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Category / Japanese

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

A couple weeks ago I was invited to PJ Hilton’s Genji Japanese restaurant for a session of food tasting. Genji is in fact one of the older Japanese restaurants in PJ dining scene, having been in operation for some 30 years now.

Genji Japanese Restaurant at PJ Hilton
Genji Japanese Restaurant at PJ Hilton

Thankfully, the interior and furnishing was not the same one since the opening days. The decoration is quite typical of classic Japanese restaurant, simple, classy, and not over the top. For this session, we occupied one of the private rooms with floor seating and sliding doors for that extra feel.

The restaurant is headed by Chef Richard Teoh, a man with vast experience in Japanese cuisine who does not shy away from adding his personal touch to traditional recipe.

Maki Tamago,Chuka Kurage, with Yamamomo and Morokyu
Maki Tamago,Chuka Kurage, with Yamamomo and Morokyu

We started the meal with an appetiser dish specially prepared by the good chef, something that’s usually featured in Omakase Kaizeki meals (RM 300 for 7 course, RM 220 for 5 course menu). We had maki tamago (egg roll with unagi filling), chuka kurage (marinated jellyfish) with yamamomo (mountain berry), and morokyu (fresh cucumber with fermented miso bean).

I love the mountain berry and thought  that the pairing of natto with fresh cucumber somehow worked for me even though I really thought natto is usually quite nasty.

Tokyo salad
Tokyo salad

Tokyo salad (RM 30) came next, a combination of lightly boiled fresh seafood with fresh greens and seaweed. All these is then topped with a home-made sesame sauce that is infused by wasabi, one of Chef Richard’s recipes. I like the mild kick from the sauce that injects extra excitement in this salad dish.

Sashimi/ Sushi Combi
Sashimi/ Sushi Combi

Japanese food isn’t complete without some raw stuff, for this purpose we had the pretty unpretentiously named sashimi/ Sushi combi (RM 240). The selection of seafood in this dish varies, but you’ll usually get salmon, tuna, otoro (tuna belly), sacallop, sea bream, and more. The otoro was absolutely spot on, the sashimi fresh and delicious, with my only comment being that the sushi tends to carry a bit more rice than I like them to have.

The combination is big enough to be shared among 4-5 pax.

Kaizen Mushi - subtle and refreshing
Kaizen Mushi – subtle and refreshing 

Kaizen Mushi (RM 30) represented something from Japanese cuisine which I seldom had – a combination of prawns, salmon, scallop, and mussel steamed with assorted vegetable then served in a light sweet broth. The dish was served with a mixture of ponzu sauce with grated radish, yuzu skin, and a dash of tabasco.

While the sauce itself was quite interesting, it was ultimately unnecessary. The seafood soup was actually plenty good enough to be had by itself, I really enjoyed this dish and thought that it is of pretty good value as well.

Duo Combi - Kaki Chilli Mayo, Gindara Teriyaki
Duo Combi – Kaki Chilli Mayo, Gindara Teriyaki 

Our main dish of the night was duo combi  – kaki chilli mayo and gindarai teriyaki, a dish that’s part of the Omakase Kaizeki menu. The oyster chilli with mayo was an interesting interpretation with a local twist (chilli padi), while the cod fish represented the more traditional Japanese fair. I like them both, but wished that I can have another two servings of those sweet delicious cod.

Chef Teoh, Kelly, KY, Jean, and Azuki Banana Dorayaki
Chef Teoh, Kelly, KY, Jean, and Azuki Banana Dorayaki

We ended the session with azuki banana dorayaki (RM 30), or Doraemon’s favorite dessert with red bean and banana in the middle. A scoop of black sesame ice cream and a couple slices of melon (local) made up the rest of the dessert.

Overall it was a pretty decent dinner, one that sits in the middle-to-high tier of Japanese cuisine in Malaysia, something that is a step above your usual restaurant chains but a tad below some finer Japanese restaurants in Klang Valley.

Thank you Sabrina for the invite.

map to Petaling Jaya Hilton Hotel

Address:
Genji Japanese Restaurant
Hilton Petaling Jaya
No 2 Jalan Barat
46200 Petaling Jaya, Selangor

GPS3.10235, 101.64087
Tel03-7955 9122

Japanese restaurants are a dime a dozen in KL. Arguably one of the most mature foreign cuisine of all, you can find them in all price range and specializing in every sub-category. Today we’re going to look into Takumi Japanese fine dining, a pretty high end Japanese restaurant that emphasizes shabu-shabu and sukiyaki, among other dishes.

Takumi Japanese Fine Dining at Grand Millennium Hotel
Takumi Japanese Fine Dining at Grand Millennium Hotel

Takumi is one of the restaurants located within Grand Millennium Hotel, which itself is directly next to Pavilion and opposite Fahrenheit 88. The interior is classy, and for lunch, you can find some pretty decent deals too (I’ve been a few times for Chirashi sushi etc).

