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Tag / beef

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

I actually first got to know about Suzi’s Corner from Time Out KL food awards in 2011 when it was nominated for the “best of steak” category, and that was when it piqued my interest, a cheap steak place that is recognized to be one of the bests in town among the big boys? I gotta try this.

Suzi's Corner at Ampang (opposite Ampang Point)
Suzi’s Corner at Ampang (opposite Ampang Point)

Sure enough, it then took me another two years or so before I found myself wandering around Ampang on the motorcycle trying to figure out a place for dinner before futsal session with my colleague.

Steak isn’t exactly the perfect meal before a cardio heavy sports, but sometimes you just gotta do what you gotta do.

tenderloin under RM 40, served on a hot plate
tenderloin under RM 40, served on a hot plate

Suzi’s Corner is actually a food court, and within it, Steak Hut is the stall that offers somewhat localized Western food. Among the dishes to choose from are lamb chops (RM22), grilled salmon (RM21), chicken chop (RM14), and more.

For a steak lover though, I just had to go with the tenderloin. At RM 34, it’ll be a miracle to find a cheaper version anywhere else.

I'd advise to not have the hot plate, or put the beef aside
I’d advise to not have the hot plate, or put the beef aside

I ordered the beef at medium rare, but what came was probably closer to medium. By default, the beef here is served on a hot plate (Malaysians love hot plate), so that probably contributed partly to the meat being slightly overcooked for my liking. I’ll order it rare and to be served on regular plate next round.

A side of fries, bun with butter, and some steamed vegetable came with the dish to complete the meal. Overall it was definitely worth the asking price, and I would not hesitate to go there again.

Is it super awesome beef? No, but Suzi’s Corner definitely manage to satisfy the craving for red meat, at least for a few days. :)

map to Suzi's corner

Address:
Suzi’s Corner
213/26 Jalan Ampang Batu 4 1/2,
Jalan Ulu Kelang,
68000 Ampang, Kuala Lumpur
GPS: 3.158677, 101.748378
Tel: 03-4256 6720
Hours6pm to 11pm, closed on T uesdays

The name Kampachi is not foreign to fans of Japanese cuisine in Malaysia, especially to those who gravitates towards the higher end establishments. Starting as restaurants within Equatorial hotels, the Kampachi brand now spread outside from its confine and can be found at several other locations.

The latest branch being at Plaza 33 in Petaling Jaya, and we were lucky enough to to sample the food and drinks at this fine restaurant a couple weeks ago in a private food review session with a few other like minded bloggers.

Kampachi at Jaya 33, check out the sake ball
Kampachi at Jaya 33, check out the sake ball

Right by the side of the restaurant main door hung a ball of something that can be easily assumed as a hive of geometrically evolved species of bee, but is in fact, a “sake ball”. A ball made of cedar twigs traditionally hung over the door of sake breweries to signify new arrival of (high quality) sake to customers.

Appropriate here as Kampachi prides itself in stocking one of the largest selections of Japanese sake, including some hard to find “cult” sakes from exceptional breweries that are made available in Malaysia exclusively by Kampachi.

open kitchen concept, with plenty of wine and sake
open kitchen concept, with plenty of wine and sake

Kampachi has certainly spent a lot of effort in creating a very striking interior of the 198 person capacity  restaurant. A lot of traditional Japanese materials, such Japanese paper, imported floor and wall tiles, and more are applied in a contemporary way to make up a sophisticated and modern look.

I especially like the bamboo seating pods that can seat maybe up to 5-6 person that can be rotated for added privacy.

In the interest of not bothering paying customers with camera flash & loud chatters, we had the session in one of the three private rooms. Interestingly, these rooms come with a private sushi kitchen of sort, concealed by a movable panel that kinda reminds me of those cabinets that conceal TVs in the 80s.

shima aji sashimi (raw striped jack)
shima aji sashimi (raw striped jack)

Our review session was of the omakase meal (priced at RM 220), which means “I’ll leave it to you”, or degustation menu in Japanese. Typically you get the freshest seasonal ingredients and chef’s favourite dishes this way.

Our first dish was the Shima Aji Sashimi, or raw Striped Jack.

Chef Looi, who carved the fish right before our eyes behind that private kitchen, told us that the very fish beautifully presented to us was still in Japan the very same morning.

To describe the fish as merely “fresh” would be an understatement. I can’t criticise any aspect of the sashimi – taste, fat content, and visual appeal were all simply spot on.

the sashimi, shake kawa salad (green vege with crispy salmon skin & salmon roe)
the sashimi, shake kawa salad (green vege with crispy salmon skin & salmon roe)

Cold sake is dispense from a special holder that keeps ice separate as to not dilute the drinks. While the mechanism is visually similar to milking a cow, you don’t need to squeeze or suck, just a gentle tap will do.

