Tucking Into Chanko Nabe (Sumo Hotpot) @ Saganobori, Ginza, Tokyo

I was going through some old posts from my Japan trip last year and realised that I missed out writing on this.

It was our last night in Tokyo, and as appreciation for our work filming from 3AM – 1PM lol (we were doing a story on the Toyosu Fish Market), our POC / guide Ken-san picked out a place for dinner. It turned out to be Saganobori in Ginza, which is very famous for their chanko nabe, aka sumo hotpot. Reservations are required, so we were really grateful to Ken-san for making all the arrangements – we just showed up for the food!

Sumo wrestling is a big sport and an age-old tradition in Japan. If you thought they are just fat dudes wrestling around in a ring, you are sorely mistaken. A lot of hard work and dedication goes into maintaining their physique, and sumo wrestlers adhere to a rigorous diet and training regime, and follow a strict set of rules.

One of the most recognisable dishes associated with sumo wrestling is chanko nabe, which literally translates to “a meal of hotpot”. There are no specific recipes, but typical ingredients include meat or fish/seafood, and vegetables. One thing they all have in common is the large serving, as chanko nabe is eaten as part of a weight gain diet.

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Cute sumo-themed chopstick holders !

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A couple of pickled appetisers to get things started. The fig with cream sauce (top right) was divine.

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Japanese cuisine is always a feast for the eyes as much as the stomach.

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Tamagoyaki (Sweet omelette) with herbs – fluffy, bouncy and absolutely perfect.

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Small fried shrimp – more snacks to keep us going while they prepared the hotpot.

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It. Was. Massive.

It was the first time I had ever seen such a gigantic hotpot, and it was filled to the brim with beautiful slices of fatty pork belly, humongous squares of tofu, meatballs, mushrooms, vegetables and spring onions in a light dashi broth. This thing could feed a village. Needless to say, we had problems finishing it among the six of us and were basically lying sideways in our chairs by the end of the meal. It was quite wasted, so I don’t recommend getting this unless you’re travelling in a big group or you are a big eater with a bottomless pit for a stomach.

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This was like the third bowl and I was already slowing down considerably lol. Of course, everything was fresh and tasty, especially the pork belly slices. The dashi got more and more flavourful as the night wore on, having soaked up the full flavours of the ingredients.

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The meat and veggies in itself were already very filling – but of course Ken-san had to go and order noodles lol. I’m not sure what they are but they were a little chewy, like udon, but less thick.

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Despite saying we were all full, we somehow found space in our stomach for ice cream (because everyone has a separate dessert stomach, no?). It was an interesting flavour – sea salt – hence the bluish tinge.

We actually sat around eating and drinking green tea (thankfully, I travelled with a group of non-alcoholics!) until closing time. It was actually autumn during our visit and the weather was just starting to get chilly – so it was nice to have something warm and hearty before bedtime.

If you’ve never had sumo hotpot, and are travelling with friends/family in Tokyo, I recommend trying it out at Saganobori. The shop can be a little hard to find because it’s tucked in a quiet side alley (I notice that this is a trend with many famous restos in Tokyo – they often look super unassuming / are hidden in some back alley or other), but with a little determination and a GPS, you’ll be rewarded with a giant bowl of hearty hotpot!

SAGANOBORI 

Address: 7-18-15, Ginza, Chuo 104-0061 Tokyo Prefecture

Website: https://www.saganobori.co.jp

Phone: +81 3-3545-1221

PS: I’m not sure how you can make reservations if you don’t speak Japanese. You may need the assistance of a local.

 

 

Around The World in Dumplings

The humble yet versatile dumpling is beloved all over the world in its many forms, shapes and flavours. In some parts of the world, such as China, it is an ancient cuisine that has been around for thousands of years.

I absolutely love dumplings and can eat them every day. But unlike many other Chinese households that consider dumplings a staple, my family does not make them often – so I only get to eat dumplings when dining out at restaurants, or if I make them myself. My favourite type is the guotie, known in the West as pot stickers (guotie literally translates to pot stick), but I also like wontons, siumai and Japanese gyoza. Dumplings is a blanket term, but each of these has its own specialty, from the cooking method to ingredients – so I thought it’d be fun to do a list of the different types of dumplings you can find around the world.

