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Category / Japanese

Several weeks ago I was invited to Kurata Japanese Restaurant to preview their Okayama Fruit Fair. Fine Japanese food is among the top of my list, so obviously I accepted the invitation without hesitation. Furthermore, the invitation was referred to by Ringo, a dear friend, which made it all the better.

Okayama fruit fair at Kurata Japanese restaurant, Parkroyal KL
Okayama fruit fair at Kurata Japanese restaurant, Parkroyal KL

Kurata is located at the lower lobby of PARKROYAL Hotel, which itself is situated right across from Sungai Wang. While being quite familiar with Bukit Bintang, I must say that this was the first time I stepped foot into this restaurant.

First timer to the restaurant may find it a little bit difficult to find, and this is because for some reason unknown to me, Kurata is located WITHIN another hotel restaurant, but trust the signs, and you shall get there.

Shine Muscat, White Peach and New Pione, sesame short bread with fruit topping, macaroon
Shine Muscat, White Peach and New Pione,
sesame short bread with fruit topping, macaroon

Okayama, a prefecture in Chugoku, Japan, is also regarded as the “Kingdom of Fruits”. The region is known as the birthplace of some of the finest fruits Japanese has to offer, including the white peach.

Since this post is about Okayama, lets start with the fruits & desserts (although we were served with them last).

The fruit platter comes with shine muscat, white peach, and new pione. The muscat is seedless and has very high sugar content with low acidity, while the new Pione (also called black pearl) is so rich in flavor it’s almost like biting into wine, I love it. White peach needs no introduction, each bite is so delicate and juicy it’s unlike any peach I’ve ever had. Fantastic.

You can also have the fruits served on sasame short bread, with the pastry providing a contrast to bring out the sweetness of fruits even more. Alternatively, for macaroon lovers, how about some beautifully crafted macaroon stuffed with fresh Okayama fruits?

white peach roll cake in vanilla sauce, Peach and Tofu Parfait
white peach roll cake in vanilla sauce, Peach and Tofu Parfait, Ringo & Haze

For those who like something richer, the white peach roll cake in vanilla sauce will certainly fit the bill, though you do lose the taste of freshness from the peach that some of us love so much.

The peach and tofu parfait is yet another way to enjoy the white peach, this dessert is delicate and doesn’t come with strong artificial sweetness like most parfait do, so for those who doesn’t like their desserts too sweet, this is perfect.

The fair run till end of August, 2015. (yeah, this post is a little late).

appertizer for Sushi Course at Kurata
appetizer for Sushi Course at Kurata

Prior to all the Okayama goodness, we were also treated with the Sushi Course at Kurata (RM 190).

The course comes with appetizer in the form of beans, tofu, and angler fish liver with jelly. I can’t exactly remember the details of each ingredients, but they made a pretty good combination to kickstart the meal.

sashimi on ice
sashimi on ice

Next up was air flown sashimi – and no expenses were spared. We had kanpachi, otoro, and sake (salmon). The fresh fish were accompanied with grated wasabi, and if you haven’t had otoro with high grade soya sauce and grated wasabi, you haven’t experience the finest of sashimi. It was as good as any.

grilled alfonsino, wagyu beef, miso soup
grilled alfonsino, wagyu beef, miso soup

The course next switched to something more savory, in the form of grilled alfonsino fish with a side of pickled bamboo shoots.

To be honest, I think grilled alfonsino is perhaps a dish that requires a bit of an acquired taste. This is not the first time I had it, but I still think the rather firm texture and sweetish taste isn’t something that “blows my mind”, so to speak. It was nice, but it wasn’t great.

We were then served with miso soup.

assorted sushi, including my favorite - uni (sea urchin)
assorted sushi, including my favorite – uni (sea urchin)

The main dish of assorted sashimi were then served, and it was among some of the best I’ve had. The presentation was basic and straight to the point, but the sweet shrimp, sea urchin, salmon, kanpachi, salmon roe, and even the sushi roll were really well crafted and more than meet expectations.

