Saturday, August 29, 2015

Sasagawa Japanese Cuisine @ Sheraton Imperial Kuala Lumpur Hotel


An Enchanting Kaiseki Experience!



The moment I stepped out of Sheraton Imperial Kuala Lumpur Hotel elevator and saw Sasagawa Japanese Cuisine restaurant entrance, I knew it was going to be an unforgettable dining experience. The gorgeous entrance with its artistic wood framework and lustre glass panel proudly etched with the restaurant’s name is mesmerizing.


Sasagawa has just taken over from Makishima at the hotel and officially operated as of June recently. Barely a few months old, the restaurant has already been the talk of the town. Named after and helmed by Chef Hitoshi Sasagawa who trained under Iron Chef Challenger Chef Tadamichi Ota, is set to showcase his skills in creating traditional and authentic Japanese dishes to our Malaysian diners. Leader of the Ota Faction of traditional Japanese chefs, Chef Ota defeated French Iron Chef Sakai in the Iron Chef challenge, reaffirming the skills and knowledge of authentic Japanese cuisine.



Sasagawa is the perfect venue for the 38 year old Chef Sasagawa to showcase his culinary repertoire. Japanese cuisine is all about featuring the freshest and finest ingredients that Mother Nature has to offer and so Sasagawa stays true to the same concept in serving premium imported ingredients flown in directly from Japan four times a week for the restaurant’s menu. Gourmands have the option of a full regular a la carte menu or simply be surprised by their Kaiseki dinner courses or Bento lunch courses.



The majestic and Zen ambience is designed by local designer from Kyoto to replicate the tradition and atmosphere of Japan’s culture. Using lots of wood backed by modern touches of contemporary furniture and influences, the restaurant has lots of sectioned private dining rooms as well as its regular dining room.  The awesome architectural structure of the wood element creates a halo pathway leading to the private dining rooms. There is also a Zen fountain at the entrance. The restaurant also has bar that played dual roles as a sushi bar as well as a perfect bar to hang out to the long list of Japanese sake and whisky together with other beverages.


Our evening was graced with a serene Zen ambiance, excellent discreet service and an unforgettable Kaiseki experience. Kaiseki, a multi-course haute dining experience, pays homage to the skills and techniques of Japanese cuisine together with the ingredients. Gourmands are taken on a journey of selected premium ingredients prepared with minimal cooking touches to enhance the true flavours of fresh quality ingredients.

There are basically 3 choices of Kaiseki of Yuki (RM460 – 9 courses), Hana (RM350 – 8 courses) and Tsuki (RM280 – 7 courses) at Sasagawa. There are no minimum number of diners so one can even order Kaiseki while your other dining companions enjoy a la carte. Chef Sasagawa recommends diners to make reservation at least 1 week in advance in order for him to offer the finest ingredients from Japan in the Kaiseki experience.



Our Hana Kaiseki experience showcase 8-course meal of Appetizer, Sashimi, Simmered Dish, Main Dish, Steamed Dish, Deep Fried Dish, Shokuji and Dessert.

APPETIZER


Our Appetizer or Hassun course has 3 small bites of Egg Tofu, Cutlass Fish and Boiled Greens with Fried Tofu served on long wooden plate as per its tradition. These are meant to tease and open up our palates with a delicate ode to the Japanese cuisine.


Egg Tofu Topping with Salmon Egg, Golden Powder, Radish & Wasabi was my favorite of the three. Exquisite in sight, a cube of smooth, creamy and luscious egg bean curd was cleverly paired with a host of salty roes, crisp fresh radish and a tiny dab of fresh Japanese horseradish. Evoking all taste senses, this egg bean curd was further enhanced at sight as well with edible gold.


Cutlass Fish Nanbanduke, Kikka Flower & Loofah Marinated with Vinegar had a fresh and vibrant flavour. Sweet Cutlass Fish was delicately battered, fried and served in a pickled form. Edible Kikka flower may not add flavour but was crowned on the fish to reiterate the importance of presentation of the cuisine.


The third appetizer of Boiled Greens in Bonito-Flavoured Soy Sauce, Fried Tofu & Mizuna Baby Fish reminded diners that the cuisine originate from humble homes in the country. Its simplicity of greens, inari and tiny Mizuna baby fish represents the land and sea produce of Japan.


