For the uninitiated, Japan's Oita prefecture is known for its hot springs (onsen) particularly in Beppu and Yufuin. A culinary haven with its own exceptional food culture, Oita boasts abundant local produce from the mountains and sea. Hence fresh catches of fish and seafood, kabosu (native lime), nashi pear and muscat grapes among others take pride of place at Kampachi restaurant's current Oita showcase.
At the recent media preview, a standee of Kabosu Nukumizu – the kawaii (cute) mascot of Oita prefecture caught our eye within the dining outpost in Plaza 33. Oita is out to entice more Malaysians to discover its plethora of food and drink delicacies until 24 September.
Risa Ito, Director General of Oita Foreign Trade Association (left) together with Takahiro Gokita, CEO of Fan Japan (M) Sdn Bhd and Manabu Fujimoto, Managing Director of Inspire Corporation, shared snippets of interesting information about Oita prefecture with us throughout the evening.
The specially composed Oita menu at Kampachi restaurants is akin to a sensorial feast of Oita delicacies. To toast the collaboration, specially concocted cocktails: Kabosu Tonic (mixture of shochu and kabosu, RM38) and Yuzu Honey Shochu High Ball (RM38) as well as mocktails: Matcha Ichigo Mirukusheku (bottom pix, RM28) and Matcha Yuzu (RM28) will be available to tickle your fancy.
Suffice to say the cocktails should leave you in high spirits whilst teetotalers will find ample delight in the mocktails: the first similar to a light milkshake, blending Oita green tea with fresh strawberry and the second (below pix), a mixture of matcha and Japanese citron evoking clean, fresh grassy-citrusy accents.
Making an indelible splash with us was the sumptuous Buri Sushi (RM150). Shaped into nigiri sushi, each one came dotted with different Oita condiments: Kabosu Kosho, Ougon-Yuzukoshou, Yuzu Kosho, Oba-Kosho and Red Pepper Yuzu Kosho.
Just like our sambal, the Japanese paste is made from fresh red/green chillies fermented with yuzu juice and zest, and salt. Kabosu, yuzu, oba leaf, and red pepper render the condiment with varying levels of spiciness and zingy nuances. The assorted condiments certainly heightened our enjoyment of the Buri Sushi.
We were also smitten with Ryukyu (RM98) in which slices of marinated raw salmon, tuna, amberjack, squid and scallop were draped atop mounds of rice.
Every mouthful of the irresistible fish and rice was aptly complemented by an exclusive Oita-brewed sake with a 50% rice polishing ratio (RPR). In sake-making, the level of RPR will determine the desired and resultant taste profile of each sake.
Served at room temperature, the delicate umami-sweetness of Saiki Hisho, an artisanal sake with a 65% RPR and the distinctive Bungo Meijyo no Umeshu left us game for more.
Sake enthusiasts will have a chance to meet Oita’s master sake brewers at Kampachi Plaza 33 on September 21 and Kampachi EQKL on 22 September at a special Oita food and sake pairing dinner. Limited to only 40 seats per venue, the dinner priced at RM742 nett per person featuring a selection of rare sake from Oita which have never been exported.
We also had a chance to taste a ‘gold’ soy sauce specially formulated to complement sushi and carpaccio. Served to accompany Hirame no Kobujime (RM145), thinly sliced hirame (Japanese flounder) cured with konbu seaweed, the gold soy sauce with hints of vinegar and fish sauce in it, enabled us to appreciate the hirame’s delicacy even more.
Coated in crisp, airy-light batter, Toriten (RM48) - delectable morsels of deep-fried chicken tempura with ponzu sauce - sparked joy at first bite. One could easily get addicted to them.
The offering of Dango Jiru (RM65) proved comforting and soul-satisfying. The flat, slippery noodles in addition to tofu puffs, spring onion, carrot, radish, cabbage, chicken and mushrooms cooked in a pale, creamy miso broth won us over with its savoury richness.
Sweet ending options include refreshing Nashi (pear), Budou (muscat grapes) & dollops of tart yuzu Jelly (RM48), and Sorakita Mochi (RM22).
Unique to Oita, the slightly chewy, semi-flattened mochi was made using sweet potato stuffed with red bean and chestnut filling. Lightly dusted with kinako (roasted soybean) powder, the delightful treat tasted mildly sweet - a befitting way to conclude your Oita culinary adventure.
For advance reservations and more information on the Oita prefecture showcase and sake pairing dinner at Kampachi, email: firstname.lastname@example.org or log onto: https://linktr.ee/KampachiOfficial