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Tag / wagyu

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

A few weeks ago we were invited to sample some drinks and food at The Roof & Stratosphere in One Avenue.

I must say that I’m perhaps one of the very few people who didn’t realise that there’s such a happening place at around One Utama area. My memory of “happening” and “One Utama” was still stuck in 1997 where there were clubs blasting “Lemon Tree”. When you’re drunk and can’t remember where you park your car in the maze that is One Utama car park, you would have quite a situation. Anyway, I digressed.

The Roof at One Avenue's top floor
The Roof at One Avenue’s top floor

The Roof is located at the top floor of One Avenue, which is located next to One Utama. With an underground car park and a pretty high speed elevator system that gets you on top rather quickly, it is rather convenient.

There are a few hang-out places at The Roof, and the one we checked out was Signature by The Hill, a restaurant with a full bar and pretty interesting menu.

Hawaii 5-0, The Fish Bowl, and Milo Ais
Hawaii 5-0, The Fish Bowl with Deep, and Milo Ais with Haze

The cocktail menu at Signature is contemporary and playful. I tried Hawaii 5-0 (RM 40) that’s laden with Smirnoff vodka, Frangelico, organic raspberry jam all housed within a hallowed out pineapple. It was very sweet, refreshing, and easy to drink. I really liked it.

Haze tried the Milo Ais (RM 28), our local favorite breakfast chocolate drink but infused with rum, baileys, and kahlua. Rich and silky.

The other cocktails we tried at Signature were really impressive as well, perfect compliment to the food we were ordering next.

Pan Seared Foie Gras, Black Angus Carpaccio, Caesar Salad, Chicken Fingers
Pan Seared Foie Gras, Black Angus Carpaccio, Caesar Salad, Chicken Fingers

The food menu isn’t particularly extensive, but covered all the bases.

With about 10 items to choose from, we picked pan seared foie gras (RM 48), black angus carpaccio (RM 32), caesar salad (RM 22), and chicken fingers as starters.

I liked that the foie gras was served with caramelised fig, and the carpaccio too was sliced to perfection. Chicken fingers made for perfect beer companion as well. Would love to their their salmon & maguro (tuna) tartar (RM 25) and escargot (RM 28) next time.

wagyu ribeye, black cod, king prawns
Wagyu ribeye, black cod, king prawns

For mains, I picked Wagyu Ribeye (RM 138) with a pretty simple presentation of baked sweet potato and sautéed seasoned vegetable. The beef has a marbling no. 7 rating. The only complain I have with this dish is that it came in a hot plate, and thin cuts don’t work particularly well with hot plates. I’d order this with normal plate instead.

Black cod (RM 50) turned out to be one of the best dishes we tried. Perfectly seared and served with braised leek & fennel topped with tomato jam, it was excellent. That perfectly prepped fish skin, I can have it all day!

King prawns (RM 55) came with creamy pasta, and I thought the presentation was particularly clever. The prawns served in a jar making it a less messy affair. Deep who had this was happy about the dish.

Other dishes to check out would be Black Angus tenderloin (RM 88), seared duck breast (RM 45), and perhaps the ultimate gourmet burger that’s priced at RM 200!

Stratosphere - where drinks are served on a helipad Stratosphere – where drinks are served on a helipad 

After dinner, we adjourned to the Stratosphere, which is actually a helipad on top of the roof of… well, The Roof.

This was one of the bars with the best ambiance in town, with 360 degree uninterrupted view of Selangor and KL, you can see all the way to KLCC, the whole of Bandar Utama, Kota Damansara, and TTDI.

There were 10 different cocktails to choose from here, and all priced at RM 40 nett. I wasn’t particularly impressed with the couple drinks I tried to be honest, and this is perhaps due to the fact that I’ve had those excellent cocktails just a couple hours prior, but the view was able to make up for it.

I think the cocktail department is something that they will be able to correct, and I certainly hope so. Regardless, it is still most definitely worth checking out.

