Nook at Aloft KL is a pretty funky all-day dining restaurant that serves international and Asian cuisine.
The restaurant set up reminds me of those futuristic movies back in the 80s, little squarish pods that has a bench, chairs, and even come complete with artificial turf. Among the three Starwood hotels at KL Sentral area, this one is definitely the most hip.
Nook at Aloft, playful & hip
Earlier this month, together with a couple other reviewers, we were invited to sample the MIGF (Malaysian International Gourmet Festival) menu at Nook.
MIGF is about bringing the best out of the world class chefs who are already working at the restaurant (instead of one off “import” from overseas). It is about paying a little extra to get a more pleasant fine dining experience with quality ingredients and first class service.
At Nook, Chef Steven Seow flexes his creative mind and came up with this very interesting set of dishes. The festival runs throughout the entire October, 2013 (yes, this blog post is way late.)
smoked scallop umai sushi, duck confit, Villa Maria Chardonnay, NZ
The starting dish is smoked scallop umai sushi, duck confit with pomegranate and yogurt sphere. A two part dish that is served with the soya sauce on the little plastic drip thingy.
The sushi rice is coated with a fine layer of ebiko, and the scallop prepared with method inspired by umai (a traditional Sarawakian seafood preparation method, I had it over Mabul/Sipadan trip thanks to Irene). Duck confit with yogurt sphere provided a different texture and savoury taste, I particularly liked the bit of fried duck skin on top.
We had Villa Maria Chardonnay from New Zealand to start the dinner. Lovely pairing.
Sarawak lobster and ablone laksa, Leffe Blonde
Next up was the Sarawak lobster & abalone laksa with organic soba noodle. This was a dish unlike any I’ve tried, a sort of traditional hawker dish meet fine dining.
The soup is sourced all the way from Sarawak to ensure that it was authentic and just right. Lobster and abalone definitely provided a huge dose of luxury to this dish, and I thought the use of soba noodle was a clever touch to lighten up the dish a little bit too. Some of us asked for extra soup cos it was so delicious!
A glass of cold Leffe Blonde went well with this spicy dish.
wagyu beef cheek rendang, Madfish Chiraz, Australia
Continuing with the same philosophy, the next dish was Wagyu beef cheek rendang with farm vegetables, archar jelatah, and turmeric coconut rice.
Last I had something similar to this dish was the big lunch box at EEST, Westin back in 2009, and this definitely brought back the memory. The beef cheek was superb and as per Wagyu standard, super tender and flavourful. The turmeric coconut rice carries a nice and not overly strong fragrance, with two quails egg sitting on top of some sambal should you want to spice it up a bit.
Red goes well with beef, so we had Madfish Chiraz from Australia to wash down the meat.
Chef Steven Seow with the 8 treasure ice kacang
Concluding the dinner was another playful invention by Chef Steven Seow – the 8 treasure ice kacang. Basically shaved ice with 8 different ingredients such as lychee, blackberries, nangka, peanuts and so forth with 5 different syrup served on the side in syringes. Mix and match it the way you want and be responsible if you ruined your own dessert.
We had fun with this but my advice is to mix it up quick cos the ice tends to melt and create a hardened outer layer if you spend too much time taking photos.
me with Trixha & other food reviewers at Nook, Aloft KL
The menu is priced at RM 280+ per set for what you see here. The version without alcohol is RM 180+ per person, and for those with smaller stomach, you can go light for RM 160+, which exclude the wagyu dish but does come with a glass of Chardonnay. Every set comes with coffee or tea too.
I’d want to check out Nook’s normal menu too.
Address: Aloft Kuala Lumpur Sentral No 5, Jalan Stesen Sentral, 50470 Kuala Lumpur GPS: 3.13295, 101.68619 Tel: 03 2723 1188
The name Kampachi is not foreign to fans of Japanese cuisine in Malaysia, especially to those who gravitates towards the higher end establishments. Starting as restaurants within Equatorial hotels, the Kampachi brand now spread outside from its confine and can be found at several other locations.
The latest branch being at Plaza 33 in Petaling Jaya, and we were lucky enough to to sample the food and drinks at this fine restaurant a couple weeks ago in a private food review session with a few other like minded bloggers.