Our second dish was Shake Kawa Salad, green vegetable with crispy salmon skin and salmon roe. I particularly like the very thinly sliced crispy salmon skin, made available from the 2-3 whole salmon consumed here each day.

wagyu teppanyaki (grilled Australian wagyu beef)
wagyu teppanyaki (grilled Australian wagyu beef)

Before continuing with more seafood, we were served with Wagyu Teppanyaki, the beef sourced from Australia, grilled medium rare, and served with the unique Kampachi truffle sauce.

The sauce is a blend of Tosa Shoyu and mushroom broth with a hint of black truffle and olive oil. I usually don’t have my beef with any condiment, but this sauce managed to make it just that much better. My only complain is that they don’t sell the sauce in bottles.

unfiltered sake, ankimo beko an (pan-seared anglerfish liver with simmered radish)
unfiltered sake, ankimo beko an (pan-seared angler fish liver with simmered radish)

In French cuisine, foie gras often signifies luxury, and in Japanese food, the equivalent would be Angler fish liver, or Ankimo Beko An.

The liver makes up quite a large part of the fish, has a very rich texture. Simmered radish is used to expertly mask any fishy taste the liver might carry to balance this unique ingredient. This was the 3rd time I had ankimo, first was in Vietnam, and second at Hokkaido Ichiba restaurant.

Following the cold sake, we were served warm, unfiltered sake. The milky color is pretty unique for usually clear looking sake, and yet was definitely smooth and leave a feeling of warmth and comfort in the stomach.

aburi sushi (seared sushi) - anago (conger eel), shake harasu (salmon belly), hotate (scallop)
aburi sushi (seared sushi) – anago (conger eel), shake harasu (salmon belly), hotate (scallop)
miso soup with striped jack bones

What’s a omakase dinner without sushi?

Three types of Aburi Sushi (seared sushi) were chosen for the night – Anago (conger eel), Shake Harasu (salmon belly), and Hotate (scallop). Each were seared just very lightly and still partially raw at the bottom, the first time I tried sushi prepared this way and I liked it.

Miso soup was made with the bones from our first dish, and the striped jack definitely contributed to the extra sophistication in the soup that would have been quite boring otherwise.

garlic fried rice, Japanese peach, and ciki
garlic fried rice, Japanese peach, and ciki enjoy the fruits

We specially asked for garlic fried rice just cause Ciki needed some carb for her half marathon preparation, and I was glad to go along with one as well. Most definitely the best garlic fried rice I’ve had, it’s hard to explain, there weren’t any magical ingredients, just plain old rice, garlic, eggs, and such. Execution was the key, great job by the chefs.

Instead of fancy desserts, we had a couple slices of Japanese peach.

These fruits were priced at RM 66 per peach, and “WHAT?!!!??” was my initial reaction. Then I took a bite, and it was a realization and instant understanding on why and how a fruit barely the size of my fist can cost more than 4 hours of solid domestic housework. You get what you paid for, it was excellent and now I’m staring at this piece of apple on my desk while writing this and dreading it.

Haze, KY, and our parting drinks - sake bomb
Haze, KY, and our parting drinks – sake bomb

As for drinks, we started out with the pink colored cocktail – Blushing Maiko (trainee Geisha) to get us started prior to dinner.

After the cold and warm sake, it was a mixture of green tea with Hakushu Single Malt Whisky, interpretation of Baileys the Japanese way perhaps?

We concluded the night with Sake Bomb – shot glasses of sake lined up atop beer glasses and knocked down with Domino effects, it was quite a show and I suspect the bartender has done this a hundred times probably with water and tea before perfecting the skill. We were well impressed, and of course, had one for the road.

It was a great dinner, and I want to go back.

P/S: The famous Kampachi Sunday Buffet is back and now available exclusively at the Plaza 33 outlet, priced at RM 118++ for adults and RM 68++ for children below 10.

Map to Jaya 33, Petaling Jaya

Address:
Kampachi
P1-02, First Floor
Plaza 33 
Jalan Kemajuan, Seksyen 13
Petaling Jaya, Selangor
GPS3.10988, 101.63787
Tel : 03-7931 6938
Emailkampachi@equatorial.com
Hours: 12-3pm  for lunch, 6-11pm for dinner

I love me some good steaks, and while we have plenty of awesome affordable good foods in Malaysia, steak isn’t exactly one of them. Good steaks are often rather expensive, and the cheaper ones usually left me thinking if I should have been chewing my shoes instead. Hence, we don’t end up having steaks nearly as often as we want to.

