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Tag / sashimi

Several weeks ago I was invited to Kurata Japanese Restaurant to preview their Okayama Fruit Fair. Fine Japanese food is among the top of my list, so obviously I accepted the invitation without hesitation. Furthermore, the invitation was referred to by Ringo, a dear friend, which made it all the better.

Okayama fruit fair at Kurata Japanese restaurant, Parkroyal KL
Okayama fruit fair at Kurata Japanese restaurant, Parkroyal KL

Kurata is located at the lower lobby of PARKROYAL Hotel, which itself is situated right across from Sungai Wang. While being quite familiar with Bukit Bintang, I must say that this was the first time I stepped foot into this restaurant.

First timer to the restaurant may find it a little bit difficult to find, and this is because for some reason unknown to me, Kurata is located WITHIN another hotel restaurant, but trust the signs, and you shall get there.

Shine Muscat, White Peach and New Pione, sesame short bread with fruit topping, macaroon
Shine Muscat, White Peach and New Pione,
sesame short bread with fruit topping, macaroon

Okayama, a prefecture in Chugoku, Japan, is also regarded as the “Kingdom of Fruits”. The region is known as the birthplace of some of the finest fruits Japanese has to offer, including the white peach.

Since this post is about Okayama, lets start with the fruits & desserts (although we were served with them last).

The fruit platter comes with shine muscat, white peach, and new pione. The muscat is seedless and has very high sugar content with low acidity, while the new Pione (also called black pearl) is so rich in flavor it’s almost like biting into wine, I love it. White peach needs no introduction, each bite is so delicate and juicy it’s unlike any peach I’ve ever had. Fantastic.

You can also have the fruits served on sasame short bread, with the pastry providing a contrast to bring out the sweetness of fruits even more. Alternatively, for macaroon lovers, how about some beautifully crafted macaroon stuffed with fresh Okayama fruits?

white peach roll cake in vanilla sauce, Peach and Tofu Parfait
white peach roll cake in vanilla sauce, Peach and Tofu Parfait, Ringo & Haze

For those who like something richer, the white peach roll cake in vanilla sauce will certainly fit the bill, though you do lose the taste of freshness from the peach that some of us love so much.

The peach and tofu parfait is yet another way to enjoy the white peach, this dessert is delicate and doesn’t come with strong artificial sweetness like most parfait do, so for those who doesn’t like their desserts too sweet, this is perfect.

The fair run till end of August, 2015. (yeah, this post is a little late).

appertizer for Sushi Course at Kurata
appetizer for Sushi Course at Kurata

Prior to all the Okayama goodness, we were also treated with the Sushi Course at Kurata (RM 190).

The course comes with appetizer in the form of beans, tofu, and angler fish liver with jelly. I can’t exactly remember the details of each ingredients, but they made a pretty good combination to kickstart the meal.

sashimi on ice
sashimi on ice

Next up was air flown sashimi – and no expenses were spared. We had kanpachi, otoro, and sake (salmon). The fresh fish were accompanied with grated wasabi, and if you haven’t had otoro with high grade soya sauce and grated wasabi, you haven’t experience the finest of sashimi. It was as good as any.

grilled alfonsino, wagyu beef, miso soup
grilled alfonsino, wagyu beef, miso soup

The course next switched to something more savory, in the form of grilled alfonsino fish with a side of pickled bamboo shoots.

To be honest, I think grilled alfonsino is perhaps a dish that requires a bit of an acquired taste. This is not the first time I had it, but I still think the rather firm texture and sweetish taste isn’t something that “blows my mind”, so to speak. It was nice, but it wasn’t great.

We were then served with miso soup.

assorted sushi, including my favorite - uni (sea urchin)
assorted sushi, including my favorite – uni (sea urchin)

The main dish of assorted sashimi were then served, and it was among some of the best I’ve had. The presentation was basic and straight to the point, but the sweet shrimp, sea urchin, salmon, kanpachi, salmon roe, and even the sushi roll were really well crafted and more than meet expectations.