Our food review session was arranged by HungryGoWhere Malaysia (where I am a contributor), so thank you Shing for inviting, and Ee Laine for being my sit-in plan B partner of the day.

edamame and Kani Salad
edamame and Kani Salad

We started the day with some greens in the form of edamame and Kani Salad (RM 18/28). The salad was refreshing, and I enjoyed the sesame dressing that’s been spiked up a little bit with wasabi.

The chef at Takumi likes to combine the traditional Osaka cuisine with a hint of boldness famous in restaurants at Tokyo, as we were told.

Sashimi platter
Sashimi platter

Sashimi platter (RM 180) was a work of art, with 18 pieces of fresh seafood served on a bed of ice with shiso leaves and even a bit of dried ice for mood. There were sawara (Spanish mackerel), maguro (tuna), kanpachi (amberjack), hotate (scallop), sake (salmon), and I believe, ohyuu (halibut).

Spanish Mackerel, grated Wasabi
Spanish Mackerel, grated Wasabi

The fish were fresh, delightful, and goes very well with grated wasabi. As always, remember that almost everything on a sashimi platter is designed to be consumed. For example, you can have mackerel with shiso leaf and a bit of daikon.

The shiso leaf is there to refresh your palate or to counter the “fishy” smell, getting your tongue ready for the next piece. Don’t waste them!

Lobster Mentaiyaki
Lobster Mentaiyaki

Next up was lobster mentaiyaki (RM 78 half), two of my favorite ingredients in the same dish – lobster and mentaiko.

The combination was perfect, the savouriness of mentaiko blends well with lobster meat, and if you’re one who can momentarily suspend the notion that cholesterol is bad for you, the lobster head is something you’ll absolutely enjoy.

Kawahagi, Chicken Curry Cutlet Maki
Kawahagi, Chicken Curry Cutlet Maki

We also had steamed Kawahagi (seasonal pricing) or commonly known as threadsail filefish. It was prepared not unlike a Chinese dish, with mushroom, some leek, and a hint of soya sauce. To be honest, I find the taste a bit bland and texture to be average. This isn’t up to par with the likes of steamed pomphret in my opinion.

I view Chicken curry cutlet maki (RM 30) as an interesting experiment, combining ingredients that otherwise would not appear together. The result is a bit of a mix, those who are allergic to soft shell crab can use this as a substitute, but the rest of us should probably avoid.

I do applaud the chef for being brave in experimenting with new recipes such as this, without such moves culinary art would never advance. So don’t take this as a negative criticism.

A5 Wagyu Sirloin and Angus Beef Shabu Shabu
A5 Wagyu Sirloin and Angus Beef Shabu Shabu

Then came the star of the night – A5 Wagyu Sirloin and Angus Beef shabu shabu.

Wagyu comes in many grades, with the alphabet denoting yield (A, B, C), and a number (1-5) indicating marbling score. Hence A5 is among the highest quality you can get, with fat contents equivalent to 8-12 BMS (Beef Marbling Standard).

The pricing at Takumi is as follow:

  • Shabu – shabu (Angus beef) : RM88.00
  • A5 Wagyu Roso : RM158.00
  • A3 Wagyu Sirloin : RM180.00
  • A5 Wagyu Sirloin : RM280.00
  • Matsuza Beef : RM490.00

Certainly not cheap, but of decent value, and the quality is certainly there.

just dip it for a few seconds, melt in your mouth
just dip it for a few seconds, melt in your mouth

For the wagyu, a dip in the boiling soup for just a few seconds is more than enough. We were supplied with a sort of ponzu mix but I love having the beef as is, the mixture of fat and beef melt in your mouth (pardon for the lack of a better description). It was so good!

The Angus beef was there just so we can make a comparison on the difference between a super high grade beef and a decent beef. To be fair, they were more than decent and would be of top quality beef on any menu without wagyu.

Ee Laine, KY, Shing, Weizhi
Ee Laine, KY, Shing, Weizhi

We ended the night with some complimentary fruits, and coincidentally it was Weizhi’s (of KampungBoyCityGal) birthday too, so we had some cupcakes and sang a birthday song. It was a great night with awesome company. I can certainly do more of this.

map to Grand Millennium Hotel, Kuala Lumpur

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
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
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
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
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
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
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
we had a great time sampling the Kansai Festival Menu

map to Pavilion KL

Address:
Kampachi
Level 6, Pavilion
Jln Bukit Bintang, 55100 Kuala Lumpur

GPS3.148872, 101.713368
Tel03-2148 9608
Websitewww.kampachi.com.my
Hours: 10 am to 10 pm