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Malaysian Food Blog, Travel, Diving & More

Tag / Japanese-Food

I’ve always had problems with parking and navigating within Publika. The place has the most confusing lettering/numbering system for floors. There are numerous different “ground levels”, and some parking lots aren’t connected to each other the way a logically sound person may expect.

That being said, the place is also packed with huge amount of restaurants offering various different dining concepts, and often in relatively affordable price range due to the immense competition. Today, we’re going to look at Tsubohachi Hokkaido Izakaya. One of the Japanese restaurants that is undoubtedly among one of my favorites in the area.

Tsubohachi Hokkaido Izakaya, Publika
Tsubohachi Hokkaido Izakaya, Publika

Izakaya is basically an informal Japanese gastropub, a place caters for after-work drinking and dining session not entirely unlike many of the Western pubs/bars, but one that obviously serves Japanese cuisine.

Tsubohachi is a renowned chain with over 300 outlets in Japan since its inception 40 years ago at Hokkaido, and currently is one of the two izakaya outlets in Publika, the other being Senya Izakaya owned by the Sushi Train group.

Our first time visiting Tsubohachi Hokkaido Izakaya was with Cheesie sampling their normal menu, but this time around we were invited to try their special Zuwaigani (snow crab) menu. How could I say no?

zuwaigani nabe (snow crab hotpot)
zuwaigani nabe (snow crab hotpot)

The snow crab menu is available till late July, but do call up to make sure its availability. Then again, the usual menu is quite extensive and certainly worthy of a visit or three.

Our session started with zuwagani nabe, or snow crab hot pot (RM 79.90). Basically half a raw snow crab (male, female would have too little meat) with fresh vegetable, tofu, and mushroom in a hot pot. Certainly a luxury comfort dish that is perfect especially on a rainy day, or any day for that matter.

The crab made the soup oh so sweet, it was as good as I had hoped.

aburi zuwaigani, kani chawanmushi
aburi zuwaigani, kani chawanmushi

For those who likes it grilled, aburi zuwaigani (RM 58) should satisfy your cravings. A no-nonsense and unadultered way of enjoying snow crab with maybe just a little squeeze of lemon. Snow crab has a much softer shell than our Malaysian mud crabs, so getting a “perfect” peel is an easier job.

Kani chawanmushi (RM 12.90) too is worth trying if you just want to lux up the ordinary Japanese steamed egg with some snow crab meat.

zuwaigani sarada, aburi zuwaigani hakozushi
zuwaigani sarada, aburi zuwaigani hakozushi

Want more greens? Try zuwaigani sarada, or snow crab salad (RM 22.90), though all those mayonnaise may discount the perceived healthiness of this salad dish, but those savory taste combined with sweetness of snow crab makes it worth the extra calories.

Aburi zuwaigani hakozushi (RM 35.00) is another dish we tried that incorporate liberal use of those savory Japanese mayo. The pressed sushi was certainly delicious, though I always find mayo & wasabi sort of clashes a bit with each other.

ankake kani chahan, kani zosui, zuwaigani masu-zushi
ankake kani chahan, kani zosui, zuwaigani masu-zushi

Rice or porridge? Take your pick in ankake kani chahan (RM 22.90), or kani zosui (RM 29.90). Neither should disappoint as they were both expertly prepared and show cases the sweetness of snow crab through the simplicity of the dishes. I can have either of these for lunch and be a happy man.

If you like things in small packages, try the zuwaigani masu-zushi (RM 21.90). A tiny box of sushi rice with generous amount of snow crab meat on top. Just enough to taste, but unless you have had stomach stapling surgery, this can’t be your only dish for the night.

a selection of yakitori, chicken, pork, mushroom
a selection of yakitori, chicken, pork, mushroom

All the trying pretty much all the snow crab dishes sans tempura & sushi, we got greedy and decided to sample some of their signature yakitori dishes.

We tried chicken skin, bishop’s nose, chicken soft bone, chicken neck, pork belly, and mushroom. They came in both salted or in teriyaki, and I wished I had enough stomach space left to order a beer to go with these. Yakitori dishes are priced mostly at RM 7.80 to 9.80 for two sticks, pretty decent deal if you asked me.

