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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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…
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!
Crisp, juicy and yummy!
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 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
Lunch 12.00noon to 2.30pm
Dinner 6.00pm to 10.00pm