February 26, 2013

Doraku, Life Center Kuala Lumpur: Japanese Cuisine with a Latin & Asian Twist!

Not Your Typical Japanese Restaurant!

*Long post coming up…

It started in Miami, followed by Honolulu, Doraku is now set to put a new trend in Japanese dining here in Malaysia. A first out of its origin in the United States, Doraku was the brainchild of Kevin Aoki, son of Rocky Aoki from the famous Benihana Group. Trending the contemporary gastronomic journey, Doraku’s mix of Japanese cuisine with Latin and Asian inspiration brings something extraordinary to the modern palate of today’s cuisine. Brought into Malaysia by Hafez M. Hashim of the HMH Group, the chic and trendy Doraku, located at Life Center Kuala Lumpur, is the epitome of today’s modern cuisine.

It’s certainly different! Stepping in, Doraku evoked a trendy and funky ambience with a chic touch. Dressed with dark and light wood with cream, trees and plenty of natural elements and lights, the restaurant is spacious and pleasant. Choose from air conditioned seats to the outside al fresco lanai as you wish. There is also the sushi bar for some live kitchen action if it tickles your fancy.

Helmed by Executive Chef Yutaro Tsuchiya, guests are in for a treat at Doraku. Armed with 17 years of culinary experience and skill in various Japanese restaurants, starting from Yokohama in Japan before moving to US to be the head sushi chef at the renowned Benihana in Dallas, Chef Yutaro also mentored under the infamous Iron Chef Hiroyuki Sakai. With an A-list celebrity guests in his dining list, Chef Yutaro is in great demand for his unique and trendy creations. Here’s a chef that takes Japanese into the modern culinary world!

When the sun goes down, the city comes alive. Joining the city, diners can groove to the beat from the house resident DJ while enjoying the long list of sakes, alchohols, wines, beers and cocktails at Doraku! They take their drinks seriously and we did sample some gorgeous cocktails as living proof.

It’s simply fantabulous! Ume Margarita hits all the right notes in flavor at first sip. An Asian inspired concoction of Sauza Gold, fresh lime, Japanese Ume and plum liquer, this cocktail is beautifully refreshing on the eye and taste. A bright yellow color, the flavors of the salty sour plum strike all the happy notes in my senses. Thoroughly addictive, I cannot help but raved at this gorgeous margarita!

It’s just peachy! Peach Martini is fruity and sweet, something ladies would like.

Strawberry Flavored Iced Tea and Lychee Flavored Iced Tea came highly recommended and I could see why. Both drinks are enjoyable with a good dose of the fruit. Chilled and well dressed with a strong taste of tea, the fruit essence made the drinks unique its own fruit flavor. A must for non-alchoholic drinkers…

Salmon Carpaccio

Carpaccio may have started from the Italians but here it takes on a new touch of Japanese. Thinly sliced salmon is fanned out on a pool of creamy ginger sauce with dollops of creamy sauce and tobiko. The omega rich fish is heightened by the tangy gingery sauce in great doses. A bite of this will ignite your neurons of sour and sweet with ginger flavors.

White Tuna Tiridito

The buttery white tuna is lightly marinated in ponzu sauce. Sweet miso is topped on the fish and lightly torched while chili oil is drizzled on for a spicy finish. Lightly firm, the Peruvian inspired fish is sweet and citrusy while the miso provided a creamy and salty edge. For those who fear raw fish, this one might just cure it for you as the fish is literally cooked in the citrus sauce and also from the light torching.

Ahi Hawaiian Poke

Poke, pronounced as poʊˈkeɪ, is a Hawaiian dish of raw salad. Playing on similar notes with carpaccio and tartare, this dish is much beloved by the Hawaiians. The version here has cubed blue fin tuna mingling with seaweed, lettuce, shallot and more in robust spicy citrus dressing. The aroma of sesame oil is also present. A desirable factor lies in the crunch of the seaweed with the firm chunks of tuna. There is even an octopus version of this. I would gladly savor this poke salad anytime!

Sashimi Moriawase

There is only one requirement to sashimi and that is freshness. Our gorgeous platter of sashimi moriawase was a rainbow of blue fin tuna, salmon, scallops, octopus and Spanish mackerel. The oceanic selection was affectionately fresh and sweet with scallops taking first place in my books.