Food at Kurata is certainly worth exploring, and for those who like a quiet and romantic ambiance, this may fit the bill perfectly.

map to PARKROYAL KL

Address:
Kurata Japanese Restaurant
Lower Lobby, PARKROYAL HOTEL.
Jalan Sultan Ismail, 50250 Kuala Lumpur
GPS: 3.144423, 101.712351
Tel03-2110 0226
HoursWednesday and Thursday Lunch close, Sunday dinner close

With the on-going house renovation work, I’ve been rejected (or accidentally ignoring) quite a lot of food review invitation, but when Sarah from Kimpachi messaged and invited me to Kampachi Sake Dinner Series, I just couldn’t say no.

When Kampachi comes calling, you just don’t reject, and I’ve never regretted the decisions.

kampachi sake dinner series featuring Izumibashi Sake
kampachi sake dinner series featuring Izumibashi Sake

In conjunction with Izumibashi brewery’s first visit to Malaysia, Kampachi hosted a dinner series that took place at their Troika outlet on the 16th June, 2015, and the day after in Kampachi Equatorial, Penang.

The dinner features a 9 course Kaiseki menu by Kampachi’s Executive Chef, Koji Tamaru, using produce and seasonal seafood directly sourced from Japan. The meal was paired with four types of Izumibashi sakes.

Izumibashi Tonbo Sparkling with edamame
“welcome drink”, edamame, and brewery founder/owner Yuichi Hashiba

We were joined by the 6th generation founder/owner of Izumibashi brewery, Yuichi Hashiba, and sake sommelier, Shigeyuki Masaki. Together they shared the history of the brand, how they produce the sake, and what made them special.

Izumibashi Tonbo Sparkling with Amera Tomato Mizu Nasu
Izumibashi Tonbo Sparkling with Amera Tomato Mizu Nasu

The first three courses were paired with Tonbo Sparkling, this is an unfiltered sake with a cloudy appearance, only very lightly gassy and quite wholesome in taste. Apparently filtered sake is a bit of an imitation to sparkling wine of the West, and Izumibashi purposely left it unfiltered to show it’s true Japanese origin.

We started the dinner with something that is utterly simple yet surprisingly delicious – Amera tomato and slices of Raw Japanese Eggplant. These raw vegetables were just lightly seasoned with salt and pepper.

I’ve had tomato of similar calibre a couple times and these were equally as crunchy and refreshing, the eggplant though, was a total revelation.I never thought eggplants could be consumed raw, and I’m glad I was wrong, it was most excellent.

Niawabi Shake Toba Morokyu Kinsanji Miso, Hamo Kuzuuchi Junsai Janome Kyuri Bainiku
Niawabi Shake Toba Morokyu Kinsanji Miso,
Hamo Kuzuuchi Junsai Janome Kyuri Bainiku

Next came Simmered Abalone, Dried Salmon & Cucumber with Miso. A beautifully arranged dish with very contrasting texture offered by the soft and slightly chewy abalone, the very crispy dried salmon, and those crunchy cucumber. I particularly loved the dried salmon which is almost like the best salted fish I’ve ever had, and you can eat it straight.

The Clear Soup with Pike Conger Eel, Water Shield, Ring Shaped Cucumber & Plum came next. While the eel, cucumber, and plum were not stranger to most diners, I found the water shield provided quite a new experience to me. It tasted a bit like some sort seaweed encased in a slimy exterior. A good change of pace but I’m not quite sure I really enjoyed it.

Maguru & Kanpachi sashimi with Izumibashi Junmai Ginjo Megumi Blue Label
Maguro & Kanpachi sashimi with Izumibashi Junmai Ginjo Megumi Blue Label

The next three dishes were paired with Izumibashi Junmai Ginjo Megumi Blue Label, made with Yamada Nishiki rice grown in house by Izumibashi. This particular type of rice produces good sake as it absorbs water and dissolves easily.

Sashimi came in the form of Maguro & Kanpachi – Tuna and Amberjack. These fish were flown fresh from Tsukiji market and of course, did not disappoint. The sake complimented the seafood perfectly well.

