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Category / KL City

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

I usually love meat in pretty much every meal, but every now and then, it’s good to get in tune with our slightly more spiritual side and slow down this whole butchery of living beings for our gastronomic pleasure.

That… or you do it with colleagues/friends because of the company.

Vegetarian Food at Kun Yam Thong Temple
Vegetarian Food at Kun Yam Thong Temple

In either case, if you’re a fan of Chinese religious style vegetarian (no ginger & some other restrictions), the Kun Yam Thong Temple at Jalan Ampang is one of the best places to be when it comes to value and selection.

The temple is located between Citibank and KLCC, just a stone’s throw away from the MCA building. There’s no exterior clue as to it being anything other than a temple, but head in, and walk towards the rear of the building will reveal an entirely different identity the façade suggests.

very big selection of vegetarian food, including fruits & drinks
very big selection of vegetarian food, including fruits & drinks

Here you find a very good selection of vegetarian dishes. Head to the “chap fan” area and there are at least 3-4 dozen dishes to pick from to go along with steamed rice, “red rice”, or even meehun.

Other than that, there’s also vegetarian pan mee, wantan mee, curry mee, pumpkin spaghetti, tomyam meehun, and other noodle dishes according to day of week. On every 1st & 15th of Chinese lunar calendar, they also offer vegetarian bak kut teh.

this plate of meehun with quite a lot of vegetable was RM 5
this plate of meehun with quite a lot of vegetable was RM 5

The taste of food here is generally pretty good, and best of all, prices are more than decent. My plate of meehun with two pieces of vegetarian “roast goose”, radish with mushroom, and pumpkin only cost RM 5, and I don’t think there’s GST!

To keep the price low, everything here is self served, and do make sure that you bring your plates & empty glasses to the cleaning area when done.

Happy eating!

map to Kun Yam Thong temple at Jalan Ampang

Address:
Kun Yam Thong Temple
Jalan Ampang, 50450 Kuala Lumpur
GPS: 3.159702, 101.715831
Hours: Lunch on weekdays

A couple weeks ago we had  yet another “you’ve got bonus so you have to belanja” session with my colleagues, and this time around our destination was Puti Bungsu Batam at the nearby Lorong Yap Kwan Seng, which technically is close enough you can walk to from KLCC, but obviously we drove there.

Puti Bungsu at Jalan Yap Kwan Seng, jus alpukat
Puti Bungsu at Jalan Yap Kwan Seng, jus alpukat

The restaurant is visible from Jalan Yap Kwan Seng itself, and located just a stone’s throw away from the Las Vacas. It is also clean, airy, and has a simple yet somewhat tasteful decoration.

Oh, the parking lot is good enough for perhaps half a dozen cars, get there early if you drive.

plenty of authentic Padang food to choose from
plenty of authentic Padang food to choose from

Puti Bungsu claimed to serve Authentic Padang food, and they have quite a big selection of dishes. There’s ikan bakar, a few types of ayam (including their famous ayam pop), kepala ikan, tunjang (beef tendon), and more.

Additionally, they also have a relatively big menu on drinks, and like any self respecting Indonesian restaurant, they have jus alpukat (avocado + chocolate), which is a must-order for me!

our lunch for 9 pax, with tunjang, ayam, ikan, and more
our lunch for 9 pax, with tunjang, ayam, ikan, and more

For the nine of us, we ordered up quite a feast. We had tunjang, fish head curry, daging salai (smoked beef), sambal cili (green chili sambal), ayam bob, terung (brinjal), and some vege. All these to go with steamed rice, since we’re after all, Asian.

The dishes were pretty good actually, apart from daging salai which I thought was slightly too tough to chew on. The tunjang almost as good as the version at Kampung Baru. We really liked it.

good food with great company
good food with great company

According to Syeka, the colleague who belanja all of us, the meal turned out to be almost RM 40 per pax, inclusive of some pretty fancy drinks we had. It’s definitely not cheap, but for the ambiance and location, not out of expectation.

Puti Bungsu is certainly a pretty decent place for a bit of a get-together, and one that happens to serve good, authentic Padang food. We enjoyed it.

map to Puti Bungsu Batam, Lorong Yap Kwan Seng

Address:
Puti Bungsu Batam
4 Lorong Yap Kwan Seng,
Kuala Lumpur
GPS: 3.162879, 101.713364
Tel03 217 11197

For the past one year plus, I visit MyDentist pretty much every other week for my invisalign treatment, and every now and then, I do ask the good people in the clinic for lunch suggestions at and around Jalan Ipoh area.

A couple weeks ago, I was introduced to this nameless chicken rice stall that I think worth mentioning here.

Chicken Rice stall without a name Off Jalan Ipoh just behind HSBC
Chicken Rice stall without a name Off Jalan Ipoh just behind HSBC

The stall is located pretty much right behind HSBC, just opposite Aeon Big entrance and right beside the river. There’s no name and it is more like a make shift shelter than a proper shop, though there’s fans, lights, and plenty of tables.

I order fried chicken though they have char siu and roast pork too
I order fried chicken though they have char siu and roast pork too

I had the roast chicken with a side of pork balls here, but like most chicken rice stalls, they also have roast pork, charsiu, and steamed chicken.

