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Of the five restaurants recently opened at Isetan The Japan Store’s 4F The Table, Sushi Azabu would be the one that has the most prestige. An offshoot from the Michelin star restaurant from New York, Sushi Azabu promises authentic and intimate dining experience in its 40 seat set up.

Cher Saito, Sushi Azabu at Isetan The Japan Store KL
Chef Saito, Sushi Azabu at Isetan The Japan Store KL

We sampled a 5 pieces of sushi from Chef Saito Makoto Sam during the launch and came away impressed. So a week after the event, we decided that a proper meal at Sushi Azabu was required.

The course menu here consists of three choices – Koi at RM 120 will get you appetizer, 10 pieces of sushi and miso soup. The Azabu course at RM 220 that promises the following:

  • Appetizer
  • 2 kinds of sashimi
  • Chawanmushi
  • Palate freshener
  • Nigiri 7 pieces
  • Maki mono
  • Miso soup
  • Dessert

Or you could go all out with the Omakase menu for RM 420 and let the chef decides what you should have for dinner. Obviously, we went for broke.

nasu nibitshi - fried eggplant
nasu nibitshi – fried eggplant

So these are the dishes we had for dinner on the 1st of March 2017 off the Omakase menu at Sushi Azabu.

Nasa Nibitshi was our appetizer, a deceptively simple dish consists of fried eggplant in some very light broth/sauce and topped with finely shaved bonito flakes. Light with very subtle flavor, it does the job well to leave us wanting for more.

sashimi - kampachi, tai, aji
sashimi – kampachi, tai, aji

Next was sashimi in the form of kampachi, tai, and aji; or yellow tail, sea bream, and horse mackerel. The quality was top notch, and somewhat surprisingly our favorite was the horse mackerel. The freshly grated wasabi too was a treat in itself and we wasted none of it.

chawanmushi
chawanmushi

Chawanmushi was our next dish, the version here is simple, no fuss, but very well executed.

grilled Spanish mackerel
grilled Spanish mackerel

Grilled Spanish mackerel came next, we thought that chewing this together with the pickle yield the perfect combination of flavor that simply explodes in your mouth. This was a very well seasoned traditional dish.

stewed sowrd fish
stewed sword fish

Stewed sword fish came next, a dish that is new to me. The fish is topped with a piece of starchy cube that compliments this savory dish quite well, though I felt that perhaps the sophistication of this dish escapes me. Someone with more experience in Japanese cuisine will probably enjoy this more than me.

firefly squid with sweet miso
firefly squid with sweet miso

Then came the cutest dish of the night – firefly squid with sweet miso. A perfect balance of sweet, salty, and savory taste that is further accentuated by the freshness of firefly squid, this was one of my favorite non-sushi dish of the entire course.

Sushi Azabu

The main dish was of course, sushi, and we got ten pieces of these goodness in the form of chutoro, cattlefish, snapper, golden eye red snapper, striped jack, sea urchin, fat tuna roll, and raw prawn.

At Sushi Azabu, they take the guesswork out of eating sushi. Chef Saito expertly apply the perfect amount of soya sauce on each piece, as well as the appropriate amount of wasabi his experience hands deemed worthy of the sea bounty. So you simply just.. eat, no dipping into the saucer or fiddling with wasabi, grated or otherwise.

sushi - chutoro, cattlefish, snapper, golden eye red snapper, striped jack, sea urchin, fat tuna roll, prawn
sushi – chutoro, cattlefish, snapper, golden eye red snapper,
striped jack, sea urchin, fat tuna roll, prawn

The result was an experience worthy of the asking price. Each piece was perfect, and each offers an expression in some of the bests Japan has to offer. We thoroughly enjoyed and if I say I don’t miss it as I am writing this, I’d be lying.

miso soup & yuzu shaved ice
miso soup & yuzu shaved ice

A relatively simple bowl of miso soup with prawn head helped wound us down, and we concluded the dinner experience with a simple dessert of yuzu shaved ice.

the menu at Sushi Azabu KL
menu at Sushi Azabu KL

If you’re a sushi lover, this is surely a place to check out. I think I’m going to be back to try their more affordable menu one of these days.

