Gonbei San, Starhill Gallery – A private dining session with Master Chef Lew

Shortly after the opening of Gonbei San at Starhill Gallery (post HERE ), I was dying to sample their weekend buffets again.
But it turned out that the buffets will only start in late April, as the Chef Lew and his team is still tweaking the menu. Meanwhile, one can sample the few exquisite dishes Chef Lew has whipped up at Gonbei; some of which are delicacies not available elsewhere.

Sake Inaniwa Udon – Drunken Wheat Noodle “Inaniwa”.

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I was fortunate to have a private lunch with him at Gonbei last week.

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An affable fellow, Chef Lew has many engaging stories to share over his Sushi Bar – stories about wild salmon and salmon farms in Norway to humorous jokes for visiting couples to make dining a personable, entertaining and enjoyable experience.

The piping hot sake inaniwa udon is one of his newest addition in the menu; and it’s a dish I would recommend without hesitant to alcoholics out there. The potent thick broth was heady and almost knocked me out on the first slurp.

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Ok, I was kidding. But it was strong alright.
Though it came with little trimmings; only 3 folds of egg and some cuts of leeks, the power of the dish lies mainly in the broth, best enjoyed slurped up with the springy noodles. All for RM48++.

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For the re-opening of Gonbei San, the Sushi Bar is greatly enhanced to complement the status of Master Chef Lew whose expertise is undoubted in the refined art of handling and presenting the finest and freshest Sushi and Sashimi.

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For example, I was served the Ninniku Negitoro Maki (Tuna belly Sushi) – (RM60++) with finely minced ginger and I find it to be superb. Even the side of home-pickled ginger has a more refined and subtle taste – minus  the typical pungence of  harsh  commerical varieties.

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One bite of the sushi and you will immediately taste the subtle ginger & soft decadent tuna belly within the gentle flavours of rice, followed by succulent fish roe bursting delicately in your mouth. Hhmmm.. bliss!

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At Gonbei San, your culinary journey begins with a wide and specially created selection of  authentic home-made appetizers – (RM30++). Each of the selection in the platter below is all made in house in Gonbei’s kitchen.

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The result? Extremely fresh and tangy appetizers to whet your appetite for more of Chef Lew’s creations.

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Below: Chawanmushi. Faultless, as expected.

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Hamachi Ara DakiBraised yellowtail head with duck sauce (RM42++) . Delicious, with firm sweet flesh and non of the fishy smell. I particularly liked how it’s cooked in duck sauce, which makes for a far more interesting taste compared to the usual teriyaki versions.

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Gonbei San may actually looked pretty much similar to its previous self though it has undergone a few months’ renovation works. This is largely due to the fact that most of the renovation works were focused in the kitchen area.

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However, in the dining area, there is an additional dedicate sushi bar now, of which wasn’t there previously. There is also a few more tatami rooms and also a large private dining room catering for bigger groups now.

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Below:  Distinctive Japanese Zaizu Tatami seats sprawled across a Tatami floor offer an authentic Japanese-style experience against a backdrop reminscent of traditional handkerchiefs in individual styles.

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Even the wall partitions at Gonbei San are adorned with insights into the Japanese culture, inspiring in their beauty depicting the Four Seasons of Life.

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Last but not least, Chef Lew graciously obliged my request for dessert and made Abekawa Mochi – the Japanese authentic steamed nutty rice cake. He let us in on a little secret too; the nut toppings here tasted better because it is made up of 6 different ingredients – soya beans, cashew nuts, peanuts,sesame, sugar & salt.

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Another speciality item here is the Marble Score 8 Kobe beef, selling at RM180++ per 100g.

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You can have it as your main – Kobe Beef Steak at 250g per portion

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….or in your shabu shabu

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The Shabu-shabu set starts at RM20++ for the hot pot with vegetables and stock, and kobe beef is chargable at RM180++/100g of order.

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A bit out of topic here, but the gents/ladies here is worth a mention. First is the cute face ornament depicting Male or Female.

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Then it is the wash basin inside the ladies.
So pretty isn’t it? Staying in theme, the wash basin is using (Japanese?)  bamboo as well.

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All in all, I thought the prices are a bit steep for the ala carte. No doubt Gonbei San’s selling point is in the authenticity & creativity of Chef Lew’s creations as well as the freshness of the produce used. Everything from its fresh Wasabi of quality horse radish to seasonal air-flown seafood and a spectrum of delicious appetizers are overseen by Master Chef Lew and Head Chef David Liew to ensure a reputation deserving of a Japanese restaurant of it’s class.

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Well, I would personally recommend the weekend buffets for those who are seeking value for money. The buffet us scheduled for late April 2011. Meanwhile, drop by for the speciality items like the Sake Inaniwa Udon or the sinful Kobe beef!

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Gonbei,
Relish Floor,
Starhill Gallery,
Jalan Bukit Bintang, 55100
Kuala Lumpur.

Tel: +6 03 2782 3801 Fax: +6 03 2782 3818

** Apologies for the less than ideal timing for a Japanese related post with Japan currently disaster – stricken. This is a time sensitive post & it is due this week.

All pictures are:
rebeccasaw-samsungnx100

Category : General