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Tag / ciki

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

Favola at Le Meridien KL is pretty synonymous with fine Italian dining, but what’s little known is the fact that they do serve dishes that are not pizza, pasta, or risotto. On the latest visit to one of our favourite Italian restaurants, we tried their beef and lobster instead.

We were told by our hosts to pick our main dishes and soup, while appetizers will be taken care of. I found out that I certainly wasn’t the only person who always over order.

bread to start, creamy mozzarella w beef bacon, buffalo mozzarella cheese
bread to start, creamy mozzarella w beef bacon, buffalo mozzarella cheese

As usual, we were served with some lovely breads to much on while pondering what to pick for dinner. I had to constantly remind myself not to have too much of these whenever I’m at Favola, they were yummy with just a touch of olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

Soft creamy mozzarella, shaved truffle, extra virgin olive oil, pine nuts and beef bacon was the description for Burratina (RM 40) was refreshing, and the crispy beef bacon gave the dish an added dimension.

For cheese lovers, you’ll love Caprese (RM 35), how does marinated trio of tomatoes, buffalo mozzarella cheese, fresh basil and balsamic emulsion sounds like? It tasted as good as it sounds, I can use some buffalo mozzarella cheese right now, not overly cheesy, yet soft and creamy. A small pack can be had at Jaya Grocer for about RM 30.

deep fried breaded mozzarella cheese, grilled jumbo asparagus with poached egg, mushroom soup
deep fried breaded mozzarella, grilled jumbo asparagus w poached egg, mushroom soup

Fritti Mozzarella  (RM 40) has a different take in mozzarella preparation, two generous slabs of buffalo mozzarellas breaded and deep-fried, then served with sautéed mushroom and avocado purée. Crispy on the outside, creamy on the inside, the skill of the chef is exhibited here by not over cooking the cheese, while still giving the skin that crispy texture.

The most beautiful appetizer of the day was Asparagi alla Griglia (RM 45). Grilled giant asparagus, poached egg, crispy bresaola, brown butter and parmigiano.  This was both beautiful and delicious.

cream of clams, sausage, vegetable in golden pastry; lobster dumpling in clear broth with spinach
cream of clams, sausage, vege in golden pastry; lobster dumpling in clear broth w spinach

For soup, I picked Brodo di Spinaci (RM 35), clear chicken broth with fresh spinach, with lobster dumpling and grated Parmesan. The soup was light, but I felt that the dumpling did not have enough lobster flavour to it. This was the least filling soup I think, a good thing in this case.

Haze had Zuppa di Vongola(RM 40). You could call it an Italian clam chowder, officially it’s cream of clams, Italian sausage, vegetable sofrito and green peas in golden pastries, and you gotta have a big stomach for this. The broth is creamy and quite filling, and tasted pretty good, the only minor qualm was that we wish  they’d be more clams.

Zuppa di Fungi Calabrese(RM 35), or assorted mushrooms cooked in milk with garlic rustic bread and Swiss cheese, is always a favourite among diners at Favola. The mushroom soup is one of the best I’ve ever tried, rich but not overly creamy, and absolutely fantastic.

black angus ribeye and grilled angus t-bone steak
black angus ribeye and grilled angus t-bone steak

OK, now we finally get to the main dishes.

There were two beef dishes on the menu and we tried both of them. Haze and I ordered the grilled Angus T-bone steak (RM 150) with Caesar salad and smoky pimiento butter, while Josen asked for the black Angus ribeye Fiorentina (RM 135) with grilled lemon halves and balsamic vinegar.

The beef were very good, I had mine medium rare, and Haze asked for hers to be served “blue” – which was rarer than rare. While these weren’t quite the standard of Prime (nor the same type of beef), they held their own very well and did not disappoint at all. At this price point, the beef were quite a bit cheaper as well.

ciki and her full baked boston lobster
ciki and her full baked boston lobster

While we enjoyed our beef, ciki went the other direction and picked the baked Boston lobster (RM 230 full, RM 120 half) that came with spice tomatoes and lemon chermoula with buffalo mozzarella. She was kind enough to share the seafood with us and I’m happy to report that it was indeed excellent.

