Words: Alison Brand Photos: Monica Tindall
For those of you familiar with the concept of a Japanese izakaya, and for those unaware that an izakaya is a type of informal Japanese tavern, I have some fabulous news! Bocosan Izakaya is a brand new dining space in the heart of Bangsar South, having only recently opened its doors for diners to now experience an izakaya in an elegant, relaxed and modern atmosphere.
The group behind Botanica + Co and Botanica Deli have created the trifecta of food and dining choices with the latest inclusion of Bocosan Izakaya to their stable. All three establishments occupy the ground level of Bangsar South’s Vertical Podium, and share a wonderfully planned outdoor terrace which gives the feel of a relaxed natural atmosphere whilst still in an urban environment. This expansive outdoor area features bamboo shading, coolers and fans to keep guests comfortable while providing the option of a more informal dining experience if preferred.
We decided to move inside, immediately admiring the features of the impressive interior space designed by Singapore based design house Takenouchi Webb. High ceilings panelled with warmly toned timbers were combined with the full-length glass windows to create an open, light and spacious atmosphere. Extensive use of natural products such as marble table tops, large terrazzo stone flooring and Nordic hued timbers throughout added to the effortless fusion of traditional and contemporary Japanese detail and design.
Highlighting the informal style of the restaurant was the impressive open kitchen, where the staff could be seen preparing a range of culinary delights. Positioned in front of the open kitchen was a large marble table, with stunning white orchids arranged down the centre, all perfectly illuminated beneath hanging round white paper Japanese lanterns.
Adding to the refined yet relaxed mood were the uniforms of the wait staff themselves. Malaysian designer Silas Liew was given the task of envisioning a uniform in keeping with the informal nature of the restaurant, while allowing for style, functionality and durability. His inspiration came from the youth culture and streetwear of Tokyo, and his design concept for the indigo and denim outfits perfectly complements the overall idea of keeping things stylishly simple.
The stage was well and truly set and we couldn’t wait to sample what was being prepared by Chef Mitsugu Iwashiro in the kitchen. Chef Mitsugu, the executive chef from Hiroshima, has a passion for incorporating fresh techniques yet still preserving the Japanese authenticity of his creations. “All about the food and not the fuss” is the ethos behind Bocosan Izakaya, and we were definitely ready to put this concept to the test.
The first plate to arrive was the Sashimi Moriawase (RM49). Served simply on a flat black marble slab and resting on a bed of freshly shredded white radish were three pieces of Chef’s selection seasonal fresh sashimi. The salmon simply melted in the mouth, while the tuna tasted like it had just been taken from the ocean. The white-fleshed red snapper was beautifully smooth with its distinctive subtle flavour.
The Bonsai Salad with Apple Sauce (RM29) was just as the name suggested – a bowl of Japanese salad so vibrant and colourful it looked like the herbs and greens had literally been freshly grown inside the super cute pink ceramic serving bowl. Winning the award for prettiest salad ever, every ingredient, including the gorgeous edible flowers was amazingly fresh and vibrant.
Bocosan Maki (RM38) arrived perfectly presented on a pink ceramic plate, featuring deep-fried yabby lobster prepared in traditional Japanese maki style, and topped with mayonnaise and fresh bright orange fish roe. To accompany the dishes, drinks were provided in the form of a Raspberry Soda on crushed ice (RM17), which had just the right amount of freshness and tingle without being too sweet to detract from the flavours of the food being enjoyed.
Cold Owari Otokoyama house pour saki (RM35 per glass) was the ideal accompaniment to our next dish – the Saikyo Miso (RM78). This signature dish consisted of a generously sized fillet of succulent codfish, wrapped in a shiso leaf and gently cooked in miso. The flavours were a fusion of distinctive Japanese miso, combined with the delicate taste and smooth texture of the white fleshed cod. This was served with a variety of side dishes which included a Japanese mushroom salad, fried fish appetizer, pickles and a bowl of miso soup. All side dishes are handmade fresh every day and change according to the availability of sustainably grown seasonal produce.
The Truffle Chawanmushi (RM29) appetizer was an oh-so-delicately silky steamed egg custard with seafood, shiitake mushroom, wafu sauce, truffle oil and sliced truffle. Every mouthful was varied, with prawns, chicken, mushroom and crab pieces all combined into one little pot. The flavour of the truffle oil and sliced truffle infused throughout the entire dish. The inclusion of orange peel provided an element of surprise and definitely took this culinary creation to the next level.
Bone-in Short Rib Ramen (RM75) was a stand out signature dish of the evening. A prime Australian wagyu beef short rib had been slow cooked for over 12 hours and served in a specially prepared beef and ramen broth, itself taking 48 hours to perfect. The beef simply melted during the first bite, and the combination of this with the unique flavour and aroma of the ramen broth and noodles was a fabulous example of Chef Mitsugu’s talent for achieving a refined balance between each element of the dish.
Dessert was the next offering, and by now we were fascinated to see what the renowned Japanese ‘raindrop’ creation was all about. Mizu Shingen Mochi (RM18) was a perfectly shaped raindrop made from crystal clear Japanese jelly. The sweetness was delivered to the dish by the Kuromitsu (sweet Japanese sauce), which was drizzled over the top and then sprinkled with roasted soybean powder. Simple and elegant, this dessert clearly epitomised the restaurant’s ethos of no fuss and keeping the food in focus at all times. One could say this was the ideal way to wrap up a stylish, refined and contemporary Japanese izakaya dining experience!
*** We have 2 x RM 50 vouchers to giveaway!
To be in the running:
Step 1: Follow @theyumlist and @bocosan.my on Instagram.
Step 2: Like today’s post on Instagram.
Step 3: Comment and tag a friend.
Entries close Monday, December 4.
Vouchers are valid until 29th December 2017.
Reasons to visit: the quality and attention to detail in preparation and presentation of every dish; the ethos of keeping the focus on the food without having any fuss; prices are excellent for the top quality food served; great setting.
G-2A & 2B Ground Floor
Avenue 3 Bangsar South
8 Jalan Kerinchi
59200 Kuala Lumpur
+6 03 2242 2316
Open Monday to Saturday
Lunch – 11.30 am to 3.00 pm
Dinner – 5.30 pm to 10.00 pm