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A week or so ago, I was lucky enough to get invited to one of the more exclusive dinner previews in town – to sample the All Kansai Festival dinner at Kampachi Pavilion KL.

The festival runs from 15th – 23rd of February 2014, including traditional street performances, takoyaki workshop, stage performances, and of course, Kaiseki dinner, which happens on 19, 20, & 21 February 2014 (priced at RM 300+)

All Kansai Festival, only at Kampachi, Pavilion KL
All Kansai Festival, only at Kampachi, Pavilion KL

The festival is exclusive only to Kampachi at Pavilion. For the tasting session, we had a subset of the menu. Instead of the full 9 course dinner, we sampled 6 dishes, mainly due to the fact that certain ingredients for other dishes will not arrive until the slated days to ensure freshness.

Anyway, lets get started.

Fresh Oyster with Ponzu Vinegar Gelée, Clear Soup with Clam
Fresh Oyster with Ponzu Vinegar Gelée, Clear Soup with Clam

Our first course was Kaki no Ponzu Jure (Fresh Oyster with Ponzu Vinegar Gelée). Served on a bed of ice, the oyster was huge and succulent, with the ponzu gelée giving it that extra sophistication. This version is the best way I’ve had oyster yet, beats the usual lemon or worse, tabasco sauce by a mile.

Next up was Hamaguri, Uguisuna, Harinegi, Kinome (Clear Soup with Clam, Japanese Mustard Spinach, Julienned Leek & Young Japanese Pepper Buds). This was not your ordinary miso soup, it was subtle and very refreshing. The huge clam certainly provided an unmistakable seafood sweetness to the clear soup.

Slices of Raw Fish – Tuna, Ark Shell & Yellowtail
Slices of Raw Fish – Tuna, Ark Shell & Yellowtail

No Kaiseki menu is complete without sashimi. We had Maguro, Akagai, Hamachi (Slices of Raw Fish – Tuna, Ark Shell & Yellowtail). The premium raw seafood was served on a bed of ice with grated wasabi. My favorite out of the three was the ark shell, fresh, crunchy, with a blend of sweetness and savoury taste. Excellent.

Grilled Yellowtail with Teriyaki Sauce
Grilled Yellowtail with Teriyaki Sauce

Tennen Hamachi Teriyaki Manganji Togarashi Syoyuzuke (Grilled Yellowtail with Teriyaki Sauce garnished with Marinated Manganji Green Pepper) came next. While it was a more than decent dish on its own, I believe that with wild Amberjack (as intended during the festival) would elevate this dish to a new height as the texture of Amberjack would be superior to Yellowtail when grilled.

Boxed Sushi with Seabream, Prawn, & Conger Eel
Boxed Sushi with Seabream, Prawn, & Conger Eel

Sushi came next, in the form of Sanshoku Oshizushi (Box Sushi with Sea Bream, Prawn & Conger Ee). To be honest, this was the first time I had pressed sushi, the texture is a quite a bit different from the usual nigri sushi (hand made rice ball with raw seafood on top), maki (rolled sushi), or temaki (hand roll). The rice in boxed sushi is a bit denser, providing a different experience.

Yuzu Mousse, Kampachi Signature Peanut Mochi
Yuzu Mousse, Kampachi Signature Peanut Mochi

Our dessert was Yuzu Mousse (Japanese Citrus Mousse), refreshing and perfect for a sweet ending.

We couldn’t help ourselves and asked for Kampachi’s Signature Peanut Mochi as well. The mochi is served warm and covered with mountain of crushed peanut and sugar, similar with the traditional mochi found in Penang’s hawker scene, except more refined. I find myself enjoying this very much.

The seats for Kansai Festival dinner menu is fast selling out (I believe 21st Feb already sold out), so book yourself an awesome dinner if you’re a fan of Japanese food. Check their website for full menu and other information.

we had a great time sampling the Kansai Festival Menu
we had a great time sampling the Kansai Festival Menu

map to Pavilion KL

Address:
Kampachi
Level 6, Pavilion
Jln Bukit Bintang, 55100 Kuala Lumpur

GPS3.148872, 101.713368
Tel03-2148 9608
Websitewww.kampachi.com.my
Hours: 10 am to 10 pm

Hailed from Hakata, the supposed ramen capital of Japan is Ippudo, the latest international Japanese ramen chain to arrive on our shore. The founder Shigemi Kawahara started selling ramen at a ten-seater stall in Fukuoka some 28 years ago, and has since expanded to some 10 cities around the world, serving up piping hot tonkotsu (pork bone) based ramen to eager diners.