Since I don’t have much of a sweet tooth, I’ve only listed savoury dumplings:

Jiaozi (CHINA) 

中国饺子(Jiaozi;Dumplings;餃子)

With a history dating back close to two millennia, dumplings are inseparable from Chinese cuisine. One of the most common types that we can find today is jiaozi, which typically consists of minced meat (usually pork, but sometimes chicken, beef or shrimp) and chopped vegetables (cabbage, spring onions, chives) wrapped in a piece of dough skin (the thickness varies). Boiled jiaozi is called suijiao, while steamed ones are called zhengjiao and fried ones (my fave!) guotie. Jiaozi is often eaten on festive occasions such as the eve of Chinese New Year or the Winters’ Solstice Festival, and family members spend time bonding while preparing the dumplings together.

Wonton (CHINA) 

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While wontons are also a Chinese dumpling, they are better known by their Cantonese name rather than the Mandarin, hun dun. My theory is that early immigrants to Western countries were mostly from Cantonese communities, and the popularity of the dish solidified its name among Westerners. Even here in Malaysia, we call it wantan rather than by the Mandarin name. While jiaozi wrappers are usually round in shape, wonton wrappers are square, resulting in a smaller, more rounded dumpling. It can be boiled in a soup, or deep-fried. Fun fact: the name wonton literally means ‘cloud swallow’!

Shumai (CHINA) 

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There are actually different types of shumai, which differ according to region, but the one that is best known across the world is the Cantonese shumai, which is also the type often served at dim sum restaurants. This version typically features pork and/or shrimp with mushroom, wrapped with a thin, almost translucent wrapper made from lye water dough that has a slightly sweet taste. To quote the anime Cooking Master Boy, jiaozis are akin to a bag that protectively envelops its contents, whereas shumai is more like a soft, silk scarf that gently wraps itself around the meat (anyone remember the Dumpling Brothers episode?) Shumais are steamed, although they can sometimes be fried. Here in Malaysia, they are served in dimsum restos, coffeeshops and even food trucks. In Malaysia, it is best eaten with our local Kampung Koh chilli sauce.

Xiao Loong Bao (CHINA) 

In recent years, xiao loong bao has seen a massive boost in popularity thanks to chain restaurants like Din Tai Fung. They are so called because they are traditionally prepared in small bamboo baskets (xiao loong), while bao is the generic word for bun or dumpling. Xiao loong bao is often associated with Shanghainese cuisine. They are also called soup dumplings, and some variants have crab meat instead of pork, as well as other fillings. When I was younger (before the wonders of the Internet and google), I often wondered how they managed to fill up the dumplings with soup. This is actually done by wrapping a gelatin-like aspic (jelly made with meat stock) together with the filling. When steamed, the aspic melts, resulting in soup. The best way to eat xiao loong bao is to poke a hole so that you can slurp up the soup, before dipping the rest of the dumpling into vinegar and ginger slices. More innovative, modern creations include flavours such as truffle, garlic and even cheese.

Mandu (KOREA) 

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Chloe Lim / CC BY (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)

Mandu was believed to have been brought to the Korean peninsula by Mongols, and has been part of Korean royal court cuisine for centuries. They can be steamed, boiled or fried – styles vary across the region. Like jiaozi, which has different names according to how you prepare them, grilled or fried dumplings are called gun-mandu, while steamed ones are called jjin-mandu and boiled ones mul-mandu. Though they are quite similar in appearance to jiaozi, mandu‘s ingredients differ, as it uses kimchi (of course), tofu and cellophane noodles along with meat and vegetables.

Gyoza (JAPAN) 

Inspired by the Chinese jiaozi, gyoza is the Japanese version which has a thinner skin and more finely chopped ingredients. It often includes garlic, which is less common in China (the Chinese use garlic as a condiment or in the dipping sauce). Gyoza is typically pan fried. Some places add slurry so a beautiful crust forms around the gyoza pieces.

