The Grand Milennium Hotel opposite Fahrenheit 88 has pretty good F & B establishments within its walls.
The daily buffet offers great variety and quality ingredients while the Chinese restaurant is renowned for its dim sum.
The Japanese restaurants were however never under the hotel’s purview but were independent operators.
Over the years we have seen changes and the latest to step in is Hanaya Japanese Fine Dining, a sister outlet of TEN Japanese Fine Dining, the same company of which manages my favourite sushi bar (Ichiro in 1U), Menya Musashi and Senya (Publika, KLCC, 1U).
Hanaya Japanese Fine Dining opened on 16th April and we were given a glimpse of its promising menu a day before.
It was a heavy meal, but one I partake gladly, for the menu showcases the best of what Hanaya strives to offer it’s patrons.
Most produce are imported directly from Japan and there are some items that I haven’t even heard of (not that I’m a Japanese connoisseur per se but I do eat Japanese cuisine often) in addition to some rather unique preparations of the dishes we had, all in all making Hanaya a worthy visit, budget allowing.
Parboiled Red Snapper Soft Roe with Ponzu sauce.
Fish roes are considered a delicacy and this was prepared delicately to preserve its natural briny flavours.
Soup: Common Oriental Clam Fritters with Grated Green Beans Sauce.
The name is a misnomer, for it wasn’t a clam fritter nor sauce.
A big minced fishpaste shaped like a ball hid within the smooth green puree soup, and this was garnished with ano hana, an edible flower imported from Japan. There was but one clam.
The star of the dish was definitely the green bean puree which I slurped up every drop.
Entree: Entree was a pretty spread of fried prawns done 3 ways; one wrapped in oba leaf, another in seaweed and one more encased in a sticky rice ball crusted with rice crisp. The textural and flavour differences came into play here, and distracts you from thinking of it as just another prawn dish.
This plate also came with dainty sides of red snapper sashimi in Mozuku seaweed; Yuba tofu and Botargo, a delicacy of salted, cured fish roe. Botargo is alike karasumi from Japan.
The pairing of the fresh red snapper with the unique viscous texture of Mozuku seaweed (which is mainly harvested in Okinawa) was unexpected for me.
Meanwhile I learnt too that Yuba tofu is an elegant cousin of the usual tofu we are accustomed to, which explained the mildly sweet and creamy flavour.
The texture was somewhat of a revelation: simultaneously soft yet chewy, say about 30 % softer than burrata cheese.
Very, very nice.
I almost missed the slivers of dried orange pieces at the side, for they looked inconspicuous.
These are the botargo, and as I bit into one, I found myself enjoying its umami flavours and thinking to myself how nice this would be as a snack! 🙂
Last but not least were the simple fried bamboo shoots with balsamic vinegar, simple and crunchy.
The botanebi (Botan prawn) is a large prawn found in all seas of Japan at depths varying from 300 to 500 metres.
One such prawn sat at the centre of this masterpiece.
Around it a spread of green coulis made from cucumber and kiwi fanned out. This sweet sauce went very well with the prawn, which also has a small blob of avocado based (among other ingredients) mousse on top, all meant to be savoured together with its sweet flesh.
Once I devoured the botanebi, I made a beeline for the salmon.
Lightly seared (exactly how I love my salmon) a tiny dollop of cream cheese are found on top of each piece, which sat on drops of bonito stock. The slight sweetness and creaminess from the cheese and the umami of the stock did well to elevate the flavour of the salmon.
The Saba was dressed simply in vinaigrette, exact recipe unknown but tasty nonetheless.
This was the most strongly flavoured of them all, tuna tossed with Korean sauce and sesame oil. I didn’t mind though, for to me it is an unconventional way of serving raw tuna and I’m always game to challenge my palate with something different.
The aoyagi clam was last.
Never a fan of clams I popped these into my mouth without expectations and was pleasantly surprised with its texture; not rubbery but with a nice crunch to bite instead and mild flavoured with its simple dressing of tomato and ginger.
I love both the prawn and sashimi platter for these offers dainty bites for tasting which played with the palate as we progressed from course to course.
Stuffed, we took a walk around the restaurant to see the chefs in action.
This fridge you see below is specially commissioned for sashimi and sushi; said to be superior in preserving the freshness of seafood by maintaining the exact ideal temperature, compared to an ordinary sushi chiller.
The Akita Wagyu Steak was next, named after a similarly known prefecture of Japan, and rumoured to rival the Kobe of Japan.
It has almost 50% marbling of fat versus meat, resulting in each chew releasing decadent beefy juices that makes you close your eyes and give a silly grin.
Truthfully, I could only enjoy about 100 grams of this at any one time as it gets overwhelmingly rich after the initial bites.
The steak was served undressed, with black and white salt at the side as flavour enhancers if necessary.
A steamed dish of Alfonsino with Japanese Yam in stock was next. This was clean tasting after the robust flavours of the Akita Wagyu earlier.
For sushi, the rice is as crucial as the topping.
Here, each sushi had loosely packed, nicely vinegared rice. Mine came with kampachi (amberjack), hotate (scallop), uni (sea urchin), Otoro (tuna belly), all fresh and beyond reproach in both taste and texture.
My partner’s vegetarian set was impressive as well, with garlic chives, pickled radish, avocado, Japanese yam with radish and cucumber.
Who said being vegan is boring?
Dessert: Coconut Bavarois with Pineapple Jelly in Pina Colada style.
Hanaya at Grand Millennium Hotel, KL
Grand Millennium Hotel, Jalan Bukit Bintang, Bukit Bintang
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Daily: 11:30am – 3:00pm, 6:00pm – 11:00pm