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Malaysian Food Blog, Travel, Diving & More

Category / Japanese

Japanese cuisine started in Malaysia with sushi and sashimi, and thankfully over the years, we are introduced to more and more different Japanese dishes to the country. Now we have Japanese bakery, cafe, egg tarts, teppanyaki, tendon, izakaya, ramen, pasta, pizza, and of course, one of my favorites – tonkatsu restaurants.

Tonkatsu by Ma Maison, now at Subang Main Place
Tonkatsu by Ma Maison, now at Subang Main Place

For the uninitiated, tonkatsu is basically breaded, deep-fried pork cutlet that is usually served with shredded cabbage. For those who are in low carb or keto diet (not that I am), this would make a fine meal.

salt, sweet, or slightly spicy sauce?
salt, sweet, or slightly spicy sauce?

Tonkatsu by Ma Maison is one of the few Japanese restaurants serving tonkatsu in the country at the moment, and they’ve opened up a branch at Main Place in Subang, which is quite a fair bit closer to home for us than their 1-Utama or Publika branches.

Furthermore, I’ve recently being introduced to the ENTERTAINER Malaysia App which offers a buy 1 main and get 1 free offer for Tonkatsu, so why not?

Yep, we only paid for 1 main out of the two, more on this below

pork loin has that perfect amount of fat I love
pork loin has that perfect amount of fat I love

If you’re not familiar with Tonkatsu, there are basically two cuts you should concentrate on – pork loin, or rosu katsu is the version with a layer of rich fat, and hire katsu, pork fillet, which will be less fatty. I almost always went for rosu katsu.

miso katsu anyone?
miso katsu anyone?

At this restaurant there are a few sauces available, and here’s how you use them – the sesame sauce is for the cabbage, raw sesame for rice, sweet, or spicy sauce for the meat, as with the salt as well. Additionally, they also provide mustard on the side (feel free to ask for more). I find myself enjoying the combination of mustard and salt with the meat the most.

Rice, shredded cabbage, and even the miso soup is bottomless here, so knock yourself out.

The Entertainer app, buy one tonkatsu, get another free
The Entertainer app, buy one tonkatsu, get another free

Now about the ENTERTAINER Malaysia app. Well, it is basically an Android and iOS application that is full with buy one get one free offers. You browse through the offer via current location or by searching, click on the offer and redeem it at the venue (other services and attractions too, not just food).

The application is priced at RM 145  for the Malaysia version. If you’ve used it at a decent restaurant a couple times (or even just once at a higher end place), you’d have gotten your return of investment already.

Furthermore, if you purchase it with Promo Code KYSPEAKS2017, you get RM 50 off, just cos you hear it for me. Yah, RM 95 for all those deals is really quite a steal.

 

map to Main Place, Subang

Address:
Tonkatsu by Ma Maison
Lot 2F- 2nd Floor, Main Place,
19, Jalan USJ 21/10, Usj 21,
47630 Subang Jaya, Selangor
GPS3.026153, 101.581200
Tel03-8081 9913

Of the five restaurants recently opened at Isetan The Japan Store’s 4F The Table, Sushi Azabu would be the one that has the most prestige. An offshoot from the Michelin star restaurant from New York, Sushi Azabu promises authentic and intimate dining experience in its 40 seat set up.

Cher Saito, Sushi Azabu at Isetan The Japan Store KL
Chef Saito, Sushi Azabu at Isetan The Japan Store KL

We sampled a 5 pieces of sushi from Chef Saito Makoto Sam during the launch and came away impressed. So a week after the event, we decided that a proper meal at Sushi Azabu was required.

The course menu here consists of three choices – Koi at RM 120 will get you appetizer, 10 pieces of sushi and miso soup. The Azabu course at RM 220 that promises the following:

  • Appetizer
  • 2 kinds of sashimi
  • Chawanmushi
  • Palate freshener
  • Nigiri 7 pieces
  • Maki mono
  • Miso soup
  • Dessert

Or you could go all out with the Omakase menu for RM 420 and let the chef decides what you should have for dinner. Obviously, we went for broke.

nasu nibitshi - fried eggplant
nasu nibitshi – fried eggplant

So these are the dishes we had for dinner on the 1st of March 2017 off the Omakase menu at Sushi Azabu.

