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Tag / saba

Last weekend I had the good fortune of attending a pretty special food event, the Flavours of Hanami live presentation and tasting at Isetan the KL Store. For those who aren’t familiar with Isetan the KL Store, it is the re-branded up class retail at the exact location previously occupied by regular Isetan at Lot 10.

The place is tastefully decorated and packed with premium Japanese wear, everything from fashion items, watches, gadgets, grocery and food.

chefs from Tsuruse, Chikurin, & Kinobu restaurants
chefs from Tsuruse, Chikurin, & Kinobu restaurants

The Flavors of Hanami features four chefs each from Izuu, Tsuruse, Chikurin, and Kinobu restaurants of Kyoto in live presentation and tasting format at the following schedule:

  • Shogo Sasaki of Izuu – 21, 22 Jan 2017
  • Nobyuki Tanaka of Tsuruse – 18, 19 Feb 2017
  • Hideki Shimoguchi of Chikurin – 4, 5 March 2017
  • Takuji Takahashi of Kinobu – 18, 19 March 2017

dishes from which chef fancies you? the mock-ups sure look interesting
dishes from which chef fancies you? the mock-ups sure look interesting

Each day features 3 separate sessions at 12 pm to 1:30 pm, 3 pm to 4:30 pm, and 6 pm to 7:30 pm and priced at RM 100 per person including GST. The venue is at 3F THE CUBE/CUBE_1 Isetan The Japan Store KL.

One thing to note, each session is limited to 25 pax only so get your tickets as soon as possible at CUBE_1 ticket counter, Isetan.

The Hanami theme is an ancient tradition of welcoming spring, and this event is a chance for Malaysians to experience the cultural aspects as well as the delicacies associated with the Hanami season.

chef Shogo Sasaki of Izuu with his signature dishes
chef Shogo Sasaki of Izuu with his signature dishes

We were fortunate to participate in the first session with Chef Shogo Sasaki, the 7th generation owner of IZUU, a Kyoto sushi restaurant established in 1781, a restaurant that has its history 176 years before we yelled Merdeka and formed this country, talk about tradition.

chef Shogo Sasaki of Izuu preparing the famous saba-sugatazushi
chef Shogo Sasaki of Izuu preparing the famous saba-sugatazushi 

Chef started out with the live demonstration in preparing the most famous dish of IZUU – their saba-sugatazushi, or whole mackeral lightly matured sushi. The fish is expertly prepared and then wrapped in vinegar-ed kelp to draw out  a stronger umami flavor to the sushi.

We then got to try two versions of it, one freshly prepared and the other matured for a day. It was well balanced with a pretty complex taste unlike normal “fresh” sushi. Best thing is, you can actually buy this wrapped up to bring back to home country from his restaurant in Kyoto as the sushi would last for about 2 days.

and here's Izuu's signature chirashi sushi
and here’s Izuu’s signature chirashi sushi

Next up was their signature Chirashi sushi. Chirashi sushi is often my go-to dish in any Japanese restaurant, and the version prepared by chef Sasaki is as good as any. While it is slightly lighter on seafood, the seasoning of rice and other ingredients were right on point, making it quite a delightful dish.

we ended the day with green tea and mochi
we ended the day with green tea and mochi, notice the bunny?

The chef also showed us how the saba-sugatazushi cross section resembled a bunny, which is how IZUU got it’s logo all the way from 200+ years ago.

We then ended the session with a piece of traditional mochi and a cup of green tea so good we had to go downstairs to get the packet to enjoy at home.

If you love authentic Japanese cuisine with a cultural twist to the whole experience, don’t miss out on this event.

map to Lot 10, KL

Address:
3F THE CUBE / CUBE_1
ISETAN The Japan Store KL
Lot 10 Shopping Mall
Jalan Bukit Bintang

GPS: 3.146462, 101.711758

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

One of the little secrets every food lovers should know is that the way to enjoying awesome meals without breaking the bank is to just do it during lunch. Many higher end or even fine dining restaurants usually have a rather affordable lunch menu that offers dishes that are of very high quality but at substantially chaper price tag than after sun down.

Ten Japanese Fine Dining at Marc's Residence
Ten Japanese Fine Dining at Marc’s Residence

Hence, my favorite time to visit good Japanese restaurants is during lunch time.

Today, lets look at Ten Japanese Fine Dining’s offering.

I’ve been to Ten for an invited food review but was never a paying customer until recently when I was told that they serve lunch. See, even though I really loved what they do, fine dining prices just isn’t something I can afford often.