map to Lot 10, KL

Address:
Sushi Azabu
The Table, Level 4
ISETAN The Japan Store KL
Lot 10 Shopping Mall
Jalan Bukit Bintang
GPS: 3.146462, 101.711758
Tel: 03-2119 2625

When it comes to hotel restaurants, Shangri-La must be the gold standard, I’ve been to a number of corporate events, attended wedding dinners, and been to a few restaurants under Shangri-La group. The experience has always been a positive one, so when I received the invitation for the reopening of Lemon Garden at Shangri-La KL, I knew having to brace the traffic would be worth it.

Shangri-La KL Lemon Garden re-opening
Shangri-La KL Lemon Garden re-opening

My prediction was correct, the food and dining experience was great, and traffic was thoroughly atrocious thanks to the light drizzle on a Friday evening. Alas, most of the invited guests and members of media managed to show up on time to witness the grand opening and ribbon cutting ceremony, the all important event that was in the way of us getting our dinner.

love the new seafood station
love the new seafood station

First and perhaps most importantly, here are the prices:

International Lunch Buffet
Monday – Friday (12noon – 2.30pm)
RM 128 nett (adult), RM 64 nett (child)
Saturday (12noon – 3pm)
RM 148 nett (adult), RM 74 nett (child)

International Sunday Brunch
Sunday (12noon – 3pm)
RM 168 nett (adult), RM 84 nett (child)

International Dinner Buffet
Sunday – Thursday (6.30pm – 10.30pm)
RM 158 nett (adult), RM 79 nett (child)

Seafood Dinner Buffet
Friday – Saturday (6.30pm – 10.30pm)
RM 208 nett (adult), RM104 nett (child)

Sunday Champagne Brunch (inclusive of 1 bottle of Veuve Cliquot per person)
Sunday (12noon – 3pm)
RM 488 nett (adult)

good selection of sushi and sashimi
good selection of sushi and sashimi

The newly face lifted Lemon Garden is designed by Bond Studio Inc from Japan and took four months to renovate, the result is an ambiance that is rather elegant, sophisticated, yet very welcoming. The restaurant now also has an alfresco dining area at the garden terrace offering a scenic view by the koi pond.

Personally though, I think the indoor tables are just great for buffet dinners as you are that much closer to the humongous selection of food.

ample selection of traditional Chinese dishes
ample selection of traditional Chinese dishes

I can safely say that the selection of dishes at Lemon Garden is the most impressive I’ve seen so far, and I’ve been to quite a number of buffets ever since the inception of this blog.

Let’s start with the new seafood station. There’s snow crabs, fresh oysters, scallops, crabs, spanner crabs, prawns, clams, mussels, crayfish, as well as sushi and sashimi. All these dishes are either boiled or raw, and with almost no seasoning, the taste is entirely up to the quality of raw ingredients, particularly on the freshness of these seafood.

In that sense, it did not disappoint at all, I had two plates entirely filled with seafood for dinner.

cold cuts & salad
cold cuts & salad bar

The Chinese section has dimsum, double boiled soup, chicken rice, a noodle station, as well as plenty of dishes you may find at wedding dinners, including steamed fish, mushroom with brocolli, sea cucumber, and mantis prawn with  salted egg yolk.

tandoori chicken, poached chicken, or roast chicken rice?
tandoori chicken, poached chicken, or roast chicken rice?

Then there’s the Asian station. Here you’d find tandoori chicken, naan, satay, murtabak, chicken tikka, roti canai, and others. There are also other local signature dishes such as Nyonya laksa, curry, and more.

