Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Sagano Japanese Restaurant, Renaissance KL Hotel

Sushi and sashimi exquisitely presented

IN TOKYO, different varieties of sushi and sashimi are appreciated in the four seasons, based on the quality and availability of the fish.

Sagano Restaurant keeps diners abreast of the culinary trends in the Japanese capital – whose eateries together have been bestowed the most number of Michelin stars – with a new chef at the helm.

Artistic: Honda perfecting the presentation of the sashimi.

Born and bred in Tokyo, 42-year-old Toshiya Honda, whose forte lies in sushi and sashimi, is set to treat diners to the best that each season offers. The fish is flown in from Japan every week.

Diners will have the opportunity to savour fish rarely seen in Kuala Lumpur. This season, the outlet is bringing in flying fish and sole.

The fish are displayed at the restaurant every evening from Tuesday to Friday.

“I think it's my special hand,” Honda replied with a chuckle when asked what made his sashimi special.

Lip-smacking: A delectable selection of sushi.

The chef, who has 22 years of experience, explained that the manner in which the fish was sliced affected its taste and texture. It has to be carried out according to the size and shape of the fish, and a chef normally takes up to 10 years to perfect the skill.

“It took me five years, because I was very hardworking,” joked the chef who has worked in various parts of the world, including New York, Germany, Bali and Langkawi.

Similarly, even though sushi is essentially vinegared rice and seaweed, it tastes best if the chef has the skill to perfect the flavour, shape and texture.

As icing on the cake, the sushi and sashimi are served in exquisite and elaborate presentations.

The Japanese appetiser is another manifestation of Hon-da's mastery. Made in accordance to Tokyo tradition, it brings together winter delicacies, presented in a three-dimensional layout reminiscent of a present in Japanese-style packaging.

Fresh from the ocean: Teriyaki codfish tempts with its glossy, golden sheen.

Small pieces of sashimi are lined next to Japanese green plum and mushroom topped with sea urchin which has been infused with a dash of sake. Two short glasses are filled with fish roe salad and seasoned seaweed. A hollowed-out orange contains fried prawn wrapped in mulberry leaves.

While respecting tradition, Honda also experiments with the ingredients to create new flavours. His creations include Beef Teriyaki using Australian beef and homemade sauce, and Teriyaki Codfish that tantalises with its golden, glossy sheen.

Honda also makes full use of ingredients available locally. This is exemplified in a simple dish featuring lobster from Sabah, lightly stir-fried with homemade sweet sauce and sprinkled with Japanese green pepper.

  • SAGANO JAPANESE RESTAURANT, West Wing, 1st Floor, Renaissance Kuala Lumpur Hotel, corner of Jalan Sultan Ismail and Jalan Ampang, Kuala Lumpur (Tel: 03-2162 2233). Business hours: Lunch (12to 2.30pm), dinner (6.30pm to 11pm).
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