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Category / Japanese

Ten years ago, Japanese food is synonymous with with raw fish. When someone told you they’re going to have Japanese food, it is always sushi & sashimi. Over the last few years though, the cuisine from far east has slowly mature at the local scene, there’s places that only offers ramen, there’s tonkatsu, yakitori, and even izakaya style Japanese restaurants.

Latest to the scene is Klang Valley’s very first Japanese restaurant that specialized in tendon (not the connective tissues of animal..) – the dish with tempura on rice.

Shitamachi Tendon at Evolve Concept Mall, Ara Damansara
Shitamachi Tendon Akitmitsu at Evolve Concept Mall, Ara Damansara

Shitamachi Tendon Akitmitsu is located at Evolve Concept Mall, one of the newest malls located at Ara Damansara, just a stone’s throw away from Citta Mall (use the same entrance/exit from main Subang Airport road). Half the restaurant serves tendon, while another side sharing the same kitchen serves yakitori (another story for another time).

Chef's special tendon
Chef’s special tendon

The menu consist of a dozen of so different tendon offerings ranging from RM 20 to RM 67. The choices are:

  • Nami Tendon (mixed shrimp, scallop, white bait, 2 prawns & 2 vege) – RM 31
  • Sumire Tendon (conger eel, prawn, 3 vege, small rice) – RM 40
  • Kakiage Tendon (large mixed shrimp, scallop, whitebait, 2 vege) – RM 32
  • Regular Tendon (whiting fish, squid & 2 prawn) – RM 36
  • Deluxe Tendon (conger eel, prawn, 1 vege) – RM 49
  • Super Deluxe Tendon (conger eel, mixed shrimps, scallop, whitebait fish, 2 prawn, 3 vege) – RM 61
  • Chef’s Special Tendon (chef’s selection) – RM 67
  • Shrimp Tendon (self explanatory) – RM 51
  • Anago Tendon (2 conger eel bone cracker & 3 vege) – RM 64
  • Squid Tendon (2 squid & 3 vege) – RM 27
  • Vegetable Tendon – RM 22
  • Tencha (mixed shrimps, scallop, soup stock, wasabi) – RM 20
  • Kid’s Tendon (small mixed shrimps, scallop, whitebait fish, prawn, 1 vege) – RM 18

shrimp tendon, deluxe tendon, chef's special tendon, tencha
shrimp tendon, super deluxe tendon, chef’s special tendon, tencha

Additionally, the restaurant also serves tempura and a selection of sake as well as Japanese beer. The menu then, as you can guessed, is rather simple, and just the way it should be.

We were served shrimp tendon, super deluxe tendon, chef’s special, as well as tencha for our session. Haze and I were joined by Keiko & her business partner (they’re Japanese). The food was certainly top notch and satisfied not only the two Malaysians in us, but our two Japanese friends had nothing but great feedback on these tendons.

The sauce was prepared in-house by the Japanese chef, marrying the the light & fluffy tempura batter with fresh seafood cooked just before serving. While at the first glance it appeared to be hastily put together, the combination was in fact meticulously prepared and very well balanced. You can ask for more sauce, but we felt that whatever the chef decided was spot on.

check out the oyster, yums
check out the oyster, yums

I’m going to have to plan a second trip pretty soon, and hopefully there are more of such restaurants coming up!

Address:
Shitamichi Tendon Akitmitsu

EV-G-09, Ground floor
Evolve Concept Mall
Pacific Place @ Ara Damansara
Petaling Jaya Selangor
GPS: 3.110532, 101.586864
Tel: 03-7831 9929
Hours: Monday to Friday, 11am to 3pm and 6pm to 9pm; Weekends and public holiday, 11am-9pm

If there’s a Japanese food I have to choose to go with cold beer, there’ll be no doubt in my mind that it has to be yakitori, so when I got the invitation to review the offering at Torii at TTDI thanks to Kirin Ichiban, I was obviously more than happy to oblige.

After all, a premium Japanese beer with one of the higher end yakitori restaurants, you’d be foolish to not do it.

Kirin Ichiban promotion at Torii, TTDI
Kirin Ichiban promotion at Torii, TTDI

The reason we were here was to try the pairing of Kirin Ichiban with the dishes. Kirin is made with 100% malt, and brewed with an innovative “First Press” method by extracting the malt liquid from only the first press. Perhaps a little bit like “extra virgin olive oil” (I may be a bit off here), this is what contributes to the smoothness and premium taste.