Johnny, KY, Kelvin, Haze, macha de roru
Johnny, KY, Kelvin, Haze, macha de roru

Our final dish of the night was macha de roru as dessert, a sweet ending to a satisfying review session. I certainly don’t mind coming back here again, good food, great value, and without fuss, there should be more izakaya around town!

map to Solaris Dutamas

Address:
Tsubohachi Hokkaido Izakaya
A2-UG1-9, Publika

Solaris Dutamas, Kuala Lumpur
GPS3.170961, 101.665721
Tel: 03-6206 5526
Website: www.tsubohachi.com.my

If you type Omakase in google, this is what you get:

o·ma·ka·se
ˌōməˈkäsā,ōˈmäkəsā/
noun
  1. (in a Japanese restaurant) a meal consisting of dishes selected by the chef.

So then, SOU Omakase is exactly what the name of the restaurant suggests – a Japanese outfit at Mid Valley Gardens that prides itself on their Omakase menu.

sou omakase mid valley gardens
sou omakase mid valley gardens

Lunch starts at RM 98++ per person, and dinner comes with a choice of 4 different course –

  • SOU dinner course – RM 220
    • starter, chawanmushi, Japanese garnish food, sashimi, grilled dish, mouth wash, main course, rice course with miso soup, dessert with Japanese tea
  • Special dinner course – RM 320
    • starter, special fresh oyster, Japanese garnish food, special sashimi, grilled dish, mouth wash, main course, rice course with miso soup, dessert with Japanese tea
  • Special abalone course – RM 370
    • starter, Japanese soup, Japanese garnish food, special sashimi moriawase, special grilled abalone, mouth wash, main course, sushi 3 kinds with miso soup, home made dessert with Japanese tea
  • Tasting menu – RM 450
    • degustation menu offered by chef FUKUCHI, 10 courses.

foie gras salad
foie gras salad

For the purpose of our review, we went for the tasting menu.

But first, if you’re heading to SOU Omakase, do note that it is located near the entrance of the Gardens Hotel, accessible via the Mall but through a tricky back door, with the restaurant facing Bangsar area of the building. It is much easier if you choose to valet park at the Gardens.

I won’t with fancy Japanese lingo for these dishes, since I assume many of you are like me who are heaps better in your command of English language than Japanese, we’ll stick with simple descriptions.

The dinner started with a beautiful dish of foie gras salad, a small chunk of perfectly seared goose liver with some greens and caviar. The ingredients itself speaks business.

 Netherlands oyster with homemade tabasco
 Netherlands oyster with homemade tabasco

Second course was Netherlands oyster with homemade tabasco, one of the best ways to get more zinc to your system. I do like the taste of their homemade tabasco sauce, slightly milder yet more complex in texture.

Snow crab with Spanish mackerel and Japanese winter melon soup
snow crab with Spanish mackerel and Japanese winter melon soup

Then there’s snow crab with Spanish mackerel in Japanese winter melon soup, our first warm dish of the night. The dish reminds me of some high end Chinese soup dishes, but one with unmistakenly Japanese ingredients. Warm and comforting.

mini sushi with chopped tuna belly and sea urchin
mini sushi with chopped tuna belly and sea urchin

Then it was a mini sushi to get our palette going for more raw seafood. Chopped tuna belly with sea urchin, two of the more premium sushi ingredients that packs a punch in savory index, perfectly balanced with freshly grated wasabi, a few slices of seaweed, and expertly prepared sushi rice.

butter fish with eel in yam paste
butter fish with eel in yam paste

Butter fish with eel in yam paste was next. This is a dish that I think some may have trouble getting used to the texture, it was soft and slightly slimy in texture from the eel and yam, but does provide an interesting experience especially when feeling it in the mouth.

We then had an aperitif, simple yuzu with soda to get our taste buds afresh for the next course – sashimi.

Sashimi part 1, served with wasabi moose and hand grated wasabi - octopus, yellow tail, mackerel
Sashimi part 1, served with shoyu moose and hand grated wasabi
– octopus, yellow tail, mackerel

This was undoubtedly the highlight of the omakase course to me. The sashimi came in two parts, and served with shoyu moose (soya sauce in moose form) and freshly grated wasabi.