Kampachi at Jaya 33, check out the sake ball
Right by the side of the restaurant main door hung a ball of something that can be easily assumed as a hive of geometrically evolved species of bee, but is in fact, a “sake ball”. A ball made of cedar twigs traditionally hung over the door of sake breweries to signify new arrival of (high quality) sake to customers.
Appropriate here as Kampachi prides itself in stocking one of the largest selections of Japanese sake, including some hard to find “cult” sakes from exceptional breweries that are made available in Malaysia exclusively by Kampachi.
open kitchen concept, with plenty of wine and sake
Kampachi has certainly spent a lot of effort in creating a very striking interior of the 198 person capacity restaurant. A lot of traditional Japanese materials, such Japanese paper, imported floor and wall tiles, and more are applied in a contemporary way to make up a sophisticated and modern look.
I especially like the bamboo seating pods that can seat maybe up to 5-6 person that can be rotated for added privacy.
In the interest of not bothering paying customers with camera flash & loud chatters, we had the session in one of the three private rooms. Interestingly, these rooms come with a private sushi kitchen of sort, concealed by a movable panel that kinda reminds me of those cabinets that conceal TVs in the 80s.
shima aji sashimi (raw striped jack)
Our review session was of the omakase meal (priced at RM 220), which means “I’ll leave it to you”, or degustation menu in Japanese. Typically you get the freshest seasonal ingredients and chef’s favourite dishes this way.
Our first dish was the Shima Aji Sashimi, or raw Striped Jack.
Chef Looi, who carved the fish right before our eyes behind that private kitchen, told us that the very fish beautifully presented to us was still in Japan the very same morning.
To describe the fish as merely “fresh” would be an understatement. I can’t criticise any aspect of the sashimi - taste, fat content, and visual appeal were all simply spot on.
the sashimi, shake kawa salad (green vege with crispy salmon skin & salmon roe)
Cold sake is dispense from a special holder that keeps ice separate as to not dilute the drinks. While the mechanism is visually similar to milking a cow, you don’t need to squeeze or suck, just a gentle tap will do.
Our second dish was Shake Kawa Salad, green vegetable with crispy salmon skin and salmon roe. I particularly like the very thinly sliced crispy salmon skin, made available from the 2-3 whole salmon consumed here each day.
wagyu teppanyaki (grilled Australian wagyu beef)
Before continuing with more seafood, we were served with Wagyu Teppanyaki, the beef sourced from Australia, grilled medium rare, and served with the unique Kampachi truffle sauce.
The sauce is a blend of Tosa Shoyu and mushroom broth with a hint of black truffle and olive oil. I usually don’t have my beef with any condiment, but this sauce managed to make it just that much better. My only complain is that they don’t sell the sauce in bottles.
unfiltered sake, ankimo beko an (pan-seared angler fish liver with simmered radish)
In French cuisine, foie gras often signifies luxury, and in Japanese food, the equivalent would be Angler fish liver, or Ankimo Beko An.
The liver makes up quite a large part of the fish, has a very rich texture. Simmered radish is used to expertly mask any fishy taste the liver might carry to balance this unique ingredient. This was the 3rd time I had ankimo, first was in Vietnam, and second at Hokkaido Ichiba restaurant.
Following the cold sake, we were served warm, unfiltered sake. The milky color is pretty unique for usually clear looking sake, and yet was definitely smooth and leave a feeling of warmth and comfort in the stomach.
aburi sushi (seared sushi) – anago (conger eel), shake harasu (salmon belly), hotate (scallop)
miso soup with striped jack bones
Three types of Aburi Sushi (seared sushi) were chosen for the night – Anago (conger eel), Shake Harasu (salmon belly), and Hotate (scallop). Each were seared just very lightly and still partially raw at the bottom, the first time I tried sushi prepared this way and I liked it.
Miso soup was made with the bones from our first dish, and the striped jack definitely contributed to the extra sophistication in the soup that would have been quite boring otherwise.
garlic fried rice, Japanese peach, and ciki enjoy the fruits
We specially asked for garlic fried rice just cause Ciki needed some carb for her half marathon preparation, and I was glad to go along with one as well. Most definitely the best garlic fried rice I’ve had, it’s hard to explain, there weren’t any magical ingredients, just plain old rice, garlic, eggs, and such. Execution was the key, great job by the chefs.
Instead of fancy desserts, we had a couple slices of Japanese peach.
