Friday, March 30, 2018

Sake Pairing Dinner: SAITO x Tatsu, InterContinental Kuala Lumpur

Sake pairing is getting increasingly popular as more restaurants worldwide collaborate with sake producers to showcase the versatility of sake and the food it compliments.

Last week, we had the pleasure of attending a 6-course Sake Dinner at Tatsu Japanese Restaurant at InterContinental Kuala Lumpur, whereby Japanese food is paired with sake from SAITO. It was an interesting evening as the principal from SAITO, Mr. Daiki Tojo was there to enlighten us about the brewery and the different sake that it produces. We were honoured to be educated about sake by a master of the industry.

Originating from Kyoto in Japan, SAITO is an authentic Japanese sake made using the highest quality water and rice. They are positioned fifth out of over 1600 sake breweries in Japan. They use Fushimizu (natural spring water from Kyoto which is medium hard), which results in a mild, smooth and easy to drink sake.

The quality of sake is determined by the rice polishing ratio; the more polished the rice is, the better quality the sake will be. For example, the SAITO Super Premium Junmai Daiginjo, which is the highest sake range rom SAITO, is made up of rice with a polishing ratio of 35% (ie 65% polished off with 35% of each grain remaining).

Meanwhile, the food paired with the sake was prepared by the Tatsu team, led by Japanese Head Chef Tommy Kuan. To start, we had the Oyster Tempura with Yuzu Dressing, paired with SAITO Yuzu Hikari. This sparkling sake was refreshing with a clean finish and citrus flavour,  and is best served with fried food such as tempura. Furthermore the yuzu dressing in the dish is a good match to the yuzu flavours in the sake. A good alternative to champagne, this sparkling sake can be served as an aperitif. My favorite sake of the evening.

For the next course, the Kanpachi Rolled Avocado, was paired with the SAITO Karakuchi, a dry sake with 70% rice polishing ratio.This is usually available as a house sake as it pairs well with many different types of Japanese food. The Kanpachi rolled avocado was excellent; firm, fresh fish wrapped around creamy avocado and baby sprouts for textural delight. Served on the side are firefly squid with ohba dressing, a specialty at spring time.

Taranome sprouts, which comes from the Japanese angelica tree is another ingredient in season now in Japan. Eaten in spring, the shoots are often fried in a tempura batter. It has a mild bitterness so it pairs well with the SAITO Junmai (with 70% rice polishing ratio), which is a rich and dry sake with a fruity aroma. Served with the taranome sprouts are maitake (mushroom) tempura and shishito (Japanese chilli).

Next, we moved on to the premium sakes, starting with the SAITO Junmai Daiginjo with a 50% polishing ratio. This full-bodied, elegant sake has a rich flavour with a gentle finish and a lovely fruity aroma. It is made using the highest grade Yamadanishki rice, also known as the "King of Rice" which is best suited for brewing sake.

This sake is best paired with sashimi, sushi or carpaccio, hence Chef Tommy served us tuna sushi from Japanese bluefin tuna, particularly the akami and chutoro cuts. The sake should be served either cold or at room temperature to preserve the fruity aroma.

Yuzu Sorbet, to cleanse the palate

The best dish of the evening was the Japanese Wagyu A5 Teppan Batayaki, using Wagyu beef from Miyaki prefecture. According to Chef Tommy, the cows are slaughtered in the 35th month when they're deemed to be at their optimum.

This beautiful, highly-marbled cut of meat is paired with the SAITO Super Premium Junmai Daiginjo, also made with Yamadanishki rice  (35% rice polishing ratio), with an elegant, fruity aroma (think bananas and peaches). Another one which I love as it has a smooth, sweet finish.

Wagyu A5, served with asparagus and mixed mushrooms, crispy garlic chips, sake and butter soy sauce (oh and crispy Wagyu fats).

For dessert, we had the Baked Fuji Apple with Matcha Financier, Peanut Butter Soil and Raspberry Sorbet, served with a sweet Umeshu. The caramelised apple is a good match for the sweet umeshu. A fantastic end to our meal.

An amazing evening of the finest Japanese cuisine and sake.. thanks InterContinental Kuala Lumpur for having us!

For those interested to sample the above menu, Tatsu will be offering the 6-course Sake Dinner Menu from 1 April to 16 May 2018 at RM350 nett per person (food only), with an option to add RM150 for sake pairing.

