Omakase @ Kampachi Plaza 33

I have been thinking about trying the omakase at Kampachi for a while since my brother last brought me here for a meal some time ago. Today, I decided to go with my mother. Mum, being an elderly, thrifty Chinese lady, could not understand why I would spend so much on a meal that was half raw and served in such small portions. But I convinced her that it was the experience that people come for, as well as the freshness of the food. This was, after all, a Japanese fine dining experience, over a 7-course meal. Naturally the Chinese 8-course and serving portions came to mind, which was not the case here. Midway through the course, Mum asked if I was full. Well, not Chinese full but sufficiently full, I assured her. She had ordered a bento as well which she was having problems finishing. So she asked me to help her with it. Of course with omakase, the dishes are served in a certain way so as to enhance the palate and appetite progessively. If I had helped Mum with her bento, it would have ruined my palete but she was insistent; very insistent. I managed to convince her that I would help her at the end of the meal.

A sake ball hangs at the door.The ball is made of cedar twigs and is traditionally hung at the entrance of sake breweries to show the arrival of new good quality sake. By displaying it at its restaurant, Kampachi is pointing to its sake selection which is one of the largest in Malaysia, some of which are exclusive to Kampachi.

Kirara roasted rice tea. I love this tea because it is not caffeinated and it has a lovely roast flavour.

The detail that has gone into the furnishing of the restaurant.

Look at the cute rabbit at the top of the teapot! Isn’t this a lovely teapot set with a matching cup. It’s a restaurant, I know, but it’s still lovely.

The appetiser consisted of brinjal, mushroom, spinach and roe salad and hamachi. I have not eaten crunchy brinjal before and I actually do not like brinjal because those that I have eaten are usually mushy. But these were slightly crunchy, complemented nicely by the sea salt. The little salad was also nicely balanced between the vegetables and roe . And the lightly fried hamachi was good too

The appetiser consisted of brinjal, mushroom, spinach and roe salad and hamachi. I have not eaten crunchy brinjal before and I actually do not like brinjal because those that I have eaten are usually mushy. But these were slightly crunchy, complemented nicely by the sea salt. The little salad was also nicely balanced between the vegetables and roe . And hamachi was good too.

The next course was snapper soup. This was light and delicious.

A choice of three sauces.

Good serving portions of tuna, amberjack and flounder sashimi. The flowers too are edible. The flowers are hanaho and shokuyo hana respectively. Both are imported from Japan and are edible. The shokuyo hana was actually a little sweet.

For the sashimi, I was given a choice of three soy sauce choices – normal soy, low salt soy and tosa sauce. The tosa sauce was Kampachi’s own soy sauce and it had bonito in it. Next was the tasting. Which one did I like best, I was asked. Well, I liked the low salt shoyu the best. The contrast between the taste of the fish and the soy sauce was the best. As for the tosa sauce, it was already flavoured with bonito and hence the contrast in the taste did not seem as great. The tuna, yellow tail and flounder were a good size and they tasted very fresh.  I was served another fish dish which actually looked and tasted like cod but I did not take a picture of it. I was busy talking to the waitress who was explaining to me about the side fish. That is the name of the fish, makokare, or side fish. It was lightly fried and it tasted really good as well. Again, light and delicately balanced.

Grilled beef served with the famous Kampachi truffle shoyu sauce.

Next was the beef. This was not part of the menu but I asked if they had beef in the omakase. This was probably where the communication was not clear though it was not really the fault of the staff. I was under the impression that they could let me have beef in my omakase without realising that they had actually replaced one of the items in my omakase. I do not know what was replaced nor did I ask. I only realised this after the meal was over.I had been hankering for Japanese beef since I came back from Japan. The beef there was cheap and good. The beef here was not bad but it was not like the one I had just had in Japan for a fraction of the cost. It was definitely not wagyu nor did it melt in my mouth but neither was the one I had in Japan. I ordered it done medium and it was prepared correctly. Don’t get me wrong, the beef was good but just not the melt-in-mouth good that I was half expecting in a Japanese omakase.

Chirashi don in inari. I thought this was a novel idea. The vinegar in the inari, or beancurd, added a slight sour taste to the chirashi don that we normally know.

This was when my mum asked me if I was full. Well, I was not Chinese full but sufficiently full. The next dish was unexpected and so was the appearance of the chef. Chef Ishigami was as nervous with his English as I was with my limited Japanese. He explained how to eat the dessert, bowed and left. I thought this was a nice finish to my omakase meal.

