A couple weeks ago I was invited to a short weekend trip to Johor by some blogger friends. I gotta admit that I’m absolutely not familiar with the food scene in JB, having only been there a few times mainly for work where mobility for meals is pretty restricted.
October Japanese Restaurant, JB
Our first destination of the trip was October Japanese Restaurant, located near Mount Austin, a more upscale area in Johor Bahru. The restaurant is a converted residential unit with nice lush lawn and plenty of parking spots at the back.
While we may still be in December, October Japanese Restaurant already came up with their Chinese New Year dishes, and we were lucky enough to sample some of them.
Prosperity “Yee Sang” Assorted Sashimi with Wasabi Sauce
We started out with the Prosperity “Yee Sang” Assorted Sashimi with Wasabi Sauce (RM 68/RM 108 nett) that came with generous slices of – Norwegian Salmon, Maguro (Tuna) and Hamachi (Yellow Tail). They’ve also added fried Gyoza Skin and Roasted Almond Flakes to give the dish more crunchiness. A good alternative to consider for your “lou sang” session.
Auspicious Flaming Nabe
Then there’s the Auspicious Flaming Nabe (RM68.80 nett), with Norwegian Salmon and chicken breast mixing in with Shitake mushrooms, leeks and carrots to make a pretty sweet tasting miso based soup. Generous amount of “KaoLiang” Rice Wine and sake were used in this pot as well, which contributes to the whole flaming spectacle.
Fortune Sushi & Sashimi Platter, maki
For those who likes it raw, there’s the Fortune Sushi & Sashimi Platter (RM58.80 nett). The dish is beautifully presented on a wooden platter and came with rather generous amount of fresh seafood including Maguro, Hamachi, Unagi, and Salmon.
We also tried the Flaming Salmon Aburi Maki (RM29.90++), with salmon and special crab stick plus spicy sauce.
Grilled Edamame, October Special Bento, Kushiyaki Moriawase
Grilled Edamame (RM9.90++) is a good starter if you like your edamame with a kick, which I think will go really good with beer.
For those who likes bento, October Special Bento (RM59.90++) is a worthy option and comes with a little bit of everything, including salmon sashimi, unagi, and more.
And if you like it grilled, Kushiyaki Moriawase (RM44.90++) comes with scallops, Shitake Mushroom, Enoki Niku Yaki and other greeneries on skewers, and you’ll also find bacon in this platter as well, which makes this one of the few non-halal Japanese Restaurants in JB.
Address: October Japanese Restaurant No. 6a, 1, 8, Jln Jaya Putra 3/15, Bandar Jaya Putra, 81100 Johor Bahru, Johor GPS: 1.574499, 103.776892 Tel: 011-1426 5993 Hours: 12pm – 11pm daily
The name Isetan The Japan Store is often associated with very high end products as well as rather expensive price tags, but thankfully when it comes to their lower ground floor food offerings, the quality is still there, minus the overly crazy price tags.
The other day I took a detour and check out one of their many food stalls house within the departmental store’s grocery area and checked out Shoya Sushi Bar.
Shoya Sushi bar, at Isetan the Japan Store, Lot 10 KL
Shoya Sushi Bar takes up only maybe some 100 sq. foot of area and offers a relatively small menu consists mainly of sushi platter, hand rolls, and sushi don. A sushi don is priced from around RM 26.50 (Special Bara Chirashi Don) all the way to RM 90 (Omakase Shoya Kaisen Don), with nothing exceeding 3 digit price point.
We tried the Salmon and Salmon Ten-Don (RM 35) which came with four pieces of raw salmon as well as another four pieces of tempura salmon on a bowl of sushi rice. The salmon tempura required a little getting used to (slightly soggy texture), but the raw seafood was pretty fresh and tastes rather good.
Salmon and Salmon Ten-Don
I also decided to try one of their more expensive options on the menu – Chef’s selected sushi (special) priced at RM 85.
What came was a collection of sushi that really is right up there with some of the more expensive Japanese restaurants in terms of quality. There’s fatty tuna, tuna, squid, ikura, amaebi, salmon, yellowtail, mackerel, and tuna belly roll. I felt that this offers quite a good value despite its asking price.