My last steak dinner was at Las Vacas at Kelana Jaya, a restaurant with minimal frill and good steak, and it was also where I found out about El Fresco at Jaya Grocer from Lance & Enoch (hello neighbour!) from feedbacks on facebook and Instagram

El Fresco at Jaya Grocer, pick your meat
El Fresco at Jaya Grocer, pick your meat

El Fresco is located at Subang Empire Mall’s Jaya Grocer, and yes, a restaurant within the big grocery store where the tables and seats are arranged pretty close to isles where you find racks of .. well, groceries.

The concept is simple, go to the meat section (or fish if you want to have salmon steak, for example) and pick your steak, then proceed to El Fresco’s counter and hand the meat over and have them cook it. There is no cooking charge for anything over RM 20, and just like Air Asia, if you want extras, you can always add on (salad, mixed vegetable, fries etc)

Angus tenderloin, one with salad, the other with mixed vegetables
Angus tenderloin, one with salad, the other with mixed vegetables

Standard cut for steak is usually at around 250-300 gram here, and prices stated at the butchery is by the kilogram. We chose Angus tenderloin (mid-high in price, RM 189/KG) and each slab cost us just under RM 42.00.

In a way, you can go expensive, or you can go much cheaper as well. Lamb rack at RM 85.90/KG, and beef anywhere from RM 99/KG to RM 359/KG for some Wagyu with good marble ratings.

I like mine medium rare, and they executed it perfectly
I like mine medium rare, and they executed it perfectly

I had my Angus tenderloin medium rare with mixed vegetable, and Haze ordered hers prepared rare with salad. While wait time was a little long (25 minutes) when we were there, it actually wasn’t too bad, you can even walk around and shop a little bit in the mean time.

The steak came out excellent and I really liked my steak pure as is and without any sauce or extra seasoning. The meat tender and juicy, and for under RM 50? An awesome value.

The pizzas & salmon steaks from El Fresco looks good too, and I have a feeling we will be back there pretty soon.

Empire Mall map

Address:
El Fresco
Jaya Grocer, Empire Shopping Gallery

47500 Subang Jaya
GPS3.082109, 101.582716
Webjayagrocer.com/fnd_elfresco.php

Haze and I both knows how to enjoy a piece of good beef, but unfortunately good beef are usually only available at very up class restaurants (such as Prime or Mandarin Grill); and speaking from experience, those from the more affordable places often disappoints.

Then there’s Las Vacas, a no-frill restaurant and retail that offers prime cuts of beef and lamb at very decent price.

Las Vacas at Kelana Jaya
Las Vacas at Kelana Jaya

Las Vacas is basically a meat shop with professionally trained butchers and a kitchen. They stock a wide selection of meat and you can either buy raw to grill at home, or dine in.

There’s Angus, Wagyu, grain fed, tenderloin, ribeye, sirloin, lamb shoulder, and even salami, sausages, and burger patties.

grain fed tenderloin and wagyu ribeye
grain fed tenderloin and wagyu ribeye

We went there for the first time a few weeks ago, I ordered a medium rare tenderloin, while Haze asked for her Wagyu ribeye  to be prepared rare. Prices of meat is indicated at the display per 100 gram, and normal cut is usually 280-300 grams, though you can always choose a bigger/smaller portion according to appetite.

There’s a cooking fee (RM 15 if I remember correctly) on top of the price of the meat, and you get a small serving of salad (quite forgettable) and a piece of pretty decent garlic bread on the side.

love that my tenderloin was cooked to perfection - medium rare
love that my tenderloin was cooked to perfection – medium rare

The meat did take a while to get prepared, and I believe it was because they actually let it sit before serving to ensure they are properly moist. There’s Dijon mustard and A1 steak sauce if you like, but I love my steak as is with nothing but basica salt & pepper seasoning to fully enjoy the unadulterated taste of meat.

The result was excellent, and we thoroughly enjoyed our meal. Dinner ended up at around RM 180 including a couple bottles of premium carbonated drinks. Pretty reasonable for what we got, will visit again.

map to Las Vacas, Kelana Jaya

Address:
Las Vacas
No.23, Jalan SS5A/11 Kelana Jaya 
47301 Petaling Jaya 
Selangor, Malaysia
GPS: 3.095934, 101.604719
Tel: 03-7874 0711
Weblasvacasmeat.com
HoursTues – Sunday, 10am – 10pm

Las Vacas Meat Shop