Food at Kurata is certainly worth exploring, and for those who like a quiet and romantic ambiance, this may fit the bill perfectly.

map to PARKROYAL KL

Address:
Kurata Japanese Restaurant
Lower Lobby, PARKROYAL HOTEL.
Jalan Sultan Ismail, 50250 Kuala Lumpur
GPS: 3.144423, 101.712351
Tel03-2110 0226
HoursWednesday and Thursday Lunch close, Sunday dinner close

With the on-going house renovation work, I’ve been rejected (or accidentally ignoring) quite a lot of food review invitation, but when Sarah from Kimpachi messaged and invited me to Kampachi Sake Dinner Series, I just couldn’t say no.

When Kampachi comes calling, you just don’t reject, and I’ve never regretted the decisions.

kampachi sake dinner series featuring Izumibashi Sake
kampachi sake dinner series featuring Izumibashi Sake

In conjunction with Izumibashi brewery’s first visit to Malaysia, Kampachi hosted a dinner series that took place at their Troika outlet on the 16th June, 2015, and the day after in Kampachi Equatorial, Penang.

The dinner features a 9 course Kaiseki menu by Kampachi’s Executive Chef, Koji Tamaru, using produce and seasonal seafood directly sourced from Japan. The meal was paired with four types of Izumibashi sakes.

Izumibashi Tonbo Sparkling with edamame
“welcome drink”, edamame, and brewery founder/owner Yuichi Hashiba

We were joined by the 6th generation founder/owner of Izumibashi brewery, Yuichi Hashiba, and sake sommelier, Shigeyuki Masaki. Together they shared the history of the brand, how they produce the sake, and what made them special.

Izumibashi Tonbo Sparkling with Amera Tomato Mizu Nasu
Izumibashi Tonbo Sparkling with Amera Tomato Mizu Nasu

The first three courses were paired with Tonbo Sparkling, this is an unfiltered sake with a cloudy appearance, only very lightly gassy and quite wholesome in taste. Apparently filtered sake is a bit of an imitation to sparkling wine of the West, and Izumibashi purposely left it unfiltered to show it’s true Japanese origin.

We started the dinner with something that is utterly simple yet surprisingly delicious – Amera tomato and slices of Raw Japanese Eggplant. These raw vegetables were just lightly seasoned with salt and pepper.

I’ve had tomato of similar calibre a couple times and these were equally as crunchy and refreshing, the eggplant though, was a total revelation.I never thought eggplants could be consumed raw, and I’m glad I was wrong, it was most excellent.

Niawabi Shake Toba Morokyu Kinsanji Miso, Hamo Kuzuuchi Junsai Janome Kyuri Bainiku
Niawabi Shake Toba Morokyu Kinsanji Miso,
Hamo Kuzuuchi Junsai Janome Kyuri Bainiku

Next came Simmered Abalone, Dried Salmon & Cucumber with Miso. A beautifully arranged dish with very contrasting texture offered by the soft and slightly chewy abalone, the very crispy dried salmon, and those crunchy cucumber. I particularly loved the dried salmon which is almost like the best salted fish I’ve ever had, and you can eat it straight.

The Clear Soup with Pike Conger Eel, Water Shield, Ring Shaped Cucumber & Plum came next. While the eel, cucumber, and plum were not stranger to most diners, I found the water shield provided quite a new experience to me. It tasted a bit like some sort seaweed encased in a slimy exterior. A good change of pace but I’m not quite sure I really enjoyed it.

Maguru & Kanpachi sashimi with Izumibashi Junmai Ginjo Megumi Blue Label
Maguro & Kanpachi sashimi with Izumibashi Junmai Ginjo Megumi Blue Label

The next three dishes were paired with Izumibashi Junmai Ginjo Megumi Blue Label, made with Yamada Nishiki rice grown in house by Izumibashi. This particular type of rice produces good sake as it absorbs water and dissolves easily.

Sashimi came in the form of Maguro & Kanpachi – Tuna and Amberjack. These fish were flown fresh from Tsukiji market and of course, did not disappoint. The sake complimented the seafood perfectly well.

