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.
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:
2 kinds of sashimi
Nigiri 7 pieces
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
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
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 was our next dish, the version here is simple, no fuss, but very well executed.
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 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
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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 2624
Last weekend I had the good fortune of attending a pretty special food event, the Flavours of Hanami live presentation and tasting at Isetan the KL Store. For those who aren’t familiar with Isetan the KL Store, it is the re-branded up class retail at the exact location previously occupied by regular Isetan at Lot 10.
The place is tastefully decorated and packed with premium Japanese wear, everything from fashion items, watches, gadgets, grocery and food.
chefs from Tsuruse, Chikurin, & Kinobu restaurants
The Flavors of Hanami features four chefs each from Izuu, Tsuruse, Chikurin, and Kinobu restaurants of Kyoto in live presentation and tasting format at the following schedule:
Shogo Sasaki of Izuu – 21, 22 Jan 2017
Nobyuki Tanaka of Tsuruse – 18, 19 Feb 2017
Hideki Shimoguchi of Chikurin – 4, 5 March 2017
Takuji Takahashi of Kinobu – 18, 19 March 2017
dishes from which chef fancies you? the mock-ups sure look interesting
Each day features 3 separate sessions at 12 pm to 1:30 pm, 3 pm to 4:30 pm, and 6 pm to 7:30 pm and priced at RM 100 per person including GST. The venue is at 3F THE CUBE/CUBE_1 Isetan The Japan Store KL.
One thing to note, each session is limited to 25 pax only so get your tickets as soon as possible at CUBE_1 ticket counter, Isetan.
The Hanami theme is an ancient tradition of welcoming spring, and this event is a chance for Malaysians to experience the cultural aspects as well as the delicacies associated with the Hanami season.
chef Shogo Sasaki of Izuu with his signature dishes
We were fortunate to participate in the first session with Chef Shogo Sasaki, the 7th generation owner of IZUU, a Kyoto sushi restaurant established in 1781, a restaurant that has its history 176 years before we yelled Merdeka and formed this country, talk about tradition.
chef Shogo Sasaki of Izuu preparing the famous saba-sugatazushi
Chef started out with the live demonstration in preparing the most famous dish of IZUU – their saba-sugatazushi, or whole mackeral lightly matured sushi. The fish is expertly prepared and then wrapped in vinegar-ed kelp to draw out a stronger umami flavor to the sushi.
We then got to try two versions of it, one freshly prepared and the other matured for a day. It was well balanced with a pretty complex taste unlike normal “fresh” sushi. Best thing is, you can actually buy this wrapped up to bring back to home country from his restaurant in Kyoto as the sushi would last for about 2 days.
and here’s Izuu’s signature chirashi sushi
Next up was their signature Chirashi sushi. Chirashi sushi is often my go-to dish in any Japanese restaurant, and the version prepared by chef Sasaki is as good as any. While it is slightly lighter on seafood, the seasoning of rice and other ingredients were right on point, making it quite a delightful dish.
we ended the day with green tea and mochi, notice the bunny?
The chef also showed us how the saba-sugatazushi cross section resembled a bunny, which is how IZUU got it’s logo all the way from 200+ years ago.
We then ended the session with a piece of traditional mochi and a cup of green tea so good we had to go downstairs to get the packet to enjoy at home.
If you love authentic Japanese cuisine with a cultural twist to the whole experience, don’t miss out on this event.
Address: 3F THE CUBE / CUBE_1 ISETAN The Japan Store KL Lot 10 Shopping Mall
Jalan Bukit Bintang GPS:3.146462, 101.711758
Last weekends I went back up north for cheng beng (Hokkien for prayers to ancestors & grave cleaning), and this time around instead of heading back to Penang, we slept over at my brother’s new house at Sungai Petani instead.
More reason to try some of the local hawker fair my brother talked about.
Curry Mee is the busiest stall at Eupe food court, sungai petani
We went to the (I think) the number one hawker attraction in Sungai Petani – the curry mee stall at Eupe food court.