SASHIMI


The second course of Otsukuri was another tribute to Japan’s cuisine and its surrounding ocean that produces some of the best seafood in the world. Every Sashimi served in the Kaiseki course varies as it depends on the freshest available catch imported from Japan four days a week.


For our Sashimi course, we had the honors of savoring Otoro (Fatty Tuna), Maguro (Tuna), Ishidai (Parrot Fish), Salmon and Tenshi Ebi (Angel Shrimp). Each sashimi is truly a haven of oceanic sweetness. Worthy in every sense are the Otoro of luscious creamy fatty tuna and the sweet firm Ishidai sashimi enhanced by fresh wasabi and premium soy sauce…


This platter of Sashimi prepared by Chef Sasagawa serves 3 pax.


SIMMERED DISH


The next course features comfort pleasures of Nimono or simmering ingredients in sauce or broth to gently cook and enhance its flavours. Chef Sasagawa is set to please all diners so if you should have a certain diet or ingredient that you do take, do let him know in advance and his dishes will be set to cater to your requests.

That evening, our simmered dish was a Kuroge Wagyu Yamato-Ni. Kuroge Wagyu is from one of the most sought after breeds of wagyu – the Japanese Black cow. Small cubes of Kuroge Wagyu is paired together with Japanese Turnip Boiled in Syrup, Pumpkin, Baby Eggplant Oranda-Ni, Lady Finger, White Onion and Bud of Japanese Tree Pepper. The beef is beautifully tender and so deliciously flavourful from its simmering in a sauce of sweet red pepper, soy sauce, Sake and soup stock. Every element played its role, whether in taste of texture, and the sauce completed the symphony of flavours in this dish.


One of our dining partner does not take beef and so he was served Abalone or Awabi Yamato-Ni. Similar to the wagyu, the premium mollusk was given the same treatment of simmering and pairing of ingredients.


POT STEW


Our fourth course of Suimono was another treat of the sea. Torched Octopus, Seabass and King Crab with KUJO Green Onion, Mizuna, Maitake Mushrooms & Lime is served on the side together with a pretty silver pot of Japanese Style Onion Soup Stock sitting on a small burner.



As soon as we lifted the cover of the pot, the aroma of the broth is simply sublime. A nudge of sweetness and smoky aroma starts tantalizing us as we quickly placed all the ingredients into the broth to gently stew it.



What a treat! A myriad of ocean’s treasures and the sweetest green onions with peppery Mizuna greens and highly-prized Maitake mushrooms has soaked up the beautiful smoky and sweet broth so well. This dish truly evoked all the senses of sight, taste, smell and sound in great depth.


STEAMED DISH


Special Chawanmushi with Goma Tofu topped with thin sliced winter melon, wolfberry and sesame cream is our Mushimono course of the meal. The delicate course of egg custard married with a piece of sesame tofu is beautiful. Simple and so comforting…



DEEP FRIED DISH



Our sixth course was Agemono and Chef Sasagawa chose to showcase a popular dish of Prawn Tempura with Andes Salt. Normally, tempura is served with a tempura dipping sauce but Chef Sasagawa wanted to let the sweetness of the Angel prawn shine through its light crisp batter, so Andes salt was paired this round. There were also baby eggplant, lotus root and Shishito chili pepper. 


Crisp, juicy and yummy!


SHOKUJI


Our last savory course was a Shokuji set of rice, miso soup and tsukemono pickles, a must in most Kaiseki meals.


Inside this Kama is a Kamameshi or Rice Cooked Small Kettle.


The pot unveiled rice crowned with a piece of salmon, small chunks of abalone, burdock, inari, salmon roes and shiso leaf. Believe by the Japanese to be the best method to cook rice, the short grain rice is cooked till tender but has a lovely bite. Mix all together and enjoy a bowl of fluffy rice with lots of protein and treats. A solid and filling end of rice, soup and pickled seaweed with Arima-ni.




DESSERT


Dessert was Yukimi Daifuku, vanilla ice cream encased with a mocha skin.



Chef Sasagawa held up to his promise of showcasing Japanese cuisine in the most authentic presentation and flavour at Sasagawa. The Kaiseki experience is a treat and worthy of its price with the quality of the ingredients, coupled with Chef Sasagawa’s skill and the restaurant’s ambience. There are value Bento lunch sets too so head on over to Sasagawa for an authentic and multi-sensory Japanese dining in the heart of our city.