Part one was octopus, yellowtail, and mackerel. Merely saying they are “fresh” would be doing these dishes a disservice. The sashimi were paired with different combination of seaweed to compliment its natural tastes, and those shoyu moose provides an interesting, if not very convenient way of handling the amount of soya sauce you want in the sashimi. A new experience to me.

Sashimi part 2 - the fat stuff, Otoro and salmon belly
Sashimi part 2 – the fat stuff, Otoro and salmon belly

Part 2 of the sashi were the fatter stuff – otoro (tuna belly), and salmon belly. Both premium cuts were beautifully presented, and tastes even better than they look. The otoro with its special condiment was especially delicious, I can definitely do this again, and again, and again.

cod with miso stew
cod with miso stew

Then it was time for a table top hot pot experience that came in the form of cod with miso stew. Cod never disappoints, and with high quality miso, certainly makes for a bullet proof dish. I can have this with a bowl of rice and call it a meal and be perfectly content.

beef, braised tuna collar, or lamb as choices of main
beef, braised tuna collar, or lamb as choices of main

Main course came in the form of either braised tuna collar, sliced wagyu beef, or lamb cutlets. Each were pretty rich in taste but not entirely too different from each other in terms of theme. The braised tuna collar was a first for me, and turned out to be probably too heavy to be part of a ten course meal. I was stuffed by the end of this, in a good way.

Inaniwa udon and salmon sushi
Inaniwa udon and salmon sushi

Penultimate dishes were a simple salmon sushi, and inaniwa udon. I had thought I’d never finish the udon due to how stuffed I was, but somehow there were no trace of udon left a few minutes later. When the food is good, you tend to negotiate extra space in the stomach somehow.

jelly, mochi, and coffee ice cream
jelly, mochi, and coffee ice cream

Dessert came in the form of jelly, mochi, and coffee ice cream. They were beautifully presented, and while did not disappoint, I did not think that they stand out among the other dishes in the course. It was an adequate ending to the 10 course menu, an certainly an omakase experience that is worthy of the restaurant’s name.

Horng, Yuki, & Haze at SOU Omakase
Horng, Yuki, & Haze at SOU Omakase

I’m really intrigued to try their lunch menu and see how they stack up to the likes of TEN & Oribe at similar price point.

Address:
SOU Omakase
Lot G247, Ground Floor
The Gardens, Mid Valley City
Kuala Lumpur
GPS3.118658, 101.675286
Tel03-2202 1133
Hours11:30 am – 3 pm, 6 pm – 10 pm

Ten years ago, Japanese food is synonymous with with raw fish. When someone told you they’re going to have Japanese food, it is always sushi & sashimi. Over the last few years though, the cuisine from far east has slowly mature at the local scene, there’s places that only offers ramen, there’s tonkatsu, yakitori, and even izakaya style Japanese restaurants.

Latest to the scene is Klang Valley’s very first Japanese restaurant that specialized in tendon (not the connective tissues of animal..) – the dish with tempura on rice.

Shitamachi Tendon at Evolve Concept Mall, Ara Damansara
Shitamachi Tendon Akitmitsu at Evolve Concept Mall, Ara Damansara

Shitamachi Tendon Akitmitsu is located at Evolve Concept Mall, one of the newest malls located at Ara Damansara, just a stone’s throw away from Citta Mall (use the same entrance/exit from main Subang Airport road). Half the restaurant serves tendon, while another side sharing the same kitchen serves yakitori (another story for another time).

Chef's special tendon
Chef’s special tendon

The menu consist of a dozen of so different tendon offerings ranging from RM 20 to RM 67. The choices are:

  • Nami Tendon (mixed shrimp, scallop, white bait, 2 prawns & 2 vege) – RM 31
  • Sumire Tendon (conger eel, prawn, 3 vege, small rice) – RM 40
  • Kakiage Tendon (large mixed shrimp, scallop, whitebait, 2 vege) – RM 32
  • Regular Tendon (whiting fish, squid & 2 prawn) – RM 36
  • Deluxe Tendon (conger eel, prawn, 1 vege) – RM 49
  • Super Deluxe Tendon (conger eel, mixed shrimps, scallop, whitebait fish, 2 prawn, 3 vege) – RM 61
  • Chef’s Special Tendon (chef’s selection) – RM 67
  • Shrimp Tendon (self explanatory) – RM 51
  • Anago Tendon (2 conger eel bone cracker & 3 vege) – RM 64
  • Squid Tendon (2 squid & 3 vege) – RM 27
  • Vegetable Tendon – RM 22
  • Tencha (mixed shrimps, scallop, soup stock, wasabi) – RM 20
  • Kid’s Tendon (small mixed shrimps, scallop, whitebait fish, prawn, 1 vege) – RM 18

shrimp tendon, deluxe tendon, chef's special tendon, tencha
shrimp tendon, super deluxe tendon, chef’s special tendon, tencha

