I think it’s safe to say that Japanese food is one of my favorite cuisine when it comes to heading out to a proper restaurant. In fact, this is the 100th entry on Japanese cuisine on this space – and for this occasion we head to Bangsar and look at Hana Tei Japanese Restaurant.
Hana Tei, Lucky Garden Bangsar
If you’re from Kajang and Cheras area, you may have heard of Hana Tei before. This Bangsar branch is their latest venture into KL city.
Personally, I thought Lucky Garden (the same row with 3 famous kopitiam) is a pretty good location to be at. It is in Bangsar, and parking situation at the area is usually pretty good during dinner time, though lunch can be a bit challenging.
The menu for Hana Tei is actually quite extensive, covering the usual suspects such as sushi, sashimi, to teppanyaki, teriyaki, nabemoto, tempura, as well as rice and noodle dishes. Well, on our review session, we got to sample quite a few of these dishes.
shake sashimi (thick cut salmon)
We started the night with shake sashimi (RM 35), or thick cut salmon. You get 5 pieces of fresh raw salmon at I think at least 1 cm thick. It was glorious. I also do like the fact that they use proper grated wasabi to go with the salmon here. It was definitely a treat.
camembert cheese yaki, gindara foilyaki
Next up was something rather unique – Camembert Cheese Yaki (RM 15). Grilled Camembert cheese with baguette with a side of jam. I thought it was rather interesting and most likely will go very well with some sake.
Then there’s Gindara Foilyaki (RM 48), cod fish with mushroom wrapped in aluminium foil and cooked with a miso soup base. It’s not entirely unlike Chinese style steamed cod except with a Japanese touch & flavor. I thought it was executed quite well.
hana tei beef sushi
If you’re a sushi person, well, here’s some treats for you, starting with Hana Tei Beef Sushi (RM 25). Instead of raw fish like usual, you get Australian striploin with salmon roe and ebiko, all wrapping those sushi rice.
The combination works surprisingly well to be honest, I love the contrasting taste between the savory beef and the freshness and slightly salty nature of ikura.
foie gras sushi, hotate maki spicy sauce
Then there’s also the one of a kind Foie Gras sushi (RM 28). This is probably one of the cheaper ways to experience foie gras, and foie gras never disappoint. I can have 5 of these for breakfast if I get my way! I shouldn’t, but I want to!
If you’re a fan of scallop and spicy food, you can find that strange combination in Hotate Maki Spicy Sauce (RM 35). The roll comes with quite a big chunk of scallop in each of them and covered with this hot sauce that really gives the dish a kick. You definitely don’t need any wasabi for this.
Jacob’s Creek has a bit of a special place in my heart, for the fact that one of the first wine events I’ve ever attended back in 2009 was hosted by this very brand, so when I got the invitation for Jacob’s Creek Double Barrel Wine Dinner last month, I immediately made plans to be part of the launch.
Jacob’s Creek double barrel wine dinner, the menu
The introduction for this special Double Barrel blend was held at Eight Gourmet Gala, with a rather big set up attended by media, celebrities, and people who has a bit of online real estate such as yours truly.
Brand Ambassador, Jenny Rothenberg was also present to explain what this whole “double barrel” is all about.
To put it simply, the wine (Double Barrel Shiraz & Double Barrel Cabernet Sauvignon) is matured traditionally in French and American oak barrels, before finishing it in old whiskey barrels, giving them a more complex palate.
pan seared French foie gras, Jacob’s Creek Double Barrel Shiraz
Anyway, to the dinner.
We started out with pan seared French foie gras, paired with Jacob’s Creek sparkling chardonnay pinot noir, the citrus and toasted cashew flavors of chardonnay marrying the fresh bread crust characteristic of pinot noir complimented the richness of pan seared foie gras perfectly. Most certainly a good start to the night.
white truffle pumpkin potage, wine barrel vs whisky barrel
Second course was the white truffle pumpkin potage, a thick soup that tastes like a blend of pumpkin with a hint of white truffle, which, to be honest, was not particularly very exciting for me. It was OK, but not among the best soups I’ve tried.
