Our best bet for Japanese gastronomy at Damansara Jaya's revamped Atria Shopping Gallery is Manmaru, thanks to the inventive flair & inspiring artistry of Executive Chef Danny Leow, a passionate craftsman who's sharpened his skills at some of Kuala Lumpur's most respected Japanese establishments of the past 15 years, including Ozeki Tokyo, Yuzu & Sagano.
Manmaru gives its chef free rein to unleash his imagination through an extensive a la carte menu, omakase sets & frequent specials such as this platter that evokes a kaleidoscopic garden flowing with fresh produce from both underwater & on land. It's a visual stunner, beautiful enough to exhibit in a food show, but also a pleasure for the palate, with a centrepiece of sea urchin over silken soft fresh 'yuba' bean curd sheets, surrounded by eel & octopus tentacles mingling with edible flowers & edamame.
Sashimi is immaculately presented too, with Chef Danny sometimes attempting to surprise customers; the raw seafood often comes in bowls, but on other occasions, it may be spread out on a wooden boat that takes up much of the table length-wise. A serving of seven varieties clocks in at RM210 - fleshy cuts, sumptuous to the bite, with fresh shipments Tuesdays & Fridays.
For a unique treat, we love the Wagyu Roll (RM68), a hefty chunk of sushi rice that's not only draped with a luscious coat of chilled Wagyu beef on the outside but also stuffed with warmly tender cooked morsels of beef within. A triumph in every way - of taste, texture & even temperature - that warrants hall-of-fame accolades at Manmaru.
One of the aspects we admire about Manmaru's food is how the dynamics of its recipes are punchy but simultaneously & skilfully nuanced - traits well-represented by this salmon & ikura mille-feuille, made crisp with a boost of sakura ebi (RM45).
With 'robatayaki' as part of this restaurant's full name, it's worth also sampling the grilled skewers here - a protein-powered 'moriawase' selection (RM68) might feature everything from chicken wings, skin & gizzard to salmon, scallops & smoked duck.
Served with a flourish as well: Parchment-baked snapper layered with seaweed, cheese, beef bacon & herbs, fusing elements from the Land of the Rising Sun with border-skipping influences. Takes about 20 minutes to prepare - worth the wait (RM58).
Wrap up with savoury carb comfort: Go luxe with stir-fried udon deliciously laced with a little foie gras & a lot of seafood (RM38) or creamy-crispy seafood croquette (RM22) - or end with basic fried rice, expertly executed. And there's still more on the menu to try - unagi karaage (RM40), prawn balls with spicy mango puree (RM28) & stingray with Japanese curry (RM32).
The top temptation for dessert is the coconut ice cream (RM18) - compelling in form, this is the Klang Valley's most ravishing-looking coconut ice cream. It's a delight, with its delicate flavour bolstered by the topping of delectably chewy dried pumpkin.
Manmaru's bar is absolutely worth hitting too, with creative contemporary concoctions like the signature Smoked & Plum Galaxy (RM39; combining the fruity powers of plum & peach) & the Hokkaido Spice Bee (RM32; a witty beverage fuelled by honey whiskey). Many thanks to the Manmaru team for being fine hosts for this fab lunch.
Manmaru Robatayaki & Bar
G-26, Atria Shopping Gallery, Damansara Jaya, Petaling Jaya, Selangor. Tel: 03-7733-1038
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