Friday, March 11, 2011

Gonbei San

Starhill's upmarket Japanese restaurant reopened this month _ adding a "San" to its name _ after a lengthy refurbishment. Still feels like the same place though.

Traditional Japanese cooking rules the roost here; even the amuse bouche of preserved amberjack is as safe and unintimidating as can be.

The sashimi platter is tasty, but terribly pricey, due to its premium components of otoro (the fattiest part of the tuna, with a melt-in-the-mouth feel akin to pork belly), hamachi (yellowtail), salmon belly & raw prawns.

Sushi platter with a spider maki. Unremarkable, but satisfactory.

Meat-lovers can splurge on the Kobe beef teriyaki, which is sweet and succulent, but it seems exceedingly exorbitant at RM432++ for these 240 grams.

Grilled oysters with spicy mayo. Lovably luscious, perfectly prepared; the savory combination of the fleshy oysters and the creamy mayo is almost a sensual pleasure.

Kakiage tempura. Light and not too greasy.

Wakame Jiru (soybean paste soup with seaweed). Umami-packed.

Musk melon. OK, have to whinge about the prices one more time, since these two slices cost RM130++ (!!!). The melons are ripe and juicy, but not lusciously nectarous enough to warrant the expense. Live and learn, right?

The cocktails _ underpinned by sake and shochu _ display more creativity. Here are the Himomaru (hot sake, umeboshi) & Morino Batah (avocado, nigori sake).

Oolong Hai (mugi jochu, oolong tea) & Karuizawa Martini (imo shochu, raspberry, lychee).

Nihonsakari, a dry sake that goes well with fishy flavors.

Shochu to make us mellow.

After all that booze, a trip to Gonbei San's restroom was mandatory. Clearly, a Zen-like tranquility permeates every part of this restaurant.


Gonbei San,
Starhill, Kuala Lumpur.
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41 comments:

  1. Aha! this is how a men's cubicle looks like!! :D
    i've never been to one after all *innocent*

    On serious note, this look like the same thing allover again, i seldom would pay for pricey japanese unless their offerings are very very different. But i dont mind to pay for KOBE if its goooood, yums!

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  2. RM130++??? For TWO slices of melon?

    *faints*

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  3. Augustdiners: oh yeah, I dare say the men's room is far more fascinating than the ladies', in terms of both architecture and action! Do try to wander into one sometime! :D and ya, it's sad that Japanese food can really hurt the wallet. If only we could cultivate wagyu cattle locally =)
    LFB: ya lor, but it doesn't even taste very memorable. Basically similar to honeydew and rockmelon. Apparently it sells for nearly US$50 per fruit in japan, which should really only be $5 a slice, so it looks like there's a real mark-up by the time it's served here...

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  4. Gosh what a four figure meal..

    I read that ishin was sellin their a5 Kobe for 320rm per 100gm. Makes your plate sounds a lil cheaper!

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  5. Did you really pay RM130 for 2 slices of melon?? The otoro looks really pretty, with all the marbling.

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  6. if the melon's RM 130, how much was the sashimi?!

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  7. Aiyo, better go to hanare or zipangu instead!

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  8. atrocious pricing for the melons! yes, how much was the sashimi? really curious now...

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  9. *pensaned together with Kenny!!!*

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  10. joe: yikes! though maybe that's kinda fair, since it'd be the highest grade of kobe. the one here was probably at least two grades lower :)
    baby sumo: yep, though the menu was kinda misleading, cos it read RM65 for "musk melon," without saying the price was just for a single slice. and we didn't actually ask for two slices, but they served two anyway, and we only found out when we received the bill...
    ky: sashimi was RM156++ ... less shocking than the melon, thankfully! but with only four varieties of sashimi (two pieces each)...
    michelle: ya, hanare is still my favorite for now, heheh. though then again, many of the other items here are cheaper. the tempura was RM6, the wakame jiru was RM10...
    sc: RM156++ for the sashimi, though i think that the otoro alone probably accounted for more than half that price. yep, am not gonna be ordering that melon again, heheh...
    babe_kl: ya, i tried to savor and appreciate the taste of the melon, but it tasted really ordinary. i'll stick to local watermelons, hehe

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  11. The Men's room looks the same, as with the rest of the restaurant. At the prices they are charging for the melons, one would expect a "major" makeover :P

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  12. I'm still not quite over the cost of them melons. Uhm, next time we go out makan, do pick a place that won't give my wallet a cardiac arrest ya? LOL

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  13. OMG - i can't get over that super-expensive melon, haha!