SASAGAWA JAPANESE CUISINE
Level 2, Sheraton Imperial Kuala Lumpur Hotel
Jalan Sultan Ismail
50250 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: 03 2602 3288


Business Hours:
Lunch          12.00noon to 2.30pm
Dinner         6.00pm to 10.00pm

Thursday, August 27, 2015

A Lavish Mid-Autumn Festival with Veuve Clicquot


Go lavish all the way this beautiful Mid-Autumn festival with a gift of opulence and sumptuousness of champagne and mooncakes!


Making a grand comeback this year, Veuve Clicquot in collaboration with Grand Imperial Group of Restaurants presents a harmonious union celebration with Veuve Clicquot Champagne and Grand Imperial’s delectable mooncakes.



Chong Wai Keng, Brand Ambassador for Moet Hennessy Brands reaffirms that the premium gift set reflects Madame Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin’s innovative spirit of its exquisite champagne with our celestial tradition.


With a history of 240 years in champagne making, Veuve Clicquot champagne is the world’s second most popular champagne and is considered by consumers to be the most exclusive and the most prestigious. With a motto of “Only One Quality, The Finest”, Veuve Clicquot champagne is indeed an extraordinary bubbly that is highly prized all over the world.


Chong Wai Keng, Brand Ambassador for Moet Hennessy Brands, Executive Dim Sum Chef Fanny Foo and Dan from the Grand Imperial Group



Who would have thought that Maison’s finest champagne – the Brut Yellow Label makes such a gorgeous pairing with our traditional mooncakes? The epitome of the house of Veuve Clicquot, the Veuve Clicquot Brut Yellow Label is well-known for its fresh citrusy notes and subtle aromas of brioche and vanilla. Its bubbly factor together with its elegant bouquet compliments the mooncakes beautifully and heighten the delicate flavours of the mooncakes.


Available from 15th August to 27th September 2015, this limited edition Veuve Clicquot Yellow Label and Mooncake Gift Set, priced at RM288 nett, features a bottle of Veuve Clicquot Brut Yellow Label (75 cl) with four delectable mooncakes including Assorted Fruits and Nuts with Chicken Bits, White Lotus Single Yolk, Almond with Sesame White Lotus Paste, and Pandan Lotus Paste Single Yolk.


This opulence gold box set of Veuve Clicquot Brut Yellow Label and Grand Imperial Mooncakes makes it the perfect giveaway this Mid-Autumn festival to family, friends and business associates. Limited to only 1000 orders, this exclusive gift set is available at all Grand Imperial Group of Restaurants at RM288 nett. 

For purchases, kindly contact the following six outlets listed below:

Grand Imperial Restaurant, Pinnacle Sunway (03-5888 7222/ 03-5888 7221)
Grand Imperial Restaurant, Bangsar Shopping Centre (03-2283 1118),
Grand Imperial Restaurant, Hartamas Shopping Centre (03-6201 3777),
Grand Imperial Restaurant, One Utama Shopping Centre (03-7729 7223),
Grand Imperial Restaurant, USJ19 City Mall (03-8024 8777)
Grand Imperial Restaurant, Casa Klang (03-3345 2118)


For further information, kindly visit www.veuve-clicquot.com, www.mhdm.com.my and www.grandimperial.com.my

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Nana’s Green Tea @ One Utama, Petaling Jaya


Modern Japanese Dishes & Desserts!

I have always had the perception that Nana’s Green Tea is a dessert house. That is until a recent visit to Nana’s Green Tea that I had discovered that they also serve a solid list of modern Japanese dishes besides their awesome signatures of desserts. Nana’s Green Tea was the brainchild of Kazuto Kutami, who took on the challenge of revolution of the F&B scene and came up with the thoughts of preserving the Japanese tea culture through a modern inspiration. Green tea has always been Japan’s pride and joy, so it was really only sensible to run the concept on green tea inspired desserts and beverages. With nearly 80 outlets in Japan, Nana’s Green Tea has truly become a favorite among the young and the old in the country.


