We were intrigued by this huge brown ball hanging at the entrance of Kampachi in Plaza 33, Petaling Jaya. It stands on ceremony under its own “roof” and from far, it looked like some kind of hive. This is what they call a “sugidama” or sake ball made out of cedar twigs, a traditional sign hung over doors of sake breweries to signal the new arrival of sake to customers. When hung outside restaurants, it’s a sure sign that high quality sake is served in the premise. And that is why there’s this sugidama placed at the entrance of Kampachi – to indicate that Kampachi stocks one of the largest varieties of speciality Japanese sake.
The sugidama is not the only unique thing about Kampachi. Right after you enter the restaurant, you will see some inimitable seating “pods” that are rotatable for added privacy. Either that or turn it to face a neighbouring pod to accommodate larger groups.
Kampachi – a name that needs no introduction to any Japanese cuisine lover. Established and highly regarded in the Japanese dining scene, the opening of this outlet in Petaling Jaya has been highly anticipative. Located in the almost-spanking new Plaza 33 in Section 13, folks in Petaling Jaya are now mighty happy they do not have to battle traffic to go downtown Kuala Lumpur for some Kampachi loving.
Needless to say, we were eagerly waiting for its opening for the longest time! For months we had driven by the building and kept looking out for its opening. When it finally opened and we were invited to check the place out, we were near-ecstatic. After all, like what Donald Lim (Managing Director of Kampachi Restaurants Sdn Bhd) said – “not many would turn down an invitation to dinner at Kampachi”, he practically hit the nail on the head.
We love the use of natural materials in their interior fit-out. Traditional Japanese materials, from specially imported floor and wall tiles to decorative paper, are liberally used in the deco, resulting in a sleek sophisticated modern look yet breathing comfort and warmth at the same time. Donald Lim, explained how the team took great pains to ensure only authentic traditional materials are used, to uphold the style and quality which Kampachi epitomizes.
Beyond the stylish bar, so well-stocked with a wide range of sakes, wines, shochu and other beverages which I couldn’t even name, stands the teppanyaki counter and the sushi bar. The areas are segregated by intricate hand-cut panels and decorated with hand-made Japanese paper.
Executive Chef Looi Weng Leong preparing our sashimi
Our Omakase dinner was held in one of the three gorgeous private dining rooms. What’s so special about this room is that there’s a special show kitchen concealed by a movable panel and that’s where Executive Chef Looi Weng Leong executed the 1st course of our dinner – Shima Aji Sashimi, a beautiful platter of Raw Striped Jack sashimi.
We watched, enthralled, as Chef Looi skilfully filleted the Striped Jack, which, according to the chef, was still swimming that very morning before being air-freighted over from the Land of the Rising Sun. Within a few short minutes, the translucent slices of fresh jack were arranged artfully on a bed of shaved ice. We could hardly wait for all the cameras to stop clicking before we gleefully dug into the sashimi and tasted sublime marine heaven in every piece. The jack did not sacrifice itself in vain. The sweet firm flesh was so delicious, it was almost orgasmic. I could have polished off the entire platter all by myself, and still want more. And that was just the first course.
Shake Kawa Salad
We sipped on our warm sake and waited for the next course – Shake Kawa Salad, a refreshing salad of green vegetables with crispy salmon skin and salmon roe. It’s not only a visual feast… the feast of exploding flavours and textures did a merry dance in the mouth. Thin crunchy salmon skin, so skilfully fried that there’s not a dot of oiliness on them and who can ever resist those tasty exploding balls of salmon roe? We couldn’t. We just wished there were more of those in our blue crystal bowls.
Care for some sake?
The same wish crossed our minds when we were each served 4 pieces of Wagyu Teppanyaki next. Yes, four… but then the size of those… well, let’s just say that I could eat triple of those portions and still be wanting more. That’s the greedy glutton in me and I had to mentally pinch myself that this was a Omakase meal and pacing the stomach should be the way. Those pieces of grilled Australian Wagyu were just too damn good. Beautifully seared on the outside, yet maintaining a glorious tender pink inside, those pieces were really to-die-for, with their exquisite flavour and texture.
Dipping them into Truffle Shoyu – sublime!
I have never tried Ankimo Beko An before. Essentially the fish version of foie gras, the Pan-seared Anglerfish Liver with Simmered Radish was a first for me. A quick research revealed some interesting facts about the ugly anglerfish. Quite possibly one of the ugliest sea creatures around, the anglerfish is prized for its large liver. Looking like some monstrous mutated puffer fish, the anglerfish is so called due to the angler-like filament extending from the top of its head. Their bizarre mating makes for some really interesting read – check it out here.
Ankimo Beko An ~ Pan-seared Anglerfish Liver with Simmered Radish
Anyway, that’s just some anglerfish trivia for you… now back to this fishy foie gras. The thick piece of liver was smooth with a velvety texture and the slightest hint of fishiness which the simmered radish did not mar 100%. It is this tiny bit of fishy aroma that tickles the olfactory perception reminding one that this is indeed a fish liver. It is a seasonal delicacy and one which I do not mind having again.
When the Aburi Sushi was served, we were told to eat them in the correct order: first, the Hotate, then the Shake Harasu and finally the Anago. It makes sense to gradually tease the palate starting with the mildest flavoured seared sushi and then progressing to the strongest. The Anago (conger eel) is like the big brother of the unagi, and after having the anago and being spoilt by its superb yumminess, it’s quite difficult to settle back for unagi. Sighhh… this is one of the job hazards of a food blogger, I tell you.
To round off the meal, we each had a bowl of Shima Aji Atama Shiru – Striped Jack Miso Soup. Yes, the head and bones of sacrificial jack were used to boil this low-salt miso soup, giving it a great umami rendition. As Malaysians go, we must have our rice and Kampachi’s version of Garlic Fried Rice has all the requisite taste and aroma factors.
Shima Aji Atama Shiru – Striped Jack Miso Soup
Ending the meal on a sweet and refreshing note, we had the Momo – Japanese peach. Two slices of blushing juicy fragrant peach on shaved ice… ahhh, life is good.
The above Omakase meal costs around RM220 per pax… very decent pricing, considering the supreme quality of food served.
Green Tea mixed with Hakushu Single Malt Whisky
Fans of Kampachi will be delighted to know that their super popular Sunday Buffet Lunch is back and available at RM118++ (adults) and RM68++ (children below 10). Please call ahead to book your seats to avoid disappointment – they are always full, I heard.
For reservations, please call: 03-7931 6938 or email:
P1-02, First Floor, Plaza@Jaya33
Jalan Kemajuan, Seksyen 13
Opens daily for lunch from 12.00 noon to 3.00 pm; dinner from 6.00 pm to 11.00 pm
The Kampachi bar: opens till 12.00am nightly
Other standalone restaurants:
Kampachi @ The Troika (Tel: 03-2181-2282),
Kampachi @ Pavilion (Tel: 03-2148-9608)
Johor Premium Outlets (Tel: 07-590-9277)