These fruits were priced at RM 66 per peach, and “WHAT?!!!??” was my initial reaction. Then I took a bite, and it was a realization and instant understanding on why and how a fruit barely the size of my fist can cost more than 4 hours of solid domestic housework. You get what you paid for, it was excellent and now I’m staring at this piece of apple on my desk while writing this and dreading it.
Haze, KY, and our parting drinks – sake bomb
As for drinks, we started out with the pink colored cocktail - Blushing Maiko (trainee Geisha) to get us started prior to dinner.
After the cold and warm sake, it was a mixture of green tea with Hakushu Single Malt Whisky, interpretation of Baileys the Japanese way perhaps?
We concluded the night with Sake Bomb - shot glasses of sake lined up atop beer glasses and knocked down with Domino effects, it was quite a show and I suspect the bartender has done this a hundred times probably with water and tea before perfecting the skill. We were well impressed, and of course, had one for the road.
It was a great dinner, and I want to go back.
P/S: The famous Kampachi Sunday Buffet is back and now available exclusively at the Plaza 33 outlet, priced at RM 118++ for adults and RM 68++ for children below 10.
Address: Kampachi P1-02, First Floor Plaza @Jaya 22 Jalan Kemajuan, Seksyen 13 Petaling Jaya, Selangor GPS: 3.10988, 101.63787 Tel : 03-7931 6938 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Hours: 12-3pm for lunch, 6-11pm for dinner
Ten Fine Dining Restaurant is back, relocated from their previous location at Publika (where I got to meet Iron Chef Sakai in 2011). The new location at Marc Residence replaced the lot that Delicious used to operate. Right by KLCC, it has much better visibility than being in the maze that is Publika.
I was fortunate enough to be one of the few who was invited to a review session at Ten last week.
Ten Japanese Fine Dining at Marc’s Residence
The floor plan isn’t exactly conventional. There’s a long dining hall with smaller private rooms on the sides, with another big classy private dining hall that can house some 20 people at right side of the entrance. The interior decoration certainly has a flavor of modern Japanese styling but one that does not stray too far from the tradition, as evident with the stone garden at the other end of the restaurant.
unique Japanese Dango, cocktails
Our review is on the four course degustation lunch menu that starts with the unique Japanese Dango made with seasonal vegetables filled with French foie gras.
The three dango (or dumplings) were made from carrot, sweet potato, and yam. The taste was subtle yet exquisite, with the bits of foie gras enhancing the overall flavor. Katsuobushi (smoked skipjack tuna) and leek shavings giving the soup an extra touch of sophistication, a good way to start our lunch.
assorted ocean fresh sushi & sashimi
The second course had a simple description on the menu – assorted ocean fish sushi and sashimi. On the plate these beautifully crafted delights:
grilled baramundi and sushi rice with salmon roe
slow cooked scallop with chili and plum paste
poached alfonsino fish marinated with natto soy sauce
simmered white clam with sticky egg sauce and grilled sushi rice
Otoro (tuna belly) sashimi and tuna tartar with a hint of truffle flavor
geoduck with Italian leaf soy
anago (salt water eel) with black garlic vinegar
Tasmanian salmon sushi with mascarpone sauce
Tasmanian lobster sushi with deep fried leek soy sauce
It was hard to choose a favorite, and if I had to pick one I’d probably choose the otoro, with truffle flavor really adding to the already superb cut of tuna belly. While I personally dislike natto somehow worked, and I even helped my table-neighbor finished hers.
This was by far the most sophisticated plate of sushi/sashimi I’ve ever tasted. If you’re a fan of Japanese food, this is a must try.
teppanyaki styled Miyazaki A5 wagyu beef
Our third course was another masterpiece. Teppanyaki styled Miyazaki A5 Wagyu beef served with Tasmanian garlic chips and daikon.
I asked for mine to be prepared rare (chef recommended only rare or medium-rare), and it was truly glorious. A bit of freshly grated wasabi complemented the meat beautifully. Teppanyaki and ponzu sauce is available, but to truly enjoy a piece of red meat, none were really required. The garlic chips were great to have in between those chunks of pure heaven.
Ten’s specialty desserts
The sad thing is, every meal has to eventually come to a conclusion, and the fourth course was a dual of Ten’s specialty desserts. It was perhaps impossible to keep up to the excellence of the previous three courses, but dessert lovers would not be disappointed with the bitter sweet chocolates and the sweet & sour combination of plumb and jelly.
