Hanami or flower viewing time in spring draws both Japanese and tourists when sakura (cherry blossoms) are in full bloom. Chef Richard Teoh and the Genji team are pulling out the stops, to evoke the freshness of spring through a Sakura Spring Blossom Food Fest which lasts till end March.
Rape blossoms aka rapeseed or Japanese flowering mustard (yau choi in Cantonese) tops the list of seasonal ingredients featured. The veggie's mild bitter aftertaste was discernible from the get-go zensai of Maguro Nano Hana Nutta Ae.
Essentially, blanched rape blossom stems are paired with tuna in miso sauce (RM39) to create the dish. With the greens serving as a neutral canvas, the rich meatiness of the seared tuna cubes was perked up by wasabi-spiked miso sauce, giving the ensemble a punchy zing.
Our palates got another surprising jolt from the speciality of Tai Usuzukuri (RM130). Feasting our eyes on the fan-shaped slices of fresh sea bream fillet, we were thrown by the unexpected burst of chilli heat from the house ponzu sauce. Go easy on this dip should you wish to appreciate the natural fish sweetness better.
More raw appeal appeared in the Premium Set of Sashimi Moriawase Tokuijo (RM380). It's advisable to leave the final selection to the chef’s discretion and allow him to pick the freshest and air-flown seasonal catch for your enjoyment.
Ours comprised luscious slices of aji (horse mackerel), toro (fatty tuna), kanpachi (yellowtail), shake (salmon) and hotategai (scallops) speckled with tobikko.
After that surfeit of sashimi, we took to the custardy smooth Unagi Chawan Mushi (RM28) with warm gusto. The addition of grilled eel atop the steamed egg custard was a culinary masterstroke as the eel’s unctuous saucy sweetness layered extra depth to the delicate dish.
Another bout of spring fever prevailed in the droolworthy Wagyu Beef Nano Hana Maki (RM120). Teppan-cooked to perfectly charred smokiness, the thinly sliced Wagyu beef rolled with rape flower stems went down a treat.
Non-beef eaters may find Kue To Enoki Teppanyaki (RM85) a viable but no less tempting alternative. Although our serving of grilled grouper was overcooked,the bundles of enoki mushroom in yakiniku sauce remained toothsomely tender.
For a satisfying carb fix, we recommend the signature Unagi Avocado Ura Maki (RM72). We did a doubletake when the reversed roll with grilled eel, avocado, cucumber and lettuce appeared in the form of a celestial dragon. A major crowd-pleaser at Genji, the maki sushi proved substantial and heartily flavoured.
Minimalism ruled in the two final Sakura Spring Blossoms offerings: Nano Hana Tempura (RM45) and Hamaguri Jiru (RM28). Coated in light, crisp tempura batter, the rape blossoms had a nice, fresh crunch to them. We also enjoyed the clear, mildly umami clam soup with plump, juicy clams in it, faintly imbued by the citrusy tinge of yuzu zest .
Sweet ending to succumb to would be Black Sesame Ice Cream with Sakura Cheese Pudding. Adorned with a sprig of fresh sakura, the dessert duo made a pretty picture. We were smitten with the latter's delicate baby pink hue whilst piquing our interest with its unique texture, akin to a cross between panna cotta and light cheesecake.
For reservations at Genji, call tel: 03-7955 9122 x 4071/4072 or visit www.ZestPJ.com