We were invited for a tasting session last week ago to find out what the fuss is all about.

Hakata Ippudo Ramen at KL Paviliion
Hakata Ippudo Ramen at KL Paviliion

Ippudo Ramen is located just a floor up from the semi-alfresco dining area and a floor below the GSC cinemas. The ramen shop itself is pretty compact in size and could probably cater to around 40 pax or so.

The interior decoration is modern, and they even include “handbag drawers” under some seats, something I’m sure most ladies and dudes with man bags approve.

curry cheese haru maki, pork bun, spicy shrimp mayo
curry cheese haru maki, pork bun, spicy shrimp mayo

If you’re a fan of rather unique Japanese appetizers, you’re in luck. Ippudo carries quite a few dishes that goes well with hot green tea (or beer) before the main meal.

Curry Cheese Haru Maki (spring roll, RM 10) is indeed cheesy inside with a crispy skin as its exterior, delicious while hot, but you gotta find a balance and not let the melted cheese burn your taste buds.

Pork Bun (RM 7) is another one that I really enjoyed, reminds me of those “tong por” pork I had at Dengkil Seafood Restaurant.

Spicy Shrimp Mayo (RM 15) is beautifully presented and reminds me of those fried shrimp and mayo dimsum dishes that you could have for half the price.

goma Q, crispy corn, hakata style soup gyoza
Goma Q, Crispy Corn, Hakata Style Soup Gyoza

If you prefer something cold to start with, Goma Q (Japanese cucumber, RM 9) will fit the bill. This is very similar to those cold cucumber dishes served in some Chinese restaurants such as Private Kitchen at Uptown, or Hong La Qiao at Pudu.

Crispy Corn (RM 8) is something that I haven’t seen before and find myself liking it. The sweet corn seemed to be seared with a healthy dosage of paprika and other seasoning on top, giving the kernels a pretty unique taste. A serving is only 4 slices of corn though.

Hakata Style Soup Gyoza (RM 15) is an alternative to the usual pan fried version. It is served in the same tonkotsu soup with a bit of ginger in it. The gyoza was decent, but not something I’d get excited about, the soup is nice though.

akamara shinaji, shiromaru motoaji, and karaka-men ramen
akamara shinaji, shiromaru motoaji, and karaka-men ramen

Then came the ramen.

Ippudo serves three basic variety of ramen with noodle much thinner than most other places. Much like Italian food, you can also choose to have it al dente (cooked to be firm, but not hard).

Most basic is Shiromaru Motoaji with original tonkotsu broth, belly chasiu, bean sprouts, kikurage (black fungus), and spring onion. Akamara Shinaji has the same core ingredients but enhanced with special blended miso paste and fragant garlic oil. For those who like their ramen spicy, there’s the Karaka-men version, which incorporate special spicy miso and ground pork.

KY & Haze at Hakata Ippudo Ramen, KL Pavilion
KY & Haze at Hakata Ippudo Ramen, KL Pavilion

I find myself enjoying the original broth most, and have a bit of a mixed feeling for the other two miso infused soup as I think it somehow dilutes the essence of the pork bone taste (which takes 15 hours to cook, as I was told). I’m also not a fan of making ramen spicy, for that I’ll have my kimchi soup instead.

The chasiu at Ippudo is easily one of the best I’ve yet. Premium cut and prepared to perfection, this is the part I like most.

Over all though, I find Ippudo pretty decent and will certainly face strong competition from nearby ramen places within walking distance (Marutama at Fahrenheit 88, Hokkiado Santouka at Pavilion, Ton Chan at Cosway). While having the best ambiance among the competitions, Ippudo is also the priciest, expect to pay RM 26 for a basic bowl to RM 36 with everything in it.

map to Pavilion KL

Address:
Ippudo Ramen
Lot C4.07.00,
Connection Level 4, Pavilion
Jln Bukit Bintang, 55100 Kuala Lumpur

GPS3.148872, 101.713368
Tel03-2110 6233
Website: www.ippudo.com.my
Hours: 11 am to 11 pm

Suki-Ya Shabu Shabu at Pavilion has been one of the more busy restaurants located at Pavilion’s Tokyo Street ever since it’s inception a couple years ago. I’ve meant to give it a try for the longest time, but it’s always been packed, and I’ve only recently lunched there thanks to arrangements (ie: advanced booking la) by my colleagues.