The food court itself is converted by stripping off the walls and ceiling of 28 shop lots to create a giant dining area under one roof, there are dozens of stalls offering various types of food, with the curry mee stall being the one that’s easiest to spot – the one with a long queue.
slices of fresh mackerel is what made this awesome
The ingredients for this curry mee is very different from the ones in Penang or KL. Instead of pork blood, prawns, and cockles, what we have here is a couple slices of fresh mackerel, lady’s fingers, tomato, potato, and half an egg. Of course, there’s the curry broth and sambal. You can also ask for pork ribs as additional topping.
The mixture worked pretty good, felt unusual at first but it proved to be really worth the wait. The best part about this curry mee is the freshness of the fish. According to my brother, if the market doesn’t have fresh fish for the day, the stall isn’t opened.
me & my younger brother, who’s a doctor at Hospital Sultan Abdul Halim
If you’re at SP, get on the queue and spend the RM 6 for this, you’ll not regret.
Address: Eupe Food Court Jalan Gamelan 5, Taman Ria Jaya, 08000 Sungai Petani, Kedah GPS: 5.652733,100.517535 Hours: 9 am till around lunch time
Being a fella from Penang, the name Bali Hai Seafood Restaurant isn’t foreign to me. The bright red signboard with a huge green lobster is a sight quite familiar to, having seen it at Gurney Drive on numerous occasions. It is also a bit of a go-to seafood restaurant for some of my extended family members.
Well, the good news is, Bali Hai is now in Klang Valley, and we went to sample their set dinner menu.
Bali Hai, now in Kota Damansara too
Bali Hai is located at Sun Suria Avenue at Kota Damansara, a stone’s throw away from Sunway Giza Mall. There is ample parking right in front of the restaurant, and we only had to pay RM 1 per entrance during our visit. It was well worth it.
Most of the tables are situated at the center area at the huge semi-alfresco dining area, but there are also some air conditioned rooms for private parties. We were seated in one such room for the session, the room comes complete with a TV & karaoke system too.
The restaurant has an impressive wall of tanks housing a huge variety of live seafood for your picking. Boster lobster from US, rainbow lobster from Indonesia, geoduck from Canada, Alaskan king crab, oyster, tiger prawns, “soon hock”, giant grouper, and even exotics such as empurau fish. You can pick your spoil, aided by clearly written prices of each spices on the side of the tank so there’d be no surprises.
I must say that Bali Hai really do live up to their tag line of “If it swims we have it”.
Canadian geoduck and lobster sashimi and steamboat
On this session, we were treated to their RM 1388 set menu which comes with 9 dishes (including dessert) for 10 pax.
Our first dish was the Steamboat Canadian Geoduck and Lobster, which were actually served raw on crushed ice with a clay pot of superior soup , tofu, string mushroom, and vegetable.
I’m a big fan of sashimi and was glad that a side of wasabi and soya sauce was provided. The fresh rainbow lobster we had was fantastic, if you haven’t had lobsters before, having them raw is a great way to really taste the sweetness of lobster, distinctly different from that of crab or prawns. I’ve had the same style of geoduck from Pantai Seafood in PJ before, and the version is equally good.
Bali Hai Siam mini lobster in claypot
After the great introductory dish, we had the Bali Hai Siam mini lobster (crayfish) in claypot. This dish has a kick, spicy and full of flavor, a welcoming change to heighten your palate after the more subtle lobster & geoduck dish. It’d go great with some steamed rice too I think. The curry has a tone of sourness to it which I really enjoyed.
deep fried thai style mackerel
Next up was the deep fried Thai style mackerel. A fish that is pretty common. The execution was good, with really crispy skin but soft, and not overcooked meat that only a high temperature fryer could achieve. The Thai style sauce in this dish is spicy and sweet, another change from the previous sourish taste.
dried shrimp with cili padi clam, beancurd with minced chicken, emperor vege
Dried shrimp with cili padi clam is as advertised, a lot of small pieces of cili padi and tiny fragrant dried shrimps in it. I felt that the clams were perhaps slightly overcooked. That or because I’m half way in my invisalign treatment resulting in uneven bite at the moment, chewing was a bit difficult.