Next came the entree of smoke turkey drumstick, we had it with Jacob’s Creek Double Barrel Shiraz and Jacob’s Creek Reserve Shiraz. I thought the meat was handled very well, tender, juicy, and extremely smokey to a point of being spicy, which may not suit everyone, I liked it though.
That complimented the sweet red fruits & dark chocolate palate of Shiraz well. The direct comparison between the two Shiraz showcased differences due to additional treatment of finishing the wine in whisky barrel. Most agreed the double barrel version is a tad smoother.
pan seared Wagyu with Jacob’s Creek Double Barrel Cabernet Souvignon
Then came my favorite dish of the night – pan seared Wagyu (marbling grade 9). The meat is done medium rare with very little distractions in terms of finishing. It was positively satisfying, with Jacob’s Creek Double Barrel Cabernet Souvignon doing an excellent job as accompanying side kick. A good red with a fine piece of meat never disappoint.
poached lobster with truffle garlic oil
Another option for main was poached lobster with truffle garlic oil, a fine looking dish but unfortunately suffered slightly from being overly cooked in this instance. The seafood would have served as a good companion to the Cabernet Souvignon otherwise.
premium chocolate & French macaron for dessert, bok & sycookie
We ended the night with a simple dessert of chocolate & French macaron, a sweet ending to a pretty special night hosted by Jacob’s Creek. Looking forward to the next event and thanks for the invite!
In my memory, the rustic row of shops by Jalan Batai is home to a couple old school kopitiam in an otherwise pretty luxurious residential area, but my memory of the place hasn’t been updated for a while. Batai Village now houses some of the more trendy restaurants in town, and the old Hock Lee has since became Ben’s Independent Grocer.
Progress I guess, and to be honest I think it is in a good way. There’s still a sense of close knit community presence, and they’ve even managed to retain many of the hawker stalls operating in the corner kopitiam, upgraded of course.
We were there at night on a promise of good Japanese premium steaks at Torii. As it turned out, the promise was delivered with excess.
Torii at Batai Village, Damansara Height
I’ve talked about the excellent yakitori offered at Torii at TTDI previously, similar menu is offered here at Batai branch, but now with the addition of Japanese Premium Steaks, which is what we were there for.
I was told that the branch at TTDI is closing down as they shift their focus to Batai.
Matsusaka or kobe beef? Take your pick
The steak comes in 5 different choices and are priced per 100 gram:
Matsusaka, RM 310
Kobe Zabutan A5, RM 250
Kobe Sirloin A4, RM 180
Kobe Sirloin A3, RM 150
Kobe Sirloin F1, RM 120
You may have read on wikipedia or other sources that Kobe beef is usually not exported (or only to limited countries) from Japan, in a way that is true, so some of these Kobe beef found in “unofficial” countries are actually hand carried over borders, but they are true 100% Kobe beef regardless.
sauteed spinach, green bean with black sesame, egg yolk croquette
Additionally, Torii also offer several sides to go with those red meat
For the session, we worked through Kobe Sirloin A3, Kobe Zabutan A5, and Matsusaka, a 100 gram each and served with pan seared foie gras & grilled Japanese scallop.
As you can see from the picture, marbling goes up from each grade, and to be honest you really have to find your sweet spot. While I love the super fatty Matsusaka and it’s melt in your mouth texture, Haze found her sweet spot to be around Kobe Zabutan A5 or even the A3. You get a bit more firmness as you go “down” the grade. There’s really nothing wrong if your favorite is at F1.
The steak is served with black truffle sauce, they are basically match make in heaven for the beef, so rich, full flavor, and ultra satisfying. Yes, 100 gram is plenty of beef when they are of these quality and so rich in fats (in a good way).
Needless to say, the foie gras and scallops were both on point and served as perfect companion for the steaks.
KY & Haze at Torii Batai Village
Together with the steaks, we also sampled three different side dishes. Sauteed spinach was simple and refreshing while staying true to its Japanese identity, green beans with black sesame is a little stronger tasting and perhaps needs a bit of getting used to, while egg yolk croquettes were perhaps a bit of an culinary experiment that I myself may not 100% agree at this point of my life.
