A couple weeks ago I was invited to a short weekend trip to Johor by some blogger friends. I gotta admit that I’m absolutely not familiar with the food scene in JB, having only been there a few times mainly for work where mobility for meals is pretty restricted.
October Japanese Restaurant, JB
Our first destination of the trip was October Japanese Restaurant, located near Mount Austin, a more upscale area in Johor Bahru. The restaurant is a converted residential unit with nice lush lawn and plenty of parking spots at the back.
While we may still be in December, October Japanese Restaurant already came up with their Chinese New Year dishes, and we were lucky enough to sample some of them.
Prosperity “Yee Sang” Assorted Sashimi with Wasabi Sauce
We started out with the Prosperity “Yee Sang” Assorted Sashimi with Wasabi Sauce (RM 68/RM 108 nett) that came with generous slices of – Norwegian Salmon, Maguro (Tuna) and Hamachi (Yellow Tail). They’ve also added fried Gyoza Skin and Roasted Almond Flakes to give the dish more crunchiness. A good alternative to consider for your “lou sang” session.
Auspicious Flaming Nabe
Then there’s the Auspicious Flaming Nabe (RM68.80 nett), with Norwegian Salmon and chicken breast mixing in with Shitake mushrooms, leeks and carrots to make a pretty sweet tasting miso based soup. Generous amount of “KaoLiang” Rice Wine and sake were used in this pot as well, which contributes to the whole flaming spectacle.
Fortune Sushi & Sashimi Platter, maki
For those who likes it raw, there’s the Fortune Sushi & Sashimi Platter (RM58.80 nett). The dish is beautifully presented on a wooden platter and came with rather generous amount of fresh seafood including Maguro, Hamachi, Unagi, and Salmon.
We also tried the Flaming Salmon Aburi Maki (RM29.90++), with salmon and special crab stick plus spicy sauce.
Grilled Edamame, October Special Bento, Kushiyaki Moriawase
Grilled Edamame (RM9.90++) is a good starter if you like your edamame with a kick, which I think will go really good with beer.
For those who likes bento, October Special Bento (RM59.90++) is a worthy option and comes with a little bit of everything, including salmon sashimi, unagi, and more.
And if you like it grilled, Kushiyaki Moriawase (RM44.90++) comes with scallops, Shitake Mushroom, Enoki Niku Yaki and other greeneries on skewers, and you’ll also find bacon in this platter as well, which makes this one of the few non-halal Japanese Restaurants in JB.
Address: October Japanese Restaurant No. 6a, 1, 8, Jln Jaya Putra 3/15, Bandar Jaya Putra, 81100 Johor Bahru, Johor GPS: 1.574499, 103.776892 Tel: 011-1426 5993 Hours: 12pm – 11pm daily
The name Isetan The Japan Store is often associated with very high end products as well as rather expensive price tags, but thankfully when it comes to their lower ground floor food offerings, the quality is still there, minus the overly crazy price tags.
The other day I took a detour and check out one of their many food stalls house within the departmental store’s grocery area and checked out Shoya Sushi Bar.
Shoya Sushi bar, at Isetan the Japan Store, Lot 10 KL
Shoya Sushi Bar takes up only maybe some 100 sq. foot of area and offers a relatively small menu consists mainly of sushi platter, hand rolls, and sushi don. A sushi don is priced from around RM 26.50 (Special Bara Chirashi Don) all the way to RM 90 (Omakase Shoya Kaisen Don), with nothing exceeding 3 digit price point.
We tried the Salmon and Salmon Ten-Don (RM 35) which came with four pieces of raw salmon as well as another four pieces of tempura salmon on a bowl of sushi rice. The salmon tempura required a little getting used to (slightly soggy texture), but the raw seafood was pretty fresh and tastes rather good.
Salmon and Salmon Ten-Don
I also decided to try one of their more expensive options on the menu – Chef’s selected sushi (special) priced at RM 85.
What came was a collection of sushi that really is right up there with some of the more expensive Japanese restaurants in terms of quality. There’s fatty tuna, tuna, squid, ikura, amaebi, salmon, yellowtail, mackerel, and tuna belly roll. I felt that this offers quite a good value despite its asking price.
Chef’s selected sushi (special)
If you find yourself in Bukit Bintang craving for some good sushi, this place should be in your short list.
Address: Shoya Sushi Bar Lower Ground Floor ISETAN The Japan Store KL Lot 10 Shopping Mall Jalan Bukit Bintang GPS:3.146462, 101.711758 Tel: 03-2141 7777
Izakaya, or Japanese gastro pub, is a relatively new type of Japanese restaurant in Malaysia. It is basically a pub with a proper bar and a full kitchen. You want to have a few beer or sake? Sure. You want a full meal? They’ve got that covered too.
Robataya Izakaya at Publika
Robataya Izakaya is a relatively new comer of such restaurant in KL. Located in Publika, they have a pretty extensive menu offering raw fish, ramen, rice dish, tempura, salad, grilled items, and more.
