Kirin Ichiban x Ginza Tenkuni: An excellent tempura experience
What goes really well with a delectable platter of fried delicacies? A good glass of beer with crisp, bright notes is sure to seal the deal, making it a more-than-satisfying meal. If you are a fan of the fried food-beer pairing, you'll be glad to hear that Kirin Ichiban has collaborated with tempura specialist Ginza Tenkuni to create a Kirin Ichiban-inspired tempura omakase menu, which will run at St. Regis Kuala Lumpur until 12 June.
Kirin Ichiban, famed for their 100% malt beer, has their priorities straight: quality is key. Utilising its innovative brewing method, only the first press of the malt liquid is used, producing a pure, crisp and refreshing taste—a delightful meal accompaniment. Being known veterans in the tempura scene, Ginza Tenkuni has been serving Edo-style tempura since 1885, so rest assured you'll be in for a gastronomic ordeal.
To kick things off, a wealth of appetisers was served. It was a fine indication of the authentic Japanese dining experience we were in for that evening, where only the best and freshest of ingredients (all imported from Japan) are put on the table: there was abalone that has been stewed in Kirin Ichiban beer for 48 hours, bringing out its fresh sweetness; edamame kakiege coated in a light and crisp Kirin Ichiban beer batter; as well as fried chi ayu (baby sweet fish), tamagoyaki (egg) and yamamomo (bayberry)—a refreshing medley of flavours.
Next up, sashimi. I've never tried fugu (pufferfish), but having heard high praise for the Japanese delicacy, I had high expectations for it—and I wasn't disappointed. Served with yuzu sauce as well as the sour and spicy flavoured garnishing of daikon, chilli and spring onions, it leaves a lingering flavour on the tongue, nicely matched with Kirin Ichiban. The crisp notes of the beer also did well to cut through the fattiness of the chutoro (tuna), which was delicately topped with black jelly (made of soy sauce) and gold flakes—it tastes as good as it looks. Not forgetting the hiramasa (kingfish), whose wonderful texture and freshness paired nicely with the light finish of the beer, laying the foundation for the heavier dishes to come.
The Miyazaki wagyu may not be fried, but the grilled and beautifully marbled beef went impeccably well with Kirin Ichiban. The potato salad played a supporting role here, as the beef's melt-in-the-mouth goodness took centre stage, complemented by broccoli puree salt, plum salt and mustard seed sauce condiments.
Then, it was time for the stars of the omakase meal to make its entrance. This is the real deal, a taste of Japan in the heart of KL: nine ingredients—kuruma ebi (prawn), hamo (pike conger), myoga (Japanese ginger), tairagai (pen shell), young corn, (aori ika) bigfin reef), kamo nasu (kamo eggplant), kisu (garfish) and asparagus—each lightly fried to perfection according to Ginza Tenkuni's secret recipes for batter and tempura oil. The delightful airy batter allowed the distinctive flavours of the ingredients to shine through. They could be dipped in either salt with lemon or the in-house tentsuyu sauce with grated radish.
It doesn't end there—my personal favourite of the menu came in the form of inaniwa udon, served cold with Ginza Tenkuni's signature kakiage of shrimps and Japanese parsley. This is a heritage-rich dish, created in the Edo era, around the same time Ginza Tenkuni was founded (1885). Mix it well with the dipping sauce, spring onions and wasabi to get a refreshing dish that gives a light and welcoming kick to the taste buds. Last but not least, a dessert of Kirin jelly topped with beer foam, served alongside sweet Japanese melon, grapes and strawberry wrapped up the meal with finesse.
The Kirin Ichiban-inspired tempura omakase menu (RM1,200) is available for lunch and dinner from now till 12 June 2016 at Ginza Tenkuni, St. Regis Kuala Lumpur.
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