‘Kaiseki’ is so rarefied that no Japanese cuisine connoisseurs would turn down an invitation to savour this multi-course haute dining experience. My last kaiseki encounter was over three years ago so when Angeline Ong invited us to join her for kaiseki at Ishin, it was an offer too good to refuse.
This refined Japanese restaurant is located a stone’s throw away from Mid Valley City, along a main thoroughfare. Housed in a refurbished bungalow, Ishin's cosily outfitted with sleek timber accents and warm lighting.
The oval sushi counter accords upclose and first-hand view of the chefs in action while upstairs boasts a warren of private rooms including several with tatami-style seating albeit with recessed floor space.
Sipping on the thick and mildly gluey double-boiled blue fin soup, we discovered the collagen-rich gelatinous chunk had a feral mineral aftertaste to it. The broth’s savouriness was tempered by grated yuzu zest whilst mushroom, carrot and leek add extra textural dimension.
Rare and high-brow ingredients are often featured in kaiseki and the subsequent course testified to this. Fried ankimo (monkfish liver) was a rare speciality that was worth its weight in gold. Garnished with tara shirako (cod’s milt or sperm sac), saffron threads, globules of salmon roe and melted cheese, it was a super decadent delicacy tasting of musky gaminess.
Equally impressive was the sashimi course. Presented on a bed of crushed ice and a domed ice ‘cave’, the raw fish selection included a superbly sweet akaza ebi (a type of Japanese deep-sea prawn), maguro (tuna) and shima aji (striped jack).
Marbled with flecks of fat throughout, the two slices of Kagoshima beef were more than ample for each person. Quickly seared on a hot stone grill, the meltingly tender meat appeared richly buttery on our tastebuds.
Chasing this up was a dainty don composed from vinegared rice sprinkled with pink fish floss crowned with seared otoro (tuna belly), uni (sea urchin) and slivers of nori. It reminded us of an ultra-luxe, scrumptious onigiri (Japanese rice ball).
Fresh fruit rounded up our meal and even then the variety was mind-blowingly posh. Nectar-sweet Japanese musk melon, persimmon and Kyushu grapes were simple yet refreshingly light; the perfect conclusion to our meal.
You too can savour a similar kaiseki experience at Ishin from about RM600 per person. Price may vary according to the seasonal ingredients served.
For reservations at ISHIN Japanese Dining, call tel: 03-7980-8228. Address: 202, Persiaran Klang, 3¾th Mile, Off Jalan Klang Lama, Kuala Lumpur