The first Nana’s Green Tea in Malaysia opened in April 2014 at Mid Valley City and today, there are 3 outlets located in Mid Valley, One Utama and Pavilion Kuala Lumpur. Managing Director Ms. Valerie was inspired on her trips to Japan and decided to bring Nana’s Green Tea to our Malaysian shores. We are glad she did because Nana’s Green Tea serves some of the most awesome green tea dishes and beverages.



We visited the One Utama outlet which is located quite discreetly between the old and new wing link path. Nana’s Green Tea is housed in a spacious outlet with two levels of dining. Choose the al fresco dining level or the upper level for a comfortable dining. The ambience is decorated in warm and neutral tones in lots of light wood. The ceiling of the upper level is constructed by the inspiration of a hand held fan and lots of mini egg-lites for a subtle glow.


There are plenty of Japanese Sampuru or plastic food displays at the front of the restaurant to tempt diners!

I was impressed at the menu of Nana’s Green Tea as there are some really gorgeous lists of dishes as well as the mind-boggling and beautifully organized beverages and desserts. Of course, most of the menu revolved around green tea but if you really are not a fan, there are also non-tea dishes, beverages and desserts.

Ordering beverages and desserts is truly a difficult choice because I seemed to want to order everything on the menu! And then I calmed down and tried the following…



Matcha Soft Cream Latte (RM14.90) and Hoji Kuromitsu Latte (RM12.60, served hot, are so delicious! The intensity of the matcha in Matcha Soft Cream is just right, powerful and yet not overwhelming with creamy luscious notes. The roasted green tea in Hoji Kuromitsu Latte was also rich and has an additional earthy warm note to the additional of green tea flavours and black sugar syrup.


If you love the ice blended versions, go for their slushy variations. Our Matcha Kanten Slushy (RM11.50) and Matcha Kuromitsu Slushy (RM11.50) was icy and refreshing. The Kanten, or a type of agar derived from red seaweed, is very good in texture and flavours. It is quite firm and yet has a good feel texture with solid green tea flavour. The Kanten was the highlight of the drink for me. The Matcha Kuromitsu Slushy had the addition of the Japanese black syrup which resembles a rich molasses but less heavier.


Matcha Azuki Shiratama Latte (RM14.90) would be another good choice if you love Shiratama. These cute little sweet rice flour dumplings are lightly soft and chewy. The latte is creamy with good flavours of green tea and bits of creamy red bean.


If you are a real tea connoisseur, then you should definitely go for Nana’s Green Tea Uji Matcha (RM18.50)! It’s such an indulgence of bittersweet intense green tea with such refine and elegant note. As we watch our server carefully stir the green tea powder into the warm water and whisked it gracefully, a bright rich green tea color appeared with a layer of creamy froth. Such artistry all for the sake of a cup of warm and delicious Uji Matcha.




Moving on meals, the menu here features trendy Japanese dishes that also has much warmness incorporated for a light, healthy and delicious meal. Catered to all diners at all ages, there is really something for everyone.


We started with Salmon Carpaccio (RM18.40), where pieces of salmon are sliced thinly and served with a tangy vinaigrette dressing together with fresh bell peppers, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers and pea sprouts. A decent appetizer to kick off any meal.


The Chicken Karaage Salad (RM16.00) is very drool-worthy with big chunks of Japanese battered boneless fried chicken served with greens, boiled egg, tomatoes and tangy dressing. High points goes to the juicy and flavorful crispy fried chicken as it is such a well-made one. Using boneless chicken thighs, the fried chicken is also tender.


Moving on to heavier dishes, we had the Seafood Mentaiko Udon with Cream Sauce (RM33.60). One simply must enjoy this dish piping hot as the rich pink cream sauce gets too heavy when it is cold. When it is hot, the chewy udon goes so well with the saltish mentaiko cream sauce that also comes with scallops and prawns.


Leaning towards the simple and comforting angle is the Wakame Tamago Udon (RM18.40). This healthy dish has udon in seaweed broth, lots of seaweeds and a poached egg. Its really simple but flavour are so good and soothing.


For a Western touch, there is also the Locomoco Hamburg (RM23.90). A thick patty of chicken hamburg is smothered with a moreish and savory brown sauce. Served with options of rice and some vegetables and egg, the dish also comes with a side bowl of soup. I enjoyed the juick hamburg patty but thought the sauce was a tad too salty for me. However, when savored with the rice, the sauce seemed to be alright in taste.


