Category / Japanese
A week or so ago, I was lucky enough to get invited to one of the more exclusive dinner previews in town – to sample the All Kansai Festival dinner at Kampachi Pavilion KL.
The festival runs from 15th – 23rd of February 2014, including traditional street performances, takoyaki workshop, stage performances, and of course, Kaiseki dinner, which happens on 19, 20, & 21 February 2014 (priced at RM 300+)
All Kansai Festival, only at Kampachi, Pavilion KL
The festival is exclusive only to Kampachi at Pavilion. For the tasting session, we had a subset of the menu. Instead of the full 9 course dinner, we sampled 6 dishes, mainly due to the fact that certain ingredients for other dishes will not arrive until the slated days to ensure freshness.
Anyway, lets get started.
Fresh Oyster with Ponzu Vinegar Gelée, Clear Soup with Clam
Our first course was Kaki no Ponzu Jure (Fresh Oyster with Ponzu Vinegar Gelée). Served on a bed of ice, the oyster was huge and succulent, with the ponzu gelée giving it that extra sophistication. This version is the best way I’ve had oyster yet, beats the usual lemon or worse, tabasco sauce by a mile.
Next up was Hamaguri, Uguisuna, Harinegi, Kinome (Clear Soup with Clam, Japanese Mustard Spinach, Julienned Leek & Young Japanese Pepper Buds). This was not your ordinary miso soup, it was subtle and very refreshing. The huge clam certainly provided an unmistakable seafood sweetness to the clear soup.
Slices of Raw Fish – Tuna, Ark Shell & Yellowtail
No Kaiseki menu is complete without sashimi. We had Maguro, Akagai, Hamachi (Slices of Raw Fish – Tuna, Ark Shell & Yellowtail). The premium raw seafood was served on a bed of ice with grated wasabi. My favorite out of the three was the ark shell, fresh, crunchy, with a blend of sweetness and savoury taste. Excellent.
Grilled Yellowtail with Teriyaki Sauce
Tennen Hamachi Teriyaki Manganji Togarashi Syoyuzuke (Grilled Yellowtail with Teriyaki Sauce garnished with Marinated Manganji Green Pepper) came next. While it was a more than decent dish on its own, I believe that with wild Amberjack (as intended during the festival) would elevate this dish to a new height as the texture of Amberjack would be superior to Yellowtail when grilled.
Boxed Sushi with Seabream, Prawn, & Conger Eel
Sushi came next, in the form of Sanshoku Oshizushi (Box Sushi with Sea Bream, Prawn & Conger Ee). To be honest, this was the first time I had pressed sushi, the texture is a quite a bit different from the usual nigri sushi (hand made rice ball with raw seafood on top), maki (rolled sushi), or temaki (hand roll). The rice in boxed sushi is a bit denser, providing a different experience.
Yuzu Mousse, Kampachi Signature Peanut Mochi
Our dessert was Yuzu Mousse (Japanese Citrus Mousse), refreshing and perfect for a sweet ending.
We couldn’t help ourselves and asked for Kampachi’s Signature Peanut Mochi as well. The mochi is served warm and covered with mountain of crushed peanut and sugar, similar with the traditional mochi found in Penang’s hawker scene, except more refined. I find myself enjoying this very much.
The seats for Kansai Festival dinner menu is fast selling out (I believe 21st Feb already sold out), so book yourself an awesome dinner if you’re a fan of Japanese food. Check their website for full menu and other information.
we had a great time sampling the Kansai Festival Menu
Level 6, Pavilion
Jln Bukit Bintang, 55100 Kuala Lumpur
GPS: 3.148872, 101.713368
Tel: 03-2148 9608
Hours: 10 am to 10 pm
While Japanese affair at higher end restaurants can be pretty damaging to the pocket, many of those places also offer a lunch menu with much better deals. One of the places we visited a couple times for lunch over the past few months was Hanare Authentic Japanese Cuisine at The Intermark.
Hanare at The Intermark
The restaurant is located on the ground floor, just below the lobby of Double Tree by Hilton. The interior is tastefully decorated, with open kitchen, a sushi/sashimi bar, and a teppanyaki bar.
