Friday, July 21, 2023


European apples from Poland drew thousands of visitors at the recent Malaysian International Food & Beverage Trade Fair in Kuala Lumpur. The famous orchards of Grojec took centrestage at the beautiful Polish pavilion where a trade mission of Polish fruit growers interacted with trade fair attendees.

President of the Fruit Union Association, Piotr Janota (left) said: “After meeting with representatives of several large fruit importing companies, we are happy to know Malaysians are eager to buy Polish apples. After two years of marketing campaign, we will be able to increase the sales of Polish apples to Malaysia.” 

Poland is the biggest producer of apples in Europe and globally, its production is second only to China and on par with the US and Turkey. Good soil and mild climate make the country conducive for growing apples whilst cultivation technology and the growers’ know-how and experience help to Polish apples stand out in the international marketplace.


Co-financed by the European Union campaign “Gift from the Polish Orchards, Apples from the Heart of Europe”, Polish apples entered the Malaysian market last year. Currently, only Gala Apples – medium sized apples with smooth, slightly shiny and yellow-red skin are imported into Malaysia. The sweet taste and delicately crunchy flesh make it popular with locals.

As part of the campaign, an Apple Day event was held at Taman Tugu Park in June with the cooperation of the Embassy of the Republic of Poland. Several hundred kilograms of Polish apples were distributed to park visitors; denoting Polish apples as a great companion for walks and as a travel-friendly snack.

Janota said Polish fruit growers take care of every production stage: from growing, sorting and packing to transportation. Environmental protection and sustainable production methods coupled with a rigorous control system ensure the eating quality and safety of the apples for consumer consumption.

For more information on Polish apples, visit:

Tuesday, July 18, 2023


Ayu fish and Hida beef from Gifu Prefecture will take centre stage at Kampachi restaurant, EQ Kuala Lumpur from 17 – 23 July.

At a special dinner graced by Gifu Prefecture Governor, Hajime Furuta (2nd from left) and Ambassador of Japan to Malaysia, His Excellency Katsuhiko Takahashi (2nd from right), we were treated to Gifu’s native produce: Kikurage mushroom, Shungiku (chrysanthemum greens), and Gohei-mochi complemented by a selection of sake such as Tamakashiwa (award-winning Junmai Daiginjo with well-balanced, muted melon sweetness and fresh acidity) and Hyakujuro Akazura (smooth, super dry Junmaisyu with rich aroma reminiscent of cooked rice)
Located between Tokyo and Kyoto, Gifu Prefecture is a haven of natural beauty, nestled amidst the breathtaking Japanese mountain range. Its pristine rivers and lush forests, fresh environment and sustainability practices make Gifu known for its exceptional agricultural produce.
Furuta said: "Gifu is blessed with abundant agricultural products, and we are thrilled to promote them beyond Japan. We are committed to sustainable farming practices and preserving the unique landscape of Gifu."

Furuta then presented Kampachi with the ‘Recommended Overseas Gifu Ayu Restaurant’ certification by the Globally Important Agricultural Heritage System (GIAHS) and ‘Ayu of the Nagara River System’ Promotion Association; making the restaurant the first in Malaysia and second in the world to receive the honour.

Guests were then treated to a sumptuous dinner of Ayu fish and Hida beef prepared by Kampachi Japanese chef Yusuke Ishigami. Also known as sweet fish, Ayu can only be found in the purest and cleanest waters especially in Gifu’s Nagara River.

Cherished by the local community for centuries, the river also helps to give rise to and nurtures traditional "Cormorant Fishing" with 1,300 years of history; and "Hon Mino washi paper", handmade Japanese paper registered as a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage.

Raised in several facilities in Gifu Prefecture using clean, natural spring water under strict hygiene and temperature control, sustainably farmed Ayu fish is now available year-long.
Fine, tender with beautiful marbling, Hida Beef’s melt-in-the-mouth texture, and rich aroma and taste gained widespread recognition when Hidagyu achieved top honours at the 8th All-Japan National Wagyu Cattle Expo in 2002, held in Gifu Prefecture. Its continued success at various Beef Cattle Expo in 2012, 2013 and 2015 has made Hida Beef highly sought-after by discerning food lovers.

Our Gifu dinner commenced with Ayu Kanroni, simmered sweet fish in sweet soy sauce. The surprisingly firm albeit boney fish had fine flesh; its stomach was roe-filled. I like how the caramel-like shoyu that enhanced the fish’s natural sweetness.