Nasa Nibitshi was our appetizer, a deceptively simple dish consists of fried eggplant in some very light broth/sauce and topped with finely shaved bonito flakes. Light with very subtle flavor, it does the job well to leave us wanting for more.

sashimi - kampachi, tai, aji
sashimi – kampachi, tai, aji

Next was sashimi in the form of kampachi, tai, and aji; or yellow tail, sea bream, and horse mackerel. The quality was top notch, and somewhat surprisingly our favorite was the horse mackerel. The freshly grated wasabi too was a treat in itself and we wasted none of it.

chawanmushi
chawanmushi

Chawanmushi was our next dish, the version here is simple, no fuss, but very well executed.

grilled Spanish mackerel
grilled Spanish mackerel

Grilled Spanish mackerel came next, we thought that chewing this together with the pickle yield the perfect combination of flavor that simply explodes in your mouth. This was a very well seasoned traditional dish.

stewed sowrd fish
stewed sword fish

Stewed sword fish came next, a dish that is new to me. The fish is topped with a piece of starchy cube that compliments this savory dish quite well, though I felt that perhaps the sophistication of this dish escapes me. Someone with more experience in Japanese cuisine will probably enjoy this more than me.

firefly squid with sweet miso
firefly squid with sweet miso

Then came the cutest dish of the night – firefly squid with sweet miso. A perfect balance of sweet, salty, and savory taste that is further accentuated by the freshness of firefly squid, this was one of my favorite non-sushi dish of the entire course.

Sushi Azabu

The main dish was of course, sushi, and we got ten pieces of these goodness in the form of chutoro, cattlefish, snapper, golden eye red snapper, striped jack, sea urchin, fat tuna roll, and raw prawn.

At Sushi Azabu, they take the guesswork out of eating sushi. Chef Saito expertly apply the perfect amount of soya sauce on each piece, as well as the appropriate amount of wasabi his experience hands deemed worthy of the sea bounty. So you simply just.. eat, no dipping into the saucer or fiddling with wasabi, grated or otherwise.

sushi - chutoro, cattlefish, snapper, golden eye red snapper, striped jack, sea urchin, fat tuna roll, prawn
sushi – chutoro, cattlefish, snapper, golden eye red snapper,
striped jack, sea urchin, fat tuna roll, prawn

The result was an experience worthy of the asking price. Each piece was perfect, and each offers an expression in some of the bests Japan has to offer. We thoroughly enjoyed and if I say I don’t miss it as I am writing this, I’d be lying.

miso soup & yuzu shaved ice
miso soup & yuzu shaved ice

A relatively simple bowl of miso soup with prawn head helped wound us down, and we concluded the dinner experience with a simple dessert of yuzu shaved ice.

the menu at Sushi Azabu KL
menu at Sushi Azabu KL

If you’re a sushi lover, this is surely a place to check out. I think I’m going to be back to try their more affordable menu one of these days.

map to Lot 10, KL

Address:
Sushi Azabu
The Table, Level 4
ISETAN The Japan Store KL
Lot 10 Shopping Mall
Jalan Bukit Bintang
GPS: 3.146462, 101.711758
Tel: 03-2119 2625

Tonkatsu Anzu is one of the five premium restaurants located on the 4th floor of Isetan The Japan Store KL that serves one of my favorite ingredients of all time – pork.

We were lucky enough to be part of the launch event a week ago, allowing a sneak peek to what this space has got to offer.

Tonkatsu Anzu, The Table, Isetan The Japan Store, KL
Tonkatsu Anzu, The Table,  Isetan The Japan Store, KL

Tonkatsu Anzu uses only premium aged black pork from Kyushu, making it the first tonkatsu restaurant in Malaysia to have that distinction, which sets it apart from the likes of Tonkatsu by Mai Mason and Tonkatsu at Pavilion.

pork fillet, with that perfect strip of fat on top
pork fillet, with that perfect strip of fat on top

The pork loin katsu set starts from RM 35 to the premium Gin-Jo-Pork Fatty loin katsu set at RM 55, and for those who may want to skip pork for whatever reasons, they also offer some seafood options, such as fried shrimp set (RM 52), salmon katsu (RM 48), and chicken katsu (RM 32) sets.

sycookie is very serious with photo taking, I love it with salt and some mustard
sycookie is very serious with photo taking, I love it with salt and some mustard

