Category / Japanese
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of Hajime nor Coco Tei because well, it hasn’t been at Jalan Damai for over 2 years now even though Google map and some outdated blog posts tried to convince me otherwise.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
Ten Fine Dining Restaurant is back, relocated from their previous location at Publika (where I got to meet Iron Chef Sakai in 2011). The new location at Marc Residence replaced the lot that Delicious used to operate. Right by KLCC, it has much better visibility than being in the maze that is Publika.
I was fortunate enough to be one of the few who was invited to a review session at Ten last week.
Ten Japanese Fine Dining at Marc’s Residence
The floor plan isn’t exactly conventional. There’s a long dining hall with smaller private rooms on the sides, with another big classy private dining hall that can house some 20 people at right side of the entrance. The interior decoration certainly has a flavor of modern Japanese styling but one that does not stray too far from the tradition, as evident with the stone garden at the other end of the restaurant.
unique Japanese Dango, cocktails
Our review is on the four course degustation lunch menu that starts with the unique Japanese Dango made with seasonal vegetables filled with French foie gras.
The three dango (or dumplings) were made from carrot, sweet potato, and yam. The taste was subtle yet exquisite, with the bits of foie gras enhancing the overall flavor. Katsuobushi (smoked skipjack tuna) and leek shavings giving the soup an extra touch of sophistication, a good way to start our lunch.
assorted ocean fresh sushi & sashimi
The second course had a simple description on the menu – assorted ocean fish sushi and sashimi. On the plate these beautifully crafted delights:
- grilled baramundi and sushi rice with salmon roe
- slow cooked scallop with chili and plum paste
- poached alfonsino fish marinated with natto soy sauce
- simmered white clam with sticky egg sauce and grilled sushi rice
- Otoro (tuna belly) sashimi and tuna tartar with a hint of truffle flavor
- geoduck with Italian leaf soy
- anago (salt water eel) with black garlic vinegar
- Tasmanian salmon sushi with mascarpone sauce
- Tasmanian lobster sushi with deep fried leek soy sauce
It was hard to choose a favorite, and if I had to pick one I’d probably choose the otoro, with truffle flavor really adding to the already superb cut of tuna belly. While I personally dislike natto somehow worked, and I even helped my table-neighbor finished hers.
This was by far the most sophisticated plate of sushi/sashimi I’ve ever tasted. If you’re a fan of Japanese food, this is a must try.
teppanyaki styled Miyazaki A5 wagyu beef
Our third course was another masterpiece. Teppanyaki styled Miyazaki A5 Wagyu beef served with Tasmanian garlic chips and daikon.
I asked for mine to be prepared rare (chef recommended only rare or medium-rare), and it was truly glorious. A bit of freshly grated wasabi complemented the meat beautifully. Teppanyaki and ponzu sauce is available, but to truly enjoy a piece of red meat, none were really required. The garlic chips were great to have in between those chunks of pure heaven.
Ten’s specialty desserts
The sad thing is, every meal has to eventually come to a conclusion, and the fourth course was a dual of Ten’s specialty desserts. It was perhaps impossible to keep up to the excellence of the previous three courses, but dessert lovers would not be disappointed with the bitter sweet chocolates and the sweet & sour combination of plumb and jelly.
Nana, Michelle, KY, Chenelle, Tian Chad
Ten Japanese Fine Dining will have some pretty stiff competition in a few other restaurants within the vicinity. Ozeki Tokyo Cuisine offers great lunch value and is just a stone’s throw away at Menara TA, Fukuya at Jalan Delima can never be discounted for fine Japanese foods, and Fukuhara too is a fine alternative if you’re looking for a good evening of Japanese delights.
Ultimately though, I think Ten does manage to set itself apart with it’s modern offerings and pretty unique menu. Teppanyaki course is at RM 200 and RM 300, Sushi course at RM 300, and Omakase (degustation) course is priced at RM 300 per person.
