I think it’s safe to say that Japanese food is one of my favorite cuisine when it comes to heading out to a proper restaurant. In fact, this is the 100th entry on Japanese cuisine on this space – and for this occasion we head to Bangsar and look at Hana Tei Japanese Restaurant.
Hana Tei, Lucky Garden Bangsar
If you’re from Kajang and Cheras area, you may have heard of Hana Tei before. This Bangsar branch is their latest venture into KL city.
Personally, I thought Lucky Garden (the same row with 3 famous kopitiam) is a pretty good location to be at. It is in Bangsar, and parking situation at the area is usually pretty good during dinner time, though lunch can be a bit challenging.
The menu for Hana Tei is actually quite extensive, covering the usual suspects such as sushi, sashimi, to teppanyaki, teriyaki, nabemoto, tempura, as well as rice and noodle dishes. Well, on our review session, we got to sample quite a few of these dishes.
shake sashimi (thick cut salmon)
We started the night with shake sashimi (RM 35), or thick cut salmon. You get 5 pieces of fresh raw salmon at I think at least 1 cm thick. It was glorious. I also do like the fact that they use proper grated wasabi to go with the salmon here. It was definitely a treat.
camembert cheese yaki, gindara foilyaki
Next up was something rather unique – Camembert Cheese Yaki (RM 15). Grilled Camembert cheese with baguette with a side of jam. I thought it was rather interesting and most likely will go very well with some sake.
Then there’s Gindara Foilyaki (RM 48), cod fish with mushroom wrapped in aluminium foil and cooked with a miso soup base. It’s not entirely unlike Chinese style steamed cod except with a Japanese touch & flavor. I thought it was executed quite well.
hana tei beef sushi
If you’re a sushi person, well, here’s some treats for you, starting with Hana Tei Beef Sushi (RM 25). Instead of raw fish like usual, you get Australian striploin with salmon roe and ebiko, all wrapping those sushi rice.
The combination works surprisingly well to be honest, I love the contrasting taste between the savory beef and the freshness and slightly salty nature of ikura.
foie gras sushi, hotate maki spicy sauce
Then there’s also the one of a kind Foie Gras sushi (RM 28). This is probably one of the cheaper ways to experience foie gras, and foie gras never disappoint. I can have 5 of these for breakfast if I get my way! I shouldn’t, but I want to!
If you’re a fan of scallop and spicy food, you can find that strange combination in Hotate Maki Spicy Sauce (RM 35). The roll comes with quite a big chunk of scallop in each of them and covered with this hot sauce that really gives the dish a kick. You definitely don’t need any wasabi for this.
If you’re a fan of Japanese food, you should know about J’s Gate Dining at Lot 10 KL – a concept that is unlike any other when it comes to Japanese cuisine offering in Malaysia. As one of those fans myself, I was glad to be invited to the launch event and be one of the firsts to get a taste of what this place has to offer.
J’s Gate Dining, Level 4, Lot 10 KL
J’s Gate Dining is located on level 4 of Lot 10 in Bukit Bintang. Head up the escalator now and you’d see 18 different Japanese restaurants taking up almost the entire floor space offering various different types of Japanese cuisine,centered around the concept of authentic Japanese cuisine and services.
J’s Gate Dining launching, Lot 10 Level 4
The grand opening was officiated by Mr. Makio Miyagawa, Japanese Ambassador to Malaysia and Mr. Joseph Yeoh, Vice President of YTL Land & Development Bhd and YTL Hotels & Properties Sdn. Bhd., together with Mr. Naoki Yokoyama, Executive Officer of Sojitz Corporation, Chief Operation Officer of Retails & Lifestyle Business Division.
The opening ceremony is followed by a carving session of a 40.8 KG cultivated Bluefin tuna specially air flown by Sojitz Corporation all the way from Japan. We were then served the fatty tuna in the form of sushi after the event, and I may have returned for more than a few servings!
Bluefin tuna carving demonstration
J’s Gate Dining is separated into two “sections”, with one side a food court type of set up offering all pork free Japanese dishes, and another section with individual restaurants, some with non halal dishes.
Here is the list of restaurants:
Seafood rice bowls
Fuji no Sakura
Eel rice bowls
Traditional Kyoto cuisine
Umai Sushi Kan
On the same evening, a few of us were also invited to an exclusive tasting session to sample dishes from some of the restaurants at J’s Gate Dining. In the span of some 2.5 hours, we managed to visit these five restaurants:
Umai Sushi Kan – Sushi restaurant (pork free)
Umai Sushi Kan offers sushi & sashimi, perhaps the most familiar type of Japanese food for many of us. Again we got to have more of that cultivated Bluefin tuna sushi & sashimi, simply heaven. The rolls were pretty on point as well.
Torikin Yakitori (non halal)
Next up was Torikin Yakitori. There’s a good selection of different skewers to choose from, from chicken tail all the way to pork belly, priced at RM 4 to RM 7 per stick. These makes for some really good beer food.