Torii Premium Japanese Steak price list (as of Oct 2016)
I hope this menu is going to be offered on a permanent basis at Torii. A certain treat for anyone who loves steak, and to be honest, at this price, they do offer pretty decent value for money, especially considering you don’t have to fly to Japan for it.
P/S: interesting useless fact, Kobe beef is so good the basketball superstar’s parents named him Kobe Bryant.
The weekends before heading up to Mt. Kinabalu (will post that entry soon), we had the good fortune of having a proper French dinner at Rendez-Vous.
Rendez-Vous Traditional French Restaurant at Bangsar
Situated at Lorong Maroof, the tagline for Rendez-Vous is “Your traditional French restaurant in Bangsar”. The restaurant does not pretend to be a fine dining establishment, but at the same time they do run it the “proper” way, utilizing imported ingredients in Chef Benjamin’s creation of succulent, seasonal dishes, maintain a comprehensive wine list, and having well trained staffs.
like all good meal, we started off with a simple amuse bouche
Impressively, they manage to do this at a price point that is accessible to most, with the three-course menu starts at RM 69 (four-course RM 115, five-course RM 159). Main dishes are priced from RM 36 (stuffed chicken) to RM 89 (ribeye), again, rather reasonable.
cocktails, and “Meli-melo de rillettes de poisons”
Our first starter for the night was “Meli-melo de rillettes de poisons” (RM 23), or duo of seabass and tuna mousse served with baguette and crostini bread. I’ve had tuna mousse before, but seabass was my first, and I must say the lighter and more refine taste works out pretty well in this.
We also had a couple cocktails to get the mood flowing. If you have specific preference, do tell the in-house mixologist as he’ll be more than happy to customize a cocktail to your taste.
“Escargots a la Bourguigonne”, Narrow Valley Souvignon Blanc
Second starter was the snails with parsley and garlic butter sauce in vol au vent, or “Escargots a la Bourguigonne” (RM 28). This doesn’t come with any shells (they’re recycled shells at any restaurants anyway) and the garlic butter sauce gives the snail meat a really smooth and buttery texture which was really complete with the Souvignon Blanc pairing with its contrasting mild acidic taste.
“Foie Gras de Canard”, Porto Cruz Tawny
Then there was “Foie Gras de Canard” (RM 48), or duck foie gras de terrine, port wine and spices, mushrooms flavours. We had this with Porto Cruz tawny, a sweeter drink that complements the really rich starter pretty well. I though the bits of smoked duck breasts adds to the complexity of the dish and break the monotony of those blended liver.
“Fillet de daurade en croute”, Colombelle Coeur de Gascogne wine
We shared a couple different main dishes between the two of us, starting with “Fillet de daurade en croute” (RM 58) or seabass filet, creamy carrot puree and avruga caviar, citrus vinaigrette. The fish was cooked just right those caviar really does add a dash of luxury to the dish. I did enjoy having the citrus with the fish more than I thought I would, quite a bit of revelation really.
We had another glass of wine to pair with our main dishes, but I’d be lying if I tell you I know anything about.
“Poulet façon cocotte” – stuffed chicken w French mash potato & creamy mushroom
The 2nd main dish was their cheapest on the menu – “Poulet façon cocotte” (RM 36), or stuffed chicken, French mash potato and creamy mushroom. I was rather curious on how they manage to prepare the chicken into a big ice hockey puck shape, but it was easy to eat. The poultry was quite moist and succulent. It is a modest dish but one that is more than decent if you’re not into fancier dishes.
Other main dishes available here includes pork belly, pork blood sausage, braised beef chunks, pan seared lamb, and a few other fish dishes.
Fromages – Seasonal selection of French cheeses, Bonpas Côtes du Rhône
We bridged the main dishes and desserts with a selection of cheese (RM 29 small, RM 46 big platter) to go with Bonpas Côtes du Rhône. If you’re a cheese lover, you’d definitely enjoy this, the brie was really soft and rather strong, but my favorite was the blue cheese, positively pungent and really really strong. It’s a bit like durian, you either love it or you despise it.
“Delice au chocolat et caramel”, “Tarte au citron meringue”, Le Contesse Prosecco di Treviso Extra Dry
By the time we reached desserts, I’ve already had way too much alcohol & food in me, but we were still presented with two plates of beautifully crafted dishes it was tough to resist.