Momo (SOUTH ASIA – NEPAL, TIBET AND PARTS OF INDIA)

Plateful of Momo in Nepal
Ritesh Man Tamrakar / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)

While similar in appearance to East Asian dumplings like the mandu and gyoza, momo is distinct for its ingredients, which are heavily influenced by the region and features lots of spices and herbs. They are usually steamed or fried. Ground meat is used (although there are also vegetarian versions), along with vegetables like chayote, cabbage, potato and flat-beans, tofu, local cheeses like paneer and chhurpi, as well as spices like garlic, ginger, cilantro, coriander and onions. Nepalese momo often uses meat such as mutton or buffalo, while in the Himalayan regions, herd animals such as yak and lamb are also popular.

Manti (CENTRAL ASIA) 

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Mizu Basyo / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)

Manti is a type of dumpling popular in Turkic cuisine, and since the region is vast (covering not just central Asia but also parts of Russia and the Balkans), there are many different ways of making them. The manti in central Asia is usually larger in size and steamed in dedicated pots. Due to the nomadic culture of the region, meat from animals such as beef, horse, lamb and goat are often used.  The Ughyurs of northern China and Kazakhstan prepare manti with spices like black pepper, plus pumpkin or squash, and the dumplings are then served with butter, sour cream or onion and garlic sauce.

European Dumplings

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Some European ‘dumplings’ do not look like the ones found in Asia, such as Central Europe’s Knodel (pictured), dumplings made from flour, bread or potatoes, which resemble meat balls or bread balls. While it’s generally referred to as pasta, ravioli apparently fits the definition of a dumpling. Sheets of pasta are rolled out to make pockets which are filled with ingredients such as meat, seafood, mushrooms, spinach and cheese. The ravioli is then cooked and served with sauces or on its own. The Maultaschen of Germany is a similar dish.

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Then again, you do get types that look more like the traditional ‘dumplings’ of Asia, such as the Polish pierogi (pictured – dough wrapped around sweet or savoury fillings like potato, sauerkraut, ground meat, cheese and fruits), the Ukrainian uszka (ground meat and wild mushrooms) and the Russian pelmeni (minced meat and spices).

 

 

What are the different types of dumplings available in your country, and which are your favourites? I’d love to hear more about them in the comments section below. Thanks for reading!

 

 

 

Support Local Businesses ! Mee Jawa @ Restoran Wai Wai, Meranti Jaya Puchong

Hey guys!

I hope everyone is keeping safe and healthy. A little update here on the quarantine life in Malaysia: it’s day 27 of the Movement Control Order, which means that it has almost been a month since all but essential businesses were told to close, and everyone instructed to stay in their own homes. Enforcement has gotten tighter because there are still people going out to jog, going out to see girlfriends, etc.

While it’s too early to say since new cases are still in the triple digits, our recovery rate is apparently, pretty high – and the mortality has remained low, despite the high numbers of infected. So kudos to the Health Ministry and our front liners for putting their lives on the line for the sake of the nation. Everyone else, do your part by staying at home.

One of the biggest sectors impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic is, of course, the small, homegrown businesses like coffeeshop and hawker stalls, that rely on a daily wage. Malaysians take great pride in our tasty and relatively cheap street food (you can insult us about anything else, but definitely not our food), so it was difficult to have that taken away so abruptly. Cooking at home is, of course, more economical and healthier, but one does miss the taste of Nasi Lemak from the auntie that peddles it from the corner stall by the road, or the fresh-out-of-the-wok pisang goreng as a tea time snack in the office… the list is endless.

As for me, one of the first things that I’m planning to do once the MCO has lifted is pay a visit to my favourite Mee Jawa stall at Taman Meranti Jaya in Puchong. I’ve been eating here for several years now, and I actually like the food so much that I did an interview with the lady boss for a story in the travel magazine that I work for. **Unfortunately, the issue had to be postponed, as flights are currently grounded.

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The stall is run by Madam Ong and her husband, who both hail from Teluk Intan in Perak (you know, the place famous for the Leaning Tower?). While the sign says ‘Mee Rebus’, her dish is really more similar to Mee Jawa, a traditional Indonesian-Javanese noodle dish which features a sweet and savoury broth served with slices of egg, beansprouts, tofu slices and crunchy fried condiments. Both dishes are often confused due to the similarities in ingredients, although Mee Rebus tends to use fermented soybean and shrimp as the base of its broth, while Mee Jawa uses tomato and sweet potato.