Italian & Spanish cuisines are part of the line up too, as with selection of cheese
Italian & Spanish cuisines are part of the line up too, as with selection of cheese

Moving to the West, you’ll find several types of pizza, a selection of bread, cheese, pasta, huge selection of salad, and my favorite – roast beef and lamb rack. The pizza here is made in the traditional wood burning stove too.

red meat includes roast beef, lamb rack
red meat includes roast beef, lamb rack

Then of course, for those with sweet tooth, the dessert pavilion offers a dazzling display of both local and international desserts. You can find ice kacang, waffles, crepes, chocolate fountains, an assortment of cakes, tarts, ice creams, and various traditional Malay and Nyonoya kuih.

dessert includes Western & traditional Malaysian kuih muih
dessert includes Western & traditional Malaysian kuih muih

So next time if your significant others can’t decide what he/she wants to eat, bring them here and you can be quite sure that there’ll be something that will satisfy even the most choosy diner.

dinner was made even better with media friends
dinner was made even better with media friends

Map to Shangri-la Hotel, KL

Address:
Lemon Garden
Shangri-la Hotel
Jalan Sultan Ismail
Kuala Lumpur

GPS: 3.152139, 101.709419
Tel: 03-2074 3904

We Malaysians love buffets, but more often than not, most buffets around Klang Valley offers a variety of many different cuisines, much like the cultural make up of the country, which allows us to sample many varying dishes at the same time. Now that’s not a bad thing, but sometimes, you just want to concentrate on (mostly) one single cuisine, and you want it buffet style.

If that’s your calling and your choice of cuisine happens to be Japanese food, then Tatsu’s Saturday dinner buffet may just be something you want to check out.

Authentic Japanese Buffet at Tatsu
Authentic Japanese Buffet at Tatsu

The Saturday dinner buffet featuring authentic Japanese cuisine started at on the 6th of August and will run through 26 November 2016. We were among the few fortunate invitees to be sampling the spread on the first day of its offering at Intercontinental Hotel.

The all-you-can-eat deal is priced at RM 118 nett per adult and RM 69 nett for children between age 5-11 years.

Sushi or Sashimi anyone?
Sushi or Sashimi anyone?

The spread is concocted by Assistant Chef Tommy Kuan and comprises of some 75 items, and obviously, we got the night started at the raw bar with some sushi & sashimi.

Here you find a selection of salmon, tuna, and butter fish sashimi in pretty generous cuts. There’s ebi, tamago, inari, sake, and maguro sushi as well as some sushi rolls to pick from. Quality are more than decent, though lacking some of the more premium ingredients like amaebi or otoro, this is to be expected at this price point I suppose.

onsen egg, baby octopus, and other small dishes
onsen egg, baby octopus, and other small dishes

Other dishes from the “appetizer” bar includes those perfectly prepared Onsen eggs, salad, baby octopus, and a selection of small Japanese vegetable dishes which I really enjoy.

some pre-cooked Japanese dishes too
some pre-cooked Japanese dishes too

For those who likes pre-cooked items, there are a few selections too. Udon, soup, chawamushi, edamame, spicy tofu, miso soup, and even Japanese curry. To be honest, these aren’t my usual dishes to go for in a buffet such as this, because what I really enjoy more is up next…

made to order teppanyaki dishes
made to order teppanyaki dishes

The live teppanyaki cooking!

Here you pick the ingredients (salmon, prawns, squid, butter fish, chicken, beef, mushroom, vege etc) and have the chef cook on the spot. They’re usually ready in 5-10 minutes and then you can enjoy the piping hot teppanyaki dishes. I thought their chicken teppanyaki was particularly delicious.

"ala minute" dishes - ebi tempura, saba, kaki furai, sawara teriyaki
“ala minute” dishes – ebi tempura, saba, kaki furai, sawara teriyaki

In addition to teppanyaki, there are also a selection of “ala minute” dishes you can order to be served to your table. These includes ebi tempura hand roll, California hand roll, salmon teriyaki, saba shioyaki, sanma shioyaki, chicken teriyaki, sawara teriyaki, tempura moraiwase, and kaki furai.

