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If there’s a Japanese food I have to choose to go with cold beer, there’ll be no doubt in my mind that it has to be yakitori, so when I got the invitation to review the offering at Torii at TTDI thanks to Kirin Ichiban, I was obviously more than happy to oblige.

After all, a premium Japanese beer with one of the higher end yakitori restaurants, you’d be foolish to not do it.

Kirin Ichiban promotion at Torii, TTDI
Kirin Ichiban promotion at Torii, TTDI

The reason we were here was to try the pairing of Kirin Ichiban with the dishes. Kirin is made with 100% malt, and brewed with an innovative “First Press” method by extracting the malt liquid from only the first press. Perhaps a little bit like “extra virgin olive oil” (I may be a bit off here), this is what contributes to the smoothness and premium taste.

At Torii, there’s also a promotion going on every Wednesday and Thursday night, with a glass of Kirin going for only RM 10.

veal chunk, squid tentacles, and crispy cheese beef yakitori
veal chunk, squid tentacles, and crispy cheese beef yakitori

The restaurant is located at the inner, slightly quieter part of TTDI that isn’t plagued with crazy parking problems like some of the busier areas a couple minutes away. It is simple, elegant, and exude a very classy, fine dining feel without having a menu that is, I think, quite accessible to many of us.

broiled lobster chowder, bonded unagi & foie gras, upper thigh
broiled lobster chowder, bonded unagi & foie gras, upper thigh

Like its name suggests, yakitori is the speciality here at Torii. We tried wings (RM 8.90), squid tentacles (RM 10.90), sweet potato (RM 5.90), upper thigh (RM 6.90), rock lobster (RM 11.90), crispy cheese beef (RM 12.90), and veal chunk (RM 15.90). None of these disappoint, but if I have to pick, upper thigh, rock lobster, and cheese beef would be those you should try.

If you’re having these with beer, the chef will usually make the yakitori just a tad saltier, which really enhances the tasting experience, and Kirin with it’s crisp and refreshing taste provides excellent contrast to the strong tasting yakitori.

If you like something soupy, go for the broiled lobster chowder with crab croutons (RM 18.90) that also prepared with porcini mushroom, shallot, and olive oil. I’d love to have this on rainy days.

triple peaks - toro, unagi, and amoebi sushi
triple peaks – uni, amoebi, toro sushi

Perhaps surprisingly, cold beer goes rather well as a stand-in for green tea when paired with sushi. The triple peaks (RM 26.90) is a plate of three premium sushi with uni (sea urchin), amoebi (sweet shrimp), and toro (tuna belly). For under RM 30 this is not only awesome, but also provides very good value for the ingredients provided.

Then there’s Autumn risotto (RM 27.90), a deceptively simple dish with crab claw, egg yolk & asparagus. Beautifully presented and equally satisfying in the taste department. This dish would  not disappoint any Italian food connoisseur.

wings, avocado de la mer, sweet potato, green tea creme brulee, nutella gyoza
wings, avocado de la mer, sweet potato, green tea creme brulee, nutella gyoza

Other dishes we sampled include the bonded unagi & foie gras (RM 29.90), kampachi uni jalapeno (RM 34.90), and avocado de la mar (RM 19.90). These aren’t exactly yakitori nor are they strictly traditional Japanese dishes, but they went so well with Kirin and left us wanting for more even as our stomach was filling up to the brim.

Of course, no fine dining meal is complete without desserts. For this we had green tea creme brulee with white chocolate lavender ice cream (RM 24.90) and nutella gyoza with chocolate ganache & whisky raisin ice cream (RM 24.90). I like the creativity in nutella gyoza, and while the desserts may not stand out as much as their yakitori and other delicacies, they were certainly more than decent.

Yen & hubby, KY & Haze enjoying some awesome food and Kirin Ichiban
Yen & hubby, KY & Haze enjoying some awesome food and Kirin Ichiban

If you love yakitori, a fan of beer, or just generally love some good food in fine dining environment without breaking the bank, this is definitely one of the places worth checking out.

