Those of us who grew up with Kampachi from the glory days of Equatorial Hotel Kuala Lumpur, know that it has a cult following.
The long silence was almost unbearable as Japanese cuisine aficionados waited for this iconic restaurant to open its doors, and open, it did. On December the 10th, after nearly 40 years as one of Malaysia’s most highly regarded Japanese restaurants, Kampachi has opened shop at The Troika Kuala Lumpur.
So what creates that kind of devotion? What exactly makes a cult restaurant?
The highly practical yet simple formula I reckon should include five parts. First, the restaurant must have a highly devoted customer base and should appeal to locals and tourists – this balance is important. Second, the food must obviously be stellar and unique enough to produce a dedicated clientele. Third, the wait is almost always unbearable but worth it. Fourth, a good location helps, but is not the primary impetus for bringing fans to the establishment. Finally, a single meal should be relatively value for money and the service should be good. Well I think Kampachi would have a checklist of five ticks in the boxes listed on this form, for sure.
Once you enter the Kampachi, you can’t help but be overwhelmed by the super high ceiling
A dramatic double-height ceiling above the main dining area surrounded by picture windows on three sides, will have you feeling dwarfed in comparison. It has space, it has class. With a seating capacity of over 100 people, the restaurant has a handsome looking sushi bar on the main floor, private rooms that sit 8 comfortably and a more private dining space on the mezzanine level where the teppanyaki counter is located. This place is so new, even the teppanyaki bar was not opened yet when we were there.
Tonight we were going to sample the Omakase – an 8 course menu created specially by the Chef. The best thing about dining at Kampachi is knowing that the sashimi is air-flown direct from Tokyo’s Tsukiji Market and that the delicate threads of soba are handmade daily. The Omakase we were about to enjoy would definitely be incorporating this fresh sashimi as one of the highlights of the courses.
In Japan, “omakase” means you entrust the chef with your dining experience. For Japanese food lovers, ordering omakase allows you to sit back, relax, and enjoy the chef’s most innovative dishes created with the highest quality ingredients he can find.
Karashi Renkon – Japanese Lotus Root with Mustard
Karashi Renkon is Kumamoto’s special lotus root dish, which is made by filling the holes of a lotus root with a mustard and miso paste and then frying. This dish was first devised for one of the Higo clan who was suffering poor health. Karashi Renkon has a crunchy texture and complements the mustard flavour fabulously. It is also goes exceedingly well with rice and sake!
Seasonal Omakase Sashimi – seasonal chef selection of raw fish :Shake (Salmon), O-toro (Tuna belly), Maguro (Tuna), Hotategai (Scallop), Amaebi (Sweet shrimp), Hamachi (Yellowtail), Akagai (Arkshell clam), Ika (Squid) and Aji (Jack fish)
As the sushi chef puts the finishing touches on deep pink slices of raw maguro, hamachi and o-toro, I can’t help but think that sushi is probably the most nihilistic form of art. It’s destroyed as soon as it has been completed.
The minute it arrived on our table, we took our chopsticks and devoured the beautifully arranged pieces, served on ice, in a wooden sail boat. It was almost too exquisite to bear! Fresh and succulent there was no faulting this work of art.
Ogon Anago Kabayaki – Grilled Deep Sea Conger Pike with Sauce
I totally dig Anago! Much tastier and less mushy than Unagi if you ask me. Anago is the Japanese word for salt-water eels, normally referred to Ma-anago (deep sea conger). Anago is often simmered (sushi) or deep-fried (tempura), compared to unagi (freshwater eels) which are usually barbecued with a sauce. Anago is also slightly less rich and oily than unagi. Anago has a nice bouncy texture and sweet taste so it does not need as much sauce as the Unagi. The Anago was perfection on a plate – gutted and boned, butterflied, cut into rectangular fillets, skewered, dipped in a sweet soy sauce-base sauce before broiled on a grill and served. Rocked my socks off.
Kinki Nitsuke – Simmered Winter Season Rock Fish in Seasoning from North of Suruga Bay
Kinki is “rockfish” in English and nitsuke means boiled fish (or vegetables) in soy sauce. Winter is the best season for rockfish, and nitsuke is the most popular way to eat it. This Kinki had a buttery soft-fleshed texture. I enjoyed it immensely and left not a smidgen of edible flesh on my plate, but I would have to agreed with some that the soy sauce flavor dominated the natural flavor of the fish just a bit too much.
Teppanyaki Tenderloin – Grilled Tenderloin of beef in Hot Plate Serving with Kampachi Truffle and Ginger Sauce
Cooked a medium rare, this beef was divine. The highlight for me was the Kampachi Truffle sauce which magnified the succulence of the tenderloin. This signature sauce is something irresistibly tasty – a special blend of Tosa Shoyu and mushroom broth, harmonized with a hint of black truffle and olive oils. Earthy and musky – oh, to die for.
Hamachi Jiru – Yellow Tail Fish Head with Special Miso Soup
Another highlight of this fish dominated dinner (no complaints there!) was the Yellow Tail Fish Head soup. Most miso soups put me off simply because they are like a hot mouthful of salt. Not so with the Hamachi Jiru. This is a clear broth of fish stock with vegetables, tofu and a nice generous piece of fatty Yellow tail fish head as the bonus, lurking within the soup.
Loads of flesh and fatty fish head bits to suck off the bone – words cannot describe how good it was. Someone also ordered garlic rice at this point, so we had that with the soup. Lovely comfort food for the rainy weather!
This wonderful Omakase dinner ended on a high note, with a delicious helping of some super expensive Japanese Melon (RM75) and kinkan (Japanese candied kumquats).
What a wonderful meal. Kampachi well deserves its cult following in our books. As of January, Kampachi will launch its re-worked and improved legendary Sunday Buffet as well. We highly recommend you visit the much lauded Kampachi at Troika a.s.a.p, as this is turning out to be the haute dining spot of the year!
Show us some FB love please!Add: Kampachi by Equatorial, Lot G-3, The Troika, 19 Persiaran KLCC, 50450 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia Opening hours: Mon – Sat noon – 3pm; 6pm – 11pm Sun 11am – 3pm; 6pm – 11pm. T : 603 2181 2282; 603 2275 7846 F: 603 2275 7898 W: www.kampachi.com.my E: firstname.lastname@example.org