Gindara Shio Kouji Yaki, Awafu Ageni Harinegi Kinome
Gindara Shio Kouji Yaki, Awafu Ageni Harinegi Kinome

The fifth course was the simple Grilled Cod Fish Marinated with Salt Crust, with superb execution by the chef. I absolutely loved the texture of cod skin and the way the fish is cooked, it was spot on.

Awafu Ageni Harinegi Kinome translates to Simmered Yellow Wheat Gluten served with Fine Julienned Leek & Leaf Bud. Quite a fancy name and description, and tasted a little bit like a more sophisticated version of tofu with a richer texture.

Tatake Ebi Kesho Age with Shishito, Yaki Onigiri Chazuke Shio Konbu
Tatake Ebi Kesho Age with Shishito, Yaki Onigiri Chazuke Shio Konbu

The last three dishes were paired with Izumibashi Yamahai Junmai Shinriki. Shinriki translate to “power of god”, and in this case this sake is made with the most tedious and labour intensive method that helped produce the most “umami” flavour.

Deep Fried Chopped Prawns with Japanese Green Pepper was the first dish we sampled with this sake. The greenish “powder” you see next to the chili was actually salt, together with the fried ingredients, it was simple yet very delicious.

Grilled Rice Ball in Broth with Salted Kelp came next, it was almost like the Chinese dinner where you always have a rice dish at the penultimate dish (sort of, but not really). You appreciate the rice and wasabi in broth with a bit of a grilling treatment to bring out the flavour, subtle but quite delightful.

Yuzu Sorbet, Yuzu Mousse, Yuzu Kaki with Yamada Jyuro Plum
Yuzu Sorbet, Yuzu Mousse, Yuzu Kaki with Yamada Jyuro Plum

We concluded the dinner with Homemade Japanese Citrus Sorbet, Mousse and Dehydrated Persimmon. If you haven’t had yuzu before, go get some yourself, it is the best citrus there is (to me anyway).

We each also had a glass of Yamada Jyuro Plum, it was a fantastic dinner with some really fine sake. Made for an excellent night. Thank you again Sarah and Kampachi for the lovely dinner.

Check out Angeltini’s post for write up from the sake angle.

map to Kampachi at Troika

Address:
Kampachi
The Troika Jalan Binjai
Kuala Lumpur

GPS: 3.158052, 101.718122
Tel: 03-2181 2282

A few weeks ago while walking from KLCC to Pavilion I strolled pass Vipod Residence and noticed that there’s a new Japanese restaurant opening up on the ground floor – Oribe Sushi. I’m a huge fan of proper Japanese food, so there’s no other reason needed to give it a try.

Oribe Sushi at Vipod Residence (between Pavilion & KL Convention Centre)
Oribe Sushi at Vipod Residence (between Pavilion & KL Convention Centre)

A peek on the menu shows that Oribe Sushi only serves Omakase (literal translation: “I’ll leave it to you”). For lunch, there are 4 choices priced at RM 88, RM 150, RM 180, and RM 250. Dinner omakase are priced at RM 120, 168, 198, and 350.

We took a seat at the sushi bar and then of course, I chose the cheapest – “Seto”.

appetizer & chawanmushi
appetizer & chawamushi

This set starts out with appetizer in the form of some carefully stirfried bean sproud, tiny shrimps, and other vege.

Then there’s the chawanmushi that’s smoother than most tofufa I’ve had, it was delicious. So far, so good.

sea bass, flounder, bluefin tuna, yellow tail
sea bass, flounder, bluefin tuna, yellow tail

Then came what we were here for – the sushi.

The experience here is pretty unique. While seated at the sushi bar, the chef is dedicated to your meal. He will prepare one sushi meticulously, serve it on your plate, explained what it is, and then only start preparing the next piece after you’ve consumed the current piece.

This way, the sushi never sit on the plate longer than a few seconds (or however long you take to snap a pic to show your jealous friends on instagram).

mackerel with seaweed, barracuda, scallop
mackerel with seaweed, barracuda, scallop

The 8 types of sushi we had were sea bass, flounder, bluefin tuna, yellow tail, mackerel with seaweed, barracuda, scallop, and ikura.