Some of these dishes tend to get tepid & tired looking on a buffet spread if they’ve been left there for a while, so having them freshly made to order is a great idea.

beautifully crafted desserts
beautifully crafted desserts

Then of course, there’s Japanese desserts such as shiratama zenzai (red bean soup with mochi), manju (traditional Japanese confection), and assortments of ice cream, including one of my favorites – black sesame flavor.

fruits, black sesame ice cream, onsen eggs, Haze & KY
fresh fruits, black sesame ice cream, onsen eggs, Haze & KY

I really enjoyed the buffet spread, and though it offers pretty decent value for the price at a up class hotel restaurant in the heart of KL. If you’re up to some authentic Japanese buffet, do not that the last day to enjoy this at Tatsu is at the end of November 2016, don’t miss out.

map to Intercontinental Hotel, KL

Address:
Tatsu Japanese Cuisine
Intercontinental Hotel

165 Jalan Ampang,
50450 Kuala Lumpur
GPS3.159767, 101.718045
Tel03-2161 1111
Webwww.intercontinental.com

If you type Omakase in google, this is what you get:

o·ma·ka·se
ˌōməˈkäsā,ōˈmäkəsā/
noun
  1. (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
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
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
 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
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
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

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 wasabi moose and hand grated wasabi - octopus, yellow tail, mackerel
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
GPS3.118658, 101.675286
Tel03-2202 1133
Hours11:30 am – 3 pm, 6 pm – 10 pm

Earlier this week we were invited to Hanaya Japanese Dining to sample their 2016 Mother’s Day Menu, which the restaurant is offering only from 6th to 8th May 2016 (RM 180+ per pax). My last visit to Hanaya was almost exactly a year ago, operated by Sushi Train (which also has Ten, Senya Solaris, Sushi Ichiro, Menya, and more under their umbrella), their quality of food has always impressed me, hence the repeated visit.

Hanaya Japanese Dining with 2016 Mother's Day Menu
Hanaya Japanese Dining with 2016 Mother’s Day Menu

The philosophy of the Mother’s Day Menu at Hanaya is one that put health in emphasis. The major ingredients chosen for the 6 course set each has properties that especially beneficial to the female body, which I find pretty interesting. These benefits are from a mixture of traditional believes and modern nutritional knowledge.

To me thought, I just know that they tastes good, which is my number one criteria 😀

Pumpkin Chawamushi
Pumpkin Chawamushi

Our Amuse was Pumpkin Chawamushi. Pumpkin having B Carotin supports beautiful skin and hair, while galvanized iron in egg enhanced the female hormone secretion. All I know is that it was complex and delicious.

sashimi on crushed ice
sashimi on crushed ice

Second of the six course was sashimi. Tuna with DHA to lower cholesterol, Travoli with EPA that helps in hardening of arteries, Astaxathin in salmon with anti aging care and recovery from exhaustion properties, plus golden cuttlefish that contains lysine, which helps in hair restoration.

The seafood was certainly fresh, while we had yellow tail in this tasting session instead of Travoli, I was still more than satisfied. The presentation for this sashimi dish was rather exquisite too.

grilled Canadian lobster and Hokkaido scallop
grilled Canadian lobster and Hokkaido scallop

Main course – grilled Canadian lobster and Hokkaido scallop garlic butter with dry tomato & herb sauce.
Lobster for cancer suppression, scallop with taurine that helps improvement of fatty liver, and dry tomato is rich in vitamin c. Two different seafood from each side of the Pacific ocean make up this wholesome dish that utilizes Western style preparation method, a perfect marriage.

hijiki seaweed rice and Asuka milk miso soup
hijiki seaweed rice and Asuka milk miso soup

4th and 5th course – shokuji, or hijiki seaweed rice, with dietary fiber for detox effect, & Asuka milk miso soup, with miso having isoflavon that helps suppress menopausal disorders.

The seaweed rice was subtle in taste, and I thought the Asuka milk miso soup tasted much richer but in a good way, especially for those who loves the milkier texture.

"dearest mother" dessert
“dearest mother” dessert

To end Hanaya Japanese Dining’s mother’s day 2016 menu – “dearest mother” dessert, with avocado ice cream (lowers blood pressure), rose hip (vitamin c & e – antioxidants), and misc cereals (minerals to fix menstrual irregularities).

I thought the six course menu was rather exquisite but not over the top, it is available only for 3 days (6-8/5/2016) so if you want to treat mom for a meal with thoughts behind the menu, this is certainly worth checking out.

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