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Category / Japanese

A couple weeks ago we were invited to a special Japanese food event held at Yakitori Fukuda Dining at Evolve Mall, and since I had very good impression with their ten don (deep fried seafood with rice) dishes at Shitamichi Tendon Akitmitsu, it was a no brainer to participate. After all, these two restaurants share the same kitchen that is smacked right in between them.

Yakitori Dining Fukuda at Evolve Concept Mall, Ara Damansara
Yakitori Dining Fukuda at Evolve Concept Mall, Ara Damansara

For those of you who aren’t familiar with Evolved Concept Mall, it is one of the newest malls in town and located right next to the Ara Damansara LRT station. You can walk to the mall from the station in 5 minutes. Occupancy at the new mall isn’t quite close to full yet but there’s Jaya Grocer as the anchor tenant, so I assume it’ll do fine.

somen with chicken, eel, shrimp & vege, somen with chicken and lime
somen with chicken, eel, shrimp & vege, somen with chicken and lime

We started the day with a demonstration of somen, these are wheat flour noodle that’s pretty fine, almost “mee suah” fine and usually served cold. That proved to be very appropriate on a hot day. It was a good blend of savoury taste with sourish freshness especially for the version with lime. I think I may actually like this more than cha soba, and I do like cha soba on a hot afternoon.

You can also buy these pre-packaged somen and the associated sauce to be cooked at home.

pressed sushi with grilled conger eel
pressed sushi with grilled conger eel

Then there’s pressed sushi with grilled conger eel. Conger eel a different marine species of eel. The texture is a little more firm from unagi, though taste wise they do not differ very far. To be honest, I do like unagi just a little bit more, but anything with a dash of ikura never disappoint, as in this case.

deep fried Japanese yam with seaweed, chicken meatball with grated yam
deep fried Japanese yam with seaweed, chicken meatball with grated yam

Finally, we also sampled some of the dishes prepared using the imported Japanese yam. The deep fried Japanese yam with seaweed was my favorite, it was very light and packs a punch in flavors, which I suspect contributed by the seaweed. The deep fried yam in strips was much more muted in comparison.

The other yam related dish we tried was the bowl of rice topped with homemade chicken meatball and grated Japanese yam, which is served with a raw quail’s egg yolk, super creamy and perhaps a bit gooey if you’re not used to those type of taste.

and there's me with cheesiepetite!
and there’s me with cheesiepetite!

The food at this event was pretty decent, but I would certainly suggest that you try their ten dons first, especially if you’re those in favor for stronger taste. I’d want to go back to Fukuda to try their yakitori.

Evolve Concept Mall map

Address:
Yakitori Fukuda Dining

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

We Malaysians love buffets, but more often than not, most buffets around Klang Valley offers a variety of many different cuisines, much like the cultural make up of the country, which allows us to sample many varying dishes at the same time. Now that’s not a bad thing, but sometimes, you just want to concentrate on (mostly) one single cuisine, and you want it buffet style.

If that’s your calling and your choice of cuisine happens to be Japanese food, then Tatsu’s Saturday dinner buffet may just be something you want to check out.

Authentic Japanese Buffet at Tatsu
Authentic Japanese Buffet at Tatsu

The Saturday dinner buffet featuring authentic Japanese cuisine started at on the 6th of August and will run through 26 November 2016. We were among the few fortunate invitees to be sampling the spread on the first day of its offering at Intercontinental Hotel.

The all-you-can-eat deal is priced at RM 118 nett per adult and RM 69 nett for children between age 5-11 years.

Sushi or Sashimi anyone?
Sushi or Sashimi anyone?

The spread is concocted by Assistant Chef Tommy Kuan and comprises of some 75 items, and obviously, we got the night started at the raw bar with some sushi & sashimi.