Suki-Ya at Pavilion, there's almost always a queue
Suki-Ya at Pavilion, there’s almost always a queue

Suki-Ya brands itself as a restaurant that offers modern healthy choices. The outlet at Pavilion isn’t exactly big, but I like the cozy ambiance and the very clean interior.

They have an ala-carte menu on top of shabu-shabu (or Japanese steamboat), but we stuck to the basic this time and only tried the default buffet, priced at RM 29.80 per adult for a maximum of 2 hour dining period. Dinner would cost an additional RM 10. Any extra time over the 2-hr block is priced at RM 3.50 per 15 mins.

Kinda sounds like paying for parking.

there are 4 types of soup to choose from
there are 4 types of soup to choose from

Like many steamboat places, Suki-Ya offers several choices of soup – the classic shabu-shabu that is light, sukiyaki that carries a hint of sweetened soya sauce taste, miso which is a little on the saltier side, and kimchi, one that carries a bit of a kick.

We chose shabu-shabu and kimchi since you’re allowed to split the pot.

Pro tip: Always start off with milder tasting soup so as to not overwhelm your palate too early.

beef, lamb, chicken, and the "healthy bar" full of veges and more
beef, lamb, chicken, and the “healthy bar” full of veges and more

There are three choices of meat you can choose, and the waitress will happily serve as many plates of them to your table as you request. Do note that any wasted food carries additional charges though.

The chicken, beef, and lamb were all thinly sliced and served frozen. The beef only requires a quick 10 second dip to the boiling soup, while I’d advice to leave beef and chicken in for a little bit longer. They tasted pretty good with some dipping sauce.

we had a great time, thank you for lunch, HL
we had a great time, thank you for lunch, HL

The “healthy bar” offers some 30 types of vegetables, tofu, mushroom, fish balls, and even clams. These are really mainly the healthier choices – food with less fatty contents. They are somewhat less luxurious, but for less than RM 30 I think it’s plenty good value for money, and you’d likely not over eat that much.

It’s not difficult to see the success of Suki-Ya and that long queue outside the restaurant on daily basis. If you are to visit them, I’ll advice to call and book ahead.

Other than Pavilion KL, Suki-Ya branches can be found at Paradigm and Mont Kiara Mall.

map to Pavilion KL

Address:
Suki-Ya @ Tokyo Street
6.24.04, Level 6, Pavilion
Jln Bukit Bintang
Kuala Lumpur

GPS3.148872, 101.713368
Tel03-2141 4272
Website: www.suki-ya.com

For a very long time the section of Pavilion KL on the 6th floor right above Harvey Norman was sealed off for renovation. The site is now reopened to public in a pretty radical transformation that is Tokyo Street, with 32 new outlets of Japanese themed products and services.

Tokyo Street at Pavilion KL
Tokyo Street at Pavilion KL

With this, I think Pavilion has successfully beefed up the previously lackluster 6th floor. It now at least sits on even keel with the dining options at basement, albeit catering to a slightly higher market.

One of the new restaurants at Tokyo Street is none other than Hokkaido Santouka Ramen, the famous ramen chain hailed from Hokkaido and was previously only available closest to us in Singapore. I had it there a couple years ago and at the time. It was a … “life changing” experience that left me wondering why we don’t have them here.

Well, now it is here, so I just had to check it out.

Santouka Ramen, now in Pavilion KL's Tokyo Street
Santouka Ramen, now in Pavilion KL’s Tokyo Street

I guess I was not alone, there seems to be quite a lot of people who are dying to get a taste of Santouka’s famous ramen. Over lunch time, the line just for getting into the restaurant can be quite daunting.

As of 2nd August, 2011, Santouka was still operating with limited menu, but the dishes that I was eyeing was there – the pork ramen, of course.

pork ramen with salt & miso pork broth
pork ramen with salt (left) & miso (right) pork broth

There were four types of pork ramen with different broth (all pork base) – shio ramen (salt flavor), shoyu ramen (soya sauce flavor), miso ramen (soyabean flavor), kara-miso ramen (spicy soybean paste flavor).