Again, perfectly balanced in terms of taste. The Japanese dorayaki pancake with sweet red bean filling was just crunchy on the outside and spongey on the inside. The mint, pineapple, strawberry and rock melon balanced each other out nicely, along with the cold vanilla ice-cream and hot pancake. Chef Ishigami said to eat everything together and he was right. How zen is that?!

Two unhurried hours later, we were done. It had been a pleasant lunch.The taste of the food was clean, distinct and fresh.

Unhurried was really appreciated as all the omakase that I have had in Singapore had been rushed. This one was so much more pleasant. It was also the start of Ramadan, the fasting month for Muslims, and the restaurant was not busy. Each staff who served us was very polite and made sure that we were served well. Whatever question I had was answered in detail, something which would not have happened in Singapore at all. I also appreciated that I was not overly full and that this restaurant was in PJ and not KL because I would not have made that journey downtown for omakase in KL as much as I liked it.

Gochisousamadeshita.

For other Japanese fine dining posts, please check out here, here and here.

Kampachi, P1-02, 1st floor Plaza 33, Jalan Kemajuan, Seksyen 13, Petaling Jaya, Selangor, Malaysia. Tel: +60 3 7931 6938.

This was a last minute reservation for one omakase and they were able to accommodate us. Best to reserve if you are planning to have omakase there.

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Rising Sun: Sashimi Don

After visiting Leornardo, we went to the Ueno market. I had forgotten how busy it could be. After looking at all the fish, frozen and fresh, vegetables and the smorgasbord of edible and wearable items, we were quite pleased to chance upon this really busy stall that served sashimi on rice for a song! We paid and sat down, drank the iced roasted rice tea, chowed down our sumptious meal and left. It was that kind of place as it was really busy and customers ate quickly to make way for others. In the kitchen, the production line worked non-stop, serving out the meals. That was going to be our last meal in Japan as we were leaving that evening and I was very glad that we had sashimi.

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Ueno Park

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The main street along Ueno station

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Hawkers peddling their wares. In this case it was nuts and packaged foods.

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A very large frozen flower crab.

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Smaller flower crabs.

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Seafood.

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Our lunch!

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Another lunch set

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Name of the stall.

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Japanese ala carte buffet!

I love being invited out for lunch. Especially when it is a large group and you can taste a lot of different food. Today was no different. It was a buffet lunch at $48++ per person for adults from Mon to Thurs. For those who love unlimited beef and Japanese food including ice-cream for dessert, this is a good place to come. Definitely a value for money Japanese ala carte buffet place. The food was fresh and the variety was sufficiently large to feed many a hungry customer.

En Dining, 557 Bukit Timah Road, #01-14/16 Crown Centre, Singapore. Tel: 64685710

Daikon salad

Tuna, salmon and yellowtail sashimi.

Rice with meat topping.

Beef for cooking in shabu shabu

Fried rice with eel

Prawn tempura

Cooked wagyu beef

Vegetables in the soup

Normal salad

Good sushi

When this place first opened, one of the main draws was the soy salmon sushi which was being offered at 40 cents per piece, up to a maximum of 4 pieces per customer. This restaurant gave the other sushi restaurants in town a run for their money as they offered value for money and the freshly made discounted items wooed many to this place. That was months ago. Today, the soy salmon sushi is still 40 cents per piece, but it has been restricted to 2 per customer. The special promotion items have changed as well. Like so many other restaurants, the quality of their food seemed to have drop, compared to when they first began. But their promotions are still a draw to many and the food is still served freshly made.

This is a chain of Japanese restaurants that started out of Hong Kong, so a couple of their items have a Cantonese slant to them, which I like. One of them is chicken soup with daikon, a type of Japanese melon that is just slightly bitter, topped with shredded chicken meat and garnished with shallots. This seems to be a seasonal item as it is not on the menu all the time.

A meal shared between two people is within my budget of $15 per person, when self-control is diligently exercised. This includes the 10% service charge and GST. Otherwise, it’s about $20-$25 per person. Each sushi item is made and served fresh; there is no conveyor belt system.

I’ve visited three of their outlets at Plaza Singapura, ION Orchard and Terminal 3, Changi Airport. The outlet I like the most is the one at Plaza Singapura. There is usually a queue for dinner as well. Go early to avoid the long queues.

Itacho Sushi, #02-35, Plaza Singapura. Tel: 6337 8922.

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