Here you find a selection of salmon, tuna, and butter fish sashimi in pretty generous cuts. There’s ebi, tamago, inari, sake, and maguro sushi as well as some sushi rolls to pick from. Quality are more than decent, though lacking some of the more premium ingredients like amaebi or otoro, this is to be expected at this price point I suppose.

onsen egg, baby octopus, and other small dishes
onsen egg, baby octopus, and other small dishes

Other dishes from the “appetizer” bar includes those perfectly prepared Onsen eggs, salad, baby octopus, and a selection of small Japanese vegetable dishes which I really enjoy.

some pre-cooked Japanese dishes too
some pre-cooked Japanese dishes too

For those who likes pre-cooked items, there are a few selections too. Udon, soup, chawamushi, edamame, spicy tofu, miso soup, and even Japanese curry. To be honest, these aren’t my usual dishes to go for in a buffet such as this, because what I really enjoy more is up next…

made to order teppanyaki dishes
made to order teppanyaki dishes

The live teppanyaki cooking!

Here you pick the ingredients (salmon, prawns, squid, butter fish, chicken, beef, mushroom, vege etc) and have the chef cook on the spot. They’re usually ready in 5-10 minutes and then you can enjoy the piping hot teppanyaki dishes. I thought their chicken teppanyaki was particularly delicious.

"ala minute" dishes - ebi tempura, saba, kaki furai, sawara teriyaki
“ala minute” dishes – ebi tempura, saba, kaki furai, sawara teriyaki

In addition to teppanyaki, there are also a selection of “ala minute” dishes you can order to be served to your table. These includes ebi tempura hand roll, California hand roll, salmon teriyaki, saba shioyaki, sanma shioyaki, chicken teriyaki, sawara teriyaki, tempura moraiwase, and kaki furai.

Some of these dishes tend to get tepid & tired looking on a buffet spread if they’ve been left there for a while, so having them freshly made to order is a great idea.

beautifully crafted desserts
beautifully crafted desserts

Then of course, there’s Japanese desserts such as shiratama zenzai (red bean soup with mochi), manju (traditional Japanese confection), and assortments of ice cream, including one of my favorites – black sesame flavor.

fruits, black sesame ice cream, onsen eggs, Haze & KY
fresh fruits, black sesame ice cream, onsen eggs, Haze & KY

I really enjoyed the buffet spread, and though it offers pretty decent value for the price at a up class hotel restaurant in the heart of KL. If you’re up to some authentic Japanese buffet, do not that the last day to enjoy this at Tatsu is at the end of November 2016, don’t miss out.

map to Intercontinental Hotel, KL

Address:
Tatsu Japanese Cuisine
Intercontinental Hotel

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

I’ve always had problems with parking and navigating within Publika. The place has the most confusing lettering/numbering system for floors. There are numerous different “ground levels”, and some parking lots aren’t connected to each other the way a logically sound person may expect.

That being said, the place is also packed with huge amount of restaurants offering various different dining concepts, and often in relatively affordable price range due to the immense competition. Today, we’re going to look at Tsubohachi Hokkaido Izakaya. One of the Japanese restaurants that is undoubtedly among one of my favorites in the area.

Tsubohachi Hokkaido Izakaya, Publika
Tsubohachi Hokkaido Izakaya, Publika

Izakaya is basically an informal Japanese gastropub, a place caters for after-work drinking and dining session not entirely unlike many of the Western pubs/bars, but one that obviously serves Japanese cuisine.

Tsubohachi is a renowned chain with over 300 outlets in Japan since its inception 40 years ago at Hokkaido, and currently is one of the two izakaya outlets in Publika, the other being Senya Izakaya owned by the Sushi Train group.

Our first time visiting Tsubohachi Hokkaido Izakaya was with Cheesie sampling their normal menu, but this time around we were invited to try their special Zuwaigani (snow crab) menu. How could I say no?

zuwaigani nabe (snow crab hotpot)
zuwaigani nabe (snow crab hotpot)

The snow crab menu is available till late July, but do call up to make sure its availability. Then again, the usual menu is quite extensive and certainly worthy of a visit or three.

Our session started with zuwagani nabe, or snow crab hot pot (RM 79.90). Basically half a raw snow crab (male, female would have too little meat) with fresh vegetable, tofu, and mushroom in a hot pot. Certainly a luxury comfort dish that is perfect especially on a rainy day, or any day for that matter.