Opening times: Lunch Mon-Fri 12.00pm to 2.30pm; Sat, Sun & PH 11.00am to 2.30pm; Dinner 6.30pm to 10.30pm daily.

Location: Tatsu Japanese Restaurant, Level 1, InterContinental Hotel Kuala Lumpur, 165 Jalan Ampang, 50450 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Tel: 03-2782 6118


GPS Coordinates: 3.160249, 101.717584

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Thursday, March 29, 2018

Hanare 8th Anniversary Omakase Lunch, Intermark Mall

Eight years ago, the promise of free-flow Australian Wagyu teppanyaki and premium sashimi lured us to Hanare's doors. Fast forward to 2018, Hanare is still one of our favorite Japanese restaurants and a big drawing force for us to visit Intermark Mall, thanks to its high-quality Japanese cuisine which impresses time and time again.

Hanare also boasts several highly-skilled chefs such as Chef Akira Yonomoto with over 45 years of experience in sushi making as well as four other local chefs with over 30 years of experience in Japanese cuisine. Furthermore, quality fresh produce specially hand picked by their staff in Tsukiji Market in Tokyo are air-flown in twice a week.

To commemorate their eighth anniversary, we had the honour of partaking in a celebratory 8-course omakase lunch in the restaurant.

Appetizer - Shironaigai (Japanese ivory shell), Wasabi ha zuke (pickled wasabi leaf) and Mozuku (Vinegar algae seaweed)

My favorite course was the sashimi platter, which came with luscious cuts of chutoro (tuna belly), uni (sea urchin), hirame (flounder), buri (yellowtail) and ika (squid).

Nimono - Toriniku Kyabetsu Roll (simmered minced chicken stuffed in cabbage leaves)

Yakimono - Wagyu Tataki Ponzu. Another beautiful dish; thinly sliced Australian Wagyu beef fillet is lightly seared and served with a ponzu sauce. 

Teppanyaki - Tiger prawn teppanyaki style, topped with special sauce. 

Coming in a close second for me was the nigiri sushi platter. The otoro (fatty tuna belly) was simply out of this world.. so tender and fatty.  There was also hirame (flounder), kanpachi (amberjack), hotate (scallop) and ikura (salmon roe). Served with Nameko akadashi soup (tiny sticky mushroom in red miso bean paste soup).

Dessert - sweet Japanese musk melon.

Congratulations Hanare on your 8th anniversary, and here's to many more glorious years! Thank you for having us as part of your celebration!

Price for omakase starts from RM450++. Hanare also offer Sushi KaisekiTeppanyaki, Ishiyaki (lava stone hot plate) and weekend buffet.

[Instagram Contest] Snap your favorite food in the most artistic way in Intermark Mall and stand a chance to win dining vouchers worth up to RM1,000. Remember to tag #IntermarkMallArtfulDining and @IntermarkMall. Hurry, as contest ends 31 March 2018.

Enjoy 6% cashback everytime you dine in any restaurants managed by Globalfoods and RM5 off on your first bill. Recommend a friend and enjoy 3% cash back when they dine here too.

Download free app UDS by following this link, register and press the link again to get the membership.

You can enjoy the cash back at
1- Hanare, their Japanese fine dining at Intermark KL (pork free)
2- Royal Canton, their Chinese restaurant serving dim sum and HK style roasts at DC Mall Damansara Heights
3- Golden Valley, their halal seafood restaurant at Melawati Mall
4- Harley's, our no-frills all natural Burger and fried chicken cafe at DC Mall, Damansara Heights and Third Avenue, Cyberjaya

Opening times: Lunch 12.00pm - 2.30pm; Dinner 6.00pm - 10.30pm.

Location: Hanare Authentic Japanese Cuisine, Lot G06, Ground Floor, Intermark Mall, 182 Jalan Tun Razak, 50400 Kuala Lumpur.

Tel: 03-2164 2133 / 03-2164 2633

GPS Coordinates: 3.161620, 101.719670


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Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Yezi 椰子 Premium Coconut Steamboat @ The Roof, Bandar Utama

The current rainy spell in the evenings is the perfect weather for having steamboat. For those looking for something uniquely delicious, check out Yezi Steamboat, located at The Roof 1 First Avenue, which offers coconut-based broth - a first of its kind in Malaysia. 

Even if it's a hot day, no worries - Yezi has it all figured out - their air-conditioning is set low, setting the scene for an evening of hotpot goodness. The elegant restaurant setting along with excellent service, topped with fantastic city skyline views promises a meal fit for a king (and queen). 