Ten Japanese Fine Dining
A-G-1, Marc Residence, Ground Floor,
No.3 Jalan Pinang,
50450 Kuala Lumpur
GPS: 3.155396, 101.710203
Tel: 03-2161 5999
Hours: 11:30 am – 2:30 pm, 6 pm onward, closed on Mondays
Hailed from Hakata, the supposed ramen capital of Japan is Ippudo, the latest international Japanese ramen chain to arrive on our shore. The founder Shigemi Kawahara started selling ramen at a ten-seater stall in Fukuoka some 28 years ago, and has since expanded to some 10 cities around the world, serving up piping hot tonkotsu (pork bone) based ramen to eager diners.
We were invited for a tasting session last week ago to find out what the fuss is all about.
Hakata Ippudo Ramen at KL Paviliion
Ippudo Ramen is located just a floor up from the semi-alfresco dining area and a floor below the GSC cinemas. The ramen shop itself is pretty compact in size and could probably cater to around 40 pax or so.
The interior decoration is modern, and they even include “handbag drawers” under some seats, something I’m sure most ladies and dudes with man bags approve.
curry cheese haru maki, pork bun, spicy shrimp mayo
If you’re a fan of rather unique Japanese appetizers, you’re in luck. Ippudo carries quite a few dishes that goes well with hot green tea (or beer) before the main meal.
Curry Cheese Haru Maki (spring roll, RM 10) is indeed cheesy inside with a crispy skin as its exterior, delicious while hot, but you gotta find a balance and not let the melted cheese burn your taste buds.
Pork Bun (RM 7) is another one that I really enjoyed, reminds me of those “tong por” pork I had at Dengkil Seafood Restaurant.
Spicy Shrimp Mayo (RM 15) is beautifully presented and reminds me of those fried shrimp and mayo dimsum dishes that you could have for half the price.
Goma Q, Crispy Corn, Hakata Style Soup Gyoza
If you prefer something cold to start with, Goma Q (Japanese cucumber, RM 9) will fit the bill. This is very similar to those cold cucumber dishes served in some Chinese restaurants such as Private Kitchen at Uptown, or Hong La Qiao at Pudu.
Crispy Corn (RM 8) is something that I haven’t seen before and find myself liking it. The sweet corn seemed to be seared with a healthy dosage of paprika and other seasoning on top, giving the kernels a pretty unique taste. A serving is only 4 slices of corn though.
Hakata Style Soup Gyoza (RM 15) is an alternative to the usual pan fried version. It is served in the same tonkotsu soup with a bit of ginger in it. The gyoza was decent, but not something I’d get excited about, the soup is nice though.
akamara shinaji, shiromaru motoaji, and karaka-men ramen
Then came the ramen.
Ippudo serves three basic variety of ramen with noodle much thinner than most other places. Much like Italian food, you can also choose to have it al dente (cooked to be firm, but not hard).
Most basic is Shiromaru Motoaji with original tonkotsu broth, belly chasiu, bean sprouts, kikurage (black fungus), and spring onion. Akamara Shinaji has the same core ingredients but enhanced with special blended miso paste and fragant garlic oil. For those who like their ramen spicy, there’s the Karaka-men version, which incorporate special spicy miso and ground pork.
KY & Haze at Hakata Ippudo Ramen, KL Pavilion
I find myself enjoying the original broth most, and have a bit of a mixed feeling for the other two miso infused soup as I think it somehow dilutes the essence of the pork bone taste (which takes 15 hours to cook, as I was told). I’m also not a fan of making ramen spicy, for that I’ll have my kimchi soup instead.
The chasiu at Ippudo is easily one of the best I’ve yet. Premium cut and prepared to perfection, this is the part I like most.
Over all though, I find Ippudo pretty decent and will certainly face strong competition from nearby ramen places within walking distance (Marutama at Fahrenheit 88, Hokkiado Santouka at Pavilion, Ton Chan at Cosway). While having the best ambiance among the competitions, Ippudo is also the priciest, expect to pay RM 26 for a basic bowl to RM 36 with everything in it.
Connection Level 4, Pavilion
Jln Bukit Bintang, 55100 Kuala Lumpur
GPS: 3.148872, 101.713368
Tel: 03-2110 6233
Hours: 11 am to 11 pm