The crab made the soup oh so sweet, it was as good as I had hoped.

aburi zuwaigani, kani chawanmushi
aburi zuwaigani, kani chawanmushi

For those who likes it grilled, aburi zuwaigani (RM 58) should satisfy your cravings. A no-nonsense and unadultered way of enjoying snow crab with maybe just a little squeeze of lemon. Snow crab has a much softer shell than our Malaysian mud crabs, so getting a “perfect” peel is an easier job.

Kani chawanmushi (RM 12.90) too is worth trying if you just want to lux up the ordinary Japanese steamed egg with some snow crab meat.

zuwaigani sarada, aburi zuwaigani hakozushi
zuwaigani sarada, aburi zuwaigani hakozushi

Want more greens? Try zuwaigani sarada, or snow crab salad (RM 22.90), though all those mayonnaise may discount the perceived healthiness of this salad dish, but those savory taste combined with sweetness of snow crab makes it worth the extra calories.

Aburi zuwaigani hakozushi (RM 35.00) is another dish we tried that incorporate liberal use of those savory Japanese mayo. The pressed sushi was certainly delicious, though I always find mayo & wasabi sort of clashes a bit with each other.

ankake kani chahan, kani zosui, zuwaigani masu-zushi
ankake kani chahan, kani zosui, zuwaigani masu-zushi

Rice or porridge? Take your pick in ankake kani chahan (RM 22.90), or kani zosui (RM 29.90). Neither should disappoint as they were both expertly prepared and show cases the sweetness of snow crab through the simplicity of the dishes. I can have either of these for lunch and be a happy man.

If you like things in small packages, try the zuwaigani masu-zushi (RM 21.90). A tiny box of sushi rice with generous amount of snow crab meat on top. Just enough to taste, but unless you have had stomach stapling surgery, this can’t be your only dish for the night.

a selection of yakitori, chicken, pork, mushroom
a selection of yakitori, chicken, pork, mushroom

All the trying pretty much all the snow crab dishes sans tempura & sushi, we got greedy and decided to sample some of their signature yakitori dishes.

We tried chicken skin, bishop’s nose, chicken soft bone, chicken neck, pork belly, and mushroom. They came in both salted or in teriyaki, and I wished I had enough stomach space left to order a beer to go with these. Yakitori dishes are priced mostly at RM 7.80 to 9.80 for two sticks, pretty decent deal if you asked me.

Johnny, KY, Kelvin, Haze, macha de roru
Johnny, KY, Kelvin, Haze, macha de roru

Our final dish of the night was macha de roru as dessert, a sweet ending to a satisfying review session. I certainly don’t mind coming back here again, good food, great value, and without fuss, there should be more izakaya around town!

map to Solaris Dutamas

Address:
Tsubohachi Hokkaido Izakaya
A2-UG1-9, Publika

Solaris Dutamas, Kuala Lumpur
GPS3.170961, 101.665721
Tel: 03-6206 5526
Website: www.tsubohachi.com.my

If you type Omakase in google, this is what you get:

o·ma·ka·se
ˌōməˈkäsā,ōˈmäkəsā/
noun
  1. (in a Japanese restaurant) a meal consisting of dishes selected by the chef.

So then, SOU Omakase is exactly what the name of the restaurant suggests – a Japanese outfit at Mid Valley Gardens that prides itself on their Omakase menu.

sou omakase mid valley gardens
sou omakase mid valley gardens

Lunch starts at RM 98++ per person, and dinner comes with a choice of 4 different course –

  • SOU dinner course – RM 220
    • starter, chawanmushi, Japanese garnish food, sashimi, grilled dish, mouth wash, main course, rice course with miso soup, dessert with Japanese tea
  • Special dinner course – RM 320
    • starter, special fresh oyster, Japanese garnish food, special sashimi, grilled dish, mouth wash, main course, rice course with miso soup, dessert with Japanese tea
  • Special abalone course – RM 370
    • starter, Japanese soup, Japanese garnish food, special sashimi moriawase, special grilled abalone, mouth wash, main course, sushi 3 kinds with miso soup, home made dessert with Japanese tea
  • Tasting menu – RM 450
    • degustation menu offered by chef FUKUCHI, 10 courses.

foie gras salad
foie gras salad

For the purpose of our review, we went for the tasting menu.