This place has a great ambiance, but terrible cell data service. Luckily, wifi is available for those of you who can’t eat without staying online with your smartphone.
combination set – sashimi and teppanyaki ebi hotate
One of the more popular lunch options here is the combination menu. For RM 48++, you get to choose from any of these two options:
- sashimi mori (3 kinds of sashimi)
- shake sashimi (salmon)
- yaki sakana (grilled fish – cod, mackerel, or salmon)
- unagi kabayaki
- tori katsu (deep fried breadcrumb chicken)
- tempura mori (assorted tempura)
- kakiage (deep fried kakiage prawns and vegetables)
- teppanyaki ebi hotate (teppanyaki prawn & scallops)
- tori teriyaki (chicken teriyaki)
- kaki fry (deep fried oyster)
The set also comes with appetizer, salad, chawanmushi, and a dessert. This is pretty similar to the deals at Ozeki Tokyo Cuisine and Coco-Tei Japanese Restaurant.
chicken teriyaki, grilled cod, sashimi, custard
While the portions look rather small individually, the combination of them really does fill up the stomach.
Other than the combination set, there are sushi bento (RM 70), makunouchi bento (RM 55), a light salad lunch (RM 38), and dedicated lunch sets with sushi (RM 70), sukiyaki (RM 75), mixed fried seafood (RM 48), steak teppan (RM 80), and more.
bara chirashi sushi, one of my favorites
Another entry in the menu I tried here was the bara chirashi sushi (RM 45). It is similar to the basic chirashi sushi but with the seafood usually cut in cubes instead of the traditional sushi/sashimi cuts. The choice certainly did not disappoint.
Prices at Hanare is actually a little on the higher side when it comes to lunch sets, but for the quality of food as well as the ambiance of the restaurant, I think that this is a fine option.
Lot G 06, Ground Floor
348, Jalan Tun Razak
GPS: 3.16154, 101.71996
The first time I tried to go to Coco Tei, the Japanese restaurant formerly known as Hajime, was an exercise in patience. I took over 15 minutes driving around its previous location at Jalan Damai looking for the restaurant to no avail, there were no sightings of Hajime nor Coco Tei because well, it hasn’t been at Jalan Damai for over 2 years now even though Google map and some outdated blog posts tried to convince me otherwise.
Coco-Tei’s set lunch menu
As it turns out, the new location is at Jalan Delima, sandwiched between the more glamorous Fukuya and the quirky Renoma Cafe.
Anyway, lets get back to Coco.Tei.
The restaurant is attached to a paid parking lot, but diners get complimentary parking, a feature that is always very useful especially if you’re going for weekday lunches. Who wants to spend 5 mins looking for a spot and walk another 5 under the hot sun?
every set comes with rice, miso, pickles, and chawanmushi
The lunch combinations at Coco Tei is pretty special, you choose two dishes from three different categories and pay RM 30++ for category A+A, RM 33++ for A+B or B+B, and RM 36++ for A+C, B+C, or C+C. Adding an extra dish from category A is another RM 12++, or RM 15++ from category B/C.
Now here are what you can choose from (correct in time of writing)
- Category A – salmon sashimi, tuna sashimi, salmon & tuna sashimi, raw salmon salad, crab stick with mayo roll, grilled mackerel, grilled giant mushroom, california, spicy tuna, or raw salmon roll, agedeshi tofu, lady finger & mushroom kimchi, mixed vegetable tempura
- Category B – spider maki, soft shell crab salad, salmon with truffle oil dressing, salmon skin salad, raw salmon with garlic sauce, fried chicken cutlet with omelet, deep fried chicken, mixed/prawn tempura, california + salmon hand roll, mixed sushi (3 pieces), salmon cheese hand roll, salmon corquette, deep fried chicken teriyaki, deep fried oyster, deep fried squid, grilled scallop with butter
- Category C – sashimi morawase, white tuna sashimi, mixed maki (3 pieces), salmon boxed sushi (3 pieces), salmon hana sushi (3 pieces), fried seafood with butter, unagi kabayaki, grilled cod fish, grilled salmon with teriyaki sauce, fried shrimp with garlic, shrimp tempura with mango roll, beef with ginger sauce, unagi with omelet
All lunch set also come with rice, miso, pickle, and chawanmushi.
