Thursday, July 12, 2007

Focus on flavours of Japan at Zipangu, Shangri-La

The “Shochu and Sake with Zipangu Specialties'' at Shangri-La Hotel Kuala Lumpur from July 9 to 27 highlights the pleasures of the spirit and wine.

Wide array: Chef Takagi with some of his creations.
Who else could possibly know about pairing food with shochu and sake but a Japanese and Zipangu's Japanese head chef Yuichi Takagi spent hours putting together the flavours of Japan with modern touches for this gastronomic occasion.

Chef Takagi's special menu has a selection of appetisers and main courses, all of which go well with either drink.

Shochu (pronounced show-choo) is a drink Japanese appreciate before and after meals.

Today, the spirit is produced widely in Japan. However, it is native to south of Japan's Kagoshima prefecture on Kyushu island.

It is distilled from various types of ingredients that contain sugar like potatoes, rice, wheat and barley.

There are two main types of shochu available - the authentic (Honkaku) and modern version (Korui).

The flavour and aroma of the Honkaku is prevalent from the original ingredients as it goes through single distillation and hence the taste varies from light to smooth (when rice is used) to earthy and strong if potatoes are used.

Korui goes through more distilling, resulting in it being smooth and flavourless and it can be used to make cocktails.

Zipangu guest services manager Tetsuya Mohri said Shochu can be taken hot or on the rocks and pairs well with Japanese and Western style dishes as it enhances the taste of ingredients and softens the strong smell of meat and seafood.

Traditional fare: Cold miso soup poured over rice and served with a variety of condiments.
Sake, the traditional Japanese rice wine needs no introduction.

It is served cold, warm or hot, depending on an individual's preference although in Japan, it is consumed hot in winter and cold in summer.

Chef Takagi's list of starters is impressive as he has Kumi Yuba Avocado Uni Nose Uma-An Kake (avocado and sea urchin on bean curd skin served with cold sticky sauce), Ebi To Iroiro Yasai Bainiku Naise Ae (shrimps and mixed vegetables marinated with plum mayonnaise), Truffle Iri Dashimaki Tamago (Japanese truffle omelette served with gazpacho and grated radish), Gohya To Tofu No Salad Zipangu-Fu (Zipangu Special - bitter gourd and bean curd salad), Zipangu Fu Morokoshi Yaki (Zipangu Special - Japanese pancake and corn served with special sauce) and Zipangu Kunsei Moriawase (Zipangu smoked specialties - salmon, pregnant fish, wild duck, ginger, cheese and egg smoked in mango tea and served with special dipping sauce).

Mohri said the Truffle Iri Dashimaki Tamago was prepared in traditional Japanese style but that the chef picked out a few ingredients from the European kitchen like truffles and gazpacho to pep up his creation.

Bitter gourd is not an item one comes across in a stylish restaurant. However, Mohri said it was on the menu as many people were now accustomed to its bitter taste due to its health properties.

Chef Takagi's Gohya To Tofu No Salad Zipangu-Fu is not at all bitter and is quite pleasing to savour.

This dish is prepared as a healthy option with the white soft tofu flesh as a background to the light green floral shaped bitter gourd slices, showered with bonito flakes.

Those opting for the main course have a choice of Kamo Rohsu No Tareyaki Sansho Fuumi (Japanese pepper flavoured, roasted and sliced wild duck), Mirugai To Kaki No Karayaki (Grilled shellfish and oyster in spicy sauce), Ebi Hamo Nasu No Karaage Nioroshi-An (Deep fried shrimp, conger pike and eggplant with grated radish sauce), Ebi To Takenoko Ryukutou Yuba Age (Japanese spring roll -shrimp ball and bamboo shoot rolled with soy bean curd skin), Hiyashi Yasai Taki Awase (cold vegetables and seafood with jelly sauce), Ayu Somen Zipangu-Fu (cold somen noodles served with grilled sweet fish and bonito entrails) and Hiya Ziru Zipangu-Fu (cold miso soup poured over rice, served with a variety of condiments).

There are several types of shochu and sake on the drink list, so the pricing depends on what the diner orders.

Shangri-La Hotel Kuala Lumpur
11 Jalan Sultan IsmailKuala Lumpur
Tel: 03-20743900
Business hours: Noon to 2.30pm on weekdays, 6.30 to 10.30pm daily.
Weekend buffet brunch is served from 11.30am to 2.30pm at RM88++ per person

Source : STAR
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