But first, if you’re heading to SOU Omakase, do note that it is located near the entrance of the Gardens Hotel, accessible via the Mall but through a tricky back door, with the restaurant facing Bangsar area of the building. It is much easier if you choose to valet park at the Gardens.

I won’t with fancy Japanese lingo for these dishes, since I assume many of you are like me who are heaps better in your command of English language than Japanese, we’ll stick with simple descriptions.

The dinner started with a beautiful dish of foie gras salad, a small chunk of perfectly seared goose liver with some greens and caviar. The ingredients itself speaks business.

 Netherlands oyster with homemade tabasco
 Netherlands oyster with homemade tabasco

Second course was Netherlands oyster with homemade tabasco, one of the best ways to get more zinc to your system. I do like the taste of their homemade tabasco sauce, slightly milder yet more complex in texture.

Snow crab with Spanish mackerel and Japanese winter melon soup
snow crab with Spanish mackerel and Japanese winter melon soup

Then there’s snow crab with Spanish mackerel in Japanese winter melon soup, our first warm dish of the night. The dish reminds me of some high end Chinese soup dishes, but one with unmistakenly Japanese ingredients. Warm and comforting.

mini sushi with chopped tuna belly and sea urchin
mini sushi with chopped tuna belly and sea urchin

Then it was a mini sushi to get our palette going for more raw seafood. Chopped tuna belly with sea urchin, two of the more premium sushi ingredients that packs a punch in savory index, perfectly balanced with freshly grated wasabi, a few slices of seaweed, and expertly prepared sushi rice.

butter fish with eel in yam paste
butter fish with eel in yam paste

Butter fish with eel in yam paste was next. This is a dish that I think some may have trouble getting used to the texture, it was soft and slightly slimy in texture from the eel and yam, but does provide an interesting experience especially when feeling it in the mouth.

We then had an aperitif, simple yuzu with soda to get our taste buds afresh for the next course – sashimi.

Sashimi part 1, served with wasabi moose and hand grated wasabi - octopus, yellow tail, mackerel
Sashimi part 1, served with shoyu moose and hand grated wasabi
– octopus, yellow tail, mackerel

This was undoubtedly the highlight of the omakase course to me. The sashimi came in two parts, and served with shoyu moose (soya sauce in moose form) and freshly grated wasabi.

Part one was octopus, yellowtail, and mackerel. Merely saying they are “fresh” would be doing these dishes a disservice. The sashimi were paired with different combination of seaweed to compliment its natural tastes, and those shoyu moose provides an interesting, if not very convenient way of handling the amount of soya sauce you want in the sashimi. A new experience to me.

Sashimi part 2 - the fat stuff, Otoro and salmon belly
Sashimi part 2 – the fat stuff, Otoro and salmon belly

Part 2 of the sashi were the fatter stuff – otoro (tuna belly), and salmon belly. Both premium cuts were beautifully presented, and tastes even better than they look. The otoro with its special condiment was especially delicious, I can definitely do this again, and again, and again.

cod with miso stew
cod with miso stew

Then it was time for a table top hot pot experience that came in the form of cod with miso stew. Cod never disappoints, and with high quality miso, certainly makes for a bullet proof dish. I can have this with a bowl of rice and call it a meal and be perfectly content.

beef, braised tuna collar, or lamb as choices of main
beef, braised tuna collar, or lamb as choices of main

Main course came in the form of either braised tuna collar, sliced wagyu beef, or lamb cutlets. Each were pretty rich in taste but not entirely too different from each other in terms of theme. The braised tuna collar was a first for me, and turned out to be probably too heavy to be part of a ten course meal. I was stuffed by the end of this, in a good way.

Inaniwa udon and salmon sushi
Inaniwa udon and salmon sushi

Penultimate dishes were a simple salmon sushi, and inaniwa udon. I had thought I’d never finish the udon due to how stuffed I was, but somehow there were no trace of udon left a few minutes later. When the food is good, you tend to negotiate extra space in the stomach somehow.

jelly, mochi, and coffee ice cream
jelly, mochi, and coffee ice cream

Dessert came in the form of jelly, mochi, and coffee ice cream. They were beautifully presented, and while did not disappoint, I did not think that they stand out among the other dishes in the course. It was an adequate ending to the 10 course menu, an certainly an omakase experience that is worthy of the restaurant’s name.