If you’re fancy with math, a simple calculation shows that there are 1681 combinations from the 41 dishes you can choose. How many combinations fall onto each price group is left as your homework.
example of sashimi morawase + hotate butteryaki (category B+C)
Anyway, during our visit, I had sashimi morawase and hotate butteryaki (B+C = RM 36++). The sashimi was pretty fresh and rather decent tasting, the cuttings were appropriately thick. The three pieces of scallops was of decent size as well. The serving was a bit small I thought, but with chawamushi, rice, and miso soup, it was actually sufficient.
Haze and KY enjoying a quiet lunch at Coco-Tei
Haze‘s set consisted two hand rolls and a serving of unagi kabayaki. The hand rolls were decent, and the river eel went well with rice.
While the food didn’t exactly wowed me, the ambiance was nice and service at Coco Tei commendable. It is a decent place to suppress your Japanese cravings, but for another RM 10-20, you could have quite a lot more at Fukuya just down the road, though at the expense of getting to choose from different categories.
The dinner menu looks to be quite impressive, so we might have to come back again one of these days.
No.5, GF-B, Jalan Delima, 55100
Kuala Lumpur. Malaysia
GPS: 3.146322, 101.720585
Hours: 10:30am – 2:30pm, 6pm – 10:30pm
The name Kampachi is not foreign to fans of Japanese cuisine in Malaysia, especially to those who gravitates towards the higher end establishments. Starting as restaurants within Equatorial hotels, the Kampachi brand now spread outside from its confine and can be found at several other locations.
The latest branch being at Plaza 33 in Petaling Jaya, and we were lucky enough to to sample the food and drinks at this fine restaurant a couple weeks ago in a private food review session with a few other like minded bloggers.
Kampachi at Jaya 33, check out the sake ball
Right by the side of the restaurant main door hung a ball of something that can be easily assumed as a hive of geometrically evolved species of bee, but is in fact, a “sake ball”. A ball made of cedar twigs traditionally hung over the door of sake breweries to signify new arrival of (high quality) sake to customers.
Appropriate here as Kampachi prides itself in stocking one of the largest selections of Japanese sake, including some hard to find “cult” sakes from exceptional breweries that are made available in Malaysia exclusively by Kampachi.
open kitchen concept, with plenty of wine and sake
Kampachi has certainly spent a lot of effort in creating a very striking interior of the 198 person capacity restaurant. A lot of traditional Japanese materials, such Japanese paper, imported floor and wall tiles, and more are applied in a contemporary way to make up a sophisticated and modern look.
I especially like the bamboo seating pods that can seat maybe up to 5-6 person that can be rotated for added privacy.
In the interest of not bothering paying customers with camera flash & loud chatters, we had the session in one of the three private rooms. Interestingly, these rooms come with a private sushi kitchen of sort, concealed by a movable panel that kinda reminds me of those cabinets that conceal TVs in the 80s.
shima aji sashimi (raw striped jack)
Our review session was of the omakase meal (priced at RM 220), which means “I’ll leave it to you”, or degustation menu in Japanese. Typically you get the freshest seasonal ingredients and chef’s favourite dishes this way.
Our first dish was the Shima Aji Sashimi, or raw Striped Jack.
Chef Looi, who carved the fish right before our eyes behind that private kitchen, told us that the very fish beautifully presented to us was still in Japan the very same morning.
To describe the fish as merely “fresh” would be an understatement. I can’t criticise any aspect of the sashimi - taste, fat content, and visual appeal were all simply spot on.
the sashimi, shake kawa salad (green vege with crispy salmon skin & salmon roe)
Cold sake is dispense from a special holder that keeps ice separate as to not dilute the drinks. While the mechanism is visually similar to milking a cow, you don’t need to squeeze or suck, just a gentle tap will do.
Our second dish was Shake Kawa Salad, green vegetable with crispy salmon skin and salmon roe. I particularly like the very thinly sliced crispy salmon skin, made available from the 2-3 whole salmon consumed here each day.
wagyu teppanyaki (grilled Australian wagyu beef)
Before continuing with more seafood, we were served with Wagyu Teppanyaki, the beef sourced from Australia, grilled medium rare, and served with the unique Kampachi truffle sauce.