Chef’s selected sushi (special)
If you find yourself in Bukit Bintang craving for some good sushi, this place should be in your short list.
Address: Shoya Sushi Bar Lower Ground Floor ISETAN The Japan Store KL Lot 10 Shopping Mall Jalan Bukit Bintang GPS:3.146462, 101.711758 Tel: 03-2141 7777
If you type Omakase in google, this is what you get:
(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
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
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
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
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
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 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 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
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
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
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
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
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
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 GPS: 3.118658, 101.675286 Tel: 03-2202 1133 Hours: 11:30 am – 3 pm, 6 pm – 10 pm
When thinking about Japanese restaurants, SS15 in Subang and KL city centre area usually spring to mind, and it wasn’t until I was invited by Logan to sample the food at Ishin Japanese Dining that there are actually good Japanese outlets in the relative older part of town that is Old Klang Road.
Ishin Japanese Dining, on Old Klang Road
Ishin is located along Old Klang Road, between Scott’s Garden and the junction that leads to Mid Valley Megamall. It is unfortunately, also the part of OKR that is relatively congested during rush hour (as with most part of KL anyway). Good thing is, parking isn’t an issue here at all, as the restaurant provides free valet service.
menu is on a tablet
The restaurant is formerly a residential bungalow building, and seating is split into upper and lower floors. Interior design and ambiance provides a comfortable and somewhat private dining experience due to the structure of the building.
Menu comes in the form of miPad, and pricing is on par with most Japanese restaurants of this statue.
For this visit, we sampled the New Year Eve Kaiseki, available only for one day on this new year eve at 31/12/2015. The set is priced at RM 160 NETT.
fugu skin vinegar jelly, kuri kanroni, anchovies in sweet sauce
For the six course Kaiseki, we started out with quite an exquisite appetizer that comes in three – the fugu skin vinegar jelly, kuri kanroni, and anchovies in sweet sauce.
The fugu skin jelly is quite an experience, slightly sourish with a really soft, have it with the shiso leave and it’s perfect. Kuri Kanroni is boiled chestnut, and tasted a bit like a cross between sweet potato and water chestnut. Anchovies, well, is anchovies, sweet and slightly crunchy, good for a change of texture.
braised Japanese turnip with kani miso served clear soup
Second course was braised Japanese turnip with kani miso clear soup, with bits of crab meat tucked into the turnip, beautiful and rather delicious in a simple way. This beats the usual miso soup by miles.
No proper Kaiseki is complete without some good sashimi.
The version here is served in a cute little shaved ice igloo with slices of fresh chutoro, salmon toro, and kampachi toro. These are the belly cuts of tuna, salmon, and yellow tail, and they’re absolutely wonderful. The little igloo also served to keep the fish in perfect temperature prior to entering your mouth, plus, they’re cute isn’t it?
unagi kabayaki, sujiko don
The fourth course was pan fried gindara with tsubugai (top shell) butteryaki. The cod was expertly prepared, and the top shell went really well with the butteryaki sauce that carries a strong hint of miso taste to it. I can have this with a bowl of rice and be a happy camper.
unagi kabayaki, sujiko don
Next up was unagi kabayaki, sujiko don. A simple dish with rice, eel, and salmon roe on top. The salmon roe here is cured in-house and has a firmer texture to it which we found rather nice, and unagi is never disappointing.
A thing to note, if you’re free, look up on eel’s life cycle, it is one of the nature’s mysteries. Absolutely fascinating.
cream tsutsumi, ao take macha ogura pudding, fruit tart
The last course of the New Year Eve Kaiseki was a dessert – cream tsutsumi, aotake macha ogura pudding, and fruit tart. The pudding in the bamboo casing was good, fruit tart too was delicious, but what we really liked was the cream tsutsumi mochi, makes for a great ending to a wonderful meal.
Ishin is now definitely in my mind as one of the choices for good Japanese food at reasonable prices in Klang Valley. Check it out.