Horng, Yuki, & Haze at SOU Omakase
Horng, Yuki, & Haze at SOU Omakase

I’m really intrigued to try their lunch menu and see how they stack up to the likes of TEN & Oribe at similar price point.

Address:
SOU Omakase
Lot G247, Ground Floor
The Gardens, Mid Valley City
Kuala Lumpur
GPS3.118658, 101.675286
Tel03-2202 1133
Hours11:30 am – 3 pm, 6 pm – 10 pm

Earlier this week we were invited to Hanaya Japanese Dining to sample their 2016 Mother’s Day Menu, which the restaurant is offering only from 6th to 8th May 2016 (RM 180+ per pax). My last visit to Hanaya was almost exactly a year ago, operated by Sushi Train (which also has Ten, Senya Solaris, Sushi Ichiro, Menya, and more under their umbrella), their quality of food has always impressed me, hence the repeated visit.

Hanaya Japanese Dining with 2016 Mother's Day Menu
Hanaya Japanese Dining with 2016 Mother’s Day Menu

The philosophy of the Mother’s Day Menu at Hanaya is one that put health in emphasis. The major ingredients chosen for the 6 course set each has properties that especially beneficial to the female body, which I find pretty interesting. These benefits are from a mixture of traditional believes and modern nutritional knowledge.

To me thought, I just know that they tastes good, which is my number one criteria 😀

Pumpkin Chawamushi
Pumpkin Chawamushi

Our Amuse was Pumpkin Chawamushi. Pumpkin having B Carotin supports beautiful skin and hair, while galvanized iron in egg enhanced the female hormone secretion. All I know is that it was complex and delicious.

sashimi on crushed ice
sashimi on crushed ice

Second of the six course was sashimi. Tuna with DHA to lower cholesterol, Travoli with EPA that helps in hardening of arteries, Astaxathin in salmon with anti aging care and recovery from exhaustion properties, plus golden cuttlefish that contains lysine, which helps in hair restoration.

The seafood was certainly fresh, while we had yellow tail in this tasting session instead of Travoli, I was still more than satisfied. The presentation for this sashimi dish was rather exquisite too.

grilled Canadian lobster and Hokkaido scallop
grilled Canadian lobster and Hokkaido scallop

Main course – grilled Canadian lobster and Hokkaido scallop garlic butter with dry tomato & herb sauce.
Lobster for cancer suppression, scallop with taurine that helps improvement of fatty liver, and dry tomato is rich in vitamin c. Two different seafood from each side of the Pacific ocean make up this wholesome dish that utilizes Western style preparation method, a perfect marriage.

hijiki seaweed rice and Asuka milk miso soup
hijiki seaweed rice and Asuka milk miso soup

4th and 5th course – shokuji, or hijiki seaweed rice, with dietary fiber for detox effect, & Asuka milk miso soup, with miso having isoflavon that helps suppress menopausal disorders.

The seaweed rice was subtle in taste, and I thought the Asuka milk miso soup tasted much richer but in a good way, especially for those who loves the milkier texture.

"dearest mother" dessert
“dearest mother” dessert

To end Hanaya Japanese Dining’s mother’s day 2016 menu – “dearest mother” dessert, with avocado ice cream (lowers blood pressure), rose hip (vitamin c & e – antioxidants), and misc cereals (minerals to fix menstrual irregularities).

I thought the six course menu was rather exquisite but not over the top, it is available only for 3 days (6-8/5/2016) so if you want to treat mom for a meal with thoughts behind the menu, this is certainly worth checking out.

map to Grand Millennium Hotel, Kuala Lumpur

Address:
Hanaya
Grand Millenium Kuala Lumpur
160, Jalan Bukit Bintang, Kuala Lumpur
GPS: 3.148006, 101.712225
Tel: 03-2110 5499