Xensually Xenri.

I am saving the best for last in my little MIGF adventure. Out of the few restaurants I have visited for the 2009 Malaysia International Gourmet Festival last month, Xenri D’Garden Terrace would have to be my favourite. Partly because I love Japanese cuisine, so don’t mind me if I seem a little bias.

A name synonymous with ‘a thousand miles’, Xenri begins their journey in 2004 with Xenri D’RiverView in a reserved location along Old Klang Road. Since then, they have spread their kimonos to Hong Kong with Xenri No Tsuki at Causeway Bay, and in September 2008, Xenri D’Garden Terrace in Menara Hap Seng.

Xenri is famous for their all-you-can-eat buffet spreads during the weekends to larger parties. And this year, for the first time, Xenri D’Garden Terrace participates alongside 23 other restaurants for MIGF 2009 to appease fine diners’ thirst for something Japanese.

What Xenri has planned for the MIGF menu works from mild to strong for the taste palettes. And throughout the menu, if you care to notice, a lot of the ingredients are seasonal and available only during the Fall season, which made the menu a tad special like that.

For an appetiser they started off with the novel and refreshing Homemade chilled silk bean curd with hotaru squid ink sauce. Now, before you get turned off by the prejudicing black sauce, wipe that grimace off your face because you’d definitely like to take a chance on this.

It’s a perfect composition that moulds the smooth bean curd into tiny pots with a cap on, bellying the squid ink sauce that spills out when you break the bean curd. There is a mild saltiness for the sauce that brings taste to the bland bean curd, which I thought started the menu on a very appropriate note.

Complementing the dish is the equally mild Chitose Tsuru Hunmai Tachoizuru Sake, a famous Japanese alcohol with an aftertaste that hits your senses, but yet at the same time, not too overwhelming that it shoots straight into the nostrils.

Let it be known here and now that I am a fan of sashimi. So, it is only right that I anticipate with bated breath for the Sashimi Platter to come next. When it did, it literally blew me away with its adorable igloo sculpture, an extra step taken to preserve the freshness of the raw seafood.

I was enthralled and as I made my way through the jewel pieces, I shut the world out as if I were an Eskimo hiding in my own igloo in the middle of nowhere. And I was genuinely sad when the platter was all cleared out, regardless of how slow I took my own sweet time with them.

Starting things off light is the Hokkaido wild catch scampi, the lightest for the taste buds and the softest with a texture that seems to melt in the mouth; the Japanese green sea urchin with a heightened saltiness harmonised with the scallop; and lastly, the Premium tuna belly that is slightly thawed in its own oiliness to capture the exact taste of the high quality fish.

This platter also comes with a perilla leaf (known in Japan as ‘aojiso’), which is often paired with sashimi, and a stem of its flower buds that are mixed in the soy sauce to provide a fragrant and herbal kick.

Next up is the simmered dish, featuring the Slow poached salmon skin roll with Tsubame ginger broth. Again, another lovable and cute presentation that serves the broth still bubbling in a small pot over a slow fire of a tiny stove. It keeps the soup warm as you take your own sweet time savouring on the supple cod fish and salmon and the firm radish slices. It also contains green slimy but sweet substance made from blended lady’s fingers together with the herbal elements of the soup. Definitely the perfect dish to relish on as you watch the auburn leaves fall in your Japanese garden.

Moving on to something heavier is the featured grilled dish – Kobe Wagyu housyou yaki. Xenri uses Grade A5 wagyu beef, the highest grade available in Japan, wrapped in a layer of fresh soy yuba skin parcel before hitting the grill. This method of cooking is called housyou, and it is tried since the olden Japanese days, which keeps the beef from overcooking and traps the oil and flavours in the meat.

Because of the the skin parcel, the beef is served a tad bit raw and garbed in its own extracted oil. By itself, you cannot really taste the meat, but when paired with Xenri’s homemade sauce, it seems to magically accentuates the wagyu beef.