Assorted Sushi & Ten Special Bento
Assorted Sushi & Ten Special Bento

Ten offers about two dozen different dishes priced from RM 28++ onwards for lunch. There are also four different omakase courses priced at RM 100, RM 118, RM 148, and RM 240++ per person.

So far my friends and I have tried about half a dozen of the set lunches.

The Assorted Sashimi (RM 60++) and Assorted Sushi (RM 60++) featured some of the freshest seafood ingredients anywhere, with grated wasabi and chawamushi that’s packed of ingredients on the side.

Interestingly, they also have a Vegetable Sushi (RM 28++) option that Jean tried, and according to her, it was very unique and absolutely awesome. Instead of fish you get asparagus, tomato, baby corn, mushroom, cucumbers and so on presented in a way that’s not unlike seafood.

Assorted Sashimi, Saba Shioyaki, and Vegetable Sushi
Assorted Sashimi, Saba Shioyaki, and Vegetable Sushi

Other dishes we tried were Bara Chirashi (RM 48++), Saba Shioyaki (RM 35++), and Ten Special Bento (RM 55++). None of these disappoints and I wouldn’t hesitate to order any of them again.

The only item that’s still at fine dining price would be their green tea at RM 6++ with unlimited refill. I guess you somehow have to pay for the great ambiance and excellent service somehow.

Haze, Sophia, and Jean all agreed the lunch sets were awesome
Haze, Sophia, and Jean all agreed the lunch sets were awesome

So now I have Ten Japanese Fine Dining together with Fukuya and Ozeki as the few Japanese restaurants that serves really good and value for  money lunch sets.

map to Marc Residence

Address:
Ten Japanese Fine Dining
A-G-1, Marc Residence, Ground Floor,
No.3 Jalan Pinang,
50450 Kuala Lumpur
GPS: 3.155396, 101.710203
Tel03-2161 5999
Hours: 11:30 am – 2:30 pm, 6 pm onward, closed on Mondays
Webtenrestaurant.com.my

SS15 in Subang is seriously shaping up as the premier one stop center for Japanese food. Years ago, there was Rakuzen, and now, the number of restaurants at this little area has blossomed to double digit. One of the latest installment being Yamada.

Having blogged about Rakuzen, Hyotan, Jyu Raku, and Sumi Ka, I guess it make sense to pay a visit to Yamada as well.

Yamada Japanese restuarant at Subang SS15
Yamada Japanese restuarant at Subang SS15

Yamada is located right across the road from SJMC, just a few doors down from Jyu Raku and Rakuzen. Whenever a restaurant opens among the more established and still able to attract customers, you know they must be at least decent.

The crowd at weekend night when we were there mainly consists of Japanese expats, and the chef himself is an old Japanese guy, that’s always a good start.

Yamada Bento
Yamada Bento – fried chicken, sashimi, tempura, unagi, and more

I went for Yamada Bento (RM 60) that came with quite a lot of stuff, chicken karaage (fried chicken), tempura, sashimi, unagi, potato salad, saba, and miso soup.

The sashimi tasted pretty awesome, with hotate (scallop), salmon, surf clam, yellow tail, and one of the better cuts of tuna. Chicken was pretty good if not slightly oily. I don’t have any negative feedbacks for the tempura, unagi, or potato salad, but I thought the saba (i think it was saba fish) was a little over cooked to be honest.

potato salad, california handroll, saba, torikara bento
potato salad, california handroll, saba, torikara bento

Haze ordered a serving of potato salad (RM 12), a california handroll (RM 8), and the saba, torikara bento (RM 48). That was of course, a bit too much food. The bento came with saba that tasted nicer than mine, the same chicken, and a bowl of ramen that I thought tasted rather good. Instead of avocado, the california roll curiously had mango in it, a little strange but it worked.

map to Yamada Japanese restaurant

Compared to some the competitors, the price at Yamada seems a bit steeper. As for food wise, the quality is there but I didn’t think it was always spot on. Next time I’m gonna spy on the Japanese customers to see what they order. I suspect most of their raw stuff must be very good, as I can attest with the serving of sashimi in my bento.

There’re still a handful of Japanese restaurants at the area I haven’t been too, next time then!

Address:
Yamada Japanese Restaurant
No. 5, Jalan SS15/5A,
47500 Subang Jaya,
Selangor Darul Ehsan

GPS: 3.078895, 101.592711
Tel: 03-5635-2574