These were not just simple slices of fish (or other seafood) on rice, but also with addition of seaweed, blow torch treatment, bits of citrus peel, a wipe of sauce/oil and so forth. It was a work of art. I found myself not even really needing those grated fresh wasabi to accompany the sushi.

ikura (salmon egg), and er.. some vegetable roll
ikura (salmon egg), and er.. some vegetable roll

The ginger used here too is not of the usual variety. It was less spicy but carries a slightly sweet flavor which I really liked. They will refill it should you find yourself finishing them like I did.

After 8 pieces of nigiri sushi, we were treated with three pieces of vegetable roll (I think it was Japanese bamboo shoots?) to end the main course part of the meal.

miso soup and mochi with red bean to conclude our omakase
miso soup and mochi with red bean to conclude our omakase

Our omsake ended with a small bowl of miso soup and mochi with red bean as dessert. While the dessert wasn’t as exquisite as the other dishes, it was certainly not disappointing either.

While RM 88++ is certainly no chump change for lunch, I do feel that it provides value for money so far as the quality of food, and the excellent services goes. If you are a fan of proper Japanese food, this is one place you should check out.

map to vipod residence, KL

Address:
Oribe Sushi @ Vipod Residence
19, Jalan Kia Peng,
50450 Kuala Lumpur

GPS: 3.152181, 101.712662
Tel: 03-2181 4099

A few weeks ago we had the craving for roast duck, and there is no better place for roast duck than Loong Foong at Taman Paramount, so we headed there… just to discover that while the restaurant was open, the roast duck shop wasn’t.

Time for plan B – the classy looking Japanese Curry restaurant a few shops down the same row – Shokudo Japanese Curry Rice.

Shokudo at Taman Paramount
Shokudo at Taman Paramount

The restaurant is a blend of class and practicality. There are long wooden tables and benches for sharing, which exudes a bit of high school dining hall feel.

Ordering is done by heading to the counter, but they’re kind enough to serve the food to your table. Green tea and water refill is a DIY affair, which we didn’t mind.

tidbits to munch on before main meal
tidbits to munch on before main meal

The menu consists of some two dozen dishes, including curry rice and appetizers. We tried aigamo rousuni (marinated duck breast, RM 8), hiyayako (cold beancurd, RM 4), koebi karaage (deep fried shrimps, RM 5), and kani salad (crab stick salad, RM 10).

The appetizers were generally pretty good and priced rather competitively, I can totally imagining chilling out with some Asahi & deep fried shimps.

prawns, pork, or beef curry rice
prawns, pork, or beef curry rice

There are almost a dozen different curry rice to choose from. From chicken, pork fillet, prawn, vegetable, egg, and even cream croquette, all of which are priced between RM 13-15. For an additional RM 3, you also get a small salad, soup, and green tea, which is a pretty decent deal especially since the price is net.

After trying a few dishes, my favorite has to be their prawn curry rice. The seafood tasted fresh, juicy, and goes very well with creamy flavorful Japanese curry. The pork fillet is pretty decent, though I’d recommend Tonkatsu by Mai Mason over this version any day.

That being said, Shokudo is a pretty fine place for Japanese curry rice for any fan of this dish.

map to shokudo Japanese Curry rice, Taman Paramount

Address:
Shokudo
9, Jalan 20/13,
Taman Paramount,
Petaling Jaya Selangor
GPS: 3.106145, 101.625387
Tel03-7863-0922
Hours: lunch & dinner, closed on Monday

I almost never say no to food review at classy Japanese restaurants, so when the invitation from Hanaya came, I immediately made it a point find a way to get there even though the timing wasn’t exactly perfect.

And as it turned out, that was a wise choice. Walking from KLCC to Grand Millennium Hotel under the hot sun was definitely worth it.

Hanaya Japanese Restaurant at Grand Millennium Hotel, KL
Hanaya Japanese Restaurant at Grand Millennium Hotel, KL

Hanaya took over the Takumi Fine Dining’s previous spot right by the lobby of the hotel, and run by the same people who manages the excellent Ten Sushi at Marc’s Residence (lunch review).

While Ten is modern and veered towards the higher end fine dining experience, Hanaya aimed to be more approachable to the general public and offers traditional Japanese cuisine with more affordable pricing while maintaining very high quality, as apparent during this review session.