Also get more information on Kirin Ichiban at their FB page at https://www.facebook.com/kirinmalaysia

Torii at TTDI map

Address:
18, Lorong Datuk Sulaiman 1,
Taman Tun Dr Ismail,
60000 Kuala Lumpur
GPS: 3.148787, 101.629781
Tel03-7733 9309

While having visited Intercontinental’s buffet spread a couple times and came away impressed, we had never been to their new Japanese outfit – Tatsu. Hence, when I received the invitation from Lisa to participate in the Vina Maipo wine dinner late last month, I said yes without hesitation.

Vina Maipo wine dinner Tatsu Intercontinental KL
Vina Maipo wine dinner Tatsu Intercontinental KL

Vina Maipo was founded in 1948 in the Maipo Valley, renowned as the most famous wine growing region in Chile. The brand underwent an aggressive development since the year 2000 and is now the 4th biggest Chilean winery.

the selection Vina Maipo wines for the night
the selection Vina Maipo wines for the night

For the wine dinner, five different Vina Maipo wines were paired with various Japanese dishes thought up by the more than capable chef at Tatsu. It was priced at RM 280 nett per pax, a more than fair price considering the dishes and drinks offered, I thought.

sushi, sashimi, & chawamushi with Hokkaido uni
sushi, sashimi, & chawamushi with Hokkaido uni

As with most Japanese course dinner, we started out with a selection of sushi, sashimi, and cucumber spider roll. The seafood was top notch, and the freshness of cucumber combined with the savoury deep fried soft shell crab worked out rather well. We had this with Vina Maipo Varietal Sauvignon Blanc/Chardonnay, Casablanca Valley. The well-bodied wine was sharp and balanced, went well with the seafood.

Next dish was steamed egg custard with Hokkaido sea urchin paired with Vina Maipo Vitral Chardonnay, Casablanca Valley. The wine carries a creamy butter texture with crispy acidity.

Himalayan salt and Sansho roast duck breast
Himalayan salt and Sansho roast duck breast

Then came the first of our three “main dishes” in the form of Himalayan salt and Sansho roast duck breast with grilled Japanese eggplant, baby bok choy, and Haccho honey sauce. The duck breast was juicy and I thought the Haccho honey sauce gave it quite a distinct taste.

For this dish, we went up a notch on the range and had the Vina Maipo Gran Devocion Carmenere Syrah, Maule Valley. It has a good body, soft tannins and complex finish that went well with the meat.

oven baked teriyaki salmon, Vina Maipo Gran Devocion Carbernet Sauvignon Syrah
oven baked teriyaki salmon,
Vina Maipo Gran Devocion Carbernet Sauvignon Syrah

We continued with our second “main dish” in the form of oven baked Yuzu teriyaki salmon, kani cream croquette, char kyuri cucumber, and crispy puff rice. Yuzu is all the rage these days, and the treatment of salmon with this fruit in this instance was interesting, though ultimately I found perhaps slightly forced. I enjoyed it, but it could have been slightly better.

The wine paired with the salmon was Vina Maipo Gran Devocion Carbernet Sauvignon Syrah, which has a fresh acidity that carries a long nice finish.

grilled Australian Black Angus beef, shimeji mushroom
grilled Australian Black Angus beef, shimeji mushroom

The third main dish was the cha-grilled Australian Black Angus beef with king brown, shimeji mushroom, sweet peas, truffle oil topped with spicy mayo. An interesting dish to say the least, the beef was prepared perfectly in this instance, and those spicy mayo did go surprisingly well with the greens & mushrooms.

We had the Vina Maipo limited edition Syrah, Maipo Valley with this penultimate dish in the wine dinner course. The official tasting note says – “This Syrah rests on a sophisticated structure. In mouth tannins are ripe, elegant and the finish is smooth and persistent”. Well, I’m not one to come up with a different description, but I liked the wine!

