Hajime - A Really Nice Discovery
Is there such a thing as the best Japanese restaurant in KL? You can debate till the cows come home because the essence of good Japanese food is largely determined by the selection of fresh seafood and cuts. Only then can the chef add some zing to its preparation.
Too much fusion detracts from the inherent cleanliness of taste so desired for truly good Japanese food. Fusion is seen in a more negative light here, although Japanese are quite ok with it.
Zipangu is a bit too fusiony for my liking. The Starhill place is more palatable but looks orchestrated. If it was just the sushi bar alone, sit at Sagano inside Renaissance Hotel and talk to the sushi chef. He always have a few incredible items hidden away from the menu (the very fresh & huge deep sea NZ prawns are to die for - pour some hot sake on the head before sucking the whole head dry - heavenly).
Well, I can safely say that I have discovered a Japanese restaurant that is unpretentious, elegant, with just the right amount of fusion (meaning very little) and even their fusion is to bring out the complementary freshness in ingredients. However I would still prefer to stick to the traditional stuff. Just ask for Sally or Edwin, and let them design the menu for you - they always bring out the best available. Tuesdays and Fridays are the best days to go (fresh supplies flown in). Must try, their soft shell crab maki. Their sashimi cuts are always decent and professional. The presentation immaculate. When very good food is being handled by excellent service staff, its a huge plus. It won't break your bank but expect to pay RM100-150 pp.
The design is fetching in turning the bungalow into a sophisticated dining experience. Using a lot of wood to get at simplicity, naturalness and cozyness. Lower ground has excellent ambience with well thought out lighting and decor. Its private and parking is a cinch. For bigger groups or corporate functions, there are 4 very luxurious tatami rooms (up to 20 per room) and a garden area for smokers.
If there is such a thing as the best Japanese restaurant in KL, Hajime will come very close to that.
64 Jalan Damai off Jalan Tun Razak, KL
p/s photo: Fiona Xie, tv host from Singapore