At Torii, there’s also a promotion going on every Wednesday and Thursday night, with a glass of Kirin going for only RM 10.

veal chunk, squid tentacles, and crispy cheese beef yakitori
veal chunk, squid tentacles, and crispy cheese beef yakitori

The restaurant is located at the inner, slightly quieter part of TTDI that isn’t plagued with crazy parking problems like some of the busier areas a couple minutes away. It is simple, elegant, and exude a very classy, fine dining feel without having a menu that is, I think, quite accessible to many of us.

broiled lobster chowder, bonded unagi & foie gras, upper thigh
broiled lobster chowder, bonded unagi & foie gras, upper thigh

Like its name suggests, yakitori is the speciality here at Torii. We tried wings (RM 8.90), squid tentacles (RM 10.90), sweet potato (RM 5.90), upper thigh (RM 6.90), rock lobster (RM 11.90), crispy cheese beef (RM 12.90), and veal chunk (RM 15.90). None of these disappoint, but if I have to pick, upper thigh, rock lobster, and cheese beef would be those you should try.

If you’re having these with beer, the chef will usually make the yakitori just a tad saltier, which really enhances the tasting experience, and Kirin with it’s crisp and refreshing taste provides excellent contrast to the strong tasting yakitori.

If you like something soupy, go for the broiled lobster chowder with crab croutons (RM 18.90) that also prepared with porcini mushroom, shallot, and olive oil. I’d love to have this on rainy days.

triple peaks - toro, unagi, and amoebi sushi
triple peaks – uni, amoebi, toro sushi

Perhaps surprisingly, cold beer goes rather well as a stand-in for green tea when paired with sushi. The triple peaks (RM 26.90) is a plate of three premium sushi with uni (sea urchin), amoebi (sweet shrimp), and toro (tuna belly). For under RM 30 this is not only awesome, but also provides very good value for the ingredients provided.

Then there’s Autumn risotto (RM 27.90), a deceptively simple dish with crab claw, egg yolk & asparagus. Beautifully presented and equally satisfying in the taste department. This dish would  not disappoint any Italian food connoisseur.

wings, avocado de la mer, sweet potato, green tea creme brulee, nutella gyoza
wings, avocado de la mer, sweet potato, green tea creme brulee, nutella gyoza

Other dishes we sampled include the bonded unagi & foie gras (RM 29.90), kampachi uni jalapeno (RM 34.90), and avocado de la mar (RM 19.90). These aren’t exactly yakitori nor are they strictly traditional Japanese dishes, but they went so well with Kirin and left us wanting for more even as our stomach was filling up to the brim.

Of course, no fine dining meal is complete without desserts. For this we had green tea creme brulee with white chocolate lavender ice cream (RM 24.90) and nutella gyoza with chocolate ganache & whisky raisin ice cream (RM 24.90). I like the creativity in nutella gyoza, and while the desserts may not stand out as much as their yakitori and other delicacies, they were certainly more than decent.

Yen & hubby, KY & Haze enjoying some awesome food and Kirin Ichiban
Yen & hubby, KY & Haze enjoying some awesome food and Kirin Ichiban

If you love yakitori, a fan of beer, or just generally love some good food in fine dining environment without breaking the bank, this is definitely one of the places worth checking out.

Also get more information on Kirin Ichiban at their FB page at https://www.facebook.com/kirinmalaysia

Torii at TTDI map

Address:
18, Lorong Datuk Sulaiman 1,
Taman Tun Dr Ismail,
60000 Kuala Lumpur
GPS: 3.148787, 101.629781
Tel03-7733 9309

A couple weeks ago a few of us were fortunate enough to get a taste of ten different dishes at Senya Izakaya at Publika for their upcoming Aomori Fair that runs from 15th February to 29th February 2016.

For those who aren’t familiar with Senya Izakaya, they are from the same group that runs Ten Sushi, Sushi Ichiro, and Menya Ramen. Izakaya is basically a type of informal Japanese gastropub, a place for after-work dining and (sometimes plenty of) drinking.

Senya Izakaya at Solaris Dutamas
Senya Izakaya at Solaris Dutamas

The Aomari Fair is basically an initiative to introduce the produce from Aomori Prefecture, which is situated at the northernmost area of Japan’s main island, just South of Hokkaido. The prefecture is famous for apple, in fact, 50% of all apples produced in Japan is from Aomori prefecture, and 90% of all apples exported out of Japan is Aomori apples.

Seafood, squid, and scallops are also among the exported produce from the area.

In conjunction to the Aomori Fair, Senya Izakaya is running a competition with the winner getting an RM 100 voucher, just vote for the most popular dishes out of the ten below on their FB page and in the restaurant. Check it out!