The sauce is a blend of Tosa Shoyu and mushroom broth with a hint of black truffle and olive oil. I usually don’t have my beef with any condiment, but this sauce managed to make it just that much better. My only complain is that they don’t sell the sauce in bottles.
unfiltered sake, ankimo beko an (pan-seared angler fish liver with simmered radish)
In French cuisine, foie gras often signifies luxury, and in Japanese food, the equivalent would be Angler fish liver, or Ankimo Beko An.
The liver makes up quite a large part of the fish, has a very rich texture. Simmered radish is used to expertly mask any fishy taste the liver might carry to balance this unique ingredient. This was the 3rd time I had ankimo, first was in Vietnam, and second at Hokkaido Ichiba restaurant.
Following the cold sake, we were served warm, unfiltered sake. The milky color is pretty unique for usually clear looking sake, and yet was definitely smooth and leave a feeling of warmth and comfort in the stomach.
aburi sushi (seared sushi) – anago (conger eel), shake harasu (salmon belly), hotate (scallop)
miso soup with striped jack bones
What’s a omakase dinner without sushi?
Three types of Aburi Sushi (seared sushi) were chosen for the night – Anago (conger eel), Shake Harasu (salmon belly), and Hotate (scallop). Each were seared just very lightly and still partially raw at the bottom, the first time I tried sushi prepared this way and I liked it.
Miso soup was made with the bones from our first dish, and the striped jack definitely contributed to the extra sophistication in the soup that would have been quite boring otherwise.
garlic fried rice, Japanese peach, and ciki enjoy the fruits
We specially asked for garlic fried rice just cause Ciki needed some carb for her half marathon preparation, and I was glad to go along with one as well. Most definitely the best garlic fried rice I’ve had, it’s hard to explain, there weren’t any magical ingredients, just plain old rice, garlic, eggs, and such. Execution was the key, great job by the chefs.
Instead of fancy desserts, we had a couple slices of Japanese peach.
These fruits were priced at RM 66 per peach, and “WHAT?!!!??” was my initial reaction. Then I took a bite, and it was a realization and instant understanding on why and how a fruit barely the size of my fist can cost more than 4 hours of solid domestic housework. You get what you paid for, it was excellent and now I’m staring at this piece of apple on my desk while writing this and dreading it.
Haze, KY, and our parting drinks – sake bomb
As for drinks, we started out with the pink colored cocktail - Blushing Maiko (trainee Geisha) to get us started prior to dinner.
After the cold and warm sake, it was a mixture of green tea with Hakushu Single Malt Whisky, interpretation of Baileys the Japanese way perhaps?
We concluded the night with Sake Bomb - shot glasses of sake lined up atop beer glasses and knocked down with Domino effects, it was quite a show and I suspect the bartender has done this a hundred times probably with water and tea before perfecting the skill. We were well impressed, and of course, had one for the road.
It was a great dinner, and I want to go back.
P/S: The famous Kampachi Sunday Buffet is back and now available exclusively at the Plaza 33 outlet, priced at RM 118++ for adults and RM 68++ for children below 10.
P1-02, First Floor
Plaza @Jaya 22
Jalan Kemajuan, Seksyen 13
Petaling Jaya, Selangor
GPS: 3.10988, 101.63787
Tel : 03-7931 6938
Hours: 12-3pm for lunch, 6-11pm for dinner
A couple days prior to General Election 13, we were invited to a food review session at PLOY to sample some dishes from their new menu.
According to their website, PLOY means Gem in Thai. It is then this pretty unique contemporary fine dining restaurant’s aim – to have their dishes be true gems of Japanese and Thai cuisine.
PLOY at Clearwater, Damansara Height
PLOY is located at Clearwater Residence in Damansara Heights. Parking is a pretty painless affair, there’s an underground car park in the building, and it also seems like you can park on the streets just outside of it, though legality in that is questionable.
