Almost everyone in town knows about The Pool. You know, that latest party place along Jalan Ampang, Kuala Lumpur where every groovy party thrower wants to host the most happening party, be it a birthday, anniversary, launch, hen’s night etc etc. It’s called The Pool because well, the pool is the central attraction there and everything happens around it!

Anyway, do you know that there is a cool, in an eclectic way, restaurant upstairs, just one floor above The Pool? Called KyotoLab, it occupies half the lot of that floor – the other half is another ultra-cool chill-out place called ChynaBlack. On the night we were there, the crew were putting the finishing touches to ChynaBlack as the grand opening was the very next day!

The Pool, ChynaBlack and KyotoLab are all integrated entertainment and dining concepts housed under one roof, stormed up by the people who established The Hill in Damansara Heights.

The interior of KyotoLab; top left is Spicy Mango Madness cocktail; bottom right is the Coco’s Nutz cocktail –

some of the signature cocktails served here as well as at The Pool

Coming back to KyotoLab, the décor and furnishing are really interesting, to say the least. The tables are assembled from various types of used wood and metal pieces, the hanging lamps are actually recycled and remodeled metal biscuit/oil tins and those long red tubular decorative thingies are actually bamboos, painted and lacquered. Looking at them, you’d never thought they were once growing in the bush! The whole place is decked out in these amazingly creative and quirky items which somehow go together and you just have to salute the ingenuity behind the artistry. I need to ask Dax Lee (one of the owners) about his inspirations on all these recycled deco items!

Salmon Potato Salad with Truffle Oil

On one side of KyotoLab is where the mad scientist works his magical experimentations resulting in some tasty and visually stunning dishes. The “mad scientist” aka the chef in this case is the affable Chef Lee. Where saucers and plates are used to hold dips and sauces, here test-tubes and syringes do the job.

The Salmon Potato Salad with Truffle Oil (RM20) is a heap of rainbow delights. Glistening slices of orangey-red salmon are held in place by multi-colored vegetables on top of a mound of mashed potatoes. Quite a quirky combo, wouldn’t you say? Salmon, potatoes, vegetables and the truffle oil… but it tastes darn good, I must say!

The Summer Salad with its 4 signature sauces served in test-tubes is another salad that I relished. The 4 dressings were wafu, sesame, miso and tomato & basil. To give the salad a bit more bite, dainty rice rolls, not unlike sushi, but these are rolled in Vietnamese rice paper, accompany the raw vegetables. We had fun pouring out each dressing from the tubes and my favourites were the miso and tomato & basil.

Summer Salad

Their Signature Mixed Sashimi (RM40) is a plate of sliced salmon and tuna drenched with a tantalizing sauce with truffle oil added for that extra “oomph”. Bits of fried garlic and chopped chillies give it that added crunch and flavor. The smooth raw fish slices have totally absorbed all these exotic nuances, hence there was nary a fishy taste and a fussy eater like me (who is not a fan of raw fish at all) found it really scrumptious!

Mixed Sashimi

The Gyuniku Asparamaki (RM16) was a firm favourite with DL and me. Slices of beef tenderloin wrapped around asparagus and then grilled to perfection – what is there NOT to like about this?! The beef slices were really juicy and tender pink in the middle and the asparagus stalks retained their crunchiness. I’m quite ashamed to say that we loved this so much that we quite forgot to offer some to our host that evening *red faced*!

Gyuniku Asparamaki

The Caterpillar Roll (RM48) won the title “Cutest Roll” hands down. Looking like a cute caterpillar with a big fat head (a blob of wasabi!) and beady eyes and all, the avocado-covered maki roll encased freshly fried tempura prawns, unagi and asparagus within. I love the quaint plating too where Chef Lee has deposited little piles of tobikko by the side of the plate – so very thoughtful, besides being so aesthetically pleasing!

Caterpillar Roll

We tried the Samurai Monster (RM28) and Smoked Duck Wrap which are more “westernized” items. The Samurai Monster is listed under their Monster Burgers section, one of 6 monsters there. The oblong-shaped bun is baked inhouse and sandwiched inside is a thick piece of chicken teriyaki (which was a tad salty) and slathered with saute’ed onions and the best thing about this dish is that the burger is served with a pile of crispy kaki age – vegetable strips & shrimps deep-fried in a light coating of batter as well as salad by the side.

Samurai Monster

The Smoked Duck Wrap is served a la Mexican style, complete with nachos, sour cream dip and pickled chillies. This is tasty enough but I felt it’s a bit out of character from the concept of the restaurant … well, I guess they have a mixed clientele here. I noticed too that their menu features a predominantly western offering for their Mains and quite a wide selection of pasta dishes too. So, KyotoLab isn’t the conventional Japanese outlet as its name may suggest… such a varied menu would satiate the party guests before and after partying in the premise, I believe.

Smoked Duck Wrap

Matcha Ice Cream with Poached Pears

Deep-fried Ice Cream in Asahi beer Batter with Malibu Rum & Coconut Cream

According to Chef Lee, there will be more Japanese mains coming up, like soba and ramen and we’ll be back to check those out… plus all the other items we didn’t get to try this round. Some of their other makis and yakitori look pretty awesome

KyotoLab is open every day except Mondays & Tuesdays from 5.30pm and the last order is at 11.00pm.

Check out their website here.

347 Jalan Ampang
50450 Kuala Lumpur
Tel:  017-9985577

Kyoto Lab