Madam Ong, who has been cooking for more than 30 years, says that she learned the recipe from her mother. “In Teluk Intan, we call it ‘Indian noodles’ in the Cantonese dialect because it was commonly sold by Indian hawkers,” says Ong, who first cut her teeth in the business helping her mother, who was also a hawker. “I’m not sure if my mother learned it from an Indian hawker, but the recipe I use now was handed down to me when I was young,” she says.

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Madam Ong ran her own noodle business in Teluk Intan for more than 20 years, but hung up her apron several years ago to come to Kuala Lumpur and take care of her grandchildren. But there was ‘no way to pass the time after sending the children off to school’, so she decided to come out of retirement and start selling noodles again, this time in Puchong. She roped in her husband, who was working in construction and had no cooking experience, to help out. Initial days were difficult, as Mee Jawa is not as popular here as some other dishes like chicken rice, or curry noodles. Madam Ong shares that she actually had to donate the leftover food to charity homes. But the couple persevered, and eventually built a loyal fanbase (myself included!)

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What I like about the dish? The secret lies in the gravy.

Some places use fillers like flour to make the broth, so that they don’t have to use as many ingredients –  but the result is watery and unpleasant broth. Here, every spoonful of broth is packed with the richness of sweet potato, potato and tomato, and it tastes wholesome and natural. The sweetness is subtle, rather than overwhelming as is usually the case if you add sugar. While Madam Ong doesn’t make the noodles in-house, they are quite decent and have an al-dente, springy quality, with minimal smell of kansui (lye water, which is used to make yellow noodles and when prepared poorly, can be quite overwhelming). Another great thing about the dish is its wonderful combination of textures – there’s the crunchiness from the lightly salted fried flour snacks, which remain crispy even after they’ve been swimming in the broth for awhile, paired with the softness of tofu slices, the bounce of the egg and the springiness of the al dente noodles. All of this for just RM6! 

While you’re here, don’t forget to order a few pieces (or 10) of fried shrimp cakes, aka keropok udang. These are fried by Ong’s husband, and for someone who had no knowledge of cooking up until a few years ago, he has really mastered the art of frying. The keropok is crunchy and crispy but not oily, with airy, fluffy insides. The seasoning is done just right as well.

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Ong’s Mee Jawa/Rebus stall is open for breakfast and lunch only, and she usually closes by 1.45PM. I’m not sure if she’s still open during the MCO, but I’m definitely going after this lockdown is lifted.

Which hawker stall / local cafe/restaurant are you supporting after the MCO?

MEE REBUS TELUK INTAN 

Inside Restoran Wai Wai, 149-G, Block J, Tanming Boulevard, Jalan Meranti Jaya 3/1, Taman Meranti Jaya, Puchong.

Opening hours: 7AM – 1.45PM (closed Tuesdays)

Why I Hate Contact Lenses

I hate contact lenses.

I hate them with the intensity of a thousand suns, and while I understand why people wear them, that doesn’t make me hate them any less. If hell exists, one of its punishments should be having people put them on and off, every minute, every day, for the rest of eternity.  I can’t imagine a worse fate for my enemies.

In my 27 years of wearing glasses (I was born with astigmatism, so I started wearing them when I was 3. Big metal ones), I’ve only tried wearing contacts once, back in 2013, out of curiosity. The experience was unpleasant enough to put me off wearing them – that is, until recently.

Eris circa 1994. Nothing much has changed.

So I’m having my wedding ceremony in a couple of days, and it completely did not cross my mind until I went for my trial makeup session and my makeup artist asked me if I had gotten my contacts yet.

Me: What ?

Stacey (my makeup artist): Your contacts?

Me: *stunned* Oh, that.

*Uncomfortable pause.*

Me: ….Can I wear my glasses? lol

I could sense Stacey stifling her laughter although she answered me with a straight face that it would be better if I wore contacts, since she’d have to put falsies on for me and all that other shit (I don’t like wearing makeup. ie I’m too lazy). I grudgingly nodded, my mind already reliving that one traumatic episode from back in 2013, when I wore contacts for the first time, in which it took me hours to get the freaking contact lenses out of my eyeballs.