However, pork is the name of the game here and their version of tonkatsu is definitely on point. I love the light batter and those almost melt-in-your-mouth texture. My preference is to sprinkle some salt and have those fatty loin with the supplied mustard. There’s also tonkatsu sauce should you prefer a more complex flavor.

the menu at Tonkatsu Anzu
the menu at Tonkatsu Anzu

I think Tonkatsu Anzu did live up to the expectations and manage to set itself apart from the other offerings around town when it comes to Japanese fried pork cutlets, the slightly premium price is definitely worth it.

map to Lot 10, KL

Address:
Tonkatsu Anzu
The Table, Level 4
ISETAN The Japan Store KL
Lot 10 Shopping Mall
Jalan Bukit Bintang
GPS: 3.146462, 101.711758
Tel: 03-2119 2625

Last weekend I had the good fortune of attending a pretty special food event, the Flavours of Hanami live presentation and tasting at Isetan the KL Store. For those who aren’t familiar with Isetan the KL Store, it is the re-branded up class retail at the exact location previously occupied by regular Isetan at Lot 10.

The place is tastefully decorated and packed with premium Japanese wear, everything from fashion items, watches, gadgets, grocery and food.

chefs from Tsuruse, Chikurin, & Kinobu restaurants
chefs from Tsuruse, Chikurin, & Kinobu restaurants

The Flavors of Hanami features four chefs each from Izuu, Tsuruse, Chikurin, and Kinobu restaurants of Kyoto in live presentation and tasting format at the following schedule:

  • Shogo Sasaki of Izuu – 21, 22 Jan 2017
  • Nobyuki Tanaka of Tsuruse – 18, 19 Feb 2017
  • Hideki Shimoguchi of Chikurin – 4, 5 March 2017
  • Takuji Takahashi of Kinobu – 18, 19 March 2017

dishes from which chef fancies you? the mock-ups sure look interesting
dishes from which chef fancies you? the mock-ups sure look interesting

Each day features 3 separate sessions at 12 pm to 1:30 pm, 3 pm to 4:30 pm, and 6 pm to 7:30 pm and priced at RM 100 per person including GST. The venue is at 3F THE CUBE/CUBE_1 Isetan The Japan Store KL.

One thing to note, each session is limited to 25 pax only so get your tickets as soon as possible at CUBE_1 ticket counter, Isetan.

The Hanami theme is an ancient tradition of welcoming spring, and this event is a chance for Malaysians to experience the cultural aspects as well as the delicacies associated with the Hanami season.

chef Shogo Sasaki of Izuu with his signature dishes
chef Shogo Sasaki of Izuu with his signature dishes

We were fortunate to participate in the first session with Chef Shogo Sasaki, the 7th generation owner of IZUU, a Kyoto sushi restaurant established in 1781, a restaurant that has its history 176 years before we yelled Merdeka and formed this country, talk about tradition.

chef Shogo Sasaki of Izuu preparing the famous saba-sugatazushi
chef Shogo Sasaki of Izuu preparing the famous saba-sugatazushi 

Chef started out with the live demonstration in preparing the most famous dish of IZUU – their saba-sugatazushi, or whole mackeral lightly matured sushi. The fish is expertly prepared and then wrapped in vinegar-ed kelp to draw out  a stronger umami flavor to the sushi.

We then got to try two versions of it, one freshly prepared and the other matured for a day. It was well balanced with a pretty complex taste unlike normal “fresh” sushi. Best thing is, you can actually buy this wrapped up to bring back to home country from his restaurant in Kyoto as the sushi would last for about 2 days.

and here's Izuu's signature chirashi sushi
and here’s Izuu’s signature chirashi sushi

Next up was their signature Chirashi sushi. Chirashi sushi is often my go-to dish in any Japanese restaurant, and the version prepared by chef Sasaki is as good as any. While it is slightly lighter on seafood, the seasoning of rice and other ingredients were right on point, making it quite a delightful dish.

we ended the day with green tea and mochi
we ended the day with green tea and mochi, notice the bunny?

The chef also showed us how the saba-sugatazushi cross section resembled a bunny, which is how IZUU got it’s logo all the way from 200+ years ago.

We then ended the session with a piece of traditional mochi and a cup of green tea so good we had to go downstairs to get the packet to enjoy at home.