Nigiri Deluxe Moriawase

Again freshness is crucial and this one is no difference from the sashimi. Chef’s choice of finger sushi has a good balance of fish ratio to the vinegared rice. Almost everything melts-in-the-mouth except the octopus which requires more bite. Traditionally authentic, it also proves that Doraku can be as authentic as it gets in certain dishes.

Emperor Roll

Signature rolls with creativity in ingredients and name takes the cake on Doraku’s menu! Our favorite of the lot is Emperor Roll, a lavish one filled with salmon, tuna, scallop, crab and avocado, is decadently rolled up with seaweed, lightly battered and deep fried till just crispy on the outside. The huge cut rolls are served on a bed of fried sweet onions and greens with dollops of aioli, spicy sauce and tobiko. It’s really pretty at sight. Rice-free, it also makes one enjoy this without the carbohydrate guilt. You get sweetness from the seafood with a creamy spicy note and a lovely crispy finish for this one… superb!

Doraku Roll

House signature, Doraku Roll consists of crab and avocado roll dressed with sliced tuna. The roll is crowned with a fresh mix of thinly shredded daikon radish, shiso leaves and golden crispy garlic bits with a citrusy Wasabi Yuzu Citrus sauce. You get freshness from each bite from the daikon mix with garlic ending contrasting with the lemony soy sauce.

Volcano Roll

I knew I was going to enjoy this when I set my eyes on it. Though more familiar in ingredients, the California roll base is topped with salmon and Japanese aioli before being baked to a creamy goodness. Splashes of spicy creamy sauce and eel sauce dressed the roll before being crowned with scallions and tobiko. The dreamy roll is lusciously rich and decadent with a light spicy taste. One gets a chock full of sweet crab, tempura prawn and soft salmon, rendering a sea of flavors in each cut roll. Another must-order as this medley worked so harmoniously!

Doraku Tuna Tataki

Famously originated from Japan, Tataki denotes meat or fish lightly seared, sliced up thinly and dressed in vinegared sauce. Chef Yutaro pumped up his version with gorgeous seared tuna sliced thinly and drenched in garlic aioli and Ponzu sauce. Beneath the deep red slices lies a mount of daikon radish and daikon radish sprouts with seasoned wakame also marinated in the yuzu soy sauce. Flavors are lively and vibrant with both sauces complimenting each other well so that one gets a creamy and tangy taste to the firm tuna and the fresh vegetables. A dish worth hogging to myself…

Okinawan Beef Chanpuru

A little surprise at this dish as it seemed to lean towards comfort food compared to the rest of the more trendy dishes. Rendered after Okinawan stir fry dish that usually consists of bean curd with other ingredients, this mix consisted of bean curd, sliced bittergourd, egg and sliced Australian sirloin. The hodge-podge of ingredients summed up a mellow savory note with an edge of bitterness from the bittergourd. Best savored with a bowl of rice, you’ll either love this or not depending on whether you like bittergourd.

Garlic Vegetable Yakimeshi

Basically garlic fried rice, it was good but lacked the essential breath of wok. Still commendable for a good dose of garlicky flavors in the fluffy short-grain rice… if you must have your fried rice!

Japanese Beef Ribs

Everyone raved on the glorious hunk of beef ribs that day! The gargantuan ribs were inspired from Western BBQ and twisted with a Japanese flavor. Marinated in Japanese seasoning, the ribs were then slowly cooked and laced with BBQ sauce and served with sides of fried onion straws and coleslaw. It was so tender, I really didn’t need a knife to cut into the meat. For the ultimate experience, chuck away the cutlery and dive in with your fingers for that finger-licking goodness of tangy and sweet caramelized BBQ sauce on the soft silky strands of the meat. Carnivores… three ribs may not be enough because it’s that good!

HMH Wafu Burger

This one certainly live up to our expectation in the holy grail of burgers! Immortalized by Japanese seasoning, the wafu burger is one sumptuous burger you don’t want to miss. 150gm of beefy goodness, the thick patty was juicy, sweet and filled with loads of umami notes. The jewel of the dish was the perfectly fried egg with barely cooked egg yolk and Japanese aioli on it. As the yolk flows onto the patty, it coats the beef into a sinful luscious meat like no other.