Say Yezi to Premium Coconut Steamboat -  椰子

Yezi emphasizes on clean and healthy eating, hence you will find a wide range of organic and semi-organic ingredients, fresh from farm to table, on their menu. Diners can choose from five coconut-broth variants, namely the Organic Yezi broth (RM68), Imperial Canton broth (RM88), Treasures of the Ocean broth (RM68),  Fragrant Shao Xing Wine Seafood broth (RM58) and Wild Forest Truffle Mushroom broth (RM88).

Meatballs, dumplings and pastes are made in-house daily, to ensure utmost freshness. Premium cuts of meat such as Matsusaka beef are flown in weekly from Japan whilst seafood offerings such as crustaceans, shellfish and fish are kept live in tanks awaiting diner's selection.

For our inaugural Yezi experience, we had the Treasures of the Ocean set (RM188) which comes with a crab and coconut broth, with aromatic rice wine. This set also comes with clams, prawn paste and coriander squid balls (as well as prawns and crabs which we didn't have that evening). Yezi uses 100% coconut water which gives the broth a lovely natural sweetness. Furthermore, coconut water is great in aiding digestion.

Our server for the evening, Ahasan, who has been with Yezi since they opened their doors at The Roof, provided us with excellent service throughout the evening. The broth is made from scratch tableside before us; we watched intently as ginger is sauteed with oil, followed by clams and a generous dash of Shao Xing wine, before the addition of the crab and coconut broth. Some coriander is also added to balance the taste of the broth. It smelt amazing! We were invited to taste some of the broth (to see if it is to our liking) - more rice wine can be added if you prefer it stronger.

Fresh clams

Rice wine

Once the broth is ready, our server adds the meatballs and allows it to cook for several minutes. We had three types of balls (each portion comes with four balls) - the black truffle balls (RM24), mui choy pork balls (RM12) and coriander squid balls (RM18). I like how each type of balls had its distinctive flavour eg. if it says black truffle, the black truffle taste hits you as soon as you take a bite. So good! The texture is also meaty and bouncy - you can tell that they're freshly made with premium ingredients.

Amongst the three, my favorite was the black truffle balls followed closely by the coriander squid balls.

Another specialty here at Yezi is their homemade paste, served in a hollowed out bamboo. Diners can choose from fish, prawn, fish and tobiko as well as black truffle squid. We had the prawn paste (RM20) and we loved the texture!

Making our dips to go with the meatballs and other steamboat ingredients. Personally I felt that the ingredients were well-seasoned and didn't require any dipping sauce. 

More condiments to add to your dipping sauce or broth, as you please.

Once we've enjoyed our meatballs, clams and prawn paste, our server then proceeded to cook the signature dumplings (sui kow). We had three types of dumplings - the Imperial seafood dumpling (RM26), Shao Xing pork dumpling (RM12) and coconut dumpling (RM12). Loved the juiciness of the dumplings, however if you want something completely unique, the coconut dumpling is a must-try as it is filled with coconut flesh.

As your meal progresses, the broth is topped up so you can continuously enjoy the sweet tasting soup. For March, Yezi will be offering three of their best sellers in one platter for only RM50; consisting of 100g each of pork neck, pork slice and Iberico meat (usually RM16, RM13 and RM30 respectively). The Iberico pork used comes from organic pigs, fed with nuts. Simply swirl the thinly sliced meat in the hot broth for 20-30 seconds, and enjoy with the dips.

We finished off our steamboat meal nicely with some organic vegetables - Romaine lettuce, Chinese cabbage and spinach (RM10 each).

Coconut with Avocado and Sago (RM25), a simple yet refreshing dessert made using coconut water and avocado puree. No added sugar, purely sweetened by the natural coconut water. This was utterly delicious!

Night view from Yezi

Verdict: Simply one of the best hotpot experiences we've had in Malaysia!

Yezi would like to offer a FREE pork platter with a minimum spend of RM250 at the restaurant. Use Promo code: YEZIGOODYFOODIES. (valid until 30 April 2018)

Opening times: 5pm to 1am daily.

Location: Yezi Premium Steamboat Restaurant, Sky Level, 1 First Avenue, Bandar Utama, 47800 Petaling Jaya, Malaysia.

Tel: 03-8605 3388

Nearest MRT: Bandar Utama.


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