Address: Ishin Japanese Dining No. 202 Persiaran Klang, Batu 3 3/4, Off Jalan Klang Lama Kuala Lumpur GPS:3.102737, 101.677789 Tel: 03-7980 8228
Every once in a while, I get invited to one of these fancy dinners that I imagined myself being a part of when I was working as a casual worker at a five star hotel in my high school days.
I thought that it’d be pretty awesome sitting down having a number of different courses of almost bite size food served in plates that are unnecessarily large, and wouldn’t it be even more cool if they have different drinks for each dish?!
That’d really be living the life, won’t it?
A Premium Wine Affair, Senja at Saujana Hotel
Well, last Friday was one of such days, and yes, that’s another teenage-hood dream come true moment (though not the first time).
I was invited to “A premier Wine Affair of the Saujana Hotels & Resorts Wine Collection“, a private event hosted by the Saujana to unveil its new wine collection.
Charcoal’s Australian Chef Robert Johnston
The wines were specifically made from Frankland Estate, Margaret River, Western Australia, a well-renowned winery with an approach to winemaking that values the importance of soil and environment.
In the kitchen was Charcoal’s Australian Chef Robert Johnston who prepared a distinctive five course menu to pair with the wines for a night of, well, wine and dine.
By the way, you can only get these wines from The Saujana
Note: Instead of paraphrasing the note and pretend that I know exactly how to describe these wonderful wines, I’m going to include the tasting note here verbatim, and by the way, most media/writers do get tasting notes for wine/whisky, we can’t magically come up with fantastic descriptions that are all pretty much the same.
After socializing a bit with the crowd, we sat down and dinner began, our first dish was the lightly cured salmon, pomelo, cucumber, verjuice jelly to be paired with Souvignon Blanc Semillon 2014. Refreshing and easy on the palette.
Tasting note: On the nose it shows exotic fruit aromas, lychee, mango, rose, quince and spices. On the palate it exudes a powerful, burst of fruit, flattering and round with lightly spicy finishing.
poached chicken and crispy noodles, shitake tea
Second course was poached chicken and crispy noodles, shitake tea. Paired with Chardonnay 2013, Miles from Nowhere.
The shitake tea makes an interesting base with its slightly bitter after taste, reminding me of chicken essence in a way. Crispy noodle provided interesting texture to the otherwise quite muted poached chicken. Very Asian-ish.
Tasting note: Butterscotch and ripe stone fruit flavours, with a rich and luscious creamy mouth feel. A complex wine with a spicy oak finish
Third dish was char grilled duck breast, sweet onion puree, apple and radish, balsamic reduction. Paired with Merlot 2014.
Really love the duck breast with the hint of charred taste. The Merlot carries mulberry and red plum fruit aromas, a touch of earthy complexity that went well with duck.
Tasting notes: Medium ruby red in colour. Alluring strawberry, mulberry and red plum fruit aromas with subtle hint of French oak spice and a touch of earthy complexity.
black Angus tenderloin, roasted pumpkin risotto,
oyster mushroom, bone marrow and parsley sauce
The main dish was black Angus tenderloin, roasted pumpkin risotto, oyster mushroom, bone marrow and parsley sauce. Paired with Cabernet Souvignon 2012. While the Wagyu from Hanaya a couple days ago was heaven, I still enjoy Angus beef with its more profound texture.
Tasting notes: A powerful yet elegant wine. Soft and rich with full body. Well rounded tannins on the palate with concentrates fruit flavours and provides a great length on the finish.
coconut rice, caramelized banana, candied coconut and chili
Coconut rice, caramelized banana, candied coconut and chili as dessert to end the night. Good food with excellent company, what a great way to start the weekends.
great company and awesome food with delectable wines
The other wines we tried were Sauvignon Blanc Semillon 2014 from Grape Expectations Estate, Margaret River, and Merlot Cabernet Sauvignon Cabernet Franc from Frankland Estate.
Address: Senja Saujana Golf & Country Club, Jalan Lapangan Terbang SAAS, 40150 Selangor GPS: 3.106865, 101.575285 Tel: 03-7846 1466 email: firstname.lastname@example.org