Review: Terumi’s third chapter marks a Transformation for PJ’s all-female bar
The tender bar
Less than two years ago, Terumi made its graceful debut in Taman Paramount, Petaling Jaya. Founded by Shirmy Chan, one of Malaysia’s renowned veteran mixologists, Terumi stood out as one of the few bars, if not the only one, with an all-female team.
For the uninitiated, its name is derived from Chan’s father’s name in kanji (read: the Japanese writing system), with “teru” meaning brightness and “mi” meaning beauty. This alludes to the design of the space and its identity as “the tender bar”, characterised by a sense of zen-like calm and understatedness that sets it apart from your typical high-spirited cocktail hideouts (no pun intended).
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Since its inception, the bar has continuously refined its menu while developing its talents through collaborations and innovation. Naturally, there comes a time for transformation and rebirth—themes that aptly define its latest menu. Embodied by an original artwork of a dragonfly—which is printed on the menu and also displayed in a frame on the wall—the third chapter of Terumi sees reinterpretations of classic cocktails and transformative spins on the bar’s signature creations.
There are four main categories from which to pick your poison: Highball/Fizz, Daisy, Foamy, and Stirred. For easier reference, Chan explains that the menu is arranged in ascending order of alcohol strength from left to right, and increased complexity from top to bottom. To illustrate, the last cocktail on the bottom right of the menu (Ganbaru) is the most potent and complex drink in its category.
Alternatively, there is also a Director Edition segment featuring five of Chan’s crowd-favourite cocktails through the years. This includes the award-winning Fisher-man’s Blue, which earned her the Malaysian leg of the Giffard West Cup in 2019, two Moutai baijiu-based cocktails, and two other signatures that have pleased fans for over a decade. You’ll also find zero-proof versions of some of the drinks for the sober curious. While we didn’t venture to try these options, we’ve gleaned the highlights from the main menu—read until the end for our top picks!
As the category implies, this section of the menu is ideal to kick off your evening or refresh your palate with light and easy pick-me-ups. Loyal patrons may be familiar with the Hakanai and Eve Highball, but two new additions are joining them. The first is Yuhi, a playful twist on the Paloma with mezcal and clarified orange soda instead of tequila and grapefruit soda. Aloe vera, honey, and lime complete the drink, whilst the chilli garnish on the rim adds a hint of spice.
Shinrin-yoku is the second cocktail, made from a blend of cognac, amaro, rooibos, cinnamon, and soda. It’s Terumi’s rendition of an Americano, but with herbal hints from the tea and a nice fizziness from carbonation.
For those who prefer citrus-forward flavours, take your pick from the Daisy segment. We start off with East Pier, which elevates the classic Gimlet ingredients of gin and lime juice with unique accompaniments of yuzu sorbet and dill pearls served in an oyster shell. This intriguing combination makes for a satisfyingly refreshing dessert cocktail that earns approving nods from our table.
Next up, the Nonbiri offers a taste of Bee’s Knees with added floral and herbal characteristics. Made with gin, honey, lemon, Angelica root and lavender, it is a drink for you to sip, “relax and take it easy”—as the menu indicates. If you’re taken aback by the last two ingredients, fret not; the Chinese herb and purple flower notes are evident, but not overpoweringly so, taking a back seat to the cocktail’s three main components.
Similarly, Kiku also incorporates honey as a sweetener in its Sidecar-inspired recipe. It combines cognac, vermouth and Italian bitter liqueur with chrysanthemum for a well-balanced concoction that comes with a delicious jelly garnish. The last Daisy cocktail is Hoja, which is based on the Margarita. Made with a base of tequila reposado with triple sec, lime, houjicha and strawberry, the resulting blend has beautiful layers and complexity.
This category of drinks is quite self-explanatory—expect smooth and creamy creations. For instance, the Murasaki is a take on the Ramos Gin Fizz, a frothy classic that’s infamous for being one of most difficult cocktails to make. Terumi’s version does not disappoint, blending baijiu and Moutai with purple potato foam for a slightly savoury twist.
Another good ol’ classic is the Espresso Martini (also known as my favourite nightcap), which Terumi has transformed into a cocktail called Mt Fukuro. It consists of a vodka-based espresso and coffee liqueur blend, mixed with Fernet-Branca and sea salt cream for a strong, decadent punch. Think a spin on the Aviation, minus the sourness.
The fourth group of cocktails is for the bold drinkers that love a strong, spirit-forward poison. We sample three from the list, one of which is the Truffle Dog. It’s a savoury rendition of the dirty martini, made from a blend of vodka, truffle oil, white pepper tincture, clarified grapefruit juice, saffron, and Parmesan cheese for garnish.
Then there’s the Himitsu, a concoction of mezcal, violet liqueur, lychee and dry vermouth. This drink embodies the menu’s transformative nature most literally, transforming from grey to purple in colour depending on lighting conditions. Don’t judge it by its whimsical (or arguably girly) appearance though, as it packs an unexpected smoky punch.
Finally, we have the last drink on the list, an Old Fashion-inspired cocktail dubbed Ganbaru. The combination of whisky, brown butter, cocoa bitters, and PX sherry with a banana and chocolate chip garnish is as indulgent as it sounds, going down nicely as a dessert cocktail to cap off the night.
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If we had to pick, our top three cocktails would have to be the Yuhi, East Pier, and Shinrin-yoku. Regardless of your choice, Terumi’s latest chapter is an exciting one that marks new beginnings with positive growth ahead—like its emblematic dragonfly.
Address: 9a, Jalan 20/16, Taman Paramount, 46300 Petaling Jaya, Selangor
Opening hours: 6pm to 12am (Monday to Thursday) | 6pm to 1am (Friday and Saturday)
Contact: 011 5915 0308
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