Words: Aisling Cullen Photos: Monica Tindall
As a food and lifestyle writer, I get to see lots of new and interesting spaces in KL. I have been introduced to refreshing new concepts, different culinary flavours and delectable menus. But few places truly excite me… until now! Isetan’s The Japan Store at Lot 10 is beyond a doubt an exciting store. The minimalist design of the bookstore, the colourful Harajuku style ladies wear on the fashion floor, the exceptional Japanese supermarket at the basement (check out the ‘Tech Foods’ aisle)… it is executed so well and is so stimulating to the senses that I encourage all to go.
A jewel of The Japan Store is the restaurant level on the fourth Floor. In contrast to the light and bright fashion floors, this level is more moody and atmospheric. Dark red curtains printed with Japanese fish hang from the ceiling, and the textured woods and upholstered sofas give a feeling of coziness and warmth. `The space is divided into five restaurants, each with its own specialised style of Japanese cooking. Monica and I tried out The Tokyo Restaurant, which is a fusion of Japanese and western cuisine.
As with all the restaurants on the fourth Floor, The Tokyo Restaurant comes directly from Japan and has made its debut at Lot 10. There is a contemporary mix of cuisines to the menu, fusing European and Japanese flavours flawlessly.
Comfortably seated in an upholstered booth with warm spot lighting setting the mood, we were presented with a draught Kirin Ichiban to start. I never realized how good Japanese beer was until drinking this beer. There is a kind of clarity that you get from Kirin Ichiban that doesn’t come from any western beer I’ve tried. This beer is made from the purest of water and the finest of malt, and the craftsmanship of creating this beer comes across in its cool crispness and light foamy head.
Our appetites whetted, we started with a Tofu Wakame Salad (RM22), consisting of a generous portion of tofu, wakame seaweed, crispy salmon skin and bonita flakes. I loved the crispy crunch of the salmon skin, and the creamy ‘goma’ sesame seed vinaigrette.
Ready for our next course, we tried the Sushi Roll Platter, which was exceptional value at RM36. Laid out in an artistic fashion, there were two Californian rolls, two unagi eel and two salmon ikura topped with a generous amount of roe. The ginger was pickled with red cabbage giving it a purplish blush, something that added to the pretty picture presented to us.
Some main courses were quite light and healthy, but don’t compromise on taste. We had the Sautéed Salmon with Lemon Butter Sauce (RM50), which has a typical western presentation combined with interesting Asian flavours. The salmon fillet is accompanied by romaine lettuce, a papaya salad and a tangy lemon butter sauce.
There are plenty of meat options on this menu, and one of the specialties of The Tokyo Restaurant is the Beef Hamburg Steak, a theatrical sizzling dish on a hot plate. The beef patty is moist and flavourful, and the portion is very large – Monica and I reckon there must be about 200g of beef to each patty. The Japanese demi glaze sauce was rich in flavour and there was also a side of sweet onion penne pasta that was more-ish and comforting.
To complement the food, we enjoyed a bottle of Wente Chardonnay 2015 (RM240), with fine, lilting flavours of green apple, tropical fruits and oak. I find Californian wines hard to come by in KL, but The Tokyo Restaurant has a good selection, making their wine list stand out from many others around the city.
After enjoying every bit of each savoury dish, I was feeling quite healthy by the end of meal. A little too healthy some might say… so it was time to be bad! And if you are going to be bad, do it with something that tastes really, really good. The Sixth Avenue Cheesecake (RM16) is something very special. It’s laid out in quite a plain fashion on the plate, but its taste is extraordinary. My fork melted into the rich and creamy body of the cake, and my eyes rolled into the back of my head after the first bite. Heaven.
We also tried the Mango Yoghurt Sundae (RM16), another delicious dessert with mango ice-cream, yoghurt sorbet, meringue pieces and mango sauce.
I have been back to The Japan Store twice more since writing this review, once again to The Tokyo Restaurant where I had another good experience – the restaurant was buzzing and full of Japanese people (which is always a good sign) and the Kirin Ichiban beer was as good as I remembered. Another time was to try out the small eateries on the Lower Ground Floor around the supermarket. And another time to hang around the bookstore and drink coffee – the books aren’t all wrapped in plastic like most bookstores in Malaysia, so you can flick through interesting reads while enjoying an artisan coffee.
Isetan’s The Japan Store is truly a great lifestyle experience that showcases all things Japanese in an exciting way. Get there early to check out the store in its totality, then head up to the bar on the fourth floor for a cold draught Kirin Ichiban followed by a meal at The Tokyo Restaurant – it’s an experience you will remember.
Reasons to visit: Very reasonably priced contemporary Japanese cuisine; don’t miss the salads, sushi and cheesecake; refresh with a beautifully chilled Kirin Ichiban beer.
The Tokyo Restaurant
Level 5, The Table
Isetan The Japan Store
LOT 10, 50 Jalan Sultan Ismail
Kuala Lumpur 50250
+6 03 2119 2622
Open 11am – 11pm