Saturday, August 22, 2009

Dinner at Rakuzen, Hartamas Shopping Centre

With some colleagues leaving us, we decided to go for a nice dinner together followed by drinks nearby. Initially, we had planned to go to Tenji in Solaris Mont Kiara, but that suggestion met with some objections from yours truly and some others who had a mere so-so experience in that Japanese buffet restaurant. Someone then suggested Rakuzen, since it was in the same area as well.

Since there were 14 of us, we were given a private room, that was good.
The food? Some hits but also some major misses. Many of us were for Rakuzen because we had good dining experiences there (and their set lunches were always value-for money without compromising quality). Yesterday, however, they fell a little short of my expectations.

We had some appetizers while waiting for some of our friends to arrive. Rakuzen is currently having a Summer Menu for the season, and we had two items from it.

The first was the Unagi Omelette:

Unagi Omelette. Looks uninteresting on the plate.

May not look appetizing but turned out to be quite a pleasant combination. And it's not on the menu all the time, so it's worth a try.

Next item from the Summer Menu was the Seafood Avocado Salad:

Seafood and Avocado Salad, after being tossed. Looks even less appetizing than the omelette.

This was my favourite dish for the day. Don't let the picture fool you, because the taste will surprise you! The salad consists of crab meat, prawns, tuna and other fish bits, cuttle fish, roe and salad greens, all tossed in a light but flavorful dressing. A friend commented that the fish they used weren't too fresh, but I thought the salad on the whole was excellent. This salad is a perfect representation summer and I look forward to having something like this again.

Next, we had the Avocado Tempura Roll:

Colleague was slightly disappointed because the picture on the menu showed the sushi pieces individually coated in tempura batter. What was served instead was a tempura avocado rolled into the sushi. Taste was average, nothing outstanding.

Finally, we had the Dragon Roll, which was basically an unagi on a roll:

I didn't get to taste this one as I was busy playing around with my friend's Nikon DSLR (he was tempting me to buy one!). Note that the 'dragon's head' is missing, as a colleague was so hungry that she took the first piece before we could take the picture of the whole 'dragon'. Hence, the unagi sauce in the front as the evidence of the crime.

Next came everyone's main course that were the run-of-the-mill set meals, and so weren't worth photographing. I had the Zen Teppanyaki, which was a steak teppanyaki set. It was a quite a disappointment. The meat was not piping hot when served to me. I wonder how long it was left to stand at the kitchen counter before it reached me. Meat was prepared medium as I had asked for it, but that was it - just medium cooked. Lacking in flavours, if at all. I assume that it was cooked at a relatively low fire because there was no heat or char to the meat at all.

At RM38++, I would rather pay a bit more for the one I had in Gonbei, Starhill. That one gave me a good cut of sirloin, a significantly bigger portion, and cooked so much better.

I had a try of my friend's Cha Soba, and that wasn't particularly good too.

After dinner we proceeded to Somo in Shoplex Mont Kiara. The ambience was good, it was outdoor, relaxed, and the tables were well spread for enough privacy. Drinks were alright, reasonably priced. But I always had a bone to pick with these sort of places. I never understood places like this one, and similarly the Laundry and Republic. These places are set outdoors for a relaxed atmosphere, yet instead of playing chillout music, they blast the speakers with R&B and hiphop. It's not because I hate R&B. It just feels so ironic to get your customers tipsy with alcohol then play some booty-shaking music, but expect them to remain seated through it all, having normal conversations . Say what?


I am not swearing off Rakuzen yet, for two reasons:

For one, as I was leaving this restaurant, I saw some Japanese diners and the Japanese chef. If the food was prepared by Japanese and fit enough for the Japanese palate, surely there must be something in the restaurant worth having. Maybe just not the teppanyaki.

Secondly, all meals that I had at Rakuzen never failed to disappoint, prior to this one. But then again, maybe their strength lies in their value-for-money sets that feature the standard fare of the Tempura/Sushi/Saba/Unagi range.

Perhaps I should ask my colleagues how did their
Tempura/Sushi/Saba/Unagi dinner sets go. If those stank too, then I am afraid Rakuzen Sri Hartamas might have already lost the touch.

1 comment:

  1. Yummy... Its unagi season. Everywhere is serving unagi now.