A week ago, we headed there on an invitation to try out what they’ve got to offer.
Okan Sashimi, they have air flown seafood too
We started with Okan Sashimi (RM 70), a sashimi platter with 5 different types of fresh seafood carefully arranged on ice. During our session, we had salmon, salmon belly, sweet shrimp, tuna, and I believe, butterfish.
While it may not be the super premium quality sashimi, (that’ll be their air flown, LIVE seafood as displayed by Haze) the portions were generous and it was actually quite a treat for the price.
Una Chizu Roll, Robataya Teppan Roll
For those wholikes rolls, The Robataya Teppan Roll (RM 28) is one you should try. There’s salmon inside, mayo, and grilled bacon on top! The taste was rather unique, and of course, anything is better with bacon.
Una Chizu Roll (RM 25) is a slightly more creative interpretation of your usual unagi roll, as they’ve decided to add cheese to the mix. I think the result was pretty good to be honest.
Salmon Oyako Sarada
Salmon Oyaka Sarada (RM 26) turned out to be one of our favorite dishes of the night. Laden with plenty of crispy salmon skin, the salad also have quite a generous portion of raw salmon in all those mustard leaves & cherry tomato in the rather awesome sesame dressing. I’d have this for lunch anytime.
various kushiyaki (skewers) & gyoza
You can’t have a proper review of an izakaya without having some skewers. We tried teba (chicken wings, RM 6), buta (pork belly RM 6), uzura bacon (quail egg bacon, RM 6), banana bacon (RM 6), tomato gyumaki (tomato wrapped with beef, RM 7), tsukune (chicken meatball, RM 5), momo tama (chicken thigh wrapped with egg, RM 6), and negima (chicken with leeks, RM 5).
While these are some pretty good skewers, the one that stood out the most was the momo tama, the egg was prepared to a rather soft consistency and for some reason worked really, really well with the chicken thigh. We gobbled that up pretty fast.
San Ten Zeppin – pork belly, bacon, Australian beef
If you enjoy BBQ, there’s only one way to improve the experience – by having it indoor, with air conditioning. The San Ten Zeppin sumiyaki (RM 55) gave us just that. There’re pork belly, bacon, and Australian beef. The meat are pretty thinly sliced so they cook rather quick, if you mess it up, it’s your own fault.
As if those weren’t enough food for 4 skinny Asians, we also tried their Teppan Ika Geso (cuttle fish, RM 15), Spare Pork Ribs Teriyaki (RM 33), and Akaebi Olive (RM 42).
The cuttlefish should make for a very good side dish for beer, and while I thought the ribs were a bit dry, I did enjoy the olive shrimp quite a fair bit, the olive gave it a bit of sweetness that complements the spicy deep fried shrimp quite well.
Haze, Calvin, Haze, Sim
Overall, we did enjoy our dinner at Robataya. There are actually 2 other izakaya at Publika, and it’ll be tough to try to put a ranking on the list as they each have their strength and offers quite a different set of menu. You can’t realy go wrong if you pick Robataya for a meal, or some sake.
Kame Sushi is one of the first Japanese restaurants in KL to offer omakase style dining. For those who aren’t familiar with the term, omakasesimply means “a meal consisting of dishes selected by the chef”, so basically you tell the chef what you don’t eat, or allergic to, and the restaurant decides the rest.
Kame Sushi, Sri Hartamas
So in essence, you never really know what you’re going to get. In a good omakase restaurant, the chef usually decides on the menu based on what’s in season, and what he or she deemed the best they can offer based on the price, availability, and the skill set of those in the kitchen.
We first go to know about Kame from Cheesie, but it wasn’t until earlier this year that Haze and I decide to head there for her birthday dinner.
fresh imported sashimi
Since we had the meal was some half a year ago, name and exact ingredients in the dishes have became a bit fuzzy. In this post I could only describe what I remember from looking at these pictures, but better late than never, right?
Our course was priced at RM 350 per person, it was the 2nd most expensive from the menu at the time.
The dinner consists of mainly top grade seafood selections, starting with some of the best sashimi cuts. The oyster was fresh, sweet, and alluring. There were also tuna otoro (fatty tuna), yellow tail, snow crab, amaebi (sweet shrimp), hotate (scallop), and uni (sea urchin).
Then came the grilled items with more seafood and mushroom wrapped with wagyu beef, simple yet exquisite.
warm dish, light battered fried fish
Stewed dish and a lightly battered deep fried fish dish came next, and frankly the exact name of the seafood content escaped my mind. They were done just right and quite delightful even if not entirely special.
tuna belly , uni, ikura on sushi rice
Our main dish came in the form of minced tuna belly, ikura (salmon roe), uni (sea urchin), and hand grated wasabi on sushi rice. As a chirashi sushi lover, this was rather delightful. This rice dish was very rich and did its job as a highlight to the evening.
natto beans, Japanese pear
Dessert came in a couple slices of Japanese pear. They were as good as any Japanese fruits – soft, sweet, and fresh.
