Tantalising new Japanese restaurants have surfaced this month all across Desa Sri Hartamas; here's our definitive deep-dive introduction for three of them, starting with grilled seafood specialist Hamasho, then rolling on to oil-fondue experts Tatsu Mi, followed finally by contemporary eatery TWO. Take a deliciously deep breath.
Charcoal stoves seize the spotlight at Hamasho, as compellingly Japanese as a restaurant gets in KL, complete with menus pasted on the walls that few Malaysians can decipher. Thankfully, Hamasho's owners & team nurture a patient & helpful nature.
Squid receives star treatment, brushed with a mix of sake & shoyu, terrific in taste & texture, as if newly netted from the sea. It might well have been; Hamasho secures fresh seafood shipments five days a week. RM25++.
Prefer squid tentacles (RM15++)? That's possible at Hamasho, the first Malaysian outpost of a Japanese-based F&B business.
'Hokke' Arabesque greenling fish (RM25++), a true treat at Hamasho. Fresh & fleshy, smoky & savoury.
Crab 'head' flesh, scooped up from the shell & mixed up altogether for an interesting preparation (RM18++).
Gindara teriyaki might sound cliched, but the cod fish at Hamasho is a should-order, beautifully buttery, flaky & flavoursome.
Bonito sashimi (RM30++). With so much seafood, Hamasho makes a nice companion restaurant to sashimi-serving Uokatsu nearby (though the two are not affiliated to each other), with their fabulous food reminding us why Japanese cuisine is one of the mainstays of this website, with more than 200 Japanese restaurants reviewed since 2008.
Not into seafood? Deep-fried chicken gizzard (RM15++) is fun to snack on here ...
... as well as made-for-beer-pairing burdock chips (RM15++), salty with a curried tinge ...
... & sliced yam laced with sake & squid guts, an acquired taste.
What lies within the foil? A mix of mushrooms; tastes better than expected, possibly one of the best of its kind in KL.
Sake is pricey at Hamasho though; a 360-ml serving that only two can share costs RM90++.
Overall though, we think Hamasho, which has a fun & welcoming vibe, possesses the makings of a smash hit; expect to hear more about this place in the months ahead.
Next up, Tatsu Mi, where the highlight is oil fondues, partnered with seafood, meat or veggies.
Fondue for two indeed; that's the minimum order here (two people). A serving of seafood costs RM60++ per person.
The selection comprises salmon, scallops, tuna, squid, prawns, pumpkin, broccoli, carrots, lotus roots, yam & asparagus.
It burns! The chunks of seafood take only a few seconds to sizzle in the oil & be cooked enough for the eating.
Beef fondues are also available; all in all though, it works better as a novelty rather than mouthwatering nourishment.
Oden is served as a complimentary appetiser; liquor can be ordered too, of course.
Wrapping up our Hartamas expedition with TWO, which doubles up with Japanese & Western cuisine, but our focus here is on the sashimi & sushi, not the seafood pasta or the mussels with lemon sauce.
TWO features the work of two chefs, Yoshi & Kent, who both honed their skills at New York eateries. The menu proudly bears the 'fusion' label, with ostensibly French & Italian influences, resulting in hits & misses.
Summer flounder, sliced & served with shoyu (RM28 before taxes), pretty much passes the mark for freshness & flavour.
Yellowtail with ponzu-based sauce & jalapenos (RM30), a bit of a mess, with the heavily savoury sauce completely overwhelming the fish.
TWO's signature sushi roll (RM30) showcases tuna, salmon, yellowtail, avocado & crab stick wrapped with cool, crunchy cucumber strips. Not a bad change from regular seaweed-reliant rolls.
Ooba Maki (RM16): Tuna, mint leaves, avocados & asparagus, fried & paired with sweet chilli sauce, the undoing of this dish.
Sushi pizza (RM28), blanketed with fish, guacamole & again, a cloying sauce that undermines everything else on the plate.
Booze is offered & service is friendly; we wish TWO luck, though we think it'll be tricky for it to secure a competitive advantage.
42, Jalan 27/70A, Desa Sri Hartamas, Kuala Lumpur.
Dinner, Tuesday-Saturday (but closed this Saturday, August 23). Tel: 03-6206-1127
7 Jalan 19/70A, Desa Sri Hartamas, Kuala Lumpur. Dinner, except Mondays.
TWO Japanese & Western Cuisine
B-G-03A, Glomac Galeria, Desa Sri Hartamas, Kuala Lumpur. Tel: 03-6201-0010
Check out the latest edition of Eat Drink KL: 100 Favourites, featuring 100 recommended restaurants for July-September 2014, including more than 20 new entries for this quarter.
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