Wasabi Bistro @ Mandarin Oriental
Wasabi Bistro @ Mandarin Oriental
As I walked out of the lift from the basement P2 to P1, I was a little worried I had gotten the location for the food review a little mixed up. Going from carpark to carpark? Surely not. However, I had indeed not misunderstood, and there it was. The restaurant. Wasabi Bistro, neatly tucked in a corner of level P1 at Mandarin Oriental Kuala Lumpur.
Diners can also access Wasabi Bistro equally elegantly via the side entrance of Mandarin Oriental – right opposite the covered walkway connecting Suria KLCC to Mandarin Oriental! This entrance is officially accessible to all diners from Friday 26 March 2010.
Shouts of “Irasshaimase!” (which means welcome) greeted us, and we were warmly welcomed by Director of Operations Kevin James Hee, and the delightful Azrina A. Effendi who had graciously introduced us to this gourmet haven.
In Japanese, “Wa” means harmony and “Sabi” means simplicity – superbly representative of the restaurant which exudes a simple elegance and is alluringly charming.
Being a family business, Kevin was the one who initially opened the restaurant. Apparently, Wasabi Bistro has been open for almost 10 years! I was shocked. Such a longstanding establishment, yet lesser known to the public. Perhaps it was because of its discreet location, or perhaps because it thrives on the patronage of regular customers.
Don’t get me wrong. It may not be very commercial but it is certainly recognized for its cuisine. Wasabi Bistro has numerous awards under its belt, including Malaysia Tatler’s Award for Best Restaurant in 2002 & 2003.
Most recently, Wasabi Bistro was a participant of the Malaysian International Gourmet Festival (MIGF) 2009.
Having spent many years all over the world, including Hawaii, California and Singapore, Kevin is a restaurateur with character, a charming accent and an infectious laugh.
The restaurant is independent of the Mandarin Oriental, with a well established following back in the United States. In Kuala Lumpur it is evolving, just like the city, adapting to changes in the thriving business and social scenes.
“I’m here pretty much everyday, except Sunday,” explains Kevin. “I love to cook, and I’ve grown up with good food all around me. It’s in my blood.”
The Japanese menu at Wasabi Bistro has its roots in the philosophy of Japanese art and cuisine borne out of Grandma Iseki’s kitchen. The contemporary bistro setting is chic and stylish.
Well, I think it’s about time we unleashed this outstanding combination of traditional Japanese cuisine with a Hawaiian twist on the hungry masses of KL!
We made ourselves comfortable in the private dining room (one of three) at the front of the restaurant.
The deco is modern, with exquisite Japanese art and artefacts dotted around. The dining areas have been designed to offer guests the utmost privacy to enjoy the intricate, traditional Japanese fare. Don’t miss the chance to watch the intricate handiwork of the master chef as he displays his skills in the art of sushi making.
For more privacy, dine in the cozy booths and enjoy the quiet elegance of an intimate bistro setting.
With me that evening were Terry (Red FM Drive) and Hazim (Red Weekends). My two boys who never let me down with their adventure for taste, and expanding appetites!
The first three dishes rolled in and were set in front of us. Gleaming, steaming and wafting up irresistible aromas, that was Wasabi Bistro’s signature dish, Kumi’s No. 1.
Kevin explained to us the story behind this dish. This recipe was concocted by Madam Kumi Romaniszyn, who is the mother of Managing Director, Ken Romaniszyn. Of course, it was a hit. Crabmeat with avocado wrapped in white fish fillet, oven-baked with Kumi’s supreme secret sauce. I have to say, what a way to start the meal! I was a little greedy and tried to eat it all in one bite!
It was really for fear that Terry would steal my Kumi’s No. 1.
“No Terry! This is all mine!”
It was warm, it was rich, and it was creamy. And, oh, so tasty from the fresh, shredded crabmeat.
As you can see, the only one thought was running through Hazim’s head was: “You keep talking, I’ll keep eating!”
It was unanimous… a sensational palate pleaser! Madam Kumi, I want the recipe for your secret sauce!