Thank you Kim for the invitation and a great night.

direction to First Avenue, Bandar Utama

Address:
The Roof
First Avenue, Bandar Utama,
Petaling Jaya, Selangor
GPS: 3.146684, 101.617005
Tel012-6910628 (Stratosphere)

I’ve always been a fan of beef and a fan of Las Vacas (we went to their Kelana Jaya branch quite a few times), but when I got the invitation to sample their new breakfast menu, I must say I was just a little bit skeptical about what a primarily meat serving place could come up with. Well, lets just say that I’m glad we went, it wasn’t a bad way to spend the Labour Day morning at all.

Las Vacas at Mont Kiara Shoplex now serves breakfast
Las Vacas at Mont Kiara Shoplex now serves breakfast

Las Vacas at Mont Kiara Shoplex has been in operation for the past four years, and until the first of May, 2014, they did not open for breakfast.

The location is pretty convenient as far as Mont Kiara goes. The Shoplex itself has paid parking, and it is also only a stone’s throw away from Plaza Mont Kiara and 1 Mont Kiara.

Dining area is alfresco but with a huge retractable canvas and lush greenery around the shop. I really like the ambiance.

Wagyu Beef Karubi & Eggs
Wagyu Karubi & Eggs

There are a dozen different choices for breakfast, starting from something as simple as muffins (RM 8), bread platter (RM 8.5), paleo stew (RM 21), to classic all day breakfast (RM 33).

We chose both their signature entrees – the Wagyu Karubi & Eggs (RM 28) and Ox Tongue Benny (RM 27). Both dishes are a variation of the classic Egg Benedict, with a couple poached eggs and panini bread sandwiching the meat, some rocket salad and hollandaise sauce (in the case of ox tongue) complete the list of ingredients.

Wagyu Karubi is basically the boneless short rib slices that are popular in Korean cuisine as Galbi, and it definitely played a fitting role in this dish. I would have perhaps liked it a little more salty, but flavour wise it was every bit as you would imagine. Haze was plenty satisfied with the Ox tongue as well.

Salmon Florentine, All Day Breakfast
Salmon Florentine, All Day Breakfast

Others had dishes including Salmon Florentine (spinach ricotta & Norwegian smoked salmon omelette on whole bread, RM 18) and All Day Breakfast (grilled steak, lamb, beef sausage, egg and salad, RM 33) were reported to be pretty good as well.

cafe latte and long black
cafe latte and long black

Oh, I’m also glad that the coffee served here are really good too. Other than cafe latte (RM 10), long black (RM 6), and the usual espresso based drinks, there’s also chai latte (RM 8), green tea latte (RM 9), and a selection of tea.

with some of the who's who including Nadia Heng, Liang, and Shawn Lee
with some of the who’s who including Nadia Heng, Liang, and Shawn Lee

It was certainly a great breakfast option to be reckon if you’re looking for some Western fair on a lazy morning. Our session was made better by the company we had, including Liang, Nadia Heng, Shawn Lee, and other friends.

I am quite sure I’ll be going there again.

direction to Mont Kiara Shoplex

Address:
Las Vacas Mont Kiara
Shop LG, New Wing, Floor LG
Mont Kiara Shoplex
Jalan Kiara, Taman Sri Hartamas,
50480 Kuala Lumpur
GPS: 3.166326, 101.652664
Tel03-6205 2258

Japanese restaurants are a dime a dozen in KL. Arguably one of the most mature foreign cuisine of all, you can find them in all price range and specializing in every sub-category. Today we’re going to look into Takumi Japanese fine dining, a pretty high end Japanese restaurant that emphasizes shabu-shabu and sukiyaki, among other dishes.

Update 16/4/2015 – This space is now replaced with Hanaya Japanese Restaurant

Takumi Japanese Fine Dining at Grand Millennium Hotel
Takumi Japanese Fine Dining at Grand Millennium Hotel

Takumi is one of the restaurants located within Grand Millennium Hotel, which itself is directly next to Pavilion and opposite Fahrenheit 88. The interior is classy, and for lunch, you can find some pretty decent deals too (I’ve been a few times for Chirashi sushi etc).

Our food review session was arranged by HungryGoWhere Malaysia (where I am a contributor), so thank you Shing for inviting, and Ahfa for being my sit-in plan B partner of the day.

edamame and Kani Salad
edamame and Kani Salad

We started the day with some greens in the form of edamame and Kani Salad (RM 18/28). The salad was refreshing, and I enjoyed the sesame dressing that’s been spiked up a little bit with wasabi.