The raw slices of Hida Gyu Carpaccio gave my jaw quite a workout. Luckily, the pleasant meaty richness accompanied by fresh greens and baby tomatoes made sampling the beef a distinct experience.

Sweet memories of my sojourn to Takayama returned when I sampled Ayu Shioyaki, grilled sweet fish with salt. We learned how to debone the fish by flattening the curvy Ayu with our chopsticks then gently pulling the tail to dislodge the whole vertebrate. The flesh was delicious and sweet, accented by a hint of salt.
True to all the key characteristics preceding it, the Hida Gyu Misoyaki – Hida beef with homemade miso didn’t disappoint. Served medium rare, the thickish beef slices tasted almost buttery on the palate. We love how the savoury miso with an imperceptible tinge of heat added a tantalising dimension to the meat.

For the speciality of Ayu Gohan (rice with sweet fish), the chef grilled the fishes separately then deboned and filleted them. The fish bones are used to make fish stock to cook the rice. To serve, the fish fillets are placed atop the cooked rice for presentation before everything was mixed together. While the rice tasted acceptable, the fish was too broken up to make its presence felt.

We enjoyed every drop of the Nameko Misoshiru, a soulfully satisfying miso soup with nameko mushroom. These small, amber-brown mushroom with a slippery gelatinous coating along with kelp added textural interest to the yummy broth. 

Dinner wrapped up with Gohei Mochi, a speciality of Central Japan, the skewered flat rice cake with sweet miso apparently is shaped like waraji (a traditional sandal). The soft rice cake texture reminded me of our ketupat; the miso paste with a sprinkling of coloured sesame seeds on it was more salty than sweet. The generous coating was a tad overwhelming on our tastebuds but it slowly grew on us the more we nibbled on it.

For me, the dinner was a memorable throwback to my trip to Takayama. Should you wish to embark on the culinary tour of Gifu, the menu of Gifu's bounties starts from RM60.
Advance reservation is required – for reservations at Kampachi, email: or visit:


Monday, July 10, 2023


Opened in December 1973, Hotel Equatorial Kuala Lumpur is celebrating its 50th Anniversary this year.

Equatorial Group CEO Donald Lim (pix above) said: “Over the past five decades, the Equatorial brand has built a strong reputation for delivering exceptional service and excellent hospitality; its restaurants: the Kampachi, Chalet, Nipah Coffeeshop, Golden Phoenix, Étoile Bistro and Blue Moon lounge were household names.


“We’ll be celebrating our golden anniversary with our loyal customers, partners, and employees who have supported us throughout the years. Starting 5 July 2023, we will have a series of 50 commemorative events spanning a whole year, each offering a distinctive take against the historical backdrop or with an eye toward the future.”
The old Chalet restaurant remains fondly remembered by loyal guests

Highlights will include pop-ups of the famed Chalet and Golden Phoenix restaurants in August 2023 and January 2024 respectively, and a Blue Moon Night on 31 August 2023, evoking a playlist of the era. Also, in the pipeline are visiting guest chefs, winemakers, sake masters and even specially commissioned products — stay tuned for updates at


Boxing great Joe Bugner was a guest of Hotel Equatorial KL for his fight with the legendary Muhammad Ali in 1975

A memory wall will be created in the lobby of EQ where guests can view photos of memorable events involving Equatorial 
since 1973. Guests can share their own memories on Facebook and Instagram as well.

According to Lim, Equatorial has redefined the hospitality landscape; its well-regarded restaurants has successfully gain mindshare and familiarity with the many birthdays and weddings held at the Hotel.


He also cited some of the groundbreaking trends set by Hotel Equatorial Kuala Lumpur: it’s the first hotel to have electronic key cards and fire sprinklers, and WiFi connectivity — things people take for granted now.

Kampachi, the oldest Japanese restaurant in Malaysia, remains famed for its Sunday buffet. During its heydays, reservations has to be made months in advance. The brand’s endurance is unmatched and remains one of the best Japanese restaurants today.

Equatorial Group's Chief Commercial Officer Charles Lim (left), CEO Donald Lim (centre) and EQKL GM, Gerard Walker (right)

In the four years since opening in 2019, EQ has become the standard bearer among hotels in the city, having won a slew of local and international accolades, including being ranked #1 hotel in the city by Tripadvisor since August 2019. Just last month, EQ was named Hotel of the Year Asia Pacific by Preferred Hotels group, the first time any hotel from Malaysia has won the title.