Now, here are the ten dishes that will be available during the fair, though the actual number of dishes is actually slightly more than these presented to us, but we had to be somewhat realistic in the ability to sample all these in one seating, isn’t it?

Aomori Apple with Pork Belly Skewer
Aomori Apple with Pork Belly Skewer

One of my favorite of the day, and probably the best beer food I’d like to have with me – Aomori Apple with Pork Belly Skewer (RM6). Made from preserved Aomori apples wrapped with sliced pork belly and grilled in charcoal, this was just the perfect blend of savory and sweetness in a mouthful, absolutely beautiful.

Fried Aomori Baby Scallop & Long Bean Sprout
Fried Aomori Baby Scallop &  Long Bean Sprout

Fried Aomori Baby Scallop &  Long Bean Sprout (RM25) looked a bit like fried noodle in a glance, but those are actually really long bean sprouts that is packed with vitamin C, E, and B (twice as much as normal bean sprouts, I was told).

Those baby scallops pack a punch in flavor as well, mostly due to the smallish size which tend to condensed the natural sweetness of scallops.

Grilled Aomori Squid with Guts
Grilled Aomori Squid with Guts

The Grilled Aomori Squid with Guts  (RM22) is a traditional dish that may take a bit of getting used to for some of us. Whole squid is used in this dish, and since innards aren’t removed, the squid used must be really fresh, often at sashimi quality. This dish is usually enjoyed with shochu or sake.

Aomori Baby Scallop Kakiage Tempura
Aomori Baby Scallop Kakiage Tempura

If you like deep fried food, Aomori Baby Scallop Kakiage Tempura (RM19.80) is not to be missed. This tempura is almost like a really luxurious version of our local prawn fritters, but with baby scallops, onion, carrot, and mitsuba leaves. I really liked it.

Vinegared Saba Sushi
Vinegared Saba Sushi

No Japanese menu is complete without sushi, and I was glad when we were served with Vinegared Saba Sushi (RM22.80). Made with Aomori saba that is harvested during winter time when they’re packed with more fat, this pressed sushi (oshizushi) also comes with egg, cucumber, and sakura denbu to give it that extra character.

Nanbu Aomori Senbei Hot Pot
Nanbu Aomori Senbei Hot Pot

Nanbu Aomori Senbei Hot Pot (RM19) is a dish that’s perfect for cold weather, and I guess for here too when it rains or the aircond is particularly cold. It is a traditional local dish famous at the Nanbu area. The soup is a blend of shoyu and chicken broth and accented by Nanbu Senbei, a type of local rice cracker (an award winning one at that.)

I really like the rice cracker when it soaked up the broth, not entirely unlike how we have fuchuk in BKT soup, if you know what I mean.

Aomori Seafood Barachirashi Don
Aomori Seafood Barachirashi Don

Then there’s the Aomori Seafood Barachirashi Don (RM33.80), a dish that I’d most likely order if I was completely oblivious to the menu, just because chirashi and barachirashi sushi are some of my favorite Japanese dishes.

This version uses boiled Aomori baby scallop, raw scallop, Aomori squid, Aomori vinegared saba, tuna, garlic, and Aomori yam. It certainly packs a punch with all the flavors in a bowl. Not disappointed at all.

Pork Don with Preserved Aomori Apple
Pork Don with Preserved Aomori Apple

If you can only order one dish from this list of ten, my recommendation will go to the Pork Don with Preserved Aomori Apple (RM23.80). This is Senya Izakaya’s signature dish, a fairly simple pork don with preserved Aomori apple. The apple with lemon flavor balance the rich taste of those perfectly prepared pork belly, it is basically just heaven in a bowl if you love pork like I do. Don’t miss this.

Aomori Baby Scallop Miso Curry Milk Ramen
Aomori Baby Scallop Miso Curry Milk Ramen

For those who like ramen, you’re covered. We sampled the Aomori Baby Scallop Miso Curry Milk Ramen (RM22.8), which interestingly, is an invention by the children of Aomori by putting milk and curry into ramen. It is a little creamier than usual, and still packed with plenty of ingredients, most notably those baby scallops. I find the soup base perhaps a little too creamy for me, but your mileage may vary.