Image via pixabay

Anyway, I ended up at the optometrist near my office. Some eye tests later, they gave me a set of trial lenses and told me to try them on for a couple of days, in increasing hours each time, so that my eyes could get used to it. The optometrist demonstrated to me on how to put on the accursed things. I wasn’t very good at it (sausage fingers), and spent a good 45 minutes trying to get them on and off (the optometrist wouldn’t let me leave until I successfully did it 3 times idk if I should applaud her for being thorough, or call her a devil).

And for the first couple of days, I tried. I really did. I’d bring the trial lenses to the office and try to put them on in the bathroom. The thing is, I’m fucking blind as a bat without my glasses (I can make out shapes but everything looks like they have a bokeh effect on them if I don’t lean in within 10cm of something, I kid you not) so the optometrist’s advice of ‘use your other eye to see how your contacts are going in’ might as well have been her telling me to use my naked eyes to look at Pluto. After a couple of tries, I managed to get them in and they were actually okay for like four hours.

Who needs bokeh when you can just take off your glasses – every person with severe astigmatism

Then it was time to take them out again and boy oh boy why did I lull myself into believing it would get better? Agony. Pure agony. I couldn’t see where the lenses were and could only guess its position. I ended up pinching my eyeball which was excruciating – I would rather go through an 11-hour hike through the Bario jungle again than do this on a daily basis.

Everyone tells me that contacts are not as clear because they move around slightly + the power is not as specific as what can be achieved with glasses. Which makes zero sense to me. Suffer through the agony of putting them on and taking them off everyday just to enjoy ‘okay’ vision? Like I said, I understand people wear them for different reasons (eg sports people, etc.) but if it’s for beauty .. like, why ?

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I gave up trying to ‘get used to it’ after a couple of days, because the experience just wasn’t getting better. Maybe I’m just dumb and I can’t pick up the correct way of wearing them; maybe I’ve developed a phobia (you know how animals learn how not to go near an electric fence after they’ve been shocked a couple of times because = pain?). The trial lenses have been sitting around for two weeks (I change the solution every 2-3 days, coz they’re monthly ones), and I think I’m only going to wear them on my wedding day. I mean I’m already going to be uncomfortable with all the makeup caked on and the falsies and the girdle and the high heels and the tight dress so what’s a little more ?

In all seriousness… I’m never. wearing. contacts. again. after. this. EVER. I actually like a little pain, but even masochists can’t enjoy this shit. People might go ‘aww but you didn’t give it enough time!’. Nope. Pretty sure I wouldn’t like it even if I tried wearing them for a couple of months. You know how sometimes you just don’t like eating something and you can’t force yourself to like it no matter how you try? Yeah.

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Admittedly they do make my eyes look bigger (me being chinky and all), but it’s just not worth it.  Also it looks weird. Like some sort of dysmorphia.

PS:  Me hating on contacts has nothing to do with how I feel about other people wearing contacts. If you’re happy /comfortable wearing contacts and they make you feel good about yourself, by all means! They’re just not for me. I love wearing glasses, actually. An ex once told me it’s like having two girlfriends when I take them off; wink wink.

Review: Restoran Kong Sai, Bandar Puteri Puchong – Best Poached Chicken In Town

When Restoran Kong Sai first opened in Bandar Puteri Puchong, it quickly gained a reputation for its delicious poached chicken; attracting hordes of hungry diners who would queue to get in over dinnertime. While the resto has since expanded to include the adjacent shop lot, the crowds remain – so it’s best to come early to grab a seat, especially on weekends.

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The air-conditioned area was packed so we sat outside. Service was fast and efficient. They don’t have an extensive menu, but the few items that they have are all excellent.

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The star of the establishment is the poached chicken, which can be ordered in half and whole portions. There are two types available – Kampung (jau dei gai) which is smaller and has leaner meat, and dai san keuk gai (commercially reared) which is fatter and larger in size. Some people prefer kampung chicken because it’s healthier, while others prefer the fattier commercial chickens. Whichever you order, expect smooth, flavourful pieces of chicken that soak up the soy/sesame sauce really well. Getting poached chicken right without drying it out is difficult, but Kong Sai delivers with aplomb. Each piece is juicy and tender. I usually don’t eat the chicken skin when it’s poached, but it’s nice and chewy here. 😀

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I would also recommend the stuffed tofu (minimum order five pieces), which consist of minced meat and vegetables stuffed into beancurd and served in a soup. The tofu balls are sizable and the meat is seasoned just right, with a delicate bite to it.