Tori Soboro Don (RM19.60) also proved to be another comfort dish that one can enjoy on daily basis. This one reminds me of my younger childhood meal where mom used to make with minced meat and egg. Minced chicken, lots of sesame seed, pea sprouts and soft boiled egg on rice is a healthy and perfectly nutritional meal on its own. Once the egg is stirred into the rice, it helped to sauce the whole dish and bring the meat and rice together. Yum!


Nana’s Green Tea Lunch sets are quite a treat as they are priced at RM21.90 which includes a main course from the selected lunch menu and a beverage from Set Drinks. This is available during weekday from 10am to 5pm and weekends & public holidays from 10am to 3pm.


We tried three choices of their lunch set dishes. First one is their best seller, the Chicken Nanban. Crispy fried chicken cutlet is topped with a luscious mayo based sauce. It is served with white rice or millet rice (add on RM4.50), Japanese potato salad and some vegetables. This dish is sufficient for heavy eaters and is quite a filler, especially during lunch but many will be glad as the dish is easy and delicious to enjoy.


The Kitsune Udon has such pretty colors all on a bowl of udon with chilled broth. Lots of fresh purple and green lettuce with pea sprouts, corn, grilled eggplant, cherry tomatoes and bean curd puff gave this dish a delicate and fresh note. I personally really enjoyed this chilled udon with vegetables as there are lots of different flavours and textures in the dish. It also won’t leave one with a heavy feeling when they return to work after the meal.


Japanese curry lovers will enjoy the Chicken Cutlet Curry, another generous portion of crumbed and fried chicken cutlet served with white rice, Japanese curry sauce and pickled vegetable with a side of soup. I do enjoy the Japanese curry sauce as it is not sweet and leaned towards savory with just the right balance of spices.


There is always a monthly promotion featuring special dishes and desserts of the month. While I was there, there was the August Promotion featuring a Sweet & Sour Fish. Crispy chunks of lightly battered fish is tossed with the Japanese version of tangy vinegary based sweet and sour sauce with mushrooms and peppers. These are served with millet rice, Japanese styled rolled omelette, boiled sweet pumpkin and soup. It’s not like our usual classic sweet and sour but I still enjoy the dish as it had home cooked soothing tangy flavours.


Another August Promotion treat not to be missed is the Tropical Parfait (RM23.10). This one is divine and just so darn scrumptious. The long list of ingredients that made up the parfait includes coconut pudding, read bean porridge, vanilla soft cream, corn flakes, coconut ice cream, mango sorbet, fresh mango and kiwi and cream. I literally wanted to hog this to myself as the combination is so good. I did feedback to Nana’s Green Tea to try and put this on the regular menu as it is such a gorgeous dessert!

Other parfaits we tried from their regular menu are their signatures of Matcha Nama Chocolat Parfait (RM23.10) and Hoji Gateaux Chocolat Parfait (RM23.10). it was a tough a decision on deciding which one was my favorite as both were also good on their own flavours.


From layers of Kanten green tea jelly to vanilla soft cream, red bean, cornflakes, green tea ice cream and Nama green tea together with whipped cream and green tea sauce, it was certainly fun digging into this tall parfait.


The choclat version similar ingredients but is chocolate instead of green tea. Instead of Nama choclate, there is Shiratama balls and two scoops of chocolate ice cream and sorbet. Digging into the parfait is like unwrapping presents as one get to unveal and taste the different layers of textures and flavours in the parfait.



Kinako Warabimochi (RM17.20) came highly recommended and we can understand why after we had a taste. The mocha is coated with kinako, a sweet toasted soybean powder. Simply drizzled the Kuromitsu syrup over the mocha and savor. The texture of the mocha is delightful and lightly bouncy. There is a nutty element of taste in the dessert while the black honey syrup added more richness to the dessert.


After savoring Nana’s Green Tea, I find myself wondering when I can be back to savor more treats. While the meal is decent and delicious, it was really the beverages and desserts that truly won our hearts. There are plenty of reasons to visit Nana’s Green Tea and even if you don’t think you have one, Nana’s Green Tea is still worth a try… who knows, you may be hook just like me!

For more information on Nana’s Green Tea menu and outlets, visit their Facebook at www.facebook.com/nanasgreentea.com.my


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