We marveled at the sheer length of the Speciality Sushi-Boat.
Splashes of bright colours on the plate tantalize your senses, and you’re immersed in a myriad of tastes and textures with every bite. A stylish elongated platter showcasing the salmon mango soft roll, soft shell crab roll and rainbow roll.
I particularly enjoyed the Salmon and Mango Roll, which was fresh and sweet.
Of course, the boys wanted to see if I could fit it all in…
Terry and I adored the Mango Salad.
Cool, fresh mango slices with crab meat laden with creamy dressing. It reminded us of ‘Yee Sang’, and we made a wish, and gave it a toss to release the tender fresh sweetness.
Aly: “Come money-money, come!”
Terry: “Erm, Aly, does it work if its mango?”
We also had some very moorish Edamame.
We each opened wide to savour Wasabi Bistro’s California Roll Cone, wrapped in seaweed with crabstick, avocado, japanese mayo and tobikko.
Our next dish reeked of Hawaii! Close your eyes when you bite into the warm, fleshiness of the Papaya Motoyaki.
Sautéed shrimps, scallops, mushrooms and peppers served in halved papaya shell, oven-baked to succulent perfection with Motoyaki sauce. For a second, we could have been on a beach, with sunshine bathing our cool skin.
Another favourite was the Ahi Fillet.
Hazim, with his tastebuds geared towards Japanese Cuisine, gave this a thumbs up. Marinated pan seared tuna, served with scallops and shrimps. Of course, Terry was in the wings, waiting patiently to see if anyone wanted anymore before attacking it with vigour.
Meanwhile, Hazim was waiting patiently in the wings for our main courses.
Kevin graciously asked us what we would like to try for main courses. Hazim and I shamelessly pointed at Terry, and explained that Terry was the decision maker when it came to ordering food. It was, of course, expected that he chose the Wagyu Beef.
This was a tender broiled premium Australian grain fed tenderloin Wagyu beef, with ginger and mustard sauce. Savour the exquisite melt-in-your-mouth sensation.
“Have a small taste of the beef,” explained Kevin animatedly.
“Then have a taste of the three sauces, mustard & sesame, teriyaki or ginger, and see which one you prefer.”
I loved them all, but the ginger sauce was my favourite. Tangy with a hint of spiciness.
An unforgettable dish was Wasabi Bistro’s Teppan Seafood.
A sizzling platter of Norwegian Salmon, succulent Japanese Scallops and fresh Prawns.
The Classic Tempura was also a hit.
Shrimp and fresh vegetables dipped in light specialty tempura batter, deep-fried to a golden crisp. I really liked how the food at Wasabi Bistro incorporates a lot of fusion dishes, yet they still maintain the ability to produce traditional Japanese delights to satisfy the palate.
We took a breather and enjoyed pleasant conversation about Hawaii, California, Singapore and Kuala Lumpur. Public Transport was a hot topic, and a dynamic conversation ensued over hot green tea. Soon after, our desert arrived. A delicate dish of Green Tea Ice Cream & Green Tea Ice Cream with Roasted Sesame.
Two flavours paired, enhancing the distinctive tastes of refreshing green tea
and rich roasted sesame seeds. A simple and delightful finish to a vibrant, and flavourful culinary experience.
The Japanese-Hawaiian-Californian combination works. I guess the only thing left for me to say is you have to try Wasabi Bistro for yourself. You will walk away VERY satisfied.
All this week, starting Monday March 14th, tune in from Eleven2Three for the Big Red Food Review with me, Aly. I’ve got dining vouchers worth RM 150 to give away for you to try Wasabi Bistro for yourself!
The Big Red Food Review with me, Aly. Only on Red FM, Today’s Best Music.
Mandarin Oriental Kuala Lumpur
Level P1 Kuala Lumpur City Centre
50088 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: +603 2163 0968
Cuisine: Contemporary Japanese
Hours: Monday – Sunday | Lunch 12pm – 2.30pm / Dinner 6.00pm – 10.30pm