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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

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A couple weeks ago I participated in a pretty special gastronomical event – the Martell Tricentenaire Gala Dinner at Genting Highland. I think it is safe to say that having a product on the market for 300 years is an amazing feat.

Martell Tricentenaire Gala Dinner, Genting Highland
Martell Tricentenaire Gala Dinner, Genting Highland

When the house of Martell was founded in 1715, the Ottoman Empire still exists, United States as a country has yet to be formed for another 60 years, and KangXi emperor was ruling China (there’s a joke that goes “which Chinese emporer is blind?”). Who would have thought that the same product still exists after a dozen generations later?

Martell Cordon Bleu, Martell Cordon Bleu 1912, Martell XO
Martell Cordon Bleu, Martell Cordon Bleu 1912, Martell XO

To celebrate this occasion, Martell hosted a grand gala dinner at Genting International Convention Centre, and I was very lucky to be among the invitees. The gala dinner drew from the tradition of Jean Martell, the creator of this fine cognac 300 years ago, who loved to host his friends at Chateau de Chanteloup, purchased by the Martell family to receive prestigious personalities from around the world.

As a celebration of the art of gastronomy, Martell arranged for Elegantology to prepare food. I’ve sampled their food on a previous occasion before, so you could say that I have some high expectations.

Citrus Infused King Prawn & Salmon Tartare
Citrus Infused King Prawn & Salmon Tartare

We started the night with Citrus Infused King Prawn and Salmon Tartare. The dish came with poached king prawns on skewer with avocado, and marinated salmon tartare & a side of yee sang to keep honor the Malaysian Chinese New Year tradition of “Lou Sang” (which was done on stage as well). We paired the starter with Martell Cordon Bleu.

Black Chicken Ginseng Soup with Abalone, Sea Cucumber, Scallops, and Fish Maw
Black Chicken Ginseng Soup with Abalone, Sea Cucumber, Scallops, Fish Maw

The second dish was not on the menu, but turned out to be our favorite of the night. A luxurious black chicken ginseng soup that is laden with abalone, sea cucumber, scallops, fish maw, and mushroom.

It was one of the best double boiled soup I’ve ever had, I would place it even higher than the one from Elegant Inn, which I really liked. It was complex, sweet, and yet not overly thick or complicated. If I can have one soup for the rest of my life, it’ll be a toss up between this and the best of what bak kut teh can offer.

Peppercorn Marinated Smoked Duck & Foie Gras Terrine
Peppercorn Marinated Smoked Duck & Foie Gras Terrine
Sea Bass, Steamed on Rich and Spicy Broth Infused with Tumeric & Egg

Continuing with the European theme, we then had peppercorn marinated smoked duck & foie gras terrine served on onion confit and raspberry vinaigrette. Smoked duck did not disappoint, but I had wished that they would serve foie gras as is instead of in the form of terrine. Then again, if you have to prepare food for some 1000 people, I suppose getting perfectly seared foie gras and served while hot may be a tall order.

Next up was steamed sea bass on rich and spicy broth infused with turmeric and egg white on asparagus. We paired this seafood with Martell Cordon Bleu 1912, a special re-edition of the classic cognac Martell Cordon Bleu, originally created by Edouard Martell in 1912.

The spicy broth gave the dish a hint of South Asian style, which is just as well since a slice of pita bread is served along side with the fish. Quite a bold play, and I think it worked.

Mediterranean Herb Crusted Loin of Lamb
Mediterranean Herb Crusted Loin of Lamb

Mediterranean Herb Crusted Loin of Lamb was our main dish – oven baked lamb with a medley of braised rice cake, cep mushroom essence and truffle. The lamb went really well with Martell XO, as with any perfectly prepared red meat would.

The herbal crust gave the lamb a bit of texture and character, while the truffle infused sauce made it richer, thus perfect for XO as a companion.

Ashley, KY, Haze, Garick, Sam, Michael
Ashley, KY, Haze, Garick, Sam, Michael

We did not stay for dessert as we had something planned early in next morning. The gala dinner, like other Martell gastronomy events I had the privilege to attend, was grand and impressive. I want to thank Angie for the invitation, until next time!

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I’m a fan of curry mee, whatever type of curry mee, I’ll try them so long as my taste buds agree.

I’ve heard about the Nyonya Curry Mee at USJ for quite sometime, and finally we managed to try it last weekends when we found ourselves at USJ for an appointment to check out some invisible grille option for our new home.

Fushou Lou Nyonya Curry Mee, USJ 2
Fushou Lou Nyonya Curry Mee, USJ 2

Located at USJ 2 kopitiam just right next to the Shell petrol station across from USJ Summit Mall, the stall is called Fushou Lou Nyona Curry Mee, or literally the “bearded man”. The stall offers Nyonya curry mee, dried curry mee, and seafood curry mee. There’s also the option to add roast pork, curry chicken, and other ingredients into the mix.

Nyonya Curry mee, with extra roast pork
Nyonya Curry mee, with extra roast pork

For our virgin experience, I ordered Nyonya curry mee with roast pork (RM 8).

