The popular phrase “The Rise of the Phoenix“ refers to something which makes a spectacular or miraculous comeback. The mythological phoenix is an immortal bird that bursts into flames when it dies and is reborn from its ashes.
Kampachi has recently reopened in The Troika, Kuala Lumpur. I’m not alluding that phrase to this reopening as Kampachi’s presence is still felt in the Equatorial Hotels in Malaysia as well as in Pavilion and JPO. It’s just that since The Equatorial Kuala Lumpur closed earlier this year, we’ve been waiting for the opening of Kampachi as a standalone (much like its Pavilion and Johor Premium Outlets counterparts) somewhere in the city. If any reason is to be given for my reference to that phrase, then it must certainly be the “spectacular” part. For when we stepped through the swinging glass doors and walked into the welcoming enclave of Kampachi, we were greeted with a spectacular sight of its double-height ceiling surrounded by picture windows on three sides. The side facing the main street is an eye-catching polished wall of linear and geometric aesthetics, giving one a sense of space and classy elegance at the same time. With this chic setting, Kampachi at The Troika is indeed poised to begin a new chapter in its celebrated 40-year history.
With a seating capacity of 118 persons, the sleek interior includes a sushi counter on the main floor flanked by dining tables on one bright sunshiney end and a row of cosier intimate seating on the other end, next to the bar. There is a more private dining area on the upper mezzanine level where a stylish curved teppanyaki counter is located.
We love the shower of hanging bulbs strung from the high ceiling in the main dining area and even in the private dining rooms.
It’s great to note that some of the personnel from the old Kampachi of the Equatorial Kuala Lumpur are now relocated to this new Kampachi to ensure that the levels of standard, synonymous with “Kampachi” are maintained. We were happy to be greeted by the ever-smiling Sylvia Chong (Restaurant Manager) and of course, with Executive Chef How Yoke Seng there, we knew we were in for some grand dining.
Spectacular hanging lights
Thus, our omakase dinner started, with the appetizer, Karashi Renkon – Japanese Lotus Root with Mustard, served in an almost-ethereal presentation. Crunchy slices of the Japanese lotus root, the holes stuffed with piquant yellow mustard “karashi”, sit inside little flower-shaped blue and pink ceramic gold-rimmed saucers which in turn are firmly planted on a bed of shaved ice. A speciality from the Kumamoto prefecture, the cold “renkon” – lotus roots together with the spicy mustard certainly woke up our taste buds and we were more than ready for the next course.
Aren’t they pretty?!
It was seafood and Omega 3 overdose with the boatful of Seasonal Omakase Sashimi. Slices of the freshest fish, scallops, shrimps and octopus – all airflown directly from Tokyo’s renowned Tsukiji market were delicately laid out on the shaved ice. We dug into hamachi (yellowtail), tuna, tuna belly (o-toro), salmon besides sweet shrimps and octopus… all so succulent and bursting with the sweetest marine flavours. Dollops of freshly-grated wasabi and ginger perched on the side of the sailboat and we even had a lower-salt soyu (in addition to regular soyu) to go with these.
The Ogon Anago Kabayaki – Grilled Deepsea Conger Pike with Sauce, was one of the highlights of the dinner. How can one ever forget the sweet taste and smooth silky texture of the salt-water eel, anago? Of a lighter hue compared to the common unagi, the anago’s texture is more delicate while maintaining a touch of springiness and less oily. Paired with a stalk of bold pink pickled ginger (a signature item in Kampachi), I wished there were more pieces of this gorgeous anago.
Ogon Anago Kabayaki – Grilled Deepsea Conger Pike with Sauce
Next, Chef How pampered us with Kinki Nitsuke – Simmered Winter Season Rock Fish in Seasoning. As kinky as it sounds, the “kinki” – rock fish is at its best during the winter and this particular rock fish we had was from northern Suruga Bay. Done “nitsuke” style, ie simmered in soy sauce, sake and mirin, the flaky sweet delicate fish was easy to like but may not be easy to eat due to the bones and spiky fins. If you are deft with the tongue, as in “fish-eating skills”, then you would absolutely love this fish! I took my time to pick through every bone, fin and crevice of the kinki since my other dining companions were not inclined to exercise their tongue and lips for this.
Kinki Nitsuke – Simmered Winter Season Rock Fish in Seasoning
The Teppanyaki Tenderloin was beautifully done, nicely seared on the outside and oozing with beefy juiciness from the pink insides. It didn’t really need the truffle and ginger sauce – the beef chunks went supremely well with the freshly-fried crispy garlic slices.
To round off the dinner, we had Hamachi Jiru – Yellow Tail Fish in Special Miso Soup and Garlic Fried Rice. The miso used in the soup is of a special grade and less salty, so although the soup looked dense and murky, the taste was light and well endowed with all the sweet flavours of the yellowtail fish.
Ending the dinner on a sweet note, a very sweet note, we ate the sweetest and most sublime Japanese Melon. In comparison, the Kinkan, Japanese kumquat, although not shabby at all, paled significantly. Chef How explained how the melon had to be kept for several days before being consumed, to allow sufficient time for the fruit to soften to the desired texture. You can see the melon texture is a bit translucent and it’s slightly “spongy” – perfectly sweet! The price of these melons is at a premium level during winter – it costs RM75 per slice and the Kinkan is at RM19 per piece.
Garlic Fried Rice
Japanese Melon & Kinkan
Fans of Kampachi will be pleased to know that their famed and legendary Sunday Buffet will be re-worked, improved and is expected to be launched in January 2013.
This new Kampachi flagship restaurant at The Troika is open Mondays to Saturdays from 12 noon to 3pm daily for lunch and 6pm to 11pm for dinner. On Sundays, it’s open from 11am to 3pm and 6pm to 11pm.
Lot G-3, Ground Floor
19 Persiaran KLCC
50450 Kuala Lumpur