A memorable kaiseki dining experience at Kintsugi KL

By KY Speaks, Free Malaysia Today 28 Apr 2023

This luxurious restaurant in Isetan MidValley Gardens Mall is helmed by Michelin-starred chef Jeff Okada Ramsey, who promises a night you won’t soon forget.

Kintsugi Seafood Kinmedai Nanbazuke
Seafood to kickstart the evening’s courses by chef Jeff Okada Ramsey: Kinmedai Nanbazuke with black pepper (left), and Soy Braised Ankimo. (KY Speaks pics)

Recently, this writer was invited for a tasting session at Kintsugi, one of the latest kaiseki restaurants in Kuala Lumpur. For those who are unfamiliar, kaiseki is a prescribed set of dining courses based on seasonal produce – not to be confused with omakase, which is when the chef alters the courses based on diners’ reactions.

Kintsugi Kuala Lumpur is situated at Isetan MidValley Gardens Mall and helmed by Michelin-starred chef Jeff Okada Ramsey. The name Kintsugi refers to the centuries-old Japanese craft of golden joinery – repairing broken pottery by mending the areas of breakage with lacquer dusted or mixed with powdered precious metals.

The house-brewed doburoku, a cloudy sake made by chef Okada himself, was a great way to prepare one’s taste buds for the food to come.

Up first were seafood appetisers: Kinmedai Nanbanzuke (golden-eye snapper) with black pepper, a bite-sized offering not dissimilar to amuse-bouche, with a balanced taste fragrant with seasoning that didn’t overpower the fish.

Kintsugi Premium seasonal sashimi
Premium seasonal sashimi, fresh and satisfying; and the chef’s homemade tuna jerky. (KY Speaks pics)

This was paired with Soy Braised Ankimo with salmon and pickled plum – another delightful offering. Monkfish liver is often called foie gras of the sea, and the taste of this dish certainly backed up this claim.

No Japanese meal is complete without raw fish, and the special menu did not disappoint in this regard, serving up three types of premium seasonal sashimi: two-week-aged Nagasaki chutoro (tuna belly), one-week-aged grouper, and Shima ebi (grey prawn).

These were delicious and decadent, with the prawn on the sweeter side and the tuna belly creamy and most satisfying. The chef also offered homemade tuna jerky, a treat you’d wish you could buy at the supermarket!

Kintsugi Fugu Shirako Agedashi,
Fugu Shirako Agedashi, an acquired taste; and Roast A5 Wagyu Tenderloin. (KY Speaks pics)

The Fugu Shirako Agedashi was perhaps the most impressive dish of the evening. Not everyone enjoys shirako – for the uninitiated, fish semen! – as it tends to be too creamy or sticky.

The brilliance of chef Okada in using this delicacy as a tofu substitute in this dish can’t be overstated: smooth, elegant, and surprising in every which way.

Then there’s the Roast A5 Wagyu Tenderloin with asparagus. A great cut of meat properly cooked is always an experience to be treasured, and this is no exception.

Up next were three types of seasonal sushi, which included three-day-aged black-throat sea perch served in a fancy glass, and Ogawa uni (sea urchin) wrapped in seafood. One word: luxurious.

Matsuba Crab Donabe Gohan
Matsuba Crab Donabe Gohan and Nameko mushroom soup. (KY Speaks pics)

The final dish proper was Matsuba Crab Donabe Gohan, a showcase of chef’s ability to transform a simple rice dish into a culinary masterpiece. The crab meat was packed with rich seafood sweetness, well balanced by the Nameko mushroom soup served alongside.

As a palate cleanser after all the savoury delights, Matcha & Yuzu Entremet was a sweet and fitting conclusion to the night.

All in all, chef Okada pushes the boundaries just enough to make it exciting while not abandoning the traditional values of a good kaiseki dining experience, culminating in a memorable night out fitting for those who wish to treat themselves to a great Japanese meal.

Matcha & Yuzu Entremet,
Matcha & Yuzu Entremet, a sweet offering to wash it all down with. (KY Speaks pics)