Cream Cheese Snow Mountain & Aomori Apple Sorbet with Cinnamon Cookie
Cream Cheese Snow Mountain & Aomori Apple Sorbet with Cinnamon Cookie

Then of course, we had dessert. The Cream Cheese Snow Mountain & Aomori Apple Sorbet with Cinnamon Cookie (RM16). It is a cream cheese moose with Aomori apple ice cream and cinnamon cookie. This dessert is most popular at Hiromae-shi Ringo Park, which is at Hiromae-shi, a place where the best quality of apple is produced in all of Aomori.

The dessert proved to be a great ending to this overly lushed tasting session. I feel like I need to go back for some of those pork & apple dishes now.

map to Solaris Dutamas

Address:
Senya Izakaya
D5-G3-5,
Solaris Dutamas, Kuala Lumpur
GPS: 3.171465, 101.667620
Tel: 03-6205 4999

When thinking about Japanese restaurants, SS15 in Subang and KL city centre area usually spring to mind, and it wasn’t until I was invited by Logan to sample the food at Ishin Japanese Dining that there are actually good Japanese outlets in the relative older part of town that is Old Klang Road.

Ishin Japanese Dining, on Old Klang Road
Ishin Japanese Dining, on Old Klang Road

Ishin is located along Old Klang Road, between Scott’s Garden and the junction that leads to Mid Valley Megamall. It is unfortunately, also the part of OKR that is relatively congested during rush hour (as with most part of KL anyway). Good thing is, parking isn’t an issue here at all, as the restaurant provides free valet service.

menu is on a tablet
menu is on a tablet

The restaurant is formerly a residential bungalow building, and seating is split into upper and lower floors. Interior design and ambiance provides a comfortable and somewhat private dining experience due to the structure of the building.

Menu comes in the form of miPad, and pricing is on par with most Japanese restaurants of this statue.

For this visit, we sampled the New Year Eve Kaiseki, available only for one day on this new year eve at 31/12/2015. The set is priced at RM 160 NETT.

fugu skin vinegar jelly, kuri kanroni, anchovies in sweet sauce
fugu skin vinegar jelly, kuri kanroni, anchovies in sweet sauce

For the six course Kaiseki, we started out with quite an exquisite appetizer that comes in three – the fugu skin vinegar jelly, kuri kanroni, and anchovies in sweet sauce.

The fugu skin jelly is quite an experience, slightly sourish with a really soft, have it with the shiso leave and it’s perfect. Kuri Kanroni is boiled chestnut, and tasted a bit like a cross between sweet potato and water chestnut. Anchovies, well, is anchovies, sweet and slightly crunchy, good for a change of texture.

braised Japanese turnip with kani miso served clear soup
braised Japanese turnip with kani miso served clear soup

Second course was braised Japanese turnip with kani miso clear soup, with bits of crab meat tucked into the turnip, beautiful and rather delicious in a simple way. This beats the usual miso soup by miles.

premium sashimi (chutoro, salmon toro, kanpachi toro)
premium sashimi (chutoro, salmon toro, kampachi toro)

No proper Kaiseki is complete without some good sashimi.

The version here is served in a cute little shaved ice igloo with slices of fresh chutoro, salmon toro, and kampachi toro. These are the belly cuts of tuna, salmon, and yellow tail, and they’re absolutely wonderful. The little igloo also served to keep the fish in perfect temperature prior to entering your mouth, plus, they’re cute isn’t it?

unagi kabayaki, sujiko don
unagi kabayaki, sujiko don

The fourth course was pan fried gindara with tsubugai (top shell) butteryaki. The cod was expertly prepared, and the top shell went really well with the butteryaki sauce that carries a strong hint of miso taste to it. I can have this with a bowl of rice and be a happy camper.

unagi kabayaki, sujiko don
unagi kabayaki, sujiko don

Next up was unagi kabayaki, sujiko don. A simple dish with rice, eel, and salmon roe on top. The salmon roe here is cured in-house and has a firmer texture to it which we found rather nice, and unagi is never disappointing.

A thing to note, if you’re free, look up on eel’s life cycle, it is one of the nature’s mysteries. Absolutely fascinating.

cream tsutsumi, ao take macha ogura pudding, fruit tart
cream tsutsumi, ao take macha ogura pudding, fruit tart

The last course of the New Year Eve Kaiseki was a dessert – cream tsutsumi, aotake macha ogura pudding, and fruit tart. The pudding in the bamboo casing was good, fruit tart too was delicious, but what we really liked was the cream tsutsumi mochi, makes for a great ending to a wonderful meal.