The chef at Takumi likes to combine the traditional Osaka cuisine with a hint of boldness famous in restaurants at Tokyo, as we were told.

Sashimi platter
Sashimi platter

Sashimi platter (RM 180) was a work of art, with 18 pieces of fresh seafood served on a bed of ice with shiso leaves and even a bit of dried ice for mood. There were sawara (Spanish mackerel), maguro (tuna), kanpachi (amberjack), hotate (scallop), sake (salmon), and I believe, ohyuu (halibut).

Spanish Mackerel, grated Wasabi
Spanish Mackerel, grated Wasabi

The fish were fresh, delightful, and goes very well with grated wasabi. As always, remember that almost everything on a sashimi platter is designed to be consumed. For example, you can have mackerel with shiso leaf and a bit of daikon.

The shiso leaf is there to refresh your palate or to counter the “fishy” smell, getting your tongue ready for the next piece. Don’t waste them!

Lobster Mentaiyaki
Lobster Mentaiyaki

Next up was lobster mentaiyaki (RM 78 half), two of my favorite ingredients in the same dish – lobster and mentaiko.

The combination was perfect, the savouriness of mentaiko blends well with lobster meat, and if you’re one who can momentarily suspend the notion that cholesterol is bad for you, the lobster head is something you’ll absolutely enjoy.

Kawahagi, Chicken Curry Cutlet Maki
Kawahagi, Chicken Curry Cutlet Maki

We also had steamed Kawahagi (seasonal pricing) or commonly known as threadsail filefish. It was prepared not unlike a Chinese dish, with mushroom, some leek, and a hint of soya sauce. To be honest, I find the taste a bit bland and texture to be average. This isn’t up to par with the likes of steamed pomphret in my opinion.

I view Chicken curry cutlet maki (RM 30) as an interesting experiment, combining ingredients that otherwise would not appear together. The result is a bit of a mix, those who are allergic to soft shell crab can use this as a substitute, but the rest of us should probably avoid.

I do applaud the chef for being brave in experimenting with new recipes such as this, without such moves culinary art would never advance. So don’t take this as a negative criticism.

A5 Wagyu Sirloin and Angus Beef Shabu Shabu
A5 Wagyu Sirloin and Angus Beef Shabu Shabu

Then came the star of the night – A5 Wagyu Sirloin and Angus Beef shabu shabu.

Wagyu comes in many grades, with the alphabet denoting yield (A, B, C), and a number (1-5) indicating marbling score. Hence A5 is among the highest quality you can get, with fat contents equivalent to 8-12 BMS (Beef Marbling Standard).

The pricing at Takumi is as follow:

  • Shabu – shabu (Angus beef) : RM88.00
  • A5 Wagyu Roso : RM158.00
  • A3 Wagyu Sirloin : RM180.00
  • A5 Wagyu Sirloin : RM280.00
  • Matsuza Beef : RM490.00

Certainly not cheap, but of decent value, and the quality is certainly there.

just dip it for a few seconds, melt in your mouth
just dip it for a few seconds, melt in your mouth

For the wagyu, a dip in the boiling soup for just a few seconds is more than enough. We were supplied with a sort of ponzu mix but I love having the beef as is, the mixture of fat and beef melt in your mouth (pardon for the lack of a better description). It was so good!

The Angus beef was there just so we can make a comparison on the difference between a super high grade beef and a decent beef. To be fair, they were more than decent and would be of top quality beef on any menu without wagyu.

Ee Laine, KY, Shing, Weizhi
Ahfa, KY, Shing, Weizhi

We ended the night with some complimentary fruits, and coincidentally it was Weizhi’s (of KampungBoyCityGal) birthday too, so we had some cupcakes and sang a birthday song. It was a great night with awesome company. I can certainly do more of this.

map to Grand Millennium Hotel, Kuala Lumpur

Address:
Takumi
Grand Millenium Kuala Lumpur
160, Jalan Bukit Bintang, Kuala Lumpur
GPS: 3.148006, 101.712225