You can have Maine lobsters for a tad cheaper at Lobsterman, SS2, but of course there won’t be buffalo mozzarella, attentive servers, or ambiance anywhere near the standard of Favola.

risotto with pan seared sea scallops, home made pasta
risotto with pan seared sea scallops, home made pasta with prawns, chili, garlic, parsley

For those who favours traditional Italian food, Risotto con Cappesante (RM 65) comes with pan-fried sea scallops on leeks, lemon zest, chili and basil; or you could perhaps choose pasta in the form of Gamberetti ai Pinoli (RM 45) with prawns, chili, garlic, parsley, pine nuts and mushroom in extra virgin olive oil. In either case, I’m quite sure you won’t leave in disappointment.

The menu with price can be found at http://discoverlemeridien.com/menus/

Thank you Janice & Damian for the invitation.

Address:
Favola
2 Jalan Stesen Sentral,
Kuala Lumpur 50470

GPS: 3.135631,101.686476
Tel: 03-2263 7753

The month of Ramadan is just a little more than a week away, and for many of us in the corporate world, it is also a time where companies will host buka puasa dinners, giving employees a chance to break fast together and mingle a little.

It is also a time where hotels and restaurants get busy with Ramadan buffet offerings, and lucky me, I already got to sample what JW Marriott at Bukit Bintang has to offer for this holy month in Muslim Calendar.

buka puasa dinner at JW Marriott
buka puasa dinner at JW Marriott

The buffet at JW Marriott will feature 108 of the best Malaysian delicacies from various states of the country, gearing towards “preserving heritage”. From the dishes we sampled, it definitely seems like they are doing what is claimed.

Case in point – sambal tempoyak (fermented durian) is available!

you'll definitely love it if you like it spicy
you’ll definitely love it if you like it spicy

Other traditional kampung dishes includes tongkeng ayam (bishop’s nose), goreng bercili, daging salai masak lemak dengan bachang and kupang masak rampai too are on offer.

Of course, ulam, satey, soup tulang, ikan bakar, roast lamb, keropok ikan, various kuih muih, fruits, and assortment of curry and vegetable dishes are to be expected as well. The preview only showcased a portion of what’s to be offered on the actual buffet, and we are already spoilt for choices.

two of my favorite things - tempoyak and paku
two of my favorite things – sambal tempoyak and paku

As for the dining areas, the pool side at 6th floor and the Starhill conference centre on the 4th floor will be transformed to a Ramadan bazaar to replicate the kampung ambiance.

fruits, traditional kuih, and more
fruits, traditional kuih, and more

Oh, and in case you’re wondering how much this feast will cost?

  • RM 60++ per person at Conference center
  • RM 70++ per person at poolside area

Certainly a very competitive pricing considering the 5 star setting and the rather stellar offering in terms of dish choices. I sampled quite a few dishes from the spread, and most everything was top notch and “ori”, except perhaps for the ikan bakar pari which I thought was a bit too chewy (hopefully this gets fixed). The roast lamb, tempoyak, and prawn with petai were particularly outstanding.

For reservations, call 03-2719 8666 or e-mail bukapuasa@ytl hotels.com.my

cheng yi, shah, ciki, and I definitely had a great time
cheng yi, shah, ciki, and I definitely had a great time

Now I gotta wonder how other hotels within the area will respond.

map to JW Marriot KL

Address:
JW Marriot
183 Jalan Bukit Bintang
55100 Kuala Lumpur

GPS3.14765, 101.71372
Tel03-2715 9000

A couple weeks ago a bunch of us were invited to Al-Amar Express at Fahrenheit 88 for the Happy Hour promotion and a bit of food. The event turned out to be a definition of excess, and a textbook reference of good times.