Kushiage Kinme – deep fried skewers (non halal)
If yakitori isn’t your cup of tea but you still love things in skewers, hop over to Kushiage Kinme. Over here you get fresh ingredients deep fried with light batter in skewers. There’s prawns, quails’ eggs, pork, and even asparagus, my favorite is gindara (cod).
I highly recommend some cold sake with these, which was what we did.
Hachi Traditional Kyoto cuisine, we had waygu beef here (pork free)
If you prefer traditional Kyoto cuisine, Hachi could be your destination of choice at J’s Gate Dining. We sampled the wagyu set here that came with wagyu steak, roast beef, wagyu cutlet, bulgogi, roast vegetable, and rice, miso & edamame. A complete meal that should satisfy any beef lover.
Vito Cafe & Gelato (pork free)
Our fifth and final stop for the night was Vito Cafe & Gelato, where we had a sweet ending to the day. Vito also serve coffee in addition to gelato.
Back in late 2015 I was involved in The Star R.AGE food fight competition, it was one of the highlights of my online writing career to stand along the likes of Chef Wan & Chef Darren Chin as one of judges of the cooking competition. One of the finalists of the competition was Ahong Yeang, who was already running a small restaurant at University Hospital then.
Sometimes around Q3 21017, Ahong moved on from his previous joint and opened Grub by Ahong & Friends at Seksyen 17. I finally visited a couple weeks ago.
Grub by Ahong & Friends, Petaling Jaya, Seksyen 17
Grub by Ahong & Friends is located at the small rows of shops right behind Happy Mansion (possibly the birthplace of hipster food in PJ?). Parking can sometimes be a bit challenging for those who can’t walk more than a couple dozen steps, but alas, the walk back to the car after a good meal can be a healthy exercise.
Grub serves a selection of Western dishes at very reasonable prices. The restaurant itself is minimalist but comfortable, with a few tables and open kitchen at the ground floor, and more seating area upstairs. Yes, there’s air conditioning.
beet root salad & wine
To keep prices low, Ahong came up the system of ordering by pencil & paper as well as self-serviced drinks you pick up from the counter where you also find cutlery, plates, and glasses. Corkage is RM 7 per pax but if you spare a glass for the good chef then that is waived. Grub also carries a small selection of wine.
We started the night with beet root salad (RM 13.50) that came with roasted beetroot, fresh fruits, feta cheese, rockets, honey, and nuts. A simple mesh up that leaves me wanting more.
local seafood bouillabaisse, wagyu steak
For main I picked steak, the picture above is wagyu rump, wagyu ribeye is priced at RM 145 but they ran out that night. Again another spot on execution with no fuss and great ingredients.
My partner in crime picked the local seafood bouillabaisse (RM 25) which is served with grilled white fish, clams, squid & prawns in lightly spiced seafood soup with pasta & sourdough bun. A comforting dish if you’re looking for something lighter. Also their sourdough bun was actually very good as well.
carrot cake, chocolate tart, fruits in ice, Ahong
We rounded up dinner with carrot cake (RM 10) and chocolate tart (RM 12), and were also served Grub’s signature fresh fruits in tear-drop ice that is on the house.
Overall it was a great no-fuss dining experience. We ended up spending another couple hours chatting with Ahong until his staffs lowered the shop grill half way. Fantastic night and will definitely go again.
A couple days ago we were lucky enough to be one of the first batches of people to be fortunate enough to have a taste of authentic Sicilian cuisine at The Ritz-Carlton KL by the award winning Guest Chef Lino Sauro from Gattopardo Ristorante di Mare in Singapore.
This event happens from March 14-18, 2017 so you may still have a chance to participate in the last few sessions if you catch this article early enough; or of course, you can head to Singapore and visit the good chef at his home turf.
The Library at Ritz Carlton KL
The dinner happened at The Library, a dining space that has an ambiance not unlike an extensive classy private library, complete with collection of books with topics ranging from film to art and travel. We were there for fine Sicilian food this time, so I’m afraid the books will have to wait for next round.
a bit of tidbit & bread prior to dinner
We started the night with a glass of sparkling wine, some bread, and a pre-dinner amuse-bouche of salmon with caviar which I thought was perfect to get us ready for what’s coming next.
For this first session of Sicilian dinner, we were also lucky enough to be joined by His Excellency Mario Sammartino, the ambassador of Italy to Malaysia.
amuse-bouche – Ostrica
Then came the first course – Ostrica, or oyster with sherry vinegar jelly, wasabi chips, and Avruga caviar. This amuse-bouche was perfect in opening up the appetite with its refreshing taste and subtle sweetness from the oyster that is perfectly balanced with the slight salty flavor from caviar. Usage of wasabi showcase Chef Lino’s boldness in using contemporary technique and ingredients.
