The Tokyo Restaurant, Isetan

Tokyo Without a Passport, The Tokyo Restaurant, Isetan The Japan Store

Words: Craig J Selby     Photos: Monica Tindall

I love it when there is somewhere new in town. New as in just opened, like a week or two ago. Isetan, The Japan Store, is one such place, with their level five eateries offering visitors an opportunity to sample the full gambit of Japanese cuisine, from fusion-inspired through to Michelin Star.

The Tokyo Restaurant, Isetan The Japan Store
Isetan, The Japan Store

Last week, we started our Japanese journey at The Tokyo Restaurant. Positioned as ‘entry level’ in terms of introducing popular Japanese flavours to the rest of the world, it is anything but. What it is, is an innovative, well-considered restaurant, which elevates the Japanese cuisine we know and love.

The Tokyo Restaurant, Isetan The Japan Store
The Tokyo Restaurant, Isetan The Japan Store

The Tokyo Restaurant is both a bar and a bistro. Nestled in one corner of level 5, The Tokyo Restaurant’s bar is what you notice first. Behind the bar are tables, and off to the side, an open hot kitchen, and further tables and booths. We opted for a booth seat, cosy enough for four, which overlooked the bar, the kitchen, and the shoppers meandering by.

The Tokyo Restaurant, Isetan The Japan Store
Dining Booth

The bar stocks the usual staple cocktails. But, a hidden card up their sleeve, is mixologist Shawn Chong, who is tasked with crafting a unique cocktail every month – one that reflects the classics, but pays homage to both Malaysian and Japanese influences. This month is the Pandan Slipper. Do not get discouraged by the slightly iridescent colour – that’s all part of the charm, designed to lure you in with curiosity. Pandan contributes to the colour, and helps to heighten the experience of the cocktail. Slightly fruity, a little sweet, and divine served cold – this drink sets the tone, and the mood for the evening – something familiar, but twists along the way, and definitely intriguing.

The Tokyo Restaurant, Isetan The Japan Store
Bar
The Tokyo Restaurant, Isetan The Japan Store
Bartender Shawn Chong
The Tokyo Restaurant, Isetan The Japan Store
Pandan Slipper

We enjoyed our experience family style – sharing the delights as they were placed before us. Although Japanese cuisine is geared more towards individual servings, I liked the option to share.

Salad was the first order of the day. Both their Oriental Chicken Salad, and their Quinoa Salad were delightful. The Oriental Chicken Salad was delicious – chicken (naturally), cucumber, vegetables, coriander, and crispy wonton skin. Add to that a mild ginger dressing for a sublime flavour balance. A single serving is certainly generous, and makes for a great couples entrée. The Quinoa Salad was also exceptionally good. Quinoa, red peppers, lettuce, mango, pear, avocado, carrot, seasoned with salt, white pepper, and cumin. Did I mention pear? The pear added both softness and texture to the salad, making each mouthful light to the palate.

The Tokyo Restaurant, Isetan The Japan Store
Oriental Chicken Salad
The Tokyo Restaurant, Isetan The Japan Store
Quinoa Salad

A first for me however was the Foie Gras Sushi. A singular, delicate piece of sushi, served on especially-crafted pewter plates, combined the simplicity of sushi, with the rich, luxuriousness of foie gras. With a slightly deconstructed presentation, it is both visually appealing, and definitely divine. When you delicately take two or three bites, or you engulf it all at once, this sampling is one not to forget.

The Tokyo Restaurant, Isetan The Japan Store
Foie Gras Sushi

The Uni Mayo Lobster was another superb dish. Canadian Lobster, Sea Urchin, and Miso Paste form the base for this crustacean delight. Half a lobster, cooked perfectly, with unexpected flavours. This non-seafood guy was wanting more. The lobster had quite an intense flavour from the miso paste, but this added to the overall dish.

The Tokyo Restaurant, Isetan The Japan Store
Uni Mayo Lobster

The Grilled Australian Wagyu was another pleasant surprise. Its wasabi soy sauce added depth to the beef – I love anything spicy, so this provided me with a new opportunity to explore Japanese spice (hot, but not too much). The beef was served sliced, with an appropriate pinkness to it (I still love my beef rare as rare can be, but others at the table like a little more heat), and accompanied by mashed potato and diced mushroom. The spicy beef, hot pepper, char grill ticked all the boxes for me.