Nana, Michelle, KY, Chenelle, Tian Chad
Ten Japanese Fine Dining will have some pretty stiff competition in a few other restaurants within the vicinity. Ozeki Tokyo Cuisine offers great lunch value and is just a stone’s throw away at Menara TA, Fukuya at Jalan Delima can never be discounted for fine Japanese foods, and Fukuhara too is a fine alternative if you’re looking for a good evening of Japanese delights.
Ultimately though, I think Ten does manage to set itself apart with it’s modern offerings and pretty unique menu. Teppanyaki course is at RM 200 and RM 300, Sushi course at RM 300, and Omakase (degustation) course is priced at RM 300 per person.
Address: Ten Japanese Fine Dining A-G-1, Marc Residence, Ground Floor, No.3 Jalan Pinang, 50450 Kuala Lumpur GPS: 3.155396, 101.710203 Tel: 03-2161 5999 Hours: 11:30 am – 2:30 pm, 6 pm onward, closed on Mondays Web: tenrestaurant.com.my
I first discovered Fukuya Japanese restaurant while having lunch at the cheaper alternative that is Levain right next door (decent “Italian” food, great for lunch), and subsequently paid a visit all by myself a couple months ago when I was overcame by the craving for some good Japanese food.
I’ve been there a few more times since, this review is from 3 separate visits to Fukuya, twice for lunch and once over dinner.
Fukuya Japanese restaurant at Jalan Delima, KL
Located at Jalan Delima, Fukuya is situated in a building that was most likely a posh single story bungalow in its previous life.
The restaurant is classy with minimalistic but tasteful decoration, and there’s also free valet service on premise.
Siero set with scallops, RM 43++, lunch
The menu for set lunch includes some half a dozen sets ranging from RM 40 to 80, with a choice of main ingredients in many of them. (check out their website for menu)
My first trial was the Siero set with scallops in favor of grilled eel or salmon. It came with tempura, sashimi, salad, miso soup, chawanmushi, pickles, and small dessert. While RM 43++ isn’t exactly a cheap lunch option, what you get is certainly value for money. Ingredients were fresh, and those four huge scallops? They were fat, juicy, and absolutely delightful.
The tempura, chawanmushi, sashimi, and even miso soup were all of quality and did not disappoint in my taste buds.
Wa-Sushi bento, RM 58++, lunch
The next visit was also over lunch, this time with Horng and I ordered the Wa-Sushi bento (RM 58++). This had tofu, chawanmushi, salad, a selection of sushi, some grilled seafood, vege, miso, tamago, and more.
For those who kept complaining that we don’t get proper sushi here in Malaysia, this is the place to come. You get the raw fish touching the plate on both ends while sitting on the sushi rice. The ratio of fish vs rice was right, and everything else was again, top notch.
I have to go there again to try their other set lunches, for science!
Sashimi set, RM 110++, dinner
My most recent visit to Fukuya was with Haze over dinner. We ended up there due to my memory playing tricks on me thinking I had a food review at Renoma Cafe, which was actually happening only a week after.
I went for the plainly named Sashimi set (RM 110++). The set includes chawanmushi, miso soup, appetizer, pickles, desserts, and of course – those glorious raw fish. I’m usually not a huge fan of tako sashimi (octopus), but the version served here was so good I actually miss it now. Of course, like all proper Japanese restaurant, freshly grated wasabi is served.
Agedeshi tofu, Tempura, Karaage, Unagi rice
Haze chose to order ala-carte instead of set and went for agedeshi tofu, tempura, karaage (fried chicken), and unagi don (grilled eel rice).
She gave nothing but glowing reviews of the dishes ordered. I particularly like the fried chicken, it was something simple but yet they just seemed to hit the right spot on its taste and texture. It might sound crazy, but I think this is a dish worth trying if you’re there.
Haze and KY, well satisfied at Fukuya
Dinner ended up costing us over RM 200, but we left happy and I’m sure to return. Fukuya also serves wine, sake, and choices of desserts. One day when I hit the lottery or something, I shall try their chef’s recommendation seasonal kaiseki course *keeping my fingers crossed*
Address: Fukuya No 9 Jalan Delima, 55100 Kuala Lumpur GPS: 3.14629, 101.72064 Web:fukuya.com.my Tel: 03-2144 1022
Now check this video with the latest update of the mysterious light captured in Hengstacker Tunnel, this is the latest update to the strange highway incident in Germany. It’ll be interesting to see the cargo and that chasing car actually are.
