tonkatsu landscape – Tonkatsu by Ma Maison. We tried to 1 Utama branch (they just opened another branch at Publika) after hearing good things about this place.

so this is how you use those condiments
so this is how you use those condiments

The set up is slightly different from their counterpart at Pavilion, with clear instructions on how to enjoy the dish printed on a little instruction panel on every table. There’s a choice of salt, sweet, and spicy sauce on the side, and of course there’s a sesame grinder and peanut sauce for cabbage as well. You’re also encouraged to consume the accompanying rice with pickle.

Wafu Negioroshi Hire Katsu and Hire Katsu
Wafu Negioroshi Rosu Katsu and Hire Katsu

The menu at Ma Maison is rather extensive (check their menu online). There’s the traditional hire (pork filet) and rōsu (pork loin) sets with a few variations, plus deep fried oyster, crab croquette, jumbo prawn, chicken, and so forth.

I tend to stick with the pork, and in particular, pork loin, only because of the layer luxurious pork fat accompanying the meat.

salad, deep fried pork, miso soup, perfect
salad, deep fried pork, miso soup, perfect

Every set comes with pretty good quality miso soup, pickle, and refillable cabbage that goes very well with their version of peanut sauce.

As for the pork, they are glorious. It is lightly salted with very crispy yet light breading and always piping hot when served. Dipping the meat in either the sweet sweet, spicy sauce, or mustard and any pork lover will be in ecstasy. The experience is like the first time you have KFC as a kid.

KY & Haze, after a satisfying dinner
KY & Haze, after a satisfying dinner

So if you find yourself at 1 Utama, this is definitely a place worth checking out. Average meal would be around RM 30+ per person including drinks.

Happy eating!

Address:
Tonkatsu by Ma Maison @ Eat Paradise
Level 2, Isetan, 1 Utama Shopping Centre,
1, Lebuh Bandar Utama,
Petaling Jaya, 47800 Selangor
GPS: 3.149080, 101.615896
Tel: 03-7727 3337
HoursSunday to Thursday, 11.00am – 9.30pm;  Friday to Saturday, 11.00am – 10.00pm

A few weeks ago we were invited to Kampachi at Troika to sample a few dishes from their upcoming Okayama Fair. Before we start, here’s when the Okayama fair is going to happen at various Kampachi outlets:
  • Kampachi Troika – 26 August, 2014
  • Kampachi Pavilion – 1 september, 2014
  • Kampachi Plaza 33 – 5 September, 2014
  • Kampachi Johor Premium outlet – 1 september, 2014

Seats will be limited, so do call and book ahead.

Okayama fair at Kampachi, we had our tasting at Kampachi Troika
Okayama fair at Kampachi, we had our tasting at Kampachi Troika

Okayama prefecture is located in the Chugoku region of Japan, or roughly in between Hiroshima and Kyoto. The climate is mild compared to other parts of Japan and thus making agriculture one of the more important contributor to the region’s economy. On the northern part of the prefecture in the mountains, white peaches and grapes are cultivated as well. 

Okayama Oyster Coquille
Nama Gaki Ponzu

While our food review was mainly focused on fresh produce, the first dish of the day was Nama Gaki Ponzu (from set menu).

The oysters were soaked ponzu sauce and served on ice. They tasted superb, very fresh and juicy. I like the subtlety of  the accompanying ponzu sauce, much better than butchering oysters with the likes of Tabasco sauce.

Okayama Yasai salad, salmon carpaccio
Okayama Yasai salad, salmon carpaccio 

Okayama Yasai salad (RM 35++) was a deceptively simple dish with green asparagus, yellow Chinese chives, endives, and boiled prawns served in half a tomato on a bed of spaghetti squash (yes, squash cut to spaghetti shapes). It was quite refreshing and delightful, the bits of seafood gives the salad an extra dimension.

The Okayama style salmon carpaccio came with bits of fresh produce such as asparagus, spring onion, and avocado served with the raw salmon. I also like the slices of fried garlic in this dish which gives it an interesting texture and explosion of differing taste when combined with the wasabi dressing. This was one of my favorites.

Okayama wax gourd with minced prawn, Okayama Pione grapes
Okayama winter melon with minced prawn, Okayama Pione grapes

Okayama winter melon with minced prawn with thick sauce (RM 32++) was the ultimate comfort food and reminds me of mom’s cooking more than anything else, very simple yet elegant, and I would say that it isn’t something difficult to replicate at home.

The biggest surprise of the night though, turned out to be the Okayama Pione grapes (RM 38++). Now I have tried Muscat grapes that was super juicy and sweet, but this Okayama Pione grape was something else, it tasted like wine. It felt as if you’re “eating wine” but without the alcohol, I absolutely love it.

This is something that you definitely must try.

the good chef, KY & Haze, Lex & Weizhi
the good chef, KY & Haze, Lex & Weizhi

Other than the ala carte menu, there’s also the Okayama course menu that goes for RM 250++ which includes the following dishes:

前菜二種 ZENSAI
マスカット白和え
Muscat Shiraae
Mashed Tofu with Okayama Muscat Grapes

糸瓜と桃太郎トマト 土佐酢ジュレ
Itouri & Momotaro Tomato Tosazu Jure
Okayama Spaghetti Squash & Tomato served with Homemade Vinegar Jelly

生ガキ 橙酢
Nama Gaki Ponzu (2 pieces)
Fresh Okayama Oyster with Homemade Japanese Citrus Vinaigrette

サーモンカルパッチョ
冷菜 REISAI
Salmon Carpaccio
Thinly Sliced Raw Salmon rolled with Okayama Tomato, Asparagus & Yellow Chives served with Wasabi Dressing

煮物 NIMONO
冬瓜の海老そぼろ餡掛け
Togan no Ebi Soboro Ankake
Okayama Winter Melon & Minced Prawn with Thick Sauce

食事 SHOKUJI
バラ寿司
Bara Zushi
Assorted Cube Cut Raw Fish served over Vinegared Rice

甘味 KANMI
白桃
Hakuto
Air-flown Okayama White Peach

map to Kampachi at Troika

Address:
Kampachi
The Troika Jalan Binjai
Kuala Lumpur

GPS: 3.158052, 101.718122
Tel: 03-2181 2282