Additionally, the restaurant also serves tempura and a selection of sake as well as Japanese beer. The menu then, as you can guessed, is rather simple, and just the way it should be.

We were served shrimp tendon, super deluxe tendon, chef’s special, as well as tencha for our session. Haze and I were joined by Keiko & her business partner (they’re Japanese). The food was certainly top notch and satisfied not only the two Malaysians in us, but our two Japanese friends had nothing but great feedback on these tendons.

The sauce was prepared in-house by the Japanese chef, marrying the the light & fluffy tempura batter with fresh seafood cooked just before serving. While at the first glance it appeared to be hastily put together, the combination was in fact meticulously prepared and very well balanced. You can ask for more sauce, but we felt that whatever the chef decided was spot on.

check out the oyster, yums
check out the oyster, yums

I’m going to have to plan a second trip pretty soon, and hopefully there are more of such restaurants coming up!

Address:
Shitamichi Tendon Akitmitsu

EV-G-09, Ground floor
Evolve Concept Mall
Pacific Place @ Ara Damansara
Petaling Jaya Selangor
GPS: 3.110532, 101.586864
Tel: 03-7831 9929
Hours: Monday to Friday, 11am to 3pm and 6pm to 9pm; Weekends and public holiday, 11am-9pm

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
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
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.

broiled lobster chowder, bonded unagi & foie gras, upper thigh
broiled lobster chowder, bonded unagi & foie gras, upper thigh

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 - toro, unagi, and amoebi sushi
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
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
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.

Also get more information on Kirin Ichiban at their FB page at https://www.facebook.com/kirinmalaysia

Torii at TTDI map

Address:
18, Lorong Datuk Sulaiman 1,
Taman Tun Dr Ismail,
60000 Kuala Lumpur
GPS: 3.148787, 101.629781
Tel03-7733 9309

A couple weeks ago a few of us were fortunate enough to get a taste of ten different dishes at Senya Izakaya at Publika for their upcoming Aomori Fair that runs from 15th February to 29th February 2016.

For those who aren’t familiar with Senya Izakaya, they are from the same group that runs Ten Sushi, Sushi Ichiro, and Menya Ramen. Izakaya is basically a type of informal Japanese gastropub, a place for after-work dining and (sometimes plenty of) drinking.

Senya Izakaya at Solaris Dutamas
Senya Izakaya at Solaris Dutamas

The Aomari Fair is basically an initiative to introduce the produce from Aomori Prefecture, which is situated at the northernmost area of Japan’s main island, just South of Hokkaido. The prefecture is famous for apple, in fact, 50% of all apples produced in Japan is from Aomori prefecture, and 90% of all apples exported out of Japan is Aomori apples.

Seafood, squid, and scallops are also among the exported produce from the area.

In conjunction to the Aomori Fair, Senya Izakaya is running a competition with the winner getting an RM 100 voucher, just vote for the most popular dishes out of the ten below on their FB page and in the restaurant. Check it out!

Now, here are the ten dishes that will be available during the fair, though the actual number of dishes is actually slightly more than these presented to us, but we had to be somewhat realistic in the ability to sample all these in one seating, isn’t it?

Aomori Apple with Pork Belly Skewer
Aomori Apple with Pork Belly Skewer

One of my favorite of the day, and probably the best beer food I’d like to have with me – Aomori Apple with Pork Belly Skewer (RM6). Made from preserved Aomori apples wrapped with sliced pork belly and grilled in charcoal, this was just the perfect blend of savory and sweetness in a mouthful, absolutely beautiful.

Fried Aomori Baby Scallop & Long Bean Sprout
Fried Aomori Baby Scallop &  Long Bean Sprout

Fried Aomori Baby Scallop &  Long Bean Sprout (RM25) looked a bit like fried noodle in a glance, but those are actually really long bean sprouts that is packed with vitamin C, E, and B (twice as much as normal bean sprouts, I was told).

