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Izakaya, or Japanese gastro pub, is a relatively new type of Japanese restaurant in Malaysia. It is basically a pub with a proper bar and a full kitchen. You want to have a few beer or sake? Sure. You want a full meal? They’ve got that covered too.

Robataya Izakaya at Publika
Robataya Izakaya at Publika

Robataya Izakaya is a relatively new comer of such restaurant in KL. Located in Publika, they have a pretty extensive menu offering raw fish, ramen, rice dish, tempura, salad, grilled items, and more.

Robataya Izakaya at Publika is our dinner spot tonight, we’re having boat loads of different items from the menu, from sashimi, sushi, to salad, teppan, and kushyaki at this review session. Momo tama and their salmon oyako sarada are definite must orders. #kyeats #izakaya #foodreview #sushi #sashimi #publika #yakitori

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A week ago, we headed there on an invitation to try out what they’ve got to offer.

Okan Sashimi, they have air flown seafood too
Okan Sashimi, they have air flown seafood too

We started with Okan Sashimi (RM 70), a sashimi platter with 5 different types of fresh seafood carefully arranged on ice. During our session, we had salmon, salmon belly, sweet shrimp, tuna, and I believe, butterfish.

While it may not be the super premium quality sashimi, (that’ll be their air flown, LIVE seafood as displayed by Haze) the portions were generous and it was actually quite a treat for the price.

Una Chizu Roll, Robataya Teppan Roll
Una Chizu Roll, Robataya Teppan Roll

For those wholikes rolls, The Robataya Teppan Roll (RM 28) is one you should try. There’s salmon inside, mayo, and grilled bacon on top! The taste was rather unique, and of course, anything is better with bacon.

Una Chizu Roll (RM 25) is a slightly more creative interpretation of your usual unagi roll, as they’ve decided to add cheese to the mix. I think the result was pretty good to be honest.

Salmon Oyako Sarada
Salmon Oyako Sarada

Salmon Oyaka Sarada (RM 26) turned out to be one of our favorite dishes of the night. Laden with plenty of crispy salmon skin, the salad also have quite a generous portion of raw salmon in all those mustard leaves & cherry tomato in the rather awesome sesame dressing. I’d have this for lunch anytime.

various kushiyaki (skewers) & gyoza
various kushiyaki (skewers) & gyoza

You can’t have a proper review of an izakaya without having some skewers. We tried teba (chicken wings, RM 6), buta (pork belly RM 6), uzura bacon (quail egg bacon, RM 6), banana bacon (RM 6), tomato gyumaki (tomato wrapped with beef, RM 7), tsukune (chicken meatball, RM 5), momo tama (chicken thigh wrapped with egg, RM 6), and negima (chicken with leeks, RM 5).

While these are some pretty good skewers, the one that stood out the most was the momo tama, the egg was prepared to a rather soft consistency and for some reason worked really, really well with the chicken thigh. We gobbled that up pretty fast.

San Ten Zeppin - pork belly, bacon, Australian beef
San Ten Zeppin – pork belly, bacon, Australian beef

If you enjoy BBQ, there’s only one way to improve the experience – by having it indoor, with air conditioning. The San Ten Zeppin sumiyaki (RM 55) gave us just that. There’re pork belly, bacon, and Australian beef. The meat are pretty thinly sliced so they cook rather quick, if you mess it up, it’s your own fault.

Teppan Ika Eeso, Spare Ribs Teriyaki, Akaebi Olive Ebi
Teppan Ika Eeso, Spare Ribs Teriyaki, Akaebi Olive

As if those weren’t enough food for 4 skinny Asians, we also tried their Teppan Ika Geso (cuttle fish, RM 15), Spare Pork Ribs Teriyaki (RM 33), and Akaebi Olive (RM 42).

The cuttlefish should make for a very good side dish for beer, and while I thought the ribs were a bit dry, I did enjoy the olive shrimp quite a fair bit, the olive gave it a bit of sweetness that complements the spicy deep fried shrimp quite well.

Haze, Calvin, Haze, Sim
Haze, Calvin, Haze, Sim

Overall, we did enjoy our dinner at Robataya. There are actually 2 other izakaya at Publika, and it’ll be tough to try to put a ranking on the list as they each have their strength and offers quite a different set of menu. You can’t realy go wrong if you pick Robataya for a meal, or some sake.

map to Solaris Dutamas

Address:
Robataya Izakaya
D4-G3-09, Publika

Solaris Dutamas, Kuala Lumpur
GPS3.170961, 101.665721
Tel03-6211 2785

Ever since Haze started her gallery shop GoJyu5 at Publika (you should check it out), we’ve been sampling the restaurants there quite a bit, and since the Entertainment App has buy 1 free 1 deal for ANTE, we decided it was time to check it out a couple weeks ago.