This is a good thing, it creates an environment with healthy competitive spirits among Japanese restaurants. Some strives to provide cheaper prices, some a great dining experience, and others come up with creative and delicious dishes not easily found anywhere else. Fukuharu at Terrace in Ampang got it right by managing to provide two out of the three points in this “measurement”.
Fukuharu at Terrace, Ampang
Nestled in a classy bungalow just off Jalan Ampang, Fukuharu Japanese restaurant is unlike most .. well, restaurants. There’s lush green lawn and even a swimming pool by the side. Inside, the dining hall is tastefully decorated. On a sunny afternoon, the hall is mainly lit by natural sun light, giving it a bright yet cozy feeling that I really like.
Together with Evelyn and Veron, I was invited by Poesy to a review session at Fukuharu over lunch, hosted by the Japanese restaurant manager, Masamichi-san.
seafood korokke and tamago mentai sushi
We started out with the specialty dish of the restaurant – Tamango Mentai Sushi (RM 15). Mentai is one of my favorite ingredients of all time, and the combination with one of the simplest ingredients in tamago (grilled egg) was surprisingly awesome. The soft texture gives way to the extreme savory taste from mentai, brilliant. This is a must order.
The Seafood Korokke (RM 22) wouldn’t be a dish unfamiliar to those who has had crab cakes, except this dish was a bit creamier and has more seafood ingredients in it. I like those tiny sprouts on top and thought it gives the dish more balance. You’ll find prawns, scallops, fish, and potato in this seafood “cake”.
chef’s sashimi selection, salmon tataki salad
Chef’s Sashimi Selection (RM 38) isn’t a “big” dish for the price, but one with superior quality and a pretty interesting presentation. Instead of pure traditional style, this sashimi dish is served with truffle oil and wasabi dressing on top of some salad that’s more at home in Western restaurants. The interpretation does work very well and I love the combination of truffle oil with raw fish, wonder why it’s not done more often.
For those who wants to opt for a light healthy lunch, the Salmon Tataki Salad (RM 28) would be a good selection. Flash seared salmon with home made Caesar dressing, this salad is one that I wouldn’t mind having (in addition to other dishes tho, hehehe). I like the fact that they serve it with some ikura as well.
lamb moromisoyaki – this is super delicious!
Lamb Moromisoyaki (RM 35) was probably the first Japanese lamb dish I’ve ever tasted, and incidentally it was also one of the best dishes on the afternoon. The lamb rack marinated with mori-miso and then carefully grilled to perfection. It was glorious, the slight saltiness of mori-miso together with the savory taste from lamb was perfect, I wish the serving was bigger.
Veron even ordered a portion to take away.
unagi kamameshi and hotate kamameshi
For those who likes clay pot rice, unagi kamameshi and hotate kamameshi (RM 35 each) will give you a taste of Japanese way of preparing these dishes. Both were served with generous amount of eel or scallops. If you love the slightly burnt taste of rice, don’t over stir it (I’m sure those with experience in clay pot chicken rice knows this trick already).
black sesame cheesecake, chawan mushi
Fukuharu also serves their chawan mushi (RM 12) slightly differently, a version that is a tad bigger in portion and quite a lot softer in texture. They’re also prepared fresh here, but to me, perhaps a dish that is priced a bit too high for what you get.
The black sesame cheesecake (RM 18) tho, is a combination of taste that’s new to me, and one that shouldn’t disappoint any dessert lover. I find myself enjoying this quite a bit more than I usually do with any desserts.
KY, Masamichi-san, Evelyn, Veron, Poesy
For ice cream lovers, you’d find black sasame, green tea, and a couple other types of ice cream around here as well. They tasted as these ice creams usually do, doesn’t disappoint, but not exactly special either.
Ultimately, Fukuharu is a Japanese restaurant that managed to carve a niche in this crowded market with the dishes they serve while being fairly competitive in pricing. I’d love to go there again.
Thanks for the invite and the ride, Poesy!
Address: Fukuharu Japanese Restaurant Terrace Hock Choon 241-B, Lorong Nibong Off Jalan Ampang 50450 Kuala Lumpur GPS: 3.159799, 101.728717 Tel: 017-209-8477