Sanfeletto conegliano valdobbiadene prosecco superior docg was the accompanying wine.
appetiser – Polipo
Appetizer was Polipo, or charred citrus glazed octopus, risone, capsicum, sun dried tomato aioli, chilli, and pistachio pesto.
At the first glance, I thought we were having risotto, but as it turned out it was risone, or a rice shaped pasta that was much smoother, having a more controlled taste and texture that complimented the stronger tasting octopus well.
Vigneti zabu grillo terre siciliane igt was served with this seafood dish.
entree – Capellini con Aracosta
Then came entree, in the form of Capellini con Aracosta, or angel hair pasta, lobster, seafood, and carrot.
This is a deceptively simple looking dish that is again packed with the sweetness of what the Mediterranean sea has to offer. Lobster tail & angel hair pasta are two ingredients I enjoyed, and this combination did not disappoint.
Cecchi orvieto classico toscana doc would be the accompanying Sicilian wine.
main course 1 – Manzo Australiano
There were two choices of main course.
Manzo Australiano would be the Australian wagyu with morel mushrooms and horseradish sauce. Perfectly executed with the meat in the overused “melt in your mouth” texture, but that’s the best description I could give. The sauce was thick, strong, and go surprisingly well with the red meat (this coming from someone who loves his beef with only salt & pepper).
Wine pairing – mazzei zisola sicilia doc
main course 2 – Zuppa di Pesce Gattopardo
Zuppa di Pesce Gattopardo, or the Signature Gattopardo Seafood Stew, would be the other equally worthy option. The stew is packed with several types of shellfish, prawn, as well as fish fillet. This stew is perfect in a cold rainy day, or any day actually.
Dessert was a unique interpretation of Sicilian Ricotta Cheese Cake, or Cassata by Chef Lino. The deconstructed dessert was a sweet treat with some strong sourish berries that wakens up the senses a bit, which I thought was nice. We also had some chocolates to go with coffee to end the session.
Sicilian wine pairing option available
This specially curated Sicilian course dinner is priced at MYR 250 with an option of wine pairing at MYR 375 per person. Dinner is served from 7 pm but only available until 18th March 2017.
Jacob’s Creek has a bit of a special place in my heart, for the fact that one of the first wine events I’ve ever attended back in 2009 was hosted by this very brand, so when I got the invitation for Jacob’s Creek Double Barrel Wine Dinner last month, I immediately made plans to be part of the launch.
Jacob’s Creek double barrel wine dinner, the menu
The introduction for this special Double Barrel blend was held at Eight Gourmet Gala, with a rather big set up attended by media, celebrities, and people who has a bit of online real estate such as yours truly.
Brand Ambassador, Jenny Rothenberg was also present to explain what this whole “double barrel” is all about.
To put it simply, the wine (Double Barrel Shiraz & Double Barrel Cabernet Sauvignon) is matured traditionally in French and American oak barrels, before finishing it in old whiskey barrels, giving them a more complex palate.
pan seared French foie gras, Jacob’s Creek Double Barrel Shiraz
Anyway, to the dinner.
We started out with pan seared French foie gras, paired with Jacob’s Creek sparkling chardonnay pinot noir, the citrus and toasted cashew flavors of chardonnay marrying the fresh bread crust characteristic of pinot noir complimented the richness of pan seared foie gras perfectly. Most certainly a good start to the night.
white truffle pumpkin potage, wine barrel vs whisky barrel
Second course was the white truffle pumpkin potage, a thick soup that tastes like a blend of pumpkin with a hint of white truffle, which, to be honest, was not particularly very exciting for me. It was OK, but not among the best soups I’ve tried.
Next came the entree of smoke turkey drumstick, we had it with Jacob’s Creek Double Barrel Shiraz and Jacob’s Creek Reserve Shiraz. I thought the meat was handled very well, tender, juicy, and extremely smokey to a point of being spicy, which may not suit everyone, I liked it though.
That complimented the sweet red fruits & dark chocolate palate of Shiraz well. The direct comparison between the two Shiraz showcased differences due to additional treatment of finishing the wine in whisky barrel. Most agreed the double barrel version is a tad smoother.
pan seared Wagyu with Jacob’s Creek Double Barrel Cabernet Souvignon
Then came my favorite dish of the night – pan seared Wagyu (marbling grade 9). The meat is done medium rare with very little distractions in terms of finishing. It was positively satisfying, with Jacob’s Creek Double Barrel Cabernet Souvignon doing an excellent job as accompanying side kick. A good red with a fine piece of meat never disappoint.
poached lobster with truffle garlic oil
Another option for main was poached lobster with truffle garlic oil, a fine looking dish but unfortunately suffered slightly from being overly cooked in this instance. The seafood would have served as a good companion to the Cabernet Souvignon otherwise.
premium chocolate & French macaron for dessert, bok & sycookie
We ended the night with a simple dessert of chocolate & French macaron, a sweet ending to a pretty special night hosted by Jacob’s Creek. Looking forward to the next event and thanks for the invite!