It was quite beautifully presented. It came with noodle/meehun, some long beans, bean sprouts, tofu pok, mint, cuttle fish, and of course, those yummy sambal in addition to roast pork.

Compared to KL or Penang curry mee, this has a more sourish taste, slightly more refreshing, and absolutely delicious.

KY & Haze, obviously enjoying the curry mee
KY & Haze, obviously enjoying the curry mee

If you have an affinity to curry mee or laksa, this is definitely a stall to check out. The normal version starts at RM 6, and I’m going to try their seafood noodle when I have a chance.

map to USJ 2 kopitiam

Address:
Kedai Makanan USJ
2, Jalan USJ 2/2c
47620 UEP Subang Jaya
GPS: 3.057137, 101.591065
Hours: 10 am – 2 pm

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A decade or so ago, Thai food means tomyam, rice, and maybe a few other dishes and you’d have them for lunch and maybe dinner. Over the last few years, I’m glad that Thai cuisine scene in KL has matured quite a bit, and now you can find quite a few sub-categories. There’s the traditional Thai food, fusion (such as PLOY at Clearwater, Fa Ying), boat noodle, non halal options (Surisit, I’m Spicy, My Elephant), and even Thai street food.

Go Thai at PJ SS2
Go Thai at PJ SS2

Personally, I have always love Thai street food of the non halal variety, and for a long time, Lai Thai (now Farm Thai) of Seksyen 17 was always my favorite. The place has its flaws, it’s cramped, stuffy, rather pricey, and service has a lot left to be desired, but there was no other options I knew of.

Then Go Thai sprung up at PJ SS2, the same row as those durian stalls that are always packed with people with stinky breath, and they offered just what I love most – non-halal Thai street food.

stewed pork leg rice (khao kha moo)
stewed pork leg rice (khao kha moo)

The restaurant is tastefully done up yet rather unpretentious. The workers speak Thai to each other, and the menu consists of a dozen of so dishes written on white board.

Most importantly, they offer khao kha moo (stewed pork leg rice, RM 9). This dish definitely offers great value, at less than RM 10 with quite a big portion of pork leg, rice, half an egg, and a small portion of vegetable. It was pretty good too.

Thai ice tea, fried pork slices with egg, tomyam seafood
Thai ice tea, fried pork slices with egg, tomyam seafood

At Go Thai, there are actually very few dishes without pork.

Moo thod khatiam (deep fried pork slices in garlic sauce with egg, RM 9) had those pork slices that was perfectly marinated while not overly spicy.

Tomyam seafood (RM 12) packed with fish slices, prawns, squid, and even some mussels, the broth was thick, spicy, and should satisfy any tomyam lover. It is also the highest priced item on the menu.

red ruby, kway tiao Go Thai, minced pork with rice, kway tiao nam saired ruby, kway tiao Go Thai, minced pork with rice, kway tiao nam sai

If you prefer noodle, there’s kway tiao nam sai (clear broth, RM 7) or kway tiao Go Thai (spicy version, RM 7), both were delicious, though portion is a little small for KL standard, but you get to order other stuff on the side, like tub thim krab (red ruby, RM 6), a dessert that is best on a hot day after meal.

KY & Haze at Go Thai
KY & Haze at Go Thai

Skewers here are supposed to be very good too, and I think that’ll be on my order list the next time I go there. Haze likes the place, and so was mom and my brother when I brought them over during CNY.

There should be more of these type of restaurants everywhere.

map to Go Thai

Address:
Go Thai
187 Jalan SS2/24,
Petaling Jaya, Selangor
GPS: 3.116831, 101.622893
Hours: lunch and dinner, closed on Mondays

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There are quest a few coffee places in KLCC, you have your usual big chains such as Starbucks and San Francisco coffee, and then there’s of course the kopitiams and food court. Of all these choices, Gino Coffee is fast becoming one of my favorites.

Gino coffee on ground floor, Isetan KLCC
Gino coffee on ground floor, Isetan KLCC

Gino is actually located at two different premises within Isetan. At the lower ground by the grocery area’s counter where they mainly do take-away business, and another slightly bigger area tucked behind the cosmetic section on the ground floor with a small but comfortable seating area.

Like most things Japanese, Gino appears to take their craft quite a bit more seriously, and I’ve seen the owner (I think that’s who he is) a few times at the premise checking and making sure things are done the right way.

cappuccino, latte, or one of their black coffee with foam thingy
cappuccino, latte, or one of their black coffee with foam thingy

The quality of coffee is certainly good and prices are at the same level of their competitors.

I usually go for their milk based coffee such latte or cappuccino, but they do offer some of the more funky choices such as this black coffee with foam thingy (forgot the name, tastes strong and sweet).

If you’re looking for a quiet place to chill that happens to also serve good coffee at KLCC, Gino won’t be a bad choice.

map of KLCC

Address:
Isetan KLCC
Kuala Lumpur
GPS: 3.158126, 101.711833