The restaurant itself is tastefully decorated and has two separate dining halls, a fully air conditioned area, and another half outdoor for alfresco dining.
there are some interesting drinks on the menu
There’s a full bar at PLOY. Beer, liquor, cocktails, coffee, and several other rather interesting drinks can be ordered. My drink for the night was Apple Sour, basically fresh apple juice with sour plum in it, very refreshing. Fraps, cappuccino, and Thai ice tea were reportedly pretty good as well.
tuna wakame salad, golden needle salad
Dinner started out with a couple different types of salad. Tuna Wakame Salad (RM 23) comes with chunks of tuna cubes, avocado, and sesame in shoyu dressing, while Golden Needle Salad (RM 15) with tofu, avocado, broccoli, and wafu dressing.
Due to the pretty distinct taste of avocado, the two salads ended up more similar than different, but not in a bad way. I love the way they deep fried the string mushrooms, and if you were to choose a salad, I’d recommend the golden needle, tastes as good, and cheaper too.
tempura surprise, kabocha tempura
Tempura Surprise (RM 15) is a dish with questionable usage of one of my favorite fish – seabass. The fish is wrapped in oba leaf, and then deep fried. It was a surprise alright, but not exactly in a commendable way. The combination did not work well even though I’m a fan of both major ingredients. I think they should re investigate this dish.
On the other hand, Kabocha Tempura (RM 8.50), or salted egg pumpkin tempura, fared much better. The pumpkin were delicious, and would scored even higher marks if those salted egg yolk sticks to the gourd better. I like it.
crab in wrap – a maki with a hint of tropical influence
Most of us have tried Spider rolls, or soft shell crab maki in Japanese restaurants, this is PLOY’s interpretation with their Crab in Wrap (RM 28). Other than soft shell crab, avocado, sushi rice, and spicy kani, mango can be found in this roll.
To me, this is a perfect blend of Thai & Japanese influence, and one that works very well. I love the taste of Thai in the maki, very well executed.
magic puff – with goat cheese, truffle oil, and wild rocket
Magic Puff (RM 32) does not come cheap, but it’s got truffle oil and goat cheese in the homemade crispy pastry with wild rocket. This is a dish that had to be consumed ASAP before the cheese melts into the pastry, and oh it tastes very good! Truffle oil, made all the difference, yums!
the godfather special, pasta from heaven, smoked duck breast with chicken ham pizza
The trio of main dishes we shared were the Godfather Special (RM 22), Pasta from Heaven (RM 28), and Smoked Duck Breast with Chicken Ham Pizza (RM 28).
Godfather Special is a fancy name for a salmon ikura don with avocado, royu and nori (seaweed) in tempura flakes. The flakes gave it a crispy texture in an otherwise pretty average dish. It felt.. healthy.
Pasta from Heaven is angel hair spaghetti with sakura ebi (small shrimps) and flying fish roe in truffle oil. Again, the truffle oil proved to be the salvation in this one, and I love angle hair pasta, so it worked for me. Though I’d love to have chunks of something else in it, like prawns or .. just something.
The pizza was awesome, I really loved the pizza! For RM 28 this is the real deal, plenty of real yummy duck breast on the really thin crust pizza with avocado sauce. The sprinkle of flying fish roe gave it that extra pop. It was delicious, if you love duck breast, you’ll absolutely enjoy this pizza. I wanted to have more!
sticky date pudding, durian panna cotta, creme caramel
When we thought the dinner was over, our host brought out these three types of desserts.
The sticky date pudding was alright, the creme caramel will satisfy anyone with a sweet tooth, but the durian panna cotta is what I really want to talk about.
It might look uninspiring, but the durian panna cotta was awesome. It’s rich, it’s pungent, and it’s an absolute must for anyone who even remotely like durian. It’s the stuff that should make some people go to PLOY just for the dessert. Try it!
Ivy, Haze, KY, chef Daniel, Marc, Hitomi and others having a good time
So if you’re up to something slightly out of the ordinary, PLOY is a definitely a place to check out. While I can’t say that everything is awesome, there are quite a lot of bright spots in their latest menu. I would also say that prices are pretty competitive for the setting PLOY offers.
Thank you Lennie for the invites.
Jalan Changkat Semantan,
Bukit Damansara, KL
GPS: 3.152327, 101.666762
Tel: 03-2095 0999