The new 440-room property is the first and only 5-star hotel in Kuala Lumpur with a Green Building Index Gold certification. Lim explained EQ’s sustainability measures in place means a night’s stay at EQ uses far fewer resources and has less environmental impact compared to other hotel rooms. For example, the carbon output which is equivalent to a return drive from KL to Ipoh can save up to 1500 trees.

Hotel Equatorial Penang will reopen in 2 years' time

Lim said the newer EQ brand is more stylish and innovative; its premium positioning aimed at attracting today’s younger clientele whilst the Equatorial Hotel brand - recognisable among the older generation - will retain its ‘business class’ offerings. 

The Equatorial Penang is currently under renovation and is anticipated to open in 2 years’ time. He affirms should the opportunity arises, the group will consider expanding EQ and Equatorial branded properties in Malaysia or even overseas. 

For more information on EQ 50th Anniversary, visit

Tuesday, July 04, 2023


Italian cuisine lovers are in for a treat with the upcoming ‘four hands’ dinner featuring Chef Murli Pillay (left) of Tosca at DoubleTree by Hilton KL and Chef Daniel Yap (right) of Gooddam restaurant in Petaling Jaya.

Scheduled for 14 & 15 July, the Tosca x Gooddam event will proffer a 5-course menu (RM358 nett per person) prepared by both chefs. The food and wine pairing costs RM498 nett per person.
Us media members had an advance preview of the event one balmy evening at Tosca. The rustic wood-stone clad setting evoked a laidback, resort-style feel although some air-conditioning won’t be remiss IMHO in the current sweltering weather.

Chilled Sanfeletto Prosecco Superior heralded a quartet of amuse bouche: Black Angus Short Rib Arancino, Oyster Beignet, Liver Mousse, and Aged Hamachi Crudo.


The much-anticipated Black Angus Short Rib Arancino with Sundried Tomato Aioli and Summer Truffle was a tad underwhelming. Coated with breadcrumbs, the deep-fried Italian rice ball barely had any beef in it, whilst the tomato aioli eclipsed everything in its wake.


Topped with a bright green, savoury sauce, the crisp-fried Oyster Beignet with Green Onion Fondue restored our faith. The mollusc’s delicate taste remained discernible and melded well with the parmesan shavings and cheesy green onion ‘fondue’.

Airy-light and exquisitely delicate accents characterised the Liver Mousse, Strawberry Vinegar Caramel, Edible Weeds and Flowers sandwiched in between wafer-thin discs. Ditto for the Aged Hamachi Crudo, Pickled Pumpkin and Spiced Passionfruit.


Also top marks for the crusty slices of focaccia with pesto butter.

A zesty-fresh Fantini Pinot Grigio complemented Chef Murli’s Symphony of Heirloom Tomatoes with Aged Balsamic and Goat Cheese Panna Cotta. 

We loved how the soft pudding-like goat cheese creaminess harmonised with the assortment of fruity heirloom tomatoes. Tangy-sweet aged balsamic vinegar further enhanced the dish’s allure.

Chef Daniel proved his mettle with delicious Agnolotti of Wolf Herring Mousse, Red Coral and Nasturtium Flower Butter. A type of pasta originating from Piedmont, the chef folded flattened pasta dough over toothsomely springy fish paste. Served alongside a slab of sweet and flaky wolf herring, the spicy flower butter added lush flavour to the whole ensemble.


Teetotallers can expect interesting mocktails such as Cucumber Gimlet and Acai Kombucha to complement their meal.

While the Rack of Lamb with Pickled Purple Carrot, Celeriac Purée, Mâche & Thyme Jus looked promising, my portion was unfortunately tough and sinewy. The gloppy jus didn’t help. Fortunately, my dining partner’s serving was on-point. 


We had a medium body Cecchi Chianti DOCG brimming with nice berry nuances which went superbly well with the lamb.

Dinner concluded on a high note with an enticing Marsala Sabayon Ice Cream, Wood-fired Fig and Fig Leaf Meringue wrapping up the evening. It was a light, mildly sweet yet slightly indulgent dessert to savour.


For reservations at Tosca, call tel: 03-2172 7272 or email:


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