If you love authentic Japanese cuisine with a cultural twist to the whole experience, don’t miss out on this event.

map to Lot 10, KL

Address:
3F THE CUBE / CUBE_1
ISETAN The Japan Store KL
Lot 10 Shopping Mall
Jalan Bukit Bintang

GPS: 3.146462, 101.711758

In my memory, the rustic row of shops by Jalan Batai is home to a couple old school kopitiam in an otherwise pretty luxurious residential area, but my memory of the place hasn’t been updated for a while. Batai Village now houses some of the more trendy restaurants in town, and the old Hock Lee has since became Ben’s Independent Grocer.

Progress I guess, and to be honest I think it is in a good way. There’s still a sense of close knit community presence, and they’ve even managed to retain many of the hawker stalls operating in the corner kopitiam, upgraded of course.

We were there at night on a promise of good Japanese premium steaks at Torii. As it turned out, the promise was delivered with excess.

Torii at Batai Village, Damansara Height
Torii at Batai Village, Damansara Height

I’ve talked about the excellent yakitori offered at Torii at TTDI previously, similar menu is offered here at Batai branch, but now with the addition of Japanese Premium Steaks, which is what we were there for.

I was told that the branch at TTDI is closing down as they shift their focus to Batai.

Matsusaka or kobe beef? Take your pick
Matsusaka or kobe beef? Take your pick

The steak comes in 5 different choices and are priced per 100 gram:

  • Matsusaka, RM 310
  • Kobe Zabutan A5, RM 250
  • Kobe Sirloin A4, RM 180
  • Kobe Sirloin A3, RM 150
  • Kobe Sirloin F1, RM 120

You may have read on wikipedia or other sources that Kobe beef is usually not exported (or only to limited countries) from Japan, in a way that is true, so some of these Kobe beef found in “unofficial” countries are actually hand carried over borders, but they are true 100% Kobe beef regardless.

sauteed spinach, green bean with black sesame, egg yolk croquette
sauteed spinach, green bean with black sesame, egg yolk croquette

Additionally, Torii also offer several sides to go with those red meat

  • Shaved fresh black truffle, RM 15
  • Pan-seared foie gras, RM 29
  • Grilled Japanese scallop, RM 19
  • Truffled mashed parsnip, RM 25
  • Sauteed Spinach, RM 25
  • Egg yolk croquettes, RM 19
  • Green beans with black sesame sauce, RM 18
  • Cream of spinach, RM 18
  • Heritage salad, RM 15

kobe sirloin A3, kobe zabutan A5, matsusaka, pan seared foie gras
kobe sirloin A3, kobe zabutan A5, matsusaka, pan seared foie gras

For the session, we worked through Kobe Sirloin A3, Kobe Zabutan A5, and Matsusaka, a 100 gram each and served with pan seared foie gras & grilled Japanese scallop.

As you can see from the picture, marbling goes up from each grade, and to be honest you really have to find your sweet spot. While I love the super fatty Matsusaka and it’s melt in your mouth texture, Haze found her sweet spot to be around Kobe Zabutan A5 or even the A3. You get a bit more firmness as you go “down” the grade. There’s really nothing wrong if your favorite is at F1.

The steak is served with black truffle sauce, they are basically match make in heaven for the beef, so rich, full flavor, and ultra satisfying. Yes, 100 gram is plenty of beef when they are of these quality and so rich in fats (in a good way).

Needless to say, the foie gras and scallops were both on point and served as perfect companion for the steaks.

KY & Haze at Torii Batai Village
KY & Haze at Torii Batai Village

Together with the steaks, we also sampled three different side dishes. Sauteed spinach was simple and refreshing while staying true to its Japanese identity, green beans with black sesame is a little stronger tasting and perhaps needs a bit of getting used to, while egg yolk croquettes were perhaps a bit of an culinary experiment that I myself may not 100% agree at this point of my life.

Torii Premium Japanese Steak price list (as of Oct 2016)
Torii Premium Japanese Steak price list (as of Oct 2016)

I hope this menu is going to be offered on a permanent basis at Torii. A certain treat for anyone who loves steak, and to be honest, at this price, they do offer pretty decent value for money, especially considering you don’t have to fly to Japan for it.

P/S: interesting useless fact, Kobe beef is so good the basketball superstar’s parents named him Kobe Bryant.

map to Torii at Jalan Batai

 

Address:
Torii
8, Jalan Batai, Bukit Damansara,
50490 Kuala Lumpur
GPS: 3.149612, 101.661402
Tel: 03-2011 3798