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A couple days ago we were lucky enough to be one of the first batches of people to be fortunate enough to have a taste of authentic Sicilian cuisine at The Ritz-Carlton KL by the award winning Guest Chef Lino Sauro from Gattopardo Ristorante di Mare in Singapore.

This event happens from March 14-18, 2017 so you may still have a chance to participate in the last few sessions if you catch this article early enough; or of course, you can head to Singapore and visit the good chef at his home turf.

The Library at Ritz Carlton KL
The Library at Ritz Carlton KL

The dinner happened at The Library, a dining space that has an ambiance not unlike an extensive classy private library, complete with collection of books with topics ranging from film to art and travel. We were there for fine Sicilian food this time, so I’m afraid the books will have to wait for next round.

a bit of tid bit & bread prior to dinner
a bit of tidbit & bread prior to dinner

We started the night with a glass of sparkling wine, some bread, and a pre-dinner amuse-bouche of salmon with caviar which I thought was perfect to get us ready for what’s coming next.

For this first session of Sicilian dinner, we were also lucky enough to be joined by His Excellency Mario Sammartino, the ambassador of Italy to Malaysia.

amuse-bouche - ostrica
amuse-bouche – Ostrica

Then came the first course – Ostrica, or oyster with sherry vinegar jelly, wasabi chips, and Avruga caviar. This amuse-bouche was perfect in opening up the appetite with its refreshing taste and subtle sweetness from the oyster that is perfectly balanced with the slight salty flavor from caviar. Usage of wasabi showcase Chef Lino’s boldness in using contemporary technique and ingredients.

Sanfeletto conegliano valdobbiadene prosecco superior docg was the accompanying wine.

appetiser - polipo
appetiser – Polipo

Appetizer was Polipo, or charred citrus glazed octopus, risone, capsicum, sun dried tomato aioli, chilli, and pistachio pesto.

At the first glance, I thought we were having risotto, but as it turned out it was risone, or a rice shaped pasta that was much smoother, having a more controlled taste and texture that complimented the stronger tasting octopus well.

Vigneti zabu grillo terre siciliane igt was served with this seafood dish.

entree - Capellini con Aracosta
entree – Capellini con Aracosta

Then came entree, in the form of Capellini con Aracosta, or angel hair pasta, lobster, seafood, and carrot.

This is a deceptively simple looking dish that is again packed with the sweetness of what the Mediterranean sea has to offer. Lobster tail & angel hair pasta are two ingredients I enjoyed, and this combination did not disappoint.

Cecchi orvieto classico toscana doc would be the accompanying Sicilian wine.

main course - Manzo Australiano
main course 1 – Manzo Australiano

There were two choices of main course.

Manzo Australiano would be the Australian wagyu with morel mushrooms and horseradish sauce. Perfectly executed with the meat in the overused “melt in your mouth” texture, but that’s the best description I could give. The sauce was thick, strong, and go surprisingly well with the red meat (this coming from someone who loves his beef with only salt & pepper).

Wine pairing – mazzei zisola sicilia doc

main course 2 - Zuppa di Pesce Gattopardo
main course 2 – Zuppa di Pesce Gattopardo

Zuppa di Pesce Gattopardo, or the Signature Gattopardo Seafood Stew, would be the other equally worthy option. The stew is packed with several types of shellfish, prawn, as well as fish fillet. This stew is perfect in a cold rainy day, or any day actually.

Wine pairing – vigneti zabu grillo terre siciliane igt

dessert - Cassata
dessert – Cassata

Dessert was a unique interpretation of Sicilian Ricotta Cheese Cake, or Cassata by Chef Lino. The deconstructed dessert was a sweet treat with some strong sourish berries that wakens up the senses a bit, which I thought was nice. We also had some chocolates to go with coffee to end the session.

Sicilian wine pairing option available
Sicilian wine pairing option available

This specially curated Sicilian course dinner is priced at MYR 250 with an option of wine pairing at MYR 375 per person. Dinner is served from 7 pm but only available until 18th March 2017.

Executive Chef Lino Sauro
Chef Lino Sauro

Ritz Carlton, KL

Address:
The Library @ Ritz-Carlton Hotel
168 Jalan Imbi,
55100 Kuala Lumpur

GPS: 3.146960, 101.715406
Tel03-2141 8000

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

A little while ago one of Haze’s aunt from Kepong, who is quite a foodie herself, introduced us to Restoran Penang Corner at Jalan Kepong Baru, just a stone’s throw away from the popular KTZ dessert store.

Restoran Penang Corner at Kepong
Restoran Penang Corner at Kepong

The restaurant is more like a road side food court with several stalls than an actual “restaurant” if you will. While there is a roof above you, the “walls” consists of iron grills. That being said, the whole set up is more than sufficient for its purpose, which is to serve authentic Penang style hawker fare.

Penang style curry mee, with coagulated pork blood
Penang style curry mee, with coagulated pork blood

I was here for the curry mee, and to be perfectly honest, while it is not as good as the version at Restoran Okay at SS2 or Sun Sea at OUG, it was still sorta decent.

There’s coagulated blood, the chili paste has a strong fragrant from fried shallots, and those cuttlefish and half-raw cockles were great. My only complain is that they replaced good old fashion prawn with meatballs. A bit of sacrilege I thought, otherwise a decent version.

Penang Hokkien mee, or popularly referred to as prawn mee
Penang Hokkien mee, or popularly referred to as prawn mee

The prawn mee has a decent base, but yet again there is a bit of a mismatch in the ingredients served.