We also had some of the softest and tastiest beancurd in the beancurd with minced chicken dish. While traditionally paired with minced pork, this pork free version actually impressed us.
Emperor vegetable with deep fried lotus root and mushroom was our green of the day, and it never disappoint, which is why emperor vegetable is among the more expensive vegetable you can get from the market.
steamed salted kampung chicken, Japanese style seafood fried rice
The lone meat dish in the set was the steamed salted kampung chicken with herbs. I love the fragrant broth, and the chicken was well flavored too. Anyone who likes kampung chicken would love this dish. As for me, I’m not a fan of kampung chicken so it was pretty neutral for me.
Our stomach stuffer at the end was the pretty unique Japanese style seafood fried rice. The blackish color you see in the fried rice is actually tiny pieces of dried seaweed. Add in tiny chunks of seafood & egg resulting in a cacophony of taste that I’ve never experienced before, it was pretty good.
The last dish on the RM 1388 set was a plate of mixed fruits, which was your typical blend of papaya, watermelon and so forth.
KY & Haze, Josen & Mei, sweet and sour lobster noodle (not part of the set)
Since it was also during their lobster promotion period, we got to sample another sweet and sour lobster noodle dish, which came with rainbow lobster drenched in sauce on top of yummy yee mee. I wish I can have this for breakfast, or lunch, or dinner actually. Was yummy!
If you’re looking for a proper seafood restaurant with plenty to choose from, Bali Hai should definitely be in your short list. From 13th Sep – 3rd Oct 2013, they also run the “buy one free ten” promotion. Buy a Boston/rainbow/Australian lobster and you get 10 free crayfish (mini lobster) for free.
Address: Bali Hai Seafood Kota Damansara Suria Avenue, Persiaran Mahogani, PJU 5, Kota Damansara, 47810 Petaling Jaya, Selangor GPS: 3.1544, 101.5904 Tel: 016-461 2333
It just occured to me that half of June has passed and there isn’t a cooking post for the month yet. So lets get back to the plan of writing at least 2-3 recipes every month on this blog. After all not everyone can visit those restaurants, but cooking can be done at every home!
ikan kembung with petai
Today’s recipe will be tumeric marinated ikan kembung with stir fried petai. This isn’t exactly a recipe from anywhere but rather a combination that I made up when ingredients at hand.
As it turned out, the dish wasn’t too shabby at all, anyone who loves petai and some good old fashion fried kampung fish should find this palatable.
marinate ikan kembung with tumeric powder and salt
Alright, here are the ingredients, they’re easy enough to be obtained from any wet market.
6 small to medium ikan kembung (mackerel)
2 table spoon tumeric powder
1 teaspoon salt
20-30 petai (according to liking)
6-8 chili padi (slice in halves)
garlic & ginger (slices)
remove center stem from petai to prevent that bitter taste
Instructions for the fish:
clean and make sure fish is dry (to prevent splashing oil)
rub the fish with generous amount of tumeric powder, and some salt
heat up oil in frying pan to medium heat
fry fish for about 5-8 minutes per side
remove fish and place on plate
pan fry fish in oil, then stir fry petai with chili padi, garlic, ginger
And here’s the preperation method for the petai:
before even frying fish, prepare petai by removing the center stem to ensure no bitter taste
after fish is done, remove all but 2 tablespoon of oil in frying pan
stir fry garlic, ginger, petai, and chili padi all at the same time in medium heat until fragrant (3-4 minutes)
serve on top of kembung, and you are done!
The result is a dish that should stand up to scruitiny by any kampung aunties and perhaps pontential mother in laws. Good luck!
In another news, for those of you who’ve been waiting for the perfect device that combines communication, multimedia, and gaming, the wait is over. Sony Ericsson Xperia Play has landed.
This baby is the PlayStation™ Certified Android smartphone. Playing games with full touchscreen phones like Xperia Arc is fun, but it is a whole different level of fun when you have dedicated D pad and physical keys.
You can get this phone via Celcom for as low as RM 848 with Celcom Exec plans. Do check out Celcom website for more.