The ramen comes in 3 sizes, S, M, and L. We were advised to pick M size since it was only RM 2-3 more at RM 25 and comes with 2 pieces of pork instead of one. Not too sure if L size comes with even more pork, hmmm…

check out the pork, the ramen, and of course, naruto
check out the pork, the ramen, and of course, naruto

I had the classic shio ramen that came with the sliced pork (not chasiu), bamboo shoots, leek, narutomaki, and ramen noodle soaked in the salt flavored pork broth. There’s also a sprinkle of sesame seeds, and that is all, no eggs, no fried garlic, or any other condiments.

The verdict – wow, the soup, and the pork, they were superb! I probably still favors the hand made noodle from Ton Chan at Wisma Cosway just across the road, and kinda miss the fried garlic and egg at Marutama, Fahrenheit 88 (also just across the road), but as far as soup goes, Santouka takes the crown for me right now, though I would still continue to visit the other two outlets.

The more choices the better. Bukit Bintang area now has at least 3 pork ramen places within a stone’s throw away from each other.

KY & Sheng at Santouka Ramen, Pavilion KL
KY & Sheng at Santouka Ramen, Pavilion KL

Note: I was wrongly given only 1 piece of sliced pork for my M size ramen, but upon notifying the waiter, I was given 2 replacement pork instead! Service – *like*!

map to Pavilion KL

Address:
Hokkaido Santouka Ramen
6.24.03, Level 6, Pavilion
Jln Bukit Bintang
Kuala Lumpur

GPS3.148872, 101.713368

When it comes to chocolates, just like many other forms of indulgence – wine, whisky, cars, women, and so forth – the premium stuff are almost always better. One of the more exclusive brands available anywhere has got to be Godiva, the chocolatier named after the legend of Lady Godiva, a naked lady on horseback (check their logo!)

Godiva cafe at Pavilion KL
Godiva cafe at Pavilion KL, this hot chick is Winnie

The company was founded  in Belgium in 1926 by Joseph Draps, over the past 80 some years it has grown to become one of the larger premium chocolate brand in the world with annual sales over $500 million. We are fortunate enough to have our very own Godiva Cafe at Pavilion where you can purchase a lot of their products as well as have coffee, cakes, and other good stuff.

Perfect getaway for a lovely tea time.

Godiva at Pavilion KL
ciki pours some coffee while Yazeed explains on

A couple weeks ago a bunch of us were invited to Godiva Cafe for a private function that aptly named The Chocolate Story where we were taught a bit of history about chocolates (you can learn them from wikipedia too, but wikipedia doesn’t give you chocolates to eat), and get our hands messy in a Master Chocolatier workshop.

to melt the chocolate
to melt the chocolate, you only need a single candle

According to the brand manager Yazeed, Godiva sources only the best ingredients to make their chocolates. For example, the best cocoa is from Ivory Coast, and hence that is the only place Godiva get their cocoa.

After the chocolate history lesson, we were shown the ways of chocolatiers. First, we melt a bar of Godiva, and all you ever need is a single candle. Try doing that with your pasar malam stuff, I think you’d need a penunu bunsen. (this is due to the much higher sugar content, among other things, in mass produced chocolates)

and make our own chocolate derived goodies
and make our own chocolate derived goodies

With the melted chocolates, we then made our own chocolate products – chocolate lollipops, chocolate biscuits, chocolate cornflakes, and all these with bits of other stuff to make them real pretty too.

We were then served some food while the chocolates were being chilled.

and you can buy some godiva hampers as Hari Raya gifts too
and you can buy some godiva hampers as Hari Raya gifts too

In conjunction with bulan Ramadan and upcoming Hari Raya, you can now get your hands on “GODIVA Chocolatier Hamper Collection” – there are three types altogether and cutely named Jubilee, Impression and Jewel De Nile

oh yes, ahh, i see, it's like that haaa
oh yes, ahh, i see, it’s like that haaa

It was overall a fun, informative, and definitely very satisfying session at Godiva, I got to learn quite a bit about chocolates that I previously hadn’t a clue about, and of course, get my chocolate cravings fixed too. You can read Kim, Ciki, taufulou, and KampungBoyCityGal’s accounts.

and a grou picture for all the lucky buggers
and a grou picture for all the lucky buggers

Writing this is making me crave for some proper chocolates again, gahhhhh!

map to Pavilion KL

Address:
Godiva Chocolatier Cafe
Level 2, Pavilion
Jln Bukit Bintang
Kuala Lumpur

GPS3.148872, 101.713368
Tel03-2142 5252