The Tokyo Restaurant, Isetan The Japan Store
Grilled Australian Wagyu

The lobster paired nicely with the Wente Morning Frog Chardonnay (California) and the beef with the Printer Bridge Zinfandel from California. The Tokyo Restaurant have a small but impressive wine list, many wines not commonly seen elsewhere, so a great opportunity to sample something different. Personally, the Zinfandel did it for me – an accessible red, but not without complexity and flavour.

The Tokyo Restaurant, Isetan The Japan Store
Californian Chardonnay
The Tokyo Restaurant, Isetan The Japan Store
Californian Zinfandel

Although the Japanese aren’t known for their desserts, The Tokyo Restaurant had a real surprise up its sleeve – Sixth Avenue Cheese Cake. They say it’s the best cheesecake in Kuala Lumpur. We were skeptical, but had an open mind. Light, airy, fluffy, that fresh cream. Perhaps, they were right! I would go back just for the cheesecake alone – or even plan a meal around that. But, try for yourself. If you are a cheesecake lover, this must be on your bucket list.

The Tokyo Restaurant, Isetan The Japan Store
Sixth Avenue Cheese Cake

To put the icing on the cake, so to speak, our host Yusuke generously opened some fantastic Japanese whisky. Over the past decade, Japanese whisky has been growing in popularity, and deservedly so. With two barely legal eighteen year olds, The Yamazaki and The Hakushu, followed by the Hibiki 17, these three drams ensures a brilliant conclusion to our The Tokyo Restaurant exploration. The Hibiki was superb – a whisky to savour – as was our introduction to Tokyo Restaurant. All round, a yums-up experience!

The Tokyo Restaurant, Isetan The Japan Store
Japanese Whisky

Reasons to visit: fabulous Japanese cuisine somewhat different to what is found elsewhere in the city; friendly sophisticated setting; don’t miss the cheesecake!

The Tokyo Restaurant
Level 5, The Table
Isetan The Japan Store
LOT 10, 50 Jalan Sultan Ismail
Kuala Lumpur 50250
Malaysia
+6 03 2119 2622
* Pork-free
Open 11am – 11pm
Closed Tuesday

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19 Comments

  1. I love Japanese baked cheese cakes, soft, light…and not too rich.

  2. Looks very impressive, Monica.
    I should think that an equivalent class resort in Tokyo
    would send the credit card into shock!!!

    I hope by the time you eventually get to Terrigal and
    the Hunter to review that we will not be all washed
    away into the mid Pacific. I doubt you will want to water
    ski out to floating bits and pieces of what was Terrigal???
    Great report as always
    Colin, El Cordobes of the Middle

    • Correction:
      “An equivalent class RESTAURANT /BISTRO in Tokyo”.
      I blame this bloody rain!!!!
      El Colin Cordobes

  3. What a coincidence….I was just here yesterday, not at this particular restaurant though, but somewhere else for meat. The char on the wagyu looks superb, even the char on the vegetables! ^_*

  4. I love the warm ambiance and lighting, and the presentations are creative and attractive!

  5. All look lovely.

  6. I do have a soft spot for beef

  7. I love the salads and cheese cake. Yummy!

  8. Hello, the salad and lobster look fabulous. I would like a piece of the cheesecake, yum! Great review.
    Happy Tuesday, enjoy your day!

  9. I’m fan of Japanese cuisine , looks yummy

  10. Kenn Genio

    The salads surprise me. They both look great. I could stop by here for lunch.

  11. Thomas Zen

    I had no idea this group of restaurants was up there! I just walked through the ground floors of Isetan last week. I need to return.

  12. Wow, that shows how long I’ve not been to Isetan KL – didn’t even know that they’ve incorporated a Japanese restaurant above their store, lol. I’m a sucker for Japanese cuisine and really should give this a try (along with a never ending list of food that I want to sample after graduation)

  13. This looks fabulous, I would love to dine there 🙂

  14. The lobster looks delicious. I wouldn’t mind trying some of those whiskies either.

  15. Smith Knight

    Thanks for the look inside The Table. I’ve wondered what the restaurants are like up there.

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