Ishin is now definitely in my mind as one of the choices for good Japanese food at reasonable prices in Klang Valley. Check it out.

map to Ishin Japanese restaurant

Address:
Ishin Japanese Dining
No. 202 Persiaran Klang,
Batu 3 3/4, Off Jalan Klang Lama
Kuala Lumpur
GPS: 3.102737, 101.677789
Tel03-7980 8228

While having visited Intercontinental’s buffet spread a couple times and came away impressed, we had never been to their new Japanese outfit – Tatsu. Hence, when I received the invitation from Lisa to participate in the Vina Maipo wine dinner late last month, I said yes without hesitation.

Vina Maipo wine dinner Tatsu Intercontinental KL
Vina Maipo wine dinner Tatsu Intercontinental KL

Vina Maipo was founded in 1948 in the Maipo Valley, renowned as the most famous wine growing region in Chile. The brand underwent an aggressive development since the year 2000 and is now the 4th biggest Chilean winery.

the selection Vina Maipo wines for the night
the selection Vina Maipo wines for the night

For the wine dinner, five different Vina Maipo wines were paired with various Japanese dishes thought up by the more than capable chef at Tatsu. It was priced at RM 280 nett per pax, a more than fair price considering the dishes and drinks offered, I thought.

sushi, sashimi, & chawamushi with Hokkaido uni
sushi, sashimi, & chawamushi with Hokkaido uni

As with most Japanese course dinner, we started out with a selection of sushi, sashimi, and cucumber spider roll. The seafood was top notch, and the freshness of cucumber combined with the savoury deep fried soft shell crab worked out rather well. We had this with Vina Maipo Varietal Sauvignon Blanc/Chardonnay, Casablanca Valley. The well-bodied wine was sharp and balanced, went well with the seafood.

Next dish was steamed egg custard with Hokkaido sea urchin paired with Vina Maipo Vitral Chardonnay, Casablanca Valley. The wine carries a creamy butter texture with crispy acidity.

Himalayan salt and Sansho roast duck breast
Himalayan salt and Sansho roast duck breast

Then came the first of our three “main dishes” in the form of Himalayan salt and Sansho roast duck breast with grilled Japanese eggplant, baby bok choy, and Haccho honey sauce. The duck breast was juicy and I thought the Haccho honey sauce gave it quite a distinct taste.

For this dish, we went up a notch on the range and had the Vina Maipo Gran Devocion Carmenere Syrah, Maule Valley. It has a good body, soft tannins and complex finish that went well with the meat.

oven baked teriyaki salmon, Vina Maipo Gran Devocion Carbernet Sauvignon Syrah
oven baked teriyaki salmon,
Vina Maipo Gran Devocion Carbernet Sauvignon Syrah

We continued with our second “main dish” in the form of oven baked Yuzu teriyaki salmon, kani cream croquette, char kyuri cucumber, and crispy puff rice. Yuzu is all the rage these days, and the treatment of salmon with this fruit in this instance was interesting, though ultimately I found perhaps slightly forced. I enjoyed it, but it could have been slightly better.

The wine paired with the salmon was Vina Maipo Gran Devocion Carbernet Sauvignon Syrah, which has a fresh acidity that carries a long nice finish.

grilled Australian Black Angus beef, shimeji mushroom
grilled Australian Black Angus beef, shimeji mushroom

The third main dish was the cha-grilled Australian Black Angus beef with king brown, shimeji mushroom, sweet peas, truffle oil topped with spicy mayo. An interesting dish to say the least, the beef was prepared perfectly in this instance, and those spicy mayo did go surprisingly well with the greens & mushrooms.

We had the Vina Maipo limited edition Syrah, Maipo Valley with this penultimate dish in the wine dinner course. The official tasting note says – “This Syrah rests on a sophisticated structure. In mouth tannins are ripe, elegant and the finish is smooth and persistent”. Well, I’m not one to come up with a different description, but I liked the wine!

Japanese green tea Panna Cotta, Haze, BabySumo & her big boy
Japanese green tea Panna Cotta, Haze, BabySumo & her big boy

Dinner was concluded with Japanese green tea panna cotta, chocolate soil, red beans, lychee jelly and vanilla bean ice cream.  Quite fancy and rather beautifully decorated. The mixture of different ingredients and texture in this dessert somehow came together quite well to provide a sweet ending to this more than decent dinner.

I’d want to return to Tatsu again to perhaps try some of their more traditional fare, and if I’m looking for a good bottle of wine for a party of four, Vina Maipo is now on my radar.

map to Intercontinental Hotel, KL

Address:
Tatsu
Intercontinental Hotel

165 Jalan Ampang,
50450 Kuala Lumpur
GPS3.159767, 101.718045
Tel03-2161 1111
Webwww.intercontinental.com