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Veggies are veggies.

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Another house speciality is the curried pork ribs. These are prepared in a limited amount each day. I think not everyone will like this as the curry is very mild and barely has any kick to it, but the curry has good flavour and the ribs are done well. Personally, I would prefer more ribs. You get a couple of huge potatoes and a few ribs, but they don’t have much meat on them.

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Kong Sai also offers various soups; such as peanut with lotus root and black pepper pork stomach soup. The latter is one of my favourites and they are generous with portions; even throwing in some pork belly slices. The pepper is not overwhelming either, and the offal tastes clean with no gaminess.

Our meal for four came up to RM94 for 2 soups, 4 dishes, 4 portions of rice as well as drinks, which is quite reasonable. The star is surely the chicken, but everything else is pretty good as well.

RESTORAN KONG SAI (PUCHONG BRANCH) 

44G, Jalan Puteri 5/2, Bandar Puteri, 47100 Puchong, Selangor

Opening hours: 11.30AM – 2.30PM, 5.30PM – 10.30PM (Closed Mondays).

 

Lunch With A View @ Nobu Kuala Lumpur

Commanding an awesome view of Kuala Lumpur right next to the iconic Petronas Twin Towers, Nobu Kuala Lumpur is popular with the business lunch crowd, as well as discerning diners looking for a memorable dining experience with friends and loved ones.

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I recently got to try out their ‘Noon at Nobu’ lunch offerings, created by Executive Chef Philip Leong. It did not disappoint. Featuring an array of decadent meals and combinations, the menu includes set lunches, prix fixe menus, bento boxes, hot and cold dishes as well as soups, noodles and desserts. Diners can expect the freshest ingredients, as well as Nobu’s signature Japanese style with Peruvian influences.

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To start off, we had an appetiser from the cold menu: Crispy Rice with Spicy Tuna (RM38). Fried to golden perfection, the cubes of rice were crunchy, bite-sized and the perfect accompaniment to the creamy, spicy tuna.

Next, we tried some items from the prix-fixe menu (RM168++), which comprises an appetiser, main course and dessert. It also comes with miso soup and green tea.

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(APPETISER) Butter Lettuce Salad Dry Miso – fresh leafy vegetables tossed in a savoury-sweet dressing – perfect for those who prefer something light and refreshing.

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(APPETISER) One of Nobu’s signature dishes, New Style Sashimi is a palate pleaser in both flavour and texture. The fish slices are slightly cooked on the edges, thanks to the hot oil and dressing that is poured over it just before serving.

There’s an interesting story about how Chef Nobu Masuhitsa, celebrity chef and owner of the Nobu restaurants, came up with the dish. Apparently a guest once declined a meal of sashimi after it was served to the table, citing that she didn’t like raw food. Chef Nobu took it back to the kitchen, heated some oil and poured it over the sides so that the fish would be cooked on the edges, without disrupting the original dish’s presentation. This ‘New Style’ sashimi proved to be so popular it became a permanent item on the menu.

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(APPETISER) Nobu’s Peruvian influence shines through the Seafood Ceviche, a salad of fresh and juicy seafood and greens.

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(APPETISER) My personal favourite is the Umami Chicken Kara-age; a fitting name for perfectly fried boneless chicken that is juicy on the inside and crisp on the outside.

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(MAIN) Mushroom Toban Yaki – An amalgamation of mushrooms, served in a claypot for maximum flavour. It was good but it was not my favourite, as there was a slightly bitter note to the sauce.

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(MAIN) Shrimp with Spicy Garlic boasts sweet and sizable shrimps tossed in a spicy garlic sauce for an extra kick.

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(MAIN) The Grilled Chicken Truffle Teriyaki is another winner, elevating the humble but versatile meat into a gourmet experience. Despite being lean, with very little fat, the chicken retained its moisture and tenderness, which makes it a great protein to bring out the full flavours of the smoky, earthy truffle sauce. Rounding up the dish are lightly grilled vegetables.