Yes, it’s sloppy and super moist from all the juices and egg yolk with mayo but it’s a worthy messiness to indulge on. This awesomeness comes with toasted sesame seed bun, fried sweet potato chips and coleslaw. Oishii!

Brownie Tempura Ice

The dessert list may not be long but after all those list of dishes, I am glad this one is short and sweet. A first for me, it seems that one can coat anything in tempura batter and fried it? Here Chef Yutaro introduces his version of chocolatey brownie coated with light tempura batter and fried to light crispy fingers and served with vanilla ice cream. Not every works but this one certainly does! Crispy outside, cakey inside, the dark bittersweet brownie makes a great stand out with the ice cream. I thought the portion is fairly big too and certainly can be shared by a few unless you don’t mind the calories…

Macha Ice Cream

Traditionalist and always guarantees satisfaction when it has the tinged of bittersweet green tea essense as an after taste. I can never say no to this!

Doraku certainly has quite a few hidden surprises in their menu. Chef Yutaro’s creations are mesmerizing in sight and taste and will certainly have you hooked for more. It’s simply Japanese dishes brought forward to our modern era with a few Latin and Asian twist. If you’re looking for a place to enjoy a great Japanese meal or hangout for drinks when you’re in the city, Doraku might be what you are looking for. It’s got a great combination of modern upbeat ambience, unique dishes and drinks to make your dining experience memorable!

Did I mention that Doraku has one of the most extensive Sake lists I have ever seen here in Malaysia? J

Mezzaine Floor, Life Center,
20, Jalan Sultan Ismail
50250 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: +603 2181 4828

Business hours:
Weekdays: 12pm – 1am
Weekend: 12pm – 2am

*More pictures at facebook: ChasingFoodDreams


  1. Walao eh! The chef looks like namewee... Muahahahahaha!!!!

    1. kakaka... never tot of it but now that you mentioned.. I can see it too! :)

    2. Yes, very delicious!


  2. HAHAHAHAHAHA!! ROTFL* macam really got abit Namewee's look le...
    Japanese food always look very colorful and attractive. Made ppl drool :-p

    1. great catch by Arthur... hehehe

      oh ya.. also taste really good... me big fan of Jap, modern or old... ;)

  3. Didn't realize they had burgers too!

    1. make sure u try it if you return, that Wafu burger ROCKS!!

  4. Wow! Each dish really stands out in its own way, but surprisingly those that catch my eye is the ribs, burger and the tempura brownie.. all non Japanese! LOL. I suppose that's a testament to their fusion-inspired food and creativity. :D

    1. hehe... chef is good at twisting Jap to suit the kwai los... ;)

  5. 1000% agree with Arthur's comment HAHAHAHA, anyway, its really special to know that they are mixing tempura batter with brownies. Would love to try this dessert but i DO mind the calories LOL! :P

    1. oh yeah.. my first also seeing brownie tempura... its pretty good but have to share.. its quite heavy.... :D

  6. I am so impressed with every single dishes you've mentioned above..! Everything looks SUPER EFFING DELICIOUSSSSSSSS. Ahhhhh.. I want the guilt free sushi, the Okinawan Beef Chanpuru, the Nigiri Deluxe Moriawase... ARGH. I lost count! I WANT EVERYTHIGN!! weeeeeee! Guess I should bring my family here one day!! ^^Thanks for sharing ya Jenn! ;DD

    1. u got to try it for yourself ya... let me know when u do! make sure u order Wafu Burger.....

  7. I'll pick the roll without the rice, for me as a dieter :P

    1. true... no carb... hehehe.. but it does taste yummy, you will love this for sure!

  8. hahaha namewee! Anyway, the burger looks soooo good, *diet plan fails*

    Latest: Vault Wine Bistro

    1. hehe.. if need to diet, eat the roll without the rice... lol...not burger

  9. All of them are sooooo attractive, I love food in vibrant color!!
    Indeed, I agreed with u, I saw namewee~~hehehe

    1. oh yes! thats why I took so much pics of the colorful food... lol...

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