Friday, June 15, 2012

Tatsu at the InterContinental

Tatsu was a happy accident.  I stumbled upon it based on the Malaysian International Gourmet Festival (basically an Eat Around Kuala Lumpur event).  InterContinental took over a Hotel Nikko, which you would expect to have good Japanese food.  The hotel was remodeled, and so was Tatsu.  The menu was enough to draw me in:
-Japanese Yam and Friend Anchovy Bruschetta
-Tuna and Trifoliate Citrus Leaves with Wasabi Sauce
-Avocado and Sweet Shrimp with Spiced Cod Roe
-Sushi with Eel, Avocado and Deep Fried Soft Shell Crab served with Almond Sauce

-Sautéed Tiger Prawns and Eryngii Mushrooms topped with Japanese Soba Sauce
-Foie Gras Steak in Cod Fish Teriyaki

-Tatsu's Volcanic Stone Grilled Wagyu Beef with Ginger Soyu and Tatsu's Spicey Dip with Green Tea Onigiri
-Dried Fruit Tempura served with Chocolate and Red Bean Fondue

Does that sound good?  Well, it was.  We walked in, were greeted instantly by a number of people in the waitstaff, and the sushi chef behind the bar.  There were not a lot of diners, and the spartan, contemporary simple Asian decor looked even more sparse without patrons.  Word to the wise, omakase must be ordered in advance and is ordered course-by-course.

Our waitress took our order, the front-of-the-house manager poked by here and there to offer an explanation or suggestion, and all around the service was excellent.  We placed a little order of Scallop and Bontio sushi to go along with the tasting menu.  The scallops were fresh, delicate, butter-like and delicious.  The bonito fish came out with a few scallions, and was so fresh it was almost criminal.  I wish I could have eaten a pound of it.
Aside from the extra sushi, the dinner began with a little pickled carrot, and radish.  They were nice, and had a little more taste than an average Korean restaurant.  The Japanese Yam was salty and tasty. Then you ate the tuna, a delectable little bite with a soft soy flavor and touch of seaweed for a little extra taste of the sea.  The sweet shrimp, there was nothing to not like.  It was a nice balance of shrimp, egg, and avocado - and sweet shrimp in general is a treat.  The sushi was amazing, and the addition of the crunch with slivered almonds was a first (surprisingly) for me.  It won't be a last.
The "starters" that following did not disappoint.  The cod was utterly stunning.  The foie gras was every bit as good as you'd hope, and the pairing was made complete by the chef creating a small pocket for it in the cod piece.  The teriyaki was not overdone, so you could still taste the sweetness of the foie gras and cod.  Surprisingly, the "spot" tiger prawn soup was overshadowed by the cod, and was good - but a footnote compared to the other dishes.
Wagyu is synonymous with yum to me.  Sadly, I asked for rare to mid-rare, and the waitress, who cooked the steak on a stone at the table, cooked it to medium.  Not to stereotype, but she was Asian and didn't seem completely comfortable cooking a rare steak (a la many Middle Eastern people who also look at you funny when you make such a request).  Also, many people say that Wagyu is best served at medium because of caramelization of flavor.  Well, how a medium, verging on medium well steak remains like butter, is a happy mystery.  Everyone has heard the mythology surrounding Kobe beef, or Wagyu (simply not from Kobe), but it's remarkable when you eat it, and cool, rare, or mid-well, it remains just as soft, buttery, and delicious.  I just wish that it was grass fed and had that beautiful grass-fed tang.
Cooking it in front of us
Take a look at the formed, crisp rice, also beautiful, herbaceous, delicious.
The dessert was fantastic.  The fruit was tasty, and a great choice in Southeast Asia.  The chocolate, with some red beans, had this flavor that was almost reminiscent of cherry.  It was so delicious, honestly, that the waitress eventually brought out two spoons for my dinner companion and me to eat a few scoops.  We didn't finish off the chocolate, but only by exercising the greatest of self control.
One of the best Japanese meals I have had anywhere, let alone Kuala Lumpur.

InterContinental Kuala Lumpur
165, Jalan Ampang
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
4.5 of 5 

1 comment:

  1. My favorite line? "Well, how a medium, verging on medium well steak remains like butter, is a happy mystery."

    You should write a syndicated food column.