Japanese green tea Panna Cotta, Haze, BabySumo & her big boy
Japanese green tea Panna Cotta, Haze, BabySumo & her big boy

Dinner was concluded with Japanese green tea panna cotta, chocolate soil, red beans, lychee jelly and vanilla bean ice cream.  Quite fancy and rather beautifully decorated. The mixture of different ingredients and texture in this dessert somehow came together quite well to provide a sweet ending to this more than decent dinner.

I’d want to return to Tatsu again to perhaps try some of their more traditional fare, and if I’m looking for a good bottle of wine for a party of four, Vina Maipo is now on my radar.

map to Intercontinental Hotel, KL

Address:
Tatsu
Intercontinental Hotel

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

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

A few weeks ago while walking from KLCC to Pavilion I strolled pass Vipod Residence and noticed that there’s a new Japanese restaurant opening up on the ground floor – Oribe Sushi. I’m a huge fan of proper Japanese food, so there’s no other reason needed to give it a try.

Oribe Sushi at Vipod Residence (between Pavilion & KL Convention Centre)
Oribe Sushi at Vipod Residence (between Pavilion & KL Convention Centre)

A peek on the menu shows that Oribe Sushi only serves Omakase (literal translation: “I’ll leave it to you”). For lunch, there are 4 choices priced at RM 88, RM 150, RM 180, and RM 250. Dinner omakase are priced at RM 120, 168, 198, and 350.

We took a seat at the sushi bar and then of course, I chose the cheapest – “Seto”.

appetizer & chawanmushi
appetizer & chawamushi

This set starts out with appetizer in the form of some carefully stirfried bean sproud, tiny shrimps, and other vege.

Then there’s the chawanmushi that’s smoother than most tofufa I’ve had, it was delicious. So far, so good.

sea bass, flounder, bluefin tuna, yellow tail
sea bass, flounder, bluefin tuna, yellow tail

Then came what we were here for – the sushi.

The experience here is pretty unique. While seated at the sushi bar, the chef is dedicated to your meal. He will prepare one sushi meticulously, serve it on your plate, explained what it is, and then only start preparing the next piece after you’ve consumed the current piece.

This way, the sushi never sit on the plate longer than a few seconds (or however long you take to snap a pic to show your jealous friends on instagram).

mackerel with seaweed, barracuda, scallop
mackerel with seaweed, barracuda, scallop

The 8 types of sushi we had were sea bass, flounder, bluefin tuna, yellow tail, mackerel with seaweed, barracuda, scallop, and ikura.

These were not just simple slices of fish (or other seafood) on rice, but also with addition of seaweed, blow torch treatment, bits of citrus peel, a wipe of sauce/oil and so forth. It was a work of art. I found myself not even really needing those grated fresh wasabi to accompany the sushi.

ikura (salmon egg), and er.. some vegetable roll
ikura (salmon egg), and er.. some vegetable roll

The ginger used here too is not of the usual variety. It was less spicy but carries a slightly sweet flavor which I really liked. They will refill it should you find yourself finishing them like I did.

After 8 pieces of nigiri sushi, we were treated with three pieces of vegetable roll (I think it was Japanese bamboo shoots?) to end the main course part of the meal.

miso soup and mochi with red bean to conclude our omakase
miso soup and mochi with red bean to conclude our omakase

Our omsake ended with a small bowl of miso soup and mochi with red bean as dessert. While the dessert wasn’t as exquisite as the other dishes, it was certainly not disappointing either.

While RM 88++ is certainly no chump change for lunch, I do feel that it provides value for money so far as the quality of food, and the excellent services goes. If you are a fan of proper Japanese food, this is one place you should check out.

map to vipod residence, KL

Address:
Oribe Sushi @ Vipod Residence
19, Jalan Kia Peng,
50450 Kuala Lumpur

GPS: 3.152181, 101.712662
Tel: 03-2181 4099

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

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