I remember my first sea urchin experience – at the now defunct Hajime in Jalan Damai – and it wasn’t a pleasant one. But the sea urchin prepared by Chef Nakagawa Takahiro at Kuriya in Bangsar Shopping Centre was so intense, subtle yet complex, it was almost ethereal.
Kuriya, which stands for “aristocratic kitchen” in Japanese, offers diners a true Japanese dining experience featuring classic favourites and seasonal ingredients air flown from Japan every week.
I enjoyed an omakase spread that started with a sumptuous appetizer platter comprising ikura, smoked tofu with beancurd skin, tofu with sea urchin, tamago, grated Japanese yam with egg yolk and miso, fried potato with sushi rice and edamame – all delicate and delicious. The ikura popped loudly between each bite, as the eggs gave up their brine. So good!
I was very excited to see the sashimi platter, an assorted display of Buri (yellowtail), Toro (tuna) and Mino Kasago (Lion Fish). The former two were lovely with just a dot of shoyu and wasabi. A saucer of shoyu with bird’s eye chilli was placed in front of me and to my surprise, I was asked to dip the slices of kasago into the mixture. It was a brilliant match as the sweetness of the fish was well accentuated by the dipping.
Like the fugu fish, the lion fish is also poisonous and can cause numbness in the body with careless preparation. But I ate and survived to write this article, so rest assured, chef knows what he’s doing. ;)
After I was done with the sashimi, Chef Nakagawa came out with a mini charcoal grill and condiments for hand roll. I tucked into possibly the most luxurious handroll I’ve eaten, comprising grilled wagyu slices of marble score 6, sea urchin and house special teriyaki sauce. It was a clever play of sweet, creamy, fatty and savour flavours.
It was also my first time trying the Alaskan King Crab Tempura and it was as tasty as it looked. The flour batter was light and wispy, while the flesh of the crab was succulent and sweet.
A small plate of Aburi sushi was later placed on the table and the hand pressed rice rolls were topped with three types of fish – salmon belly, tai (sea bream) and hirame (flat fish). The right way to eat this is to pick up the sushi with your fingers and place it on the tongue, fish-side down.
Each fish slice was supremely pure and the rice was delicate with just a hint of vinegar and shoyu. The miso soup was prepared using the remains of the king crab and it was rich in flavour.
Kuriya’s soba is made in-house on a daily basis and the texture and flavour of the noodle is notably superior. Seiro Soba (the most basic soba option) features cold buckwheat noodles dipped in tsuyu (soy sauce based mixture).
This went incredibly well with cold sake. In Japanese culture, one needs to pour the sake till it spills out to show generosity, hence the wooden box to contain the spill. ;) Depending on your budget, an omakase meal at Kuriya ranges between RM100 to RM200. Pretty decent value considering the amount of premium items used.
Other items I sampled from the ala carte menu were the Yaki Ebi Shumai (RM16) and Tori Karaage (RM17). The former, inspired by the Chinese siew mai, comprise grilled prawns wrapped in dainty dumpling skin and topped with roe. Not something I would order in a Japanese restaurant but it was not bad at all.
The Tori Karaage was prepared using chicken thigh and fried till the outside is crispy; very moreish.
Dorayaki Ice (RM12.80) and Soba Abekawa (RM10.80) marked the end of my sumptuous meal at Kuriya. Prior to this visit, I’ve only tried the set lunches but now that I know the ala carte menu is fairly affordable, I’ll return for more.
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Food: 7.5/10 (pork free)
Verdict: The food is good and for the quality you’re getting, pricing is affordable.
T2, 3rd Floor,
Bangsar Shopping Centre
Tel: 03-2093 9261