Japanese omakase restaurants have become a popular dining option among foodies in the last 5 years or so. Most of the time, what is being offered is sushi omakase. But at Tenryu in Wisma Lim Foo Yong, Kappo omakase takes centre stage.
I first learnt about kappo-style omakase during our trip to Osaka; I was doing some research on places to dine when one of the Japan guide websites wrote about kappo omakase. Kappo is defined as “to cut and cook” – offering a (slightly) more casual dining format from the usual sushi or kaiseki omakase, focusing on seasonal produce prepared in various traditional Japanese cooking methods by a skilful Kappo chef.
Behind the counter is Chef Otomo Shinsuke, the man responsible for all the cooking one is to experience at Tenryu.
The Tsuki menu (RM798 per pax) comprises a series of appetizers, sashimi, yakimono grill, deep-fried items, hot dishes, special menu items, aemono, 8 pieces of sushi, soup and dessert. A rather exciting dining journey, I must say.
Since we were there in the New Year, Chef Otomo served us a “celebration platter” of preserved fish roe, salmon roe, sweet black bean, abalone and sweet tamago. Sliced Isaki (chicken grunt) followed shortly after – firm in texture and mildly sweet. This goes really nicely with Kuheiji sake, a favourite of mine which Tenryu offers.
The wild seabass with miso vinegar is unique to me because most of the time, ponzu is used. The miso vinegar is similar to ponzu, but deeper and richer in flavour. I thoroughly enjoyed the clamshell with Hokkaido uni, a clever play of creamy, sweet and fatty nuances. In our past omakase experiences, I would often share my thoughts with Jien on whether or not I enjoyed the flavour journey/build-up that a chef presents.
Chef Otomo does it to my liking – gradual, with bits of climax now and then, and then a subdued ending. He gives me something to look forward to course after course. I’m honestly not a fan of “staccato” omakase, where the chef dishes out alternating rich and luxurious flavours. There’s not much fun in that.
Then comes the shirako; prepped on a roasted miso base, topped with a mixture of foie gras and sauteed mushrooms, and cooked on a charcoal grill in front of us. It is unlike any shirako I’ve been served before – most of the time, the shirako would be seasoned with ponzu or an equivalent form of acidity. Tenryu’s method gives the shirako a lot more flavour and depth, complementing the natural sweetness of the milt.
Green eye fish is lightly fried and served with a wedge of lime and chili salt to balance the richness of the shirako. Then it was time for the crab meat chawanmushi, which is lighter than usual. Cleverly done, and a perfect buffer for our next course – Canada lobster with uni sauce, prawn head sauce and miso.
Flavours continue to excite with the Toyama squid in garlic oil marinade, then the sushi series began with a light flounder, Isaki with kombu marinade and a shoyu-marinated yellowtail with a drop of Japanese mustard – a homage to Chef Otomo’s hometown – Shizuoka.
The Kohada fish is cured the traditional edomae way, so the texture is fattier and more tender. A lovely build-up to the aged tuna belly sushi, which was (expectedly) delicious. The tamago isn’t like any tamago I’ve tasted; this one contains prawns and Japanese yam, ground together, strained and steamed apparently. The sequence of this, you’ll have to ask Chef Otomo.
Namero is given after, a bite-size portion of tataki, rice, dashi and ocha. Tsujiko (marinated salmon roe) also pairs beautifully with the Kuheiji, and I like the casualness of it. Easy to enjoy. Ending our savoury line-up was the Ozoni, a Japanese New Year soup.
Then it was time for dessert – red apple and pear homemade jelly and Shizuoka melon. By then, I felt like I’ve gotten to know Chef Otomo better, through the stories he tells in the form of his omakase sequence. Jien and I enjoyed the experience at Tenryu and we both agreed that this concept offers the finesse of a sushi omakase as well as the traditional cooking methods of Japanese cuisine. Be sure to book ahead as the space accommodates 8 to 10 pax per seating only.
Lot.101 & 119 (1st Floor)
Wisma Lim Foo Yong,
No. 86, Jalan Raja Chulan,
50200 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: 018-396 1888
Business hours: 6pm – 11pm