Gindara Shio Kouji Yaki, Awafu Ageni Harinegi Kinome
Gindara Shio Kouji Yaki, Awafu Ageni Harinegi Kinome

The fifth course was the simple Grilled Cod Fish Marinated with Salt Crust, with superb execution by the chef. I absolutely loved the texture of cod skin and the way the fish is cooked, it was spot on.

Awafu Ageni Harinegi Kinome translates to Simmered Yellow Wheat Gluten served with Fine Julienned Leek & Leaf Bud. Quite a fancy name and description, and tasted a little bit like a more sophisticated version of tofu with a richer texture.

Tatake Ebi Kesho Age with Shishito, Yaki Onigiri Chazuke Shio Konbu
Tatake Ebi Kesho Age with Shishito, Yaki Onigiri Chazuke Shio Konbu

The last three dishes were paired with Izumibashi Yamahai Junmai Shinriki. Shinriki translate to “power of god”, and in this case this sake is made with the most tedious and labour intensive method that helped produce the most “umami” flavour.

Deep Fried Chopped Prawns with Japanese Green Pepper was the first dish we sampled with this sake. The greenish “powder” you see next to the chili was actually salt, together with the fried ingredients, it was simple yet very delicious.

Grilled Rice Ball in Broth with Salted Kelp came next, it was almost like the Chinese dinner where you always have a rice dish at the penultimate dish (sort of, but not really). You appreciate the rice and wasabi in broth with a bit of a grilling treatment to bring out the flavour, subtle but quite delightful.

Yuzu Sorbet, Yuzu Mousse, Yuzu Kaki with Yamada Jyuro Plum
Yuzu Sorbet, Yuzu Mousse, Yuzu Kaki with Yamada Jyuro Plum

We concluded the dinner with Homemade Japanese Citrus Sorbet, Mousse and Dehydrated Persimmon. If you haven’t had yuzu before, go get some yourself, it is the best citrus there is (to me anyway).

We each also had a glass of Yamada Jyuro Plum, it was a fantastic dinner with some really fine sake. Made for an excellent night. Thank you again Sarah and Kampachi for the lovely dinner.

Check out Angeltini’s post for write up from the sake angle.

map to Kampachi at Troika

Address:
Kampachi
The Troika Jalan Binjai
Kuala Lumpur

GPS: 3.158052, 101.718122
Tel: 03-2181 2282

I almost never say no to food review at classy Japanese restaurants, so when the invitation from Hanaya came, I immediately made it a point find a way to get there even though the timing wasn’t exactly perfect.

And as it turned out, that was a wise choice. Walking from KLCC to Grand Millennium Hotel under the hot sun was definitely worth it.

Hanaya Japanese Restaurant at Grand Millennium Hotel, KL
Hanaya Japanese Restaurant at Grand Millennium Hotel, KL

Hanaya took over the Takumi Fine Dining’s previous spot right by the lobby of the hotel, and run by the same people who manages the excellent Ten Sushi at Marc’s Residence (lunch review).

While Ten is modern and veered towards the higher end fine dining experience, Hanaya aimed to be more approachable to the general public and offers traditional Japanese cuisine with more affordable pricing while maintaining very high quality, as apparent during this review session.

Our tasting menu for this pre-opening review was specially selected to showcase some of the different dishes and ingredients from Hanaya.

Shirako, or soft roe with ponzu sauce
Shirako, or soft roe with ponzu sauce

We started the session with Shirako, or red snapper soft roe. For those who aren’t familiar with the difference between normal roe & soft roe, well, normal roe is fish eggs, while soft roe is the male counterpart.. or in the less glamorous term – fish sperm sac.

It was incredibly rich and creamy, but perfectly balanced with the acidity from ponzu sauce. I must say that I find myself really enjoying this delicacy despite knowing the ingredient intimately. I’d want to have this again for sure.