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(MAIN) Red meat lovers will enjoy the Beef Tenderloin.  

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Aside from the pre-fixe menu, Nobu KL also offers set lunches which are served with with miso soup, salad, tempura, nobu biscuits and green tea. Vegans can opt for the Cauliflower Steak with Corn Salsa, while pescatarians can choose a beautifully presented sushi and sashimi spread of tuna, ebi (shrimp) and salmon, among others. Lunch sets range from RM58++ to RM145++. 

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Nobu biscuits and macaroons.

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Presentation and taste are both key when it comes to Nobu’s exquisite bento boxes (RM175++), which are as pretty as they are tasty. Diners will get signature Nobu dishes such as the refreshing Sashimi Salad with Matsuhisa Dressing, fresh assorted sushi, crispy Rock Shrimp Tempura with Butter Ponzu, Nobu’s signature Black Cod Miso and aromatic Vegetable Spicy Garlic with Rice. If there is one item that you MUST have in this set, it’s the Black Cod Miso, which is basted with a miso glaze for that perfect savoury sweet, umami flavour.

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Coming to desserts, which can be ordered ala carte or part of the prix fixe menu, we have the Yogurt Sub Zero, a creamy and lightly sour concoction of fresh berries, raspberry sauce, sesame crisp and yogurt ice-cream served in stone bowls.

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The Banana Harumaki – featuring a Banana Spring Roll, Shiso Leaf, Dulce De Leche, Passionfruit Sauce and White Sesame Ice Cream.

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Wash everything down with a Japanese Whisky Cappuccino, with Coffee Creme Brulee, Cocoa Cumble, Vanilla Ice Cream and Japanese Whisky Foam.

*Note: There is a smart casual dress code for entry. Ripped jeans, round collared tees, shorts, tank tops and flip flops are not allowed. Children below the age of 12 are only allowed on the premises on weekends and public holidays.

For reservations and inquiries, call 03-2164 5084 or Whatsapp 019 389 5085.

NOBU KUALA LUMPUR 

Menara 3 Petronas, Persiaran KLCC, Kuala Lumpur City Centre, 50088 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Opening hours: (daily) 12 – 2PM, 6 – 10.30PM

noburestaurants.com/kuala-lumpur/home/

 

 

Favourite Sushi Spot – Sushi Zanmai

KL-ites have a love affair with Japanese food, and there are plenty of kaiten-zushi (conveyor belt sushi) restaurants around to fit every budget. Some of the more value for money chains include Sushi Jiro, Sushi King and Sushi Mentai, while the mid to higher-end ones include Sushi Tei and Sushi Zanmai. The latter is one of my favourite places to go to when I have the money to splurge. There are also two specific dishes that I must order, lol.

Sushi Zanmai has many outlets scattered across the Klang Valley. I usually dine at the one at Jaya Shopping Centre, but this post was when I went to 1Utama with N.

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First must order: Chuka iidako (baby octopus). I love chewy things (like squid and mochi), so chuka iidako is a must have whenever I go to any Japanese restaurant. The one at Sushi Zanmai, however, has perfected the marinade, so much so that it doesn’t feel right eating it anywhere else. It has a nice balance between sweet and savoury, peppered with fragrant sesame seeds on a bed of fresh lettuce and shredded radish. Portions are of a reasonable size as well.

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Second must order: Shimeji karaage. Lightly battered and served with a dollop of mayonnaise, these are crisp, salty and I like how the mushrooms have a crunchy exterior complemented by a juicy, almost meat-like texture on the inside. I usually order a bowl of rice to go with it.

And that would be what I eat when I’m alone – I call it my trinity of Sushi Zanmai – and I never tire of ordering the same things. On this occasion, however, I had to digress from my weird eating habits and order other stuff for N.

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N’s Chicken Katsudon. The chicken was first fried before it was cooked with the egg and sauce, but that meant it was soggy and somewhat tasteless. Maybe stick to their sushi offerings ? 

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Anago (boiled saltedwater eel), basted with a light teriyaki-sauce for that perfect sweet-savoury taste, and salmon.

SUSHI ZANMAI 

For a full list of their outlets, visit: supersushi.com.my

PS: In case you’re wondering, no this is not a paid spot, but the personal opinion of the writer.