“Delice au chocolat et caramel” (RM 22) was as expected, rich, smooth, and not overly sweet, while the “Tarte au citron meringue” (RM 17), or lemon tart with hard and soft meringue was perfect if you don’t want something overly heavy to end the night. The tart was quite light and fluffy.
Haze & KY at Rendez-Vous, Bangsar
If you haven’t had proper French cuisine due to price or you’re not one of those who likes to dress up for a fancy fine dining meal that lasts 3 hours, Rendez-Vous is a place you need to check out.
If there’s a Japanese food I have to choose to go with cold beer, there’ll be no doubt in my mind that it has to be yakitori, so when I got the invitation to review the offering at Torii at TTDI thanks to Kirin Ichiban, I was obviously more than happy to oblige.
After all, a premium Japanese beer with one of the higher end yakitori restaurants, you’d be foolish to not do it.
Kirin Ichiban promotion at Torii, TTDI
The reason we were here was to try the pairing of Kirin Ichiban with the dishes. Kirin is made with 100% malt, and brewed with an innovative “First Press” method by extracting the malt liquid from only the first press. Perhaps a little bit like “extra virgin olive oil” (I may be a bit off here), this is what contributes to the smoothness and premium taste.
At Torii, there’s also a promotion going on every Wednesday and Thursday night, with a glass of Kirin going for only RM 10.
veal chunk, squid tentacles, and crispy cheese beef yakitori
The restaurant is located at the inner, slightly quieter part of TTDI that isn’t plagued with crazy parking problems like some of the busier areas a couple minutes away. It is simple, elegant, and exude a very classy, fine dining feel without having a menu that is, I think, quite accessible to many of us.
Like its name suggests, yakitori is the speciality here at Torii. We tried wings (RM 8.90), squid tentacles (RM 10.90), sweet potato (RM 5.90), upper thigh (RM 6.90), rock lobster (RM 11.90), crispy cheese beef (RM 12.90), and veal chunk (RM 15.90). None of these disappoint, but if I have to pick, upper thigh, rock lobster, and cheese beef would be those you should try.
If you’re having these with beer, the chef will usually make the yakitori just a tad saltier, which really enhances the tasting experience, and Kirin with it’s crisp and refreshing taste provides excellent contrast to the strong tasting yakitori.
If you like something soupy, go for the broiled lobster chowder with crab croutons (RM 18.90) that also prepared with porcini mushroom, shallot, and olive oil. I’d love to have this on rainy days.
triple peaks – uni, amoebi, toro sushi
Perhaps surprisingly, cold beer goes rather well as a stand-in for green tea when paired with sushi. The triple peaks (RM 26.90) is a plate of three premium sushi with uni (sea urchin), amoebi (sweet shrimp), and toro (tuna belly). For under RM 30 this is not only awesome, but also provides very good value for the ingredients provided.
Then there’s Autumn risotto (RM 27.90), a deceptively simple dish with crab claw, egg yolk & asparagus. Beautifully presented and equally satisfying in the taste department. This dish would not disappoint any Italian food connoisseur.
wings, avocado de la mer, sweet potato, green tea creme brulee, nutella gyoza
Other dishes we sampled include the bonded unagi & foie gras (RM 29.90), kampachi uni jalapeno (RM 34.90), and avocado de la mar (RM 19.90). These aren’t exactly yakitori nor are they strictly traditional Japanese dishes, but they went so well with Kirin and left us wanting for more even as our stomach was filling up to the brim.
Of course, no fine dining meal is complete without desserts. For this we had green tea creme brulee with white chocolate lavender ice cream (RM 24.90) and nutella gyoza with chocolate ganache & whisky raisin ice cream (RM 24.90). I like the creativity in nutella gyoza, and while the desserts may not stand out as much as their yakitori and other delicacies, they were certainly more than decent.
Yen & hubby, KY & Haze enjoying some awesome food and Kirin Ichiban
If you love yakitori, a fan of beer, or just generally love some good food in fine dining environment without breaking the bank, this is definitely one of the places worth checking out.