Oriental clam fritters with grated green bean sauce
Oriental clam fritters with grated green bean sauce

Next up was Oriental clam fritters with grated green bean sauce and spring vegetable. A more muted taste that serves as a welcoming change from the strong first dish. It was an simple yet rather delightful.

entree - five types
entree – five types

The entree came with five different items, all of them carefully crafted and expertly prepared.

We had botargo (salted dried fish roe) which reminded me of the texture of dried mango minus the fiber; sticky tofu skin that was simple yet intricate; bamboo shoots in balsamic vinegar that provided the fresh, crunchy feeling; red snapper with Mozuku seaweed giving a new interpretation of the way to enjoy raw fish; and finally a play in colors with prawns in 3 ways – with nori, ohba leaves and arare (crispy Japanese cracker).

The entree was quite a revelation, and I did enjoy them all, though the prawns could perhaps bit a bit more crunchy, but I’m nitpicking.

assorted seasonal sashimi
assorted seasonal sashimi

What’s a proper Japanese meal without sashimi?

Our assorted seasonal sashimi platter comes with 5 types of fresh raw seafood, each beautifully crafted and carefully prepared.

Starting from ebi with cucumber and avocado sauce, seared salmon with bonito cream, saba with vinaigrette, aoyagi (Chinese mactra, a type of clam), and finally chutoro with sweet spicy gochujang sauce. All of which were rather excellent, and one of the very few times I had sashimi without the need of any soya sauce or wasabi since they were all very well balanced already.

Akita Wagyu steak (50 gram)
Akita Wagyu steak 

Next up was charcoal grilled Akita Wagyu steak, I believe this simple three slices of beef was actually prepared by God himself. It was, of a lack of a better word, heaven. It was very lightly grilled and served with a few pieces of fried garlic, a bit of daikon, carrot, and a touch of sea salt & pepper.

If you think sex is good, that’s because you haven’t had this beef.

steamed alfonsino fish
steamed alfonsino fish

Steamed dish came in the form of alfonsino (a type of deep water fish with huge eyes) with Japanese yam and egg white. I thought the texture of the fish was perhaps slightly harder than I’m used to, but overall it was a good combination, and I really like the fluffy texture of the foamy egg & yam concoction.

seasonal sushi at Hanaya Japanese Restaurant
seasonal sushi at Hanaya Japanese Restaurant

Penultimate dish that was simply labeled “rice dish” in the menu turned out to be sushi (all rice dish should be sushi isn’t it?)

My favorites were sea urchin, scallops, and of course, otoro! The melt in  your mouth texture was just so irresistible! Every piece of the five on the plate was spot on, and again, we didn’t even need wasabi!

coconut bavorios with pineapple jelly in pino colada style
coconut bavorios with pineapple jelly in pino colada style

Unfortunately, every good meal had to come to an end, and to conclude this special menu, we had an unassuming looking dessert that came in a martini glass – coconut bavorios with pineapple jelly in pino colada style. The layered dessert lived up to the expectations set by the previous dishes, the combination of sweet, milky, and sour taste was perfect. I was already rather full at this point, but finished the dessert nonetheless.

KY, Ringo, & Caydence at Hanaya Japanese Restaurant
KY, Ringo, & Caydence at Hanaya Japanese Restaurant

Omakase at Hanaya ranges from RM 200-250, and there is also quite a decent selection of ala carte item. I believe I’m going to go back there perhaps to try their lunch menu pretty soon!

map to Grand Millennium Hotel, Kuala Lumpur

Address:
Hanaya
Grand Millenium Kuala Lumpur
160, Jalan Bukit Bintang, Kuala Lumpur
GPS: 3.148006, 101.712225
Tel: 03-2110 5499

When it comes to Japanese restaurants, KL is spoiled for choices. Probably 80% of the hotels has an in house Japanese restaurant, there bound to be a place serving sushi at every shopping complex, and they are also represented in most newer commercial centers.

It is then very easy to get lost in the conversation, and higher end Japanese restaurants often have to offer something unique to set themselves apart. Be it ambiance, ingredients, or experience.