Our tasting menu for this pre-opening review was specially selected to showcase some of the different dishes and ingredients from Hanaya.

Shirako, or soft roe with ponzu sauce
Shirako, or soft roe with ponzu sauce

We started the session with Shirako, or red snapper soft roe. For those who aren’t familiar with the difference between normal roe & soft roe, well, normal roe is fish eggs, while soft roe is the male counterpart.. or in the less glamorous term – fish sperm sac.

It was incredibly rich and creamy, but perfectly balanced with the acidity from ponzu sauce. I must say that I find myself really enjoying this delicacy despite knowing the ingredient intimately. I’d want to have this again for sure.

Oriental clam fritters with grated green bean sauce
Oriental clam fritters with grated green bean sauce

Next up was Oriental clam fritters with grated green bean sauce and spring vegetable. A more muted taste that serves as a welcoming change from the strong first dish. It was an simple yet rather delightful.

entree - five types
entree – five types

The entree came with five different items, all of them carefully crafted and expertly prepared.

We had botargo (salted dried fish roe) which reminded me of the texture of dried mango minus the fiber; sticky tofu skin that was simple yet intricate; bamboo shoots in balsamic vinegar that provided the fresh, crunchy feeling; red snapper with Mozuku seaweed giving a new interpretation of the way to enjoy raw fish; and finally a play in colors with prawns in 3 ways – with nori, ohba leaves and arare (crispy Japanese cracker).

The entree was quite a revelation, and I did enjoy them all, though the prawns could perhaps bit a bit more crunchy, but I’m nitpicking.

assorted seasonal sashimi
assorted seasonal sashimi

What’s a proper Japanese meal without sashimi?

Our assorted seasonal sashimi platter comes with 5 types of fresh raw seafood, each beautifully crafted and carefully prepared.

Starting from ebi with cucumber and avocado sauce, seared salmon with bonito cream, saba with vinaigrette, aoyagi (Chinese mactra, a type of clam), and finally chutoro with sweet spicy gochujang sauce. All of which were rather excellent, and one of the very few times I had sashimi without the need of any soya sauce or wasabi since they were all very well balanced already.

Akita Wagyu steak (50 gram)
Akita Wagyu steak 

Next up was charcoal grilled Akita Wagyu steak, I believe this simple three slices of beef was actually prepared by God himself. It was, of a lack of a better word, heaven. It was very lightly grilled and served with a few pieces of fried garlic, a bit of daikon, carrot, and a touch of sea salt & pepper.

If you think sex is good, that’s because you haven’t had this beef.

steamed alfonsino fish
steamed alfonsino fish

Steamed dish came in the form of alfonsino (a type of deep water fish with huge eyes) with Japanese yam and egg white. I thought the texture of the fish was perhaps slightly harder than I’m used to, but overall it was a good combination, and I really like the fluffy texture of the foamy egg & yam concoction.

seasonal sushi at Hanaya Japanese Restaurant
seasonal sushi at Hanaya Japanese Restaurant

Penultimate dish that was simply labeled “rice dish” in the menu turned out to be sushi (all rice dish should be sushi isn’t it?)

My favorites were sea urchin, scallops, and of course, otoro! The melt in  your mouth texture was just so irresistible! Every piece of the five on the plate was spot on, and again, we didn’t even need wasabi!

coconut bavorios with pineapple jelly in pino colada style
coconut bavorios with pineapple jelly in pino colada style

Unfortunately, every good meal had to come to an end, and to conclude this special menu, we had an unassuming looking dessert that came in a martini glass – coconut bavorios with pineapple jelly in pino colada style. The layered dessert lived up to the expectations set by the previous dishes, the combination of sweet, milky, and sour taste was perfect. I was already rather full at this point, but finished the dessert nonetheless.

KY, Ringo, & Caydence at Hanaya Japanese Restaurant
KY, Ringo, & Caydence at Hanaya Japanese Restaurant

Omakase at Hanaya ranges from RM 200-250, and there is also quite a decent selection of ala carte item. I believe I’m going to go back there perhaps to try their lunch menu pretty soon!

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