Sushi Azabu, the famous Michelin-starred sushi restaurant brand from New York City has made its way onto our local shores, setting up their base at 4F The Table, Isetan The Japan Store, Kuala Lumpur.
The restaurant is known for its authentic and intimate dining experience that offers its patrons a taste of specialty sushi crafted from fresh fish straight out of the seas of Japan and prepared by chefs who are trained to execute the highest quality of preparation and service.
What sets them apart is that everything is imported from Japan two to three times a week, guaranteeing you the freshest tuna, amberjack and salmon every time you pop by for a visit.
We were here to experience their Omakase Course (RM420). Omakase is the Japanese tradition of letting a chef choose your order. It simply means "I will leave it to you." It's a tradition allows the chef creative and culinary freedom to handpick your dishes based on his recommendation and expertise, promising a memorable dining experience.
Our chef for the day was Chef Makoto Saito or more casually known as Sam. He hails from Tokyo and is your stereotypical Japanese man; charming, witty yet very professional. From the way he worked on our dishes, you can see that he is very dedicated to his craft and he enjoys every minute of it. He also generously provided us with plenty of insights into all our dishes.
Before we started the meal, I ordered myself a bottle of good ol' Japanese brew from their sake and drinks menu. I went with the Suntory Premium Malt's (RM48) as it's one of my favourite Japanese beers out there.
Starting off our omakase experience, we were served with a couple of appetisers. One of them was the Nagasaki Oyster which was air-flown from Japan. I'm typically not a big fan of oysters due to their fishy and sour notes but the one served here tasted nothing like what I've tried before. It has a very clean taste, a testament to its freshness. No Tabasco needed for this; soy sauce and mild seasoning did the trick perfectly.
Next up was the the Omakase Platter consisting of 3 types of sashimi. There was the kochi (flat head fish), red snapper and isaki. This was among the best sashimi I ever tried (comparable to the ones I tried in Japan) as the freshness was out of this world. I love the red snapper as it has a deliciously smoky flavour that added a depth to the natural fish taste.
We also got to try the chawanmushi, served with white fish and ginkgo nuts - simple and a perfect way to build up your appetite for the rest of the dishes (which tends to be a lot in an omakase-styled dinner).
Next, we had the Amberjack Fish Cheeks; the combination of tender meat and soft skin of the fish cheeks made it amazing. In Japan, this is known as nekomatagi which literally means this dish is so good that when a cat passes by, it will try and it eat. One of Chef Sam's hilarious and informative take on his dishes.
A cute palate cleanser helped us prepare for the rest of the meal. This simple palate cleanser is made of vegetable, sauce and egg yolk to neutralize our taste buds.
Next, Chef Sam prepared us 7 different types of Nigiri. These are thin slices of raw or cooked fish layered atop a mound of vinegary rice. A small amount of wasabi is placed between the fish and the rice to give it an added zing to your taste buds. He makes them one by one and places them on a plate in front of you. He occasionally popped one into his mouth - attesting to its irresistibility.
One of the main highlights of the meal is definitely the Uni Nigiri or sea urchin. This is not for faint-hearted as its taste may not appeal to most. To say the least, it is an acquired taste. Despite its weird (and unattractive?) aesthetic, the texture is smooth and creamy.
This is what makes the omakase experience worthwhile as sometimes, you need to get out of your comfort zone to try new and exciting dishes.
Once you're done, a hot bowl of Miso Soup is served to wash everything down and give you a warm feeling in your tummy after a satisfying meal.
And finally, a serving of their mouth watering Green Tea Tart that was just heavenly and tasted as good as it looks. You can taste the richness of the green tea in every bite. I honestly wanted another one but there wasn't any space left in my tummy.
It's a strange feeling to sit down in a restaurant and put complete trust in the chef to serve you your meal. The whole anticipation of not knowing what's being serve creates excitement and it's something everyone should try.