The chicken really juicy and succulent, and those pork balls (wished I ordered more) really hit the spots. The rice too was rather fragrant and best of all, the chili was one of the best I’ve tried. Spicy, aromatic, and really brings out the flavor of the chicken and pork ball. I will go back here just for the chili alone.

the pork ball is yummy as well
the pork ball is yummy as well

With drinks, this was less than RM 10, and I was properly satisfied. I have a feeling I will be back here again pretty soon.

map to Dee Kee Winner's Chicken Rice Off Jalan Ipoh

Address:
Chicken Rice Stall
Jalan Selvadurai
Off Jalan Ipoh, Kuala Lumpur
GPS: 3.178409, 101.683215

When it comes to Japanese restaurants, KL is spoiled for choices. Probably 80% of the hotels has an in house Japanese restaurant, there bound to be a place serving sushi at every shopping complex, and they are also represented in most newer commercial centers.

It is then very easy to get lost in the conversation, and higher end Japanese restaurants often have to offer something unique to set themselves apart. Be it ambiance, ingredients, or experience.

Zipangu at Shangri-La Hotel, KL
Zipangu at Shangri-La Hotel, KL

Personally, Zipangu at Shangri-La KL always have a special place in my heart as it was the restaurant where I first experienced foie gras back in 2007, as you would remember the first Kobe beef (at Elegantology), or the first ebiko (at Jusco Pyramid), first tempoyak (at Tenggol Island), etc.

So when I had the opportunity to be sample the Early Spring Lobster Kaiseki at Zipangu, I agreed to it immediately.

The six course menu is available from 15 to 31st March 2015, and priced at RM 280++ per person.

soy milk tofu with lobster & sweet sticky soya sauce
soy milk tofu with lobster & sweet sticky soya sauce

We started out with a dish that is visually very similar to chawanmushi, but what is usually made of steamed egg is instead chilled home-made soy milk tofu, with the topping of wasabi, sweet sticky sauce, and of course, lobster. The visual-almost-misrepresentation did not take away from the brilliance of the appetizer, it was simple yet elegant.

octopus with field mushroom and soba noodle
octopus with field mustard and soba noodle

The second course was octopus with field mustard and soba noodle. Another light dish showcasing not only seafood, but also the vegetables of the season in Japan. I particularly like the addition of bamboo shoots.

sashimi with salmon, lobster, and seabream
sashimi with salmon, lobster, and seabream

No Kaiseki is complete without some raw ingredients. For this we have sashimi with salmon, lobster, and seabream. If you haven’t had lobster sashimi before, I urge you to give it a try, it is one of my favorite raw seafood ever, in fact, I think it is the best way to enjoy lobster.

The soya sauce is mixed with lemon in this instance to give it an even fresher feel. I really enjoyed this.

hot dish - lobster and seasonal vegetables with Bonito fish gut sauce
hot dish – lobster and seasonal vegetables with Bonito fish gut sauce

The meal then turn up the heat just a bit with the next serving being a hot dish of lobster and seasonal vegetable with salted fish cream sauce. The star of this dish is the cream sauce, as explained by our server, it is actually made from Bonito fish gut.

It was subtle yet you can definitely feel its presence, sort of like how having Natalie Portman sitting at a quiet corner would make an impact to a room.

grilled Wagyu sukiyaki roll
grilled Wagyu sukiyaki roll

The next dish took a departure from seafood to honor another Japan’s famous ingredient – Wagyu beef. The good chefs at Zipangu simply called this Sliced Wagyu Beef Sukiyaki Roll.

It was stuffed with mushroom and other seasonal vegetables grilled with perfection. Dip the roll in raw egg infused sukiyaki inspired sauce, and you have an implosion of richness with savory overdose. It was really satisfying.

lobster fried rice with pickles
lobster fried rice with pickles

Like most course meals, the penultimate dish is usually something you can fill your stomach with, and for this we had lobster fried rice (you can also choose from garlic fried rice, seafood fried rice, claypot cooked rice or steamed rice.)

The fried rice tasted rather muted at first, but with the accompanying pickles, it suddenly became balanced and, well, good! The lack of salt/soya sauce in the rice was to make way for the pickles, this was the first time I had fried rice this way, though the concept isn’t totally unfamiliar to me since you have onigiri served in similar fashion as well.

KY & ahfa at Shangri-La KL, with our professional Japanese server
KY & ahfa at Shangri-La KL, with our professional Japanese server
(actually the Guest Service Manager – Yoshihiro Hattori)

Panna Cotta with Cherry Blossom Flavour ends the Early Spring Lobster Kaiseki dinner, an experience that is truly Japanese and executed perfectly at Zipangu. I really enjoyed this review and the walk from KLCC under hot sun to Shangri-La was definitely worth it.

The menu only lasts till end of this month, so if you’re a lobster lover, don’t miss out.

Map to Shangri-la Hotel, KL

Address:
Zipangu
Shangri-la Hotel
Jalan Sultan Ismail
Kuala Lumpur

GPS: 3.152139, 101.709419
Tel: 03-2032 2388