Zipangu at Shangri-La Hotel, KL
Zipangu at Shangri-La Hotel, KL

Personally, Zipangu at Shangri-La KL always have a special place in my heart as it was the restaurant where I first experienced foie gras back in 2007, as you would remember the first Kobe beef (at Elegantology), or the first ebiko (at Jusco Pyramid), first tempoyak (at Tenggol Island), etc.

So when I had the opportunity to be sample the Early Spring Lobster Kaiseki at Zipangu, I agreed to it immediately.

The six course menu is available from 15 to 31st March 2015, and priced at RM 280++ per person.

soy milk tofu with lobster & sweet sticky soya sauce
soy milk tofu with lobster & sweet sticky soya sauce

We started out with a dish that is visually very similar to chawanmushi, but what is usually made of steamed egg is instead chilled home-made soy milk tofu, with the topping of wasabi, sweet sticky sauce, and of course, lobster. The visual-almost-misrepresentation did not take away from the brilliance of the appetizer, it was simple yet elegant.

octopus with field mushroom and soba noodle
octopus with field mustard and soba noodle

The second course was octopus with field mustard and soba noodle. Another light dish showcasing not only seafood, but also the vegetables of the season in Japan. I particularly like the addition of bamboo shoots.

sashimi with salmon, lobster, and seabream
sashimi with salmon, lobster, and seabream

No Kaiseki is complete without some raw ingredients. For this we have sashimi with salmon, lobster, and seabream. If you haven’t had lobster sashimi before, I urge you to give it a try, it is one of my favorite raw seafood ever, in fact, I think it is the best way to enjoy lobster.

The soya sauce is mixed with lemon in this instance to give it an even fresher feel. I really enjoyed this.

hot dish - lobster and seasonal vegetables with Bonito fish gut sauce
hot dish – lobster and seasonal vegetables with Bonito fish gut sauce

The meal then turn up the heat just a bit with the next serving being a hot dish of lobster and seasonal vegetable with salted fish cream sauce. The star of this dish is the cream sauce, as explained by our server, it is actually made from Bonito fish gut.

It was subtle yet you can definitely feel its presence, sort of like how having Natalie Portman sitting at a quiet corner would make an impact to a room.

grilled Wagyu sukiyaki roll
grilled Wagyu sukiyaki roll

The next dish took a departure from seafood to honor another Japan’s famous ingredient – Wagyu beef. The good chefs at Zipangu simply called this Sliced Wagyu Beef Sukiyaki Roll.

It was stuffed with mushroom and other seasonal vegetables grilled with perfection. Dip the roll in raw egg infused sukiyaki inspired sauce, and you have an implosion of richness with savory overdose. It was really satisfying.

lobster fried rice with pickles
lobster fried rice with pickles

Like most course meals, the penultimate dish is usually something you can fill your stomach with, and for this we had lobster fried rice (you can also choose from garlic fried rice, seafood fried rice, claypot cooked rice or steamed rice.)

The fried rice tasted rather muted at first, but with the accompanying pickles, it suddenly became balanced and, well, good! The lack of salt/soya sauce in the rice was to make way for the pickles, this was the first time I had fried rice this way, though the concept isn’t totally unfamiliar to me since you have onigiri served in similar fashion as well.

KY & ahfa at Shangri-La KL, with our professional Japanese server
KY & ahfa at Shangri-La KL, with our professional Japanese server
(actually the Guest Service Manager – Yoshihiro Hattori)

Panna Cotta with Cherry Blossom Flavour ends the Early Spring Lobster Kaiseki dinner, an experience that is truly Japanese and executed perfectly at Zipangu. I really enjoyed this review and the walk from KLCC under hot sun to Shangri-La was definitely worth it.

The menu only lasts till end of this month, so if you’re a lobster lover, don’t miss out.

Map to Shangri-la Hotel, KL

Address:
Zipangu
Shangri-la Hotel
Jalan Sultan Ismail
Kuala Lumpur

GPS: 3.152139, 101.709419
Tel: 03-2032 2388

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