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  14. unkaleong: ya, and they also still do that thing where they beat a drum noisily at the entrance to announce the arrival of each guest :D
    lfb: heheh, well, ben's @ klcc should be opening soon too (their second branch after the first one in pavilion). maybe we can go there for RM18 nasi lemak =)
    pureglutton: the sad thing is that i don't know whether i'll ever be able to taste it again! :D

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  15. Haha, that would work for me and Devil, especially since his office is at the Petronas Twin Towers. Jom pegi sama-sama?

    (But no cockles with the nasi lemak, ok?)

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  16. lfb: ok, you can pass me all your cockles, if any! this reminds me that i still haven't tried the ever-elusive nasi lemak from village park. nobody wants to tarpau any for me :D

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  17. LOL. Ermmm I think I'll stick to the buffets!

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  18. Ah, that's perfect! Come let's go to Village Park this weekend! :D

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  19. Working life has sapped all my brainpower so I can't do mental maths anymore, but quick addition puts your meal at over rm500 per person without the sake ... does that sound about right? That's a hell of a lot of $$$, do you consider it "worth it" though?

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  20. tng: i'll try to wake up early some weekend to check out the buffet! though it would be more attractive if they serve a free flow of booze too, heheh :D
    lfb: i wanna stay under the blankets and repay my sleep debt! now this is why you all should lobby village park to change its opening hours to 5pm-3am instead :D
    timing: yeps, your calculation is perfect! i gotta say no though, this meal didn't leave us with a satisfied feeling. theoretically, i understand why it cost that much, but i've definitely enjoyed tastier japanese meals for a much lower price...

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  21. Uhm, no? We like our days to begin bright and early.

    We could compromise and go for lunch. Surely you are up by mid-day??

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  22. lfb: nasi lemak is the perfect supper food! brekkie should be roti canai. :D oh, i don't eat lunch. i can't remember the last time i had lunch =)

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  23. If brekie is roti canai, then you may never have eaten the stuff...

    :P

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  24. lfb: bah. i just had a flashback to 1997, when i single-handedly ate 1 roti canai, 1 roti telur, 1 roti bom, 1 roti tisu, 1 roti planta, 1 roti pisang, 1 murtabak ayam and 1 murtabak lembu for supper in a single sitting. don't think my stomach could survive that now :D

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  25. Omigosh. You roti-ed out the entire mamak! :P

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  26. lfb: nah. i didn't order roti sardin, cos i don't like canned fish :D

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  27. Akcherly, I never tried roti sardin before. I think I had too many a sardine sandwich for my recess meal during my primary school years. Yucks.

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  28. lfb: oh, i think i'd rather eat cold takoyaki than roti sardin. i've never actually had a sardine bread sandwich before though (my only school sandwiches comprised margarine or jam!), but the combo of cold fish, slimy tomato sauce and bread does sound icky. though sardines are a good sauce of protein, and they're brain food, so you might have them to thank for your current physical and mental health :D

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  29. Sardine may well have been my spinach. But I don't have Popeye's formidable forearms, so sardine may still be lacking in a certain muscle-building nutrient. :P

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  30. lfb: or maybe you just need to hit the gym again. fitness first misses you! :D

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  31. Oh my goodness! RM130 for melons!! I cannot believe it!

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  32. iamthewitch: ya, these could be the priciest melons in kl!

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  33. Oh Gosh...130RM for 2 slices... already can get a crown melon at Isetan for 149RM...
    but their fibre look really good~juicy

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  34. Fui: ya, I dunno much about melons ... but I think I'd prefer a nice sweet slice of red watermelon :D

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  35. OMG that must be the most expensive fruit ever! wow... i don't think i can bring myself to fork out over a hundred bucks for 2 slices of melon!! too luxurious!

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  36. Eiling: ya, I thought it'd be rm65 for at least a half-melon or something, cos the menu didn't describe it properly, and we neglected to ask before ordering...

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  37. well dear, honeydews and rockmelons ARE muskmelons

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  38. nicotinegum: ooops, issit. muskmelons must be a large family/grouping of melons then. wonder which japanese subspecies the one here is then :D

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  39. http://qjphotos.wordpress.com/2008/08/13/expensive-melons/ -> from your photo it looks like you had the Shizuoka melon and if the photo is undoctored, each melon costs about 700++ MYR :D

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  40. nicotinegum: ahhh, yeah, the skin does look somewhat similar. yikes, if it's RM700 a melon at cost price, i suppose RM70 per slice doesn't sound too unreasonable after all. though one still wonders why it costs that much in the first place...

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