Those baby scallops pack a punch in flavor as well, mostly due to the smallish size which tend to condensed the natural sweetness of scallops.

Grilled Aomori Squid with Guts
Grilled Aomori Squid with Guts

The Grilled Aomori Squid with Guts  (RM22) is a traditional dish that may take a bit of getting used to for some of us. Whole squid is used in this dish, and since innards aren’t removed, the squid used must be really fresh, often at sashimi quality. This dish is usually enjoyed with shochu or sake.

Aomori Baby Scallop Kakiage Tempura
Aomori Baby Scallop Kakiage Tempura

If you like deep fried food, Aomori Baby Scallop Kakiage Tempura (RM19.80) is not to be missed. This tempura is almost like a really luxurious version of our local prawn fritters, but with baby scallops, onion, carrot, and mitsuba leaves. I really liked it.

Vinegared Saba Sushi
Vinegared Saba Sushi

No Japanese menu is complete without sushi, and I was glad when we were served with Vinegared Saba Sushi (RM22.80). Made with Aomori saba that is harvested during winter time when they’re packed with more fat, this pressed sushi (oshizushi) also comes with egg, cucumber, and sakura denbu to give it that extra character.

Nanbu Aomori Senbei Hot Pot
Nanbu Aomori Senbei Hot Pot

Nanbu Aomori Senbei Hot Pot (RM19) is a dish that’s perfect for cold weather, and I guess for here too when it rains or the aircond is particularly cold. It is a traditional local dish famous at the Nanbu area. The soup is a blend of shoyu and chicken broth and accented by Nanbu Senbei, a type of local rice cracker (an award winning one at that.)

I really like the rice cracker when it soaked up the broth, not entirely unlike how we have fuchuk in BKT soup, if you know what I mean.

Aomori Seafood Barachirashi Don
Aomori Seafood Barachirashi Don

Then there’s the Aomori Seafood Barachirashi Don (RM33.80), a dish that I’d most likely order if I was completely oblivious to the menu, just because chirashi and barachirashi sushi are some of my favorite Japanese dishes.

This version uses boiled Aomori baby scallop, raw scallop, Aomori squid, Aomori vinegared saba, tuna, garlic, and Aomori yam. It certainly packs a punch with all the flavors in a bowl. Not disappointed at all.

Pork Don with Preserved Aomori Apple
Pork Don with Preserved Aomori Apple

If you can only order one dish from this list of ten, my recommendation will go to the Pork Don with Preserved Aomori Apple (RM23.80). This is Senya Izakaya’s signature dish, a fairly simple pork don with preserved Aomori apple. The apple with lemon flavor balance the rich taste of those perfectly prepared pork belly, it is basically just heaven in a bowl if you love pork like I do. Don’t miss this.

Aomori Baby Scallop Miso Curry Milk Ramen
Aomori Baby Scallop Miso Curry Milk Ramen

For those who like ramen, you’re covered. We sampled the Aomori Baby Scallop Miso Curry Milk Ramen (RM22.8), which interestingly, is an invention by the children of Aomori by putting milk and curry into ramen. It is a little creamier than usual, and still packed with plenty of ingredients, most notably those baby scallops. I find the soup base perhaps a little too creamy for me, but your mileage may vary.

Cream Cheese Snow Mountain & Aomori Apple Sorbet with Cinnamon Cookie
Cream Cheese Snow Mountain & Aomori Apple Sorbet with Cinnamon Cookie

Then of course, we had dessert. The Cream Cheese Snow Mountain & Aomori Apple Sorbet with Cinnamon Cookie (RM16). It is a cream cheese moose with Aomori apple ice cream and cinnamon cookie. This dessert is most popular at Hiromae-shi Ringo Park, which is at Hiromae-shi, a place where the best quality of apple is produced in all of Aomori.

The dessert proved to be a great ending to this overly lushed tasting session. I feel like I need to go back for some of those pork & apple dishes now.

map to Solaris Dutamas

Address:
Senya Izakaya
D5-G3-5,
Solaris Dutamas, Kuala Lumpur
GPS: 3.171465, 101.667620
Tel: 03-6205 4999

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