ANTE, Publika Solaris Dutamas
ANTE, Publika Solaris Dutamas

ANTE is located on the ground floor (G1) of the Publika, one of the easiest location to find if you’re not familiar with the ever so confusing layout of Publika (as it’s built on a slope). If you’re going on busy weekends, it’ll be wise to make a reservation as the place can get really busy in a jiffy.

At ANTE for some proper pork steak for dinner tonight. Got another main dish free from ENTERTAINER App too. Charred pork fat with those marbled dark meat, so good! No wonder the place is already packed and it’s not even 7pm yet. #kyeats #pork #ante #publika #nonhalal

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The interior is modern, comfortable, and has a dark-ish ambiance that’s probably very suitable for those who wants to bring your date for a nice dinner.

The claim of fame here are the pork steak, so that’s what we set out to try.

pork striploin black pepper sauce
pork striploin black pepper sauce

One bite into those pork steaks, be it the ribeye (RM 52) I ordered or the striploin with black pepper sauce (RM 38) that Haze had, it became evident why the place was so packed. They were absolutely delicious.

They’ve managed to grill pork steak properly – juicy, well marinated, and done at what I can only describe as a perfect medium rare that is cook well enough to be safe for consumer and yet managed to not have it dry and stale. If you’ve tried cooking white meat on grill before, you know this really requires proper skills.

pork ribeye
pork ribeye

Then there’s the sauce, my ribeye came with truffle butter sauce that worked supremely well with the meat, and just perfect with a small cut of those charred pork fat in every bite. The caramelized onion and black pepper sauce was on point for the striploin too.

whole smoked duck breast as appetizer
whole smoked duck breast as appetizer

Oh, by the way we also had a smoked duck breast (RM 25) as starter. It was basically a huge chunk of whole breast properly grilled and served with balsamic vinegar, simple yet delicious. I think you can have this and perhaps a dessert to make up an entire meal.

Well, looks like I’m going to revisit this place again soon. I’m already thinking of those pork!

By the way, if you

Furthermore, if you purchase it Entertainer App with Promo Code KYSPEAKS2017, you pay only RM 65 off instead of paying the full price of RM 145 (usual price)

map to Solaris Dutamas

Address:
ANTE
A2-G1-09, Publika

Solaris Dutamas, Kuala Lumpur
GPS3.170961, 101.665721
Tel: 03-6206 3364

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.

At Tsubohachi Izakaya today for dinner. They're running "Fukubiki" contest the whole of July with grand prize being a pair of flight tickets to Osaka! Total price worth up to RM 15,000. For non promotional items RM120 gets you 1 spin, RM350 3 spins, and RM700 8 spins! . #kyeats #byinvitation #tsubohachi #publika

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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

AFC’s latest foray in their long line of food & restaurant themed series comes in the form of  “Reality Bites: Rise Above with Style”, featuring two celebrity chefs – Johnny Fua & Sherson Lian of Elegantology.

I was invited to the premier of the show followed by a dinner at Elegantology, and since I’ve yet to have a taste at this rather unique restaurant that I’ve heard so much about recently, it was an opportunity I had to take.

Reality Bites premiere at Publika
Reality Bites premiere at Publika

Reality Bites is a six part series starting 10th December, at 9pm every Tuesday on AFC. The show takes part in Elegantology Gallery & Restaurant, featuring not only the glitz and glamour of running the kitchen of a higher end restaurant, but also the day-to-day challenge and many issues faced by the two chefs and their crews.

Chef Johnny Fua, Chef Sherson Lian, & the director of Reality Bites
Chef Johnny Fua, Chef Sherson Lian, & the director of Reality Bites

During the event, we were shown the first episode of Reality Bites in its entirety, alongside with an on-stage session with Chef Johnny Fua & Sherson Lian, the director of the series, as well as the creative director of Elegantology, Beatrice Looi.

So if you want to see a restaurant themed reality series that is closer to home, tune on your TV Tuesday 9pm on AFC!

some homemade bread to start, love the truffle butter
some homemade bread to start, love the truffle butter

After that of course, is what I was even more interested in, the degustation menu at Elegantology.

We started out with Elegantology Baker’s choice, served with truffle butter florets, paprika chickpeas hummus, and EVOO (olive oil & balsamic vinegar?). I think we must have asked for extra truffle butter at least twice, it was very good.

Ceviche scallop, foie gras cube with braised shimeiji mushroom
Ceviche scallop, foie gras cube with braised shimeiji mushroom

Next up was ceviche scallop, paw paw kerabu, nam pla influenced Ponzu sesame drizzle. A dish that has some similarity in Sarawak’s umai, both using acid to lightly cook the seafood. Scallop was huge, juicy, and delicious, I can hae this often. The kerabu was an interesting experiment, tho one that I wouldn’t care too much for.

