From Florida & Honolulu to Malaysia: Doraku, which boasts branches in Miami Beach & Waikiki, opened its first Asian outpost at Kuala Lumpur's Life Center this month.
Founded by Kevin Aoki, a scion of the Benihana restaurant empire, Doraku offers audacious cuisine that marries Japanese traditions with Latin American & Pan-Asian inspirations. This is one of 2012's most interesting new eateries.
Purists might scoff at this plate of shiromo sashimi (RM30+), resting on shiso leaves, topped with marinated cucumbers, sweet onions, tomatoes, kaiware sprouts & kabayaki soy sauce. But it's really a fanciful riot of attention-seizing colors & flavors.
Sure, the sauces can seem heavy-handed, relegating the red snapper in this tiridito recipe (RM28+) into an ensemble player, not a star. But when the heat of the jalapeno garnish kicks in, coupled with the miso sauce's soothing sweetness, our taste buds still do a happy dance.
Hello, Hawaii! This Pacific Rim medley of ahi tuna, seaweed, nuts, spring mix & crispy green onions (RM36+) is another recommendation on Doraku's KL menu, which is nearly identical to the U.S. one. We'll see if Malaysians enjoy it as much as the Americans.
We love this rice-free, seafood-rich Emperor Roll (RM38+), made majestic with a succulent stuffing of lightly seared salmon, tuna sashimi, crab meat, shrimp, scallops & avocado, flash-fried in a crisp panko breadcrumb crust.
Okinawa's famed chanpuru stir-fry (RM32+) makes its presence felt, featuring sirloin, bittergourd, tofu & egg. Not our favorite, but hot & hearty enough for a rainy night.
Doraku's cocktails keep the creative streak running: Try the "Asian Mojito," graced with ginger-infused vodka & a shiso leaf.
More shiso leaf madness for the Midori Bath (shochu, midori liquor, pineapple juice).
Sake Sangria (sake, red wine, plum wine, orange juice, fruits).
Doraku's shaded alfresco first-floor area comes complete with a DJ booth for late-night lounging.
Let's hope Doraku's U.S.-based chieftain Kevin Aoki makes a visit here eventually, maybe bringing along his musician brother Steve and model sister Devon.
Doraku opens daily for lunch & dinner, serving drinks well past midnight.
Doraku Sushi & Sake Bar,
Mezzanine Floor, Life Center, Jalan Sultan Ismail, Kuala Lumpur.