Al Amar Express at Fahrenheit 88
Al Amar Express at Fahrenheit 88

Like most people, I had the unfortunate generalization that Al-Amar Express is a middle eastern food joint (which was correct), and hence must not serve alcohol (which wasn’t).

cocktails at Al Amar Express
cocktails at Al Amar Express

In fact, the Al Amar “lets meet up…” wines and cocktails menu has several selections of Lebanese wines, popular beers, whisky, spirits, and some 10 different types of cocktails.

From 4pm to 8pm, buy 2 cocktails and get 1 free. The same thing applies to beer as well.

wine, strawberry margarita, beer
Lebanese wine, strawberry margarita, Corona beer

Before food was being served, we already got the night started with some mojito, Corona beer, wine, and margarita. Perfect start to the evening if you ask me.

hummus, Lebanese chickpea and eggplant dip, pita bread, haloumi salad
hummus, Lebanese chickpea and eggplant dip, pita bread, haloumi salad

After a bit of chit chat and making sure everyone had something to drink, the food arrived.

We started out with some warm pita bread. Dipping them into hummus (RM 12.90) or those very interesting chickpea and eggplant (moutabal RM 12.90) as you would with chips and salsa, except the experience is quite a bit richer, and definitely more refined (for something that is eaten with hand)

The haloumi salad (RM 20) is another exquisite dish that I’ve never tasted – with fried haloumi cheese, herb crust crouton, cherry tomato, and vinaigrette dressing on top of a bed of rocket. The fried cheese was a revelation, slightly crispy on the outside, and definitely cheesy within. It was very good!

tabbouleh, warak enab, grilled chicken salad
tabbouleh, warak enab, grilled chicken salad

Tabbouleh is a uniquely Arabic salad with finely chopped tomato, Italian parsley, and mint. The taste was very… refreshing.

Another salad we tried was the grilled chicken salad (RM 20), and this came with a generous portion of grilled chicken breast topped with aioli dressing. The marinate definitely leave a Lebanese signature in this dish.

Warak enab is these spring roll look-alike with ground lamb, rice, and spices all chopped up and wrapped in grape leaves. I find it a little too sour and salty, perhaps it is an acquired taste, or just a case of Al Amar sticking to the traditional recipe too closely.

spinach fatayer, cheese roll, lamb sambousik,
spinach fatayer, cheese roll, lamb sambousik,

Spinach fatayer, cheese roll, and lamb sambousik  (RM 8.50 each) were definitely the type of finger food best with some beer or cocktail. I don’t think further explanation is needed. Deep fried food always go well with alcohol.

Lebanese pizzas, shawarma and flame grilled chicken
Lebanese pizzas, shawarma and flame grilled chicken

And as we thought our collective stomaches were starting to get a bit full, the main dishes came.

First to be served were spicy chicken cheese (RM 17.90) and kafta with cheese manakeesh (RM 17.90) were both very delicious. They looked exactly like pizzas, but the taste was definitely different, a tad of saltiness, a kick of spiciness, and that savory taste from the meat. If I could only get these delivered…

The other main dishes were grilled whole chicken (RM 38) that comes in spicy and non spicy versions. The portion was enough to be shared between 2-3 adults. They too, carry the distinctive Lebanese taste.

Finally, we also tried the chicken and beef shawarma (RM 24.90 each). They were a bit like the kebab meat, but served loosely on a plate with pita bread.

a bunch of guys and gals who are completely full and half drunk
a bunch of guys and gals who are completely full and half drunk

The session at Al Amar was rather enjoyable, there were good food, drinks, and excellent company. Ultimately, I thought the food at Al Amar was a little bit too one dimensional if you will. Everything stays very close to a distinctive taste that is undoubtedly Lebanese.

For a food review session, it gets a little bit monotonous, but to have a change of pace from other cuisines, a dinner at Al Amar surely wouldn’t disappoint, just don’t order the warak enab.

map to Fahrenheit 88, KL

Address:
Al Amar Express
Fahrenheit 88
Lot G44, Ground Floor,
Buking Bintang, KL
GPS3.14748, 101.71283
Tel03-2141 3814

Flavors of Chile

December 2, 2011 12 Comments

Chile is the longest north-south country in the world, stretching over 4,630 kilometres “top” to “bottom”, but only as wide as 430 kilometers at the thickest region east-west. Situated on the west side of Andes and right next to Pacific ocean as well as the presence of Atacama dessert allows Chile to have a remarkably wide range of climates and thus, a huge selection of agricultural resources as well.