For the main dish is Xenri’s beloved Chirimen jyako okowa hoba meshi, attributing Japanese rice with bits of baby sardines wrapped in magnolia leaf, plucked from the autumn trees in Japan and flown straight to the Xenri kitchen.

This is not exactly an outstanding dish for me, compared to the others on the menu. The presentation is as exquisite, but it seems to me to be another Japanese rice dish, as sweet and grainy. The baby sardines stood out, however, in every bite with its peppered saltiness, making the dish somewhat unique.

I was a little iffy when Xenri stated their dessert as the Xenri special homemade sunny side up. I mean, are they going to serve us eggs as a finale, or is it a kind of Japanese sweetie of the same name I do not know of? It was neither.

Xenri went out of the box and presented a culinary masterpiece that although appears like the breakfast favourite, is actually a sweetie in disguise. What looks like an over-fertile egg holds dear the many elements that make a dessert a, well, dessert.

The ‘egg white’ is made from panna cotta, a famous Italian pudding prepared from simmering cream, milk and sugar and the slightest tinge of Brandy flavouring; the peach puree as the ‘egg yolk’; grounded sesame seeds as the sprinkled ‘black pepper’; and the dribble of black honey sauce as the ‘soy sauce’.

It is definitely a sweet delicacy that is out of the ordinary and one that ends Xenri’s MIGF Menu for this year with a spectacular finish.

The wine selections recommended for Xenri’s MIGF Menu were the La Motte Pierneef Sauvignon Blanc 2008 from Cape town, South Africa for the Sashimi platter and Simmered dish, and the Haute Cabriere Pinot Noir 2005, also from South Africa for the Grilled and Main dishes.

The former is made from organically grown grapes, which contains a rich flavouring of tropical fruits, such as passion fruit, melon, apples and litchi that awakens the taste palettes with its slight tinge of sweetness. It displays a firm structure that is both tempered and well-balanced, with refreshing acidity in the foreground and a steadfast minerality in the background. An apt wine that washes down the saltiness of the dishes. And I like it that it is not acidic and jams up my nose.

As for the Pinot Noir, it is served best to diners chilled and under 11ºC to preserve its fragrant and not turn sour. This red wine displays whiffs of pungent raspberries, cherries and ground black pepper, and dark berries with perfectly integrated tannins on the palettes.

Alright, so I may be a little bias towards Xenri because I love Japanese food. But I have had my fair share of less than perfect Japanese food, and I am all for a restaurant that makes things perfect for the cuisine. I suppose it is safe to say that Xenri is one of them, and I would have to say they have done a pretty good job for their debut into MIGF.

Not only are the chefs and kitchen crew dedicated to what they are cooking, even the waitresses are knowledgeable on what they are serving too. The waitress that served us was patient in introducing each dish to us – the ingredients, the cooking method, why this white wine is chosen, why specifically the red wine is chilled… she knows it all. And I am quite impressed by that.

From the lush green grass padding, to the perfectly symmetrical stepping stones, to the quiet fall of water from one level down the next in the mini fountain, to a restaurant that serves a blend of authentic Japanese recipes with contemporary ingredients and tastes… everything that’s pure and true from the Land of the Rising Sun. Why would you not feel like you are in Kyoto?

Festival Menu
RM230++ per person with sake/wine
RM180++ per person without sake/wine

Light Festival Menu
RM160++ per person with sake/wine
RM120++ per person without sake/wine

Xenri D’Garden Terrace
Podium Block
Menara Hap Seng
Lot No. 2-04, 2nd Floor
Jalan P Ramlee
50250 Kuala Lumpur
Opens daily 12PM-3PM for lunch; 6PM-11PM for dinner
Tel.: +6 03 2078 6688


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One Response to “Xensually Xenri.”

  1. Junnie Says:

    Shall we travel a xenri to this fantastic jap place the next time I swing by? I am famish just by thinking about it..yum yum!

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