Ultimately though, at RM 350++, this omakase dinner was good, but in today’s level of competition with the likes of Oribe, SOU Omakase, and Sushi Azabu, you may find similar or even better value hunting around.
I don’t do a lot of invited reviews these days, mostly due to work commitments and staying quite a fair bit away from the city. However, every now and then there are something intriguing enough that warrant the time and effort.
The invitation for Festive Menu at Babe Gastro was one of such events.
Babe at Clearwater, Damansara Height KL
Located at the top floor of Clearwater at Damansara Height, Babe is a tastefully decorated cozy restaurant with a perhaps one of the best views of the city. There’s the infinity pool, an unobstructed post-card worthy view of KL, neat looking cutlery imported from Spain, and even air conditioned alfresco dining area.
What’s there not to like except? Well, there’s the rather confusing elevator system where you have to select which floor to go BEFORE getting in.
refreshing mocktail, Chef Jeff Ramsey
Babe is headed by Chef Jeff Ramsey, a Michelin starred chef who previously headed the Tapas Molecular Bar at Mandarin Oriental Tokyo.
The menu here is a unique creation of Jeff Ramsey using a lot of Japanese & other international ingredients while infusing local flavors. Some of these are coined “Japas”, or Japanese style tapas.
While “fusion” has a bit of a negative connotation, I love chefs who aren’t afraid to experiment and push the boundary in culinary space. Without these trailblazers, we’d forever be stuck with “traditional” dishes. What’s the fun in that?
The Festive menu is perhaps the most unique buka puasa meal you can get this Ramadhan season. Priced at RM 300++ per pax, the 12-course dinner is available from 26/5/2017 to 30/6/2017. If you are tired with the same Selera Kampung buffet, this would be a place worthy of your consideration.
“down the rabbit hole”, Foiegras and Jackfruit
We started the night with “down the rabbit hole”, a shot of drink that tastes like chicken rice, or roti canai, or something that’s completely unfamiliar. An interesting start, and certainly a precursor as to what to be expected for dinner.
The first course was Foiegras and Jackfruit, finely chopped jackfruit in a crispy shell and foie gras proved to be a good combination and served as a perfect start to open up our appetite.
Then came Onsen Chowder, a potato mousse with smoked coconut, 63c egg (molecular gastronomy magic), and chives. It was actually unexpectedly good! The smoked coconut, or what Celina the “top babe” described as coconut bacon brought the dish a very unique crispy contrast to the texture of the potato mousse.
Laksa Injection Canapé , Mango & Curry Sphere
Then there was Laksa Injection Canapé and Mango & Curry Sphere.
The former is like mouthful of my favorite ingredients in a bowl of curry laksa – prawn & soup, though perhaps a slightly bigger syringe that contains those soup would make it even better.
Mango & Curry Sphere utilizes another Molecular gastronomy technique called “spherification”, utilizing calcium chloride or some other voodoo in making an eggyolk lookalike sphere that explodes in your mouth with the tangy & spicy taste of the liquid ingredients within. Quite an experience.
Crispy Chicken Terrine, Marinated Roast Kabayaki Ikan Keli
Next were two of the more creative dishes that may looks and taste almost exactly alike what they are supposed to be, but made up of entirely different ingredients that is halal.
Crispy Chicken Terrine looks and taste like a good piece of charsiu, but actually made up of up to 40 layers of crispy rendered chicken skin (sans the fatty part) and charsiu sauce, while Marinated Roast Kabayaki Ikan Keli is their interpretation of bak kwa, but instead of pork/chicken, catfish is the main ingredient.
I’d have never guessed the ingredients in a million year.
Prawn and Curry Leaf Ice Cream, Manga Crab, Snow Crab Donburi with Sambal
Next up was Prawn and Curry Leaf Ice Cream, which was quite a unique combo, you don’t have a seafood ingredient with ice cream very often.
Manga Crab is perhaps one of the more “normal” dish, but they actually print the sauce on the plate manga style, and serve with coriander sauce.
Snow Crab Donburi with Sambal is basically just as what the name suggests, a small portion of snow crab rice bowl, but with sambal and Dashi jelly to give it that extra dimension. To be honest, I may enjoy this without the sambal just a tad more, maybe.
Smoked Chicken Percik, Stanbroke Farms Striploin with Japanese Sambal
If you’re still hungry by this time, well, afraid not. The Smoked Chicken Percik is a whole ayam kampung to be shared by two. Four hour was spent preparing the chicken, and the result was a prefect tenderness and flavor, definitely one of the benefits of utilizing molecular methods in traditional dishes.
Stanbroke Farms Striploin with Japanese Sambal was another welcoming meat base dish which I really enjoyed, especially with the accompanying Yuzu Kosho Sambal.
Then came the twelveth course – another playful dish by the name of Dinosaur Egg, a dessert made from DaunKaduk, Yoghurt, Tropical Fruit, and Nutty “Birds Nest”. Crack it open with your spoon and viola, an egg looking thing that by now, you should know it tastes entirely not like an egg, but a sweet concoction that’s apt to end the night.