Japanese Cuisine with a Contemporary Californian Twist!
Just like its name, Wasabi Bistro has certainly got a kick despite its serene and elegant ambience. Wasabi Bistro has been around for more than a decade, discreetly located at the exclusive Mandarin Oriental Kuala Lumpur hotel, serving up its own modern interpretation of Japanese cuisine. Tagged as Japanese cuisine with a contemporary Californian twist, Wasabi Bistro has a list of authentic dishes to please the most discerning palate while luring in the adventurous ones.
Wasabi Bistro’s entrance is located at the parking level of the hotel discreetly. While the entrance may be peculiar to some, as soon as one walks in, the ambience changes immediately. Playing up on traditional Japanese décor, the bistro uses lots of wood in its décor. From its glorious sushi bar to dining booths and private rooms, every nook and corner has panels of rich amber wood and flooring. Greetings of ‘Irasshaimase’ welcome guests. The ambience exudes warmth and comfort with hints of smart casualness.
On the way in, I can see a tall chiller housing lots of sakes, champagnes and wines. Wine pairings are very common now and can be seen with many cuisines around the world.
Passing by, the sushi bar is beautiful and contemporary with minimal design. Sushi chefs worked quietly behind the bar as guests are enthralled by the skills of the chefs while enjoying their meal. I had the honor to be seated in a private room for our review that night.
Wasabi Bistro is an independent outlet owned by a Japanese family who also has a Wasabi Bistro outlet in America. The bistro has also garnered many culinary awards throughout its serving years. We were told that this restaurant serves up a list of recipes from the owners’ family – Grandma Iseki’s recipes that are closely guarded till today. Holding the fort is Executive Chef Hiro Sakamoto, a shy but talented chef that is responsible for all the wondrous dishes at the restaurant.
Our first course of Santen-Mori came in a Japanese lacquered box tray. The presentation is very Japanese and every dish is artfully decorated to complement each other. The dish is like an orchestra of flavors.
Starting from one corner, Horenso-Goma maybe simple but the spinach with sesame dressing is very much a welcome starter. Lightly creamy and nutty, it’s very aromatic too. We moved to a delectable Ahi Poke, a popular Hawaiian dish that has tuna lightly dressed with seaweed and onion. The tuna is well marinated and soaked up the flavors of the lightly tangy dressing while the seaweed and onion provided a nice crunch.
A skewer of Steamed Prawn with Sweet Walnut is paired with Tamago Yaki, our third little dish. Simple and decent enough as it was prepared well. The fourth dish was what had us all going gaga!
Kumi’s No. 1 is Grandma Iseki’s recipe. A golden mount of hidden treasures and pleasurable flavors that completed the orchestrated course on a high note. Enveloped beneath the blanket of egg is sweet fresh crab with creamy avocado and a light white fish. These are then sauced up with a special sauce and baked. It is indeed so good that I just didn’t want this dish to end. I’d like a few repeats of Kumi’s No. 1 please…
The next course proves exactly why it will always be a Japanese classic and favorite. Dobin Mushi, our teapot soup, is utterly soothing. A light squeeze of lime into the broth which will be savor in little tea cup added such a big difference to the broth. The broth is light and flavorful with a lovely seafood essence. After enjoying the broth, one gets to savor prawns, fish and assorted mushrooms in the teapot.
Our pièce de résistance is a huge bowl of Sashimi Hana! It’s a kaleidoscope straight from the sea. All I wanted to do is shout ‘Divine… simply divine... that and diving into this bowl of oceanic treasures. This magnificent bowl comes with a hefty price tag of RM380 but one can be assured that quality is definitely top-notched.
Sake or Salmon Sashimi… classic and delicious. Thick slices of fresh cut salmon with a dab of soy sauce and wasabi make my day anytime! Going the extra mile of pampering, there is also Salmon Belly, a fattier cut and even more divine than its regular cut. Not far from behind is Chutoro or Tuna Belly Sashimi, also a fattier cut of tuna, simply marvelous.
Ika with Uni or Squid Sashimi with Sea Urchin is a match made in heaven. Fresh squid has a beautiful crunchy texture while the luscious briny sea urchin lends its magic on flavors to the squid. Such wondrous partners in life…
I raved and raved on the thick cut pieces of Hamachi or Yellowtail Sashimi. Firm in bite but creamy and so moreish, these pieces of yellowtail deserved some serious worshipping. Yellowtail has always been my favorite sashimi and fresh pieces like this remind me why!
I have never had Kimidai Snapper or Golden Eye Snapper Sashimi and so when I first tasted this, I was bowled over. Besides looking so beautiful with its lightly pink tinged flesh and red skin, the Kimidai Snapper is so sweet and creamy. It has a lovely bite too. Highly recommended if you had never tried this before...
From sashimi, we moved on to maki… three types of it. Our Sushi Roll platter had Soft-Shell Crab Roll, Rainbow Roll and Salmon Mango Roll. Soft Shell Crab Roll has tiny pea sprouts with crispy battered soft shell crab while Rainbow Roll was assorted fish sashimi with crab salad and avocado filling. What stood out was Salmon Mango Roll with slivers of fresh salmon sashimi overlapping fresh sweet mango slices with a filling of more salmon sashimi and vegetables. The ripe sweetness of mango surprisingly matches very well with salmon, making the flavors fresh and vibrant.
Just when I thought we had our fill, Dynamite Scallop appeared. Though I don’t really think this originated from Japan, I certainly didn’t mind devouring this happily. Hot baked in an earthen bowl, Dynamite Scallop is layers of rice topped with scallops and assorted mushrooms, covered in a thick luscious cheese sauce and finished off with a fiery spicy sauce, bonito flakes, scallions and ebiko.
This is mind-blowing good! The spiciness coupled with the cheese sauce literally evoked mind-blowing flavors in the senses. Spoon after spoon, I still wanted more. It reminds me also of risotto and the sweet chunks of scallops are simply gorgeous. Flying fish roes popped in the mouth, created salty notes contrasting with the spice and creamy flavors. Unless you are not a cheese fan, I highly recommend order this dish… maybe a few portions too. RM35 for this platter but so worth the price tag!
With every meal, it has to end and we ended with Tempura Ice Cream and more Ice Creams…
Tempura Ice Cream has strawberry cake as its cover and Green Tea Ice Cream before its lightly coated in tempura batter and fried to golden. I like how they serve it, cut open and topped with lots of fresh whipped cream and berries. So good… and the cake made this Tempura Ice Cream a little different from the usual as it added a nice fruity sweetness with the intense green tea flavor.
We also tried their Passion Fruit Ice Cream and Black Sesame Ice Cream… all homemade by the chef.
Truly an exquisite Japanese experience!
Level P1, Mandarin Oriental Kuala Lumpur
KL City Centre,
50088 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: +60 3 2163 0968
Business Hour: Lunch -12pm to2.30pm / Dinner – 6pm to 10.30pm
*More photos at my Facebook: Chasing Food Dreams