The soup, chili paste, fried shallots, bean sprout, pork, and eggs were on point, but I thought there should be kangkung instead of fish paste. There should be no fish paste in Hokkien mee. Throw away the fish paste and this is a decent bowl worthy of being called Penang prawn mee.

Penang char kuih teow, with almost-raw cockles
Penang char kuih teow, with almost-raw cockles

Then there’s the char kuih teow, and luckily over here they got the ingredients all right. There’s prawn, chives, cockles, bean sprouts, lap cheong, and even some lard. I actually quite enjoy the almost-raw cockles placed on top of the dish, if you want it more cooked, simply bake the cockles within the pile of kuih teow for an extra minute.

Over all I found the food in this place to be more than decent except for a few quirks which probably may not irk non Penangites much. I’ll be trying their kuih teow soup next time I’m there.

map to restoran penang corner, kepong

Address:
Restoran Penang Corner
Jalan Kepong Baru, Kepong
52100 Kuala Lumpur
GPS: 3.206880, 101.644220

When it comes to hotel restaurants, Shangri-La must be the gold standard, I’ve been to a number of corporate events, attended wedding dinners, and been to a few restaurants under Shangri-La group. The experience has always been a positive one, so when I received the invitation for the reopening of Lemon Garden at Shangri-La KL, I knew having to brace the traffic would be worth it.

Shangri-La KL Lemon Garden re-opening
Shangri-La KL Lemon Garden re-opening

My prediction was correct, the food and dining experience was great, and traffic was thoroughly atrocious thanks to the light drizzle on a Friday evening. Alas, most of the invited guests and members of media managed to show up on time to witness the grand opening and ribbon cutting ceremony, the all important event that was in the way of us getting our dinner.

love the new seafood station
love the new seafood station

First and perhaps most importantly, here are the prices:

International Lunch Buffet
Monday – Friday (12noon – 2.30pm)
RM 128 nett (adult), RM 64 nett (child)
Saturday (12noon – 3pm)
RM 148 nett (adult), RM 74 nett (child)

International Sunday Brunch
Sunday (12noon – 3pm)
RM 168 nett (adult), RM 84 nett (child)

International Dinner Buffet
Sunday – Thursday (6.30pm – 10.30pm)
RM 158 nett (adult), RM 79 nett (child)

Seafood Dinner Buffet
Friday – Saturday (6.30pm – 10.30pm)
RM 208 nett (adult), RM104 nett (child)

Sunday Champagne Brunch (inclusive of 1 bottle of Veuve Cliquot per person)
Sunday (12noon – 3pm)
RM 488 nett (adult)

good selection of sushi and sashimi
good selection of sushi and sashimi

The newly face lifted Lemon Garden is designed by Bond Studio Inc from Japan and took four months to renovate, the result is an ambiance that is rather elegant, sophisticated, yet very welcoming. The restaurant now also has an alfresco dining area at the garden terrace offering a scenic view by the koi pond.

Personally though, I think the indoor tables are just great for buffet dinners as you are that much closer to the humongous selection of food.

ample selection of traditional Chinese dishes
ample selection of traditional Chinese dishes

I can safely say that the selection of dishes at Lemon Garden is the most impressive I’ve seen so far, and I’ve been to quite a number of buffets ever since the inception of this blog.

Let’s start with the new seafood station. There’s snow crabs, fresh oysters, scallops, crabs, spanner crabs, prawns, clams, mussels, crayfish, as well as sushi and sashimi. All these dishes are either boiled or raw, and with almost no seasoning, the taste is entirely up to the quality of raw ingredients, particularly on the freshness of these seafood.

In that sense, it did not disappoint at all, I had two plates entirely filled with seafood for dinner.

cold cuts & salad
cold cuts & salad bar

The Chinese section has dimsum, double boiled soup, chicken rice, a noodle station, as well as plenty of dishes you may find at wedding dinners, including steamed fish, mushroom with brocolli, sea cucumber, and mantis prawn with  salted egg yolk.

tandoori chicken, poached chicken, or roast chicken rice?
tandoori chicken, poached chicken, or roast chicken rice?

Then there’s the Asian station. Here you’d find tandoori chicken, naan, satay, murtabak, chicken tikka, roti canai, and others. There are also other local signature dishes such as Nyonya laksa, curry, and more.

Italian & Spanish cuisines are part of the line up too, as with selection of cheese
Italian & Spanish cuisines are part of the line up too, as with selection of cheese

Moving to the West, you’ll find several types of pizza, a selection of bread, cheese, pasta, huge selection of salad, and my favorite – roast beef and lamb rack. The pizza here is made in the traditional wood burning stove too.

red meat includes roast beef, lamb rack
red meat includes roast beef, lamb rack

Then of course, for those with sweet tooth, the dessert pavilion offers a dazzling display of both local and international desserts. You can find ice kacang, waffles, crepes, chocolate fountains, an assortment of cakes, tarts, ice creams, and various traditional Malay and Nyonoya kuih.

dessert includes Western & traditional Malaysian kuih muih
dessert includes Western & traditional Malaysian kuih muih

So next time if your significant others can’t decide what he/she wants to eat, bring them here and you can be quite sure that there’ll be something that will satisfy even the most choosy diner.

dinner was made even better with media friends
dinner was made even better with media friends

Map to Shangri-la Hotel, KL

Address:
Lemon Garden
Shangri-la Hotel
Jalan Sultan Ismail
Kuala Lumpur

GPS: 3.152139, 101.709419
Tel: 03-2074 3904

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