According to my colleague who is from Peru, a neighboring country to Chile, it is also a prosperous and stable country, something that can’t be said for many South American nations. If not for the usually prohibitive airfare, I am sure it would be a fantastic place to visit, perhaps some day…

Flavors of Chile
Kiwi fruit isn’t just from Australia and New Zealand

In the mean time, we got to attend the “Flavor of Chile” event held by the Embassy of Chile in Malaysia. It was a treat of gastronomical adventure at Westin Hotel, KL. This was actually a two day event that gives Malaysian businessmen a chance to discover Chile’s wide variety of high quality products, according to ProChile director Felix De Vicente.

South American food is something of a mystery to me, prior to this dinner, if you ask me anything food related from the region, I’d probably just say Argentinian steak (from Gaucho Grill), Chilean wine, and Chilean sea bass.

and it was a grand party, with my favorite people too
with some of my favorite people – fatboybakes, cumidanciki, haze

During the course of the event, I got to know more than I bargained.

There were video presentation in between every dish, with quality of production that makes most travel programmes look amateur. The clips introduces different places in Chile and what it has to offer, as well as plenty of airtime with Chef Carlo von Mühlenbrock – a guy who looked more like a rockstar than a chef – explaining how the ingredient is grown/catch and his method of preparation.

And then the very dish is served. Brilliant.

Quinoa Timbale with avocado and Chilean King Crab
Quinoa Timbale with avocado and Chilean King Crab

The first starter was Quinao Timbale with avocado and Chilean King Crab, paired with Sauvignon Blanc. This was the first time I had quinoa, a grain that is high in protein balance set of amino acids, and it was delicious. It has a crunchy texture, a bit sourish, and undoubtedly perfect with a couple slices of king crab and the wine.

Pablo Neruda's Conger Eel Chowder
Pablo Neruda’s Conger Eel Chowder

Next was Pablo Neruda’s Conger Eel Chowder. Eel? Chowder? This was not something that was expected, but perhaps it had something to do with our familiarity with unagi – a very narrow view of eel.

This eel was more like a cross between scallop & sea bass, subtle yet delicious, with the broth and other seafood in the bowl, it was a wholesome chowder for sure. We had Chilean Chardonnay to wash it down, which was of course, lovely.

Smoked Salmon and Mussels with Coriander Spiced Barley
Smoked Salmon and Mussels with Coriander Spiced Barley

The main dish was Smoked Salmon and Mussels with Coriander Spiced Barley. A generous slab of smoked salmon sitting on bed of barley, accompanied by a couple mussels.

This was another good dish, but the texture of barley that doesn’t come in a dessert or drink was a little too foreign for me. The dish was served with Vina Cono Sur Pinot Noir.

Southern Chile berries sorbet with fresh fruits, and the wine
Southern Chile berries sorbet with fresh fruits, and the wine

The dessert was Southern Chile berries sorbet with fresh fruits. A sweet ending to the wonderful dinner. Due to my allergy to kiwi, this was the only dish I did not completely finish. The sorbet, made from pureed Chilean berries, were excellent.

The dessert wine Late Harvest, however, were a tad too sweet for my liking. It would probably be great if served at almost freezing temperature at a smaller dosage, but alas, this was an event with hundreds of peopld, one can’t be asking too much.

Chilean Chef Carlo von Mühlenbrock & Haze
Chilean Chef Carlo von Mühlenbrock & Haze

It was a lovely night punctuated by a visit of the famous chef to our table and did a autograph on Haze’s drawing of his dishes. The drawing later appeared on a Chilean newspaper too. 😀

So now, when will I be able to go there.