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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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:

This Post Has 22 Comments

  1. Caroline

    wow! what a treasure! i never had most of them, such as the tuna belly sushi. it does look very authentic there! 😀

    My Stories

    1. rebeccasaw

      Yea! It’s Chef’s wish to remain as authentic as possible with some creative twist but without overshadowing the main star of the dish – the ingredients!

  2. NKOTB

    my favourite place… love their abalone sashimi.

  3. Baby Sumo

    The appetizers look so pretty! But looks like their prices have gone up since the reno 🙁

    1. rebeccasaw

      Oh? It could be. I would recommend their sets for lunch and buffets – that could be a more economical way to dine here.

    1. rebeccasaw

      Yup, beautiful marbling there! Heh, now all you have to do is to afford it! 😉

  4. ciki

    ooo! i can see your header now.. tis very cool woman! eh, why no credits page to say who took the different shots one.. AHEM! hehe.. cool bananas:)

    1. rebeccasaw

      LOL. Yup, everybody loves the header!
      Most of my pages not set up yet, and most of the pics will be changed soon.

  5. buck

    Chef Lew / Liew or Law??!

    1. rebeccasaw

      Oops! That what happens when you blog at 2am in the morning! All edited.

      1. buck

        noted, thanks. the lunch sets are value for $$. btw really enjoy reading your stuff

      2. rebeccasaw

        Hey Buck..thanks! And so nice of you to leave a comment,also thks fr pointing out the error. 😉
        The set lunch yea? Ok I will try it one day!

  6. Sean

    i wonder if the chef would entertain requests for EXTRA sake in that inaniwa udon broth! 😀 and gosh, i’ve never seen so many slabs of raw kobe beef in a single place before!!!

    1. rebeccasaw

      Yea..imagine the $$$$ ;p
      Oh, I’m sure added sake can be arranged, u alcoholic u! Heh..

  7. Michelle Chin

    The appetizers really got me! now i know where to go when i am return to kl at the end of the year!

    1. rebeccasaw

      Woots! Can’t wait for you to be back gal! We only managed to eat together once ;(

  8. Timing

    Any idea what the pricing range will be on those buffets? Ala carte after reading you+sean’s posts … are a bit out of reach of my wallet. And by a bit out of reach I actually really mean a LOT.

    1. rebeccasaw

      Hi Timing! Hmmm..I would have to check as the buffet is not ready yet, and i wasn’t informed of the price yet either. Let you know when I have the info k?
      Happy sat ! :yes:

  9. Grace

    looks great! was just browsing through to get feedback on their buffet. have you managed to tried it out yet? is the variety good?

    1. rebeccasaw

      Hi Grace, I have not been dining on Jap much after the Jap nuclear incident. Reason being is that most sashimi seafood is not imported from Japan anymore, and I tried a few Jap places in town, I find the taste of their seafood quite disappointing.
      So I will be in Starhill tmw, and will check on Gonbei to see where are they getting their supplies from, hopefully it’s good..

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