Foie gras cube, olive lemon soil, soy bean milk braised shimeiji mushroom is similar to chicken liver pate, but undoubtedly a lot more luxurious and sophisticated. The mushroom adds a welcoming change of texture which I do appreciate.

oxtail broth, brandied sea cucumber
oxtail broth, brandied sea cucumber

Continuing our course was a much needed soup dish in the form of oxtail broth with brandied sea cucumber. The oxtail is de-boned while sea cucumber provided the texture that’s similar to beef tendon, but with a dash of seafood sweetness. The soup itself carried a nice herbal aroma.

tomato sake granita, sour plum shaved. Josen, Mei, Cheng Yi & KY
tomato sake granita, sour plum shaved. Josen, Mei, Cheng Yi & KY

Tomato sake granita, sour plum shaved was chosen as a sort of intermission to the degustation dinner course. It was cold, sour, and a tad sweet, perfect as a palate cleanser before we continue with perhaps the most important dish.

kobe beef skewer, miso pineapple bearnaise
kobe beef skewer, miso pineapple bearnaise

Which was the kobe beef skewer with miso pineapple bearnaise. This was the first time I tasted kobe beef (well at least that’s what they claimed), and yes, it was every bit as awesome as the sterling reputation it carries. The meat was super tender with superb marbling, a melt-in-your-mouth feeling that somehow does not compromise on texture.

It was so good we jokingly asked for second servings from the waiter, who actually complied! Sometimes you can achieve a lot more in life by just asking. 😀

barramundi, smoked muscovy duck glutinous rice; replated black forest gateau
barramundi, smoked muscovy duck glutinous rice; replated black forest gateau

The penultimate dish was barramundi, smoked muscovy duck glutinous rice. While the fish was fresh, it was perhaps just a tad too cooked for my liking, the glutinous rice was perfect though, goes especially well with the sambal-like sauce. Also, after the beef, nothing feels the same anymore.

The rather funky looking dessert was the replated black forest gateau, a bit of sponge, chocolate, ice cream, cherries, and cream all carefully arranged in a careless appearance. It was acceptable but perhaps did not live up to the capability of the restaurant. 

I really appreciate the idea behind Elegantology and their bravery in always experimenting with different dishes and menu. The overall dinner experience was very good, and while a couple dishes did not wow, they were mostly excellent, and most importantly, provide diners a different and unique gastronomic experience.

It was a wonderful night overall and I’m grateful for this opportunity.

map to Solaris Dutamas

Address:
Elegantology
35 Level G2, Publika, 

Solaris Dutamas, Kuala Lumpur
GPS3.170961, 101.665721
Tel: 03-6206 5577

After having a great time celebrating AhFa’s birthday at 42 East a few weeks ago with plenty of Kilkenny Draught, we decided to have an encore. This time our excuse was Suan’s birthday.

OK, maybe it wasn’t just an excuse, Suan is a dear friend and a big fan of Kilkenny (in fact, I first learned about this beer from her). Since she won’t be around on her actual birthday, we decided to get together a few days earlier.

Barfly, and these Kilkenny's reserved for Suanie
Barfly, and these Kilkenny’s reserved for Suanie

Our destination of choice this time was Barfly at Solaris Dutamas. A place where solving the parking puzzle requires a PhD, but hey, we do it for friends right?

Luckily we had the foresight in calling in a couple days earlier to book for a table.

Michael, Li Ling, Suan, KY enjoying some Kilkenny
Michael, Li Ling, Suan, KY enjoying some Kilkenny

The place was well packed with people when we reached there at about 9pm. I always like going to a busy place for draught beer, you know it will always super fresh.

In the case of Kilkenny at Barfly, yeap, the draught were fresh, fragrant, and every bit as how a good pint of Kilkenny should be. Something that we learned from the Kilkenny Masterclass experience.

some of the beer food we have to pair with Kilkenny beer
some of the beer food we have to pair with Kilkenny beer

Of course, when you have beer, you gotta have some beer food to go with.

Dark ale like Kilkenny pairs well with chicken, pork, and generally slightly stronger tasting food. Barfly happens to have quite a decent selection of snacks & even main dishes that goes well with beer.

Mike showing that all pint glasses hold the same volume
Mike showing that all pint glasses hold the same volume

We had their flaming chicken wings, superfly potato skin, pig in haystack (enoki mushroom + bacon), fries, ikan bilis with onion and chili, nachos, sausage kau, and commando chips.

Many of the dishes were a bit spicy, and when you wash down that spicy kick with a big gulp of cold beer, that feeling is just the best!

and.. we had a great time! Happy Birthday Suan
and.. we had a great time! Happy Birthday Suan

Awesome friends, great beer, and some food over a few hours – good times!

When do we do this again?