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Zen By Mel – Bringing Japanese And European Fusion Dishes In Omakase Style [Review]

Zen By Mel – Bringing Japanese And European Fusion Dishes In Omakase Style [Review]

The restaurant in Bukit Jalil is designed to be cosy and provide an intimate setting for the perfect omakase experience.

Adeline Leong

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Zen by Mel is a Japanese and European fusion fine dining concept located in Bukit Jalil. If it’s your first time trying Japanese fusion omakase, Zen by Mel ticks all the boxes.

The restaurant is designed to give off a cosy and intimate setting. As such, you’ll find that there are only 12 seats facing the open kitchen. However, there’s also a private room that’ll fit 4 to 6 people.

I appreciated that guests were given a basket to place their belongings such as bags, upon getting seated. We were also offered a hot towel each to freshen up and clean our hands before eating.

The taste test

While waiting for the food to be ready, guests can choose from a selection of alcoholic drinks, such as wine or sake, to pair with their meal. There’s also a sparkling drink option for those who prefer an alcohol-free night.

We went with the light sake Saito Yuzu Hikari which was served in small cups. The rest were poured into a pretty glass goblet that would be placed in an ice bath to keep it chilled throughout the night.

A light sake ‘Saito Yuzu Hikari’ for the night. Image: Adeline Leong/ TRP

Zen by Mel serves a 10-course menu worth RM498 per pax. For the review, this was what we had:

  • Amouse Bouce – Seitaikei Tart
  • Hot Appetiser 1 – Adventure of Amaebi
  • Cold Appetiser – Hotate Picasso
  • Hot Appetiser 2 – Ahiru Ume
  • Broth cleanser – Shiro Umami
  • Main Course 1 –Eden of Zen
  • Main Course 2 – Aji No Shinen
  • Special Course- Zenraishii
  • Sorbet Cleanser – Yuzu on Mount Fuji
  • Dessert – Imperial Zencha
  • Petit Four – Mittsu Hoshi Wagashi
Clockwise from top left: Seitaikei tart, Adventure of Amaebi, Ahiru Ume, and Hotate Picasso. Image: Adeline Leong/ TRP

The seitaikei tart has a lovely mix of citrusy flavours and a hint of bitterness for a refreshing starter. The citrusy flavours come from the kaffir lime, while the tiny lantana flowers provide a nice bit of bitterness.

The Adventure of Amaebi was something different because it looked like a bed of shredded lettuce at first glance. Right at the bottom is the lacto lettuce stem topped with marinated lettuce, giving off a nice blend of sweet and sour flavours.

The ring of almond milk with droplets of shisho oil around the bed of green, together with the juicy prawns, added some sweetness to the dish.

To get the best taste, the chef recommended guests have a bit of everything on the spoon. However, I find that Adventure of Amaebi still tastes good even if you can’t fit every ingredient on your spoon.

Scallop lovers will enjoy Hotate Picasso. The dish consists of two pieces of huge scallops, nori puree, smoked uni paste, kaffir lime leaf oil, and Malabar red spinach foam.

The tender Bidor duck in Ahiru Ume paired very well with the sweet roasted Momo peach, aged umeboshi glaze and Cointreau jus. The dish is accompanied by kampung vegetables such as pucuk paku and paku rawan.

Clockwise from top left: Shiro Umami, Eden of Zen, Zenraishi, and Aji No Shinen. Image: Adeline Leong/ TRP

Up next is the warm palate cleanser, Shiro Umami. Usually, a palate cleanser is often served cold so this was something different for me. It’s a broth with soft white asparagus pieces served in a bowl. It should be consumed as if we’re drinking tea to get the full flavours.

After downing the delicious broth, we were served the Eden of Zen. This dish features the ikejime red snapper. Ikejime refers to a way of killing the fish, so it doesn’t give off a briny, fishy taste once it’s cooked.

As promised, the red snapper has a clean texture and taste. The corn slice on top of the fish gives a crunchy texture and adds a hint of sweetness to the fish.

The fish dish was followed by Aji No Shinen featuring medium rare lamb meat. The tenderness of the lamb was topped with dehydrated lamb fat.

The crunchy lamb fat was also salted and it tasted like popcorn. In addition, the fried pieces of cauliflower were paired with a smooth garlic butter cream puree.

Next up is a flavourful and hearty rice dish called the Zenraishi. It’s comprised of Japanese flower crab marinated with garlic oil, shio konbu, and a bit of pickled Fuji apples, ikura, furikake and chopped chives.

The whole dish is then drizzled with a good helping of amae ebi headroe sauce (the prawn heads from the second dish were cooked with konbu and dashi to make the sauce).

To enjoy the full flavours of the Zenraishi, all the ingredients on the plate must be mixed well.

Clockwise from left: Imperial Zencha, Yuzu on Mount Fuji, and Mittsu Hoshi Wagashi. Image: Adeline Leong/ TRP.

Finally, we get to end the night on a sweet note with yummy desserts. The sorbet cleanser Yuzu on Mount Fuji is refreshing with a citrusy taste, and it was balanced with a sweet and bitter taste from the dried berry and walnut pieces.

The green tea flavour in Imperial Zencha wasn’t overpowering. It was smooth and creamy while the raspberry centre gives a lovely sweet and sour flavour. The dessert also comes with a dollop of red bean ice-cream, some fruit bits and a delicious leaf-shaped biscuit.

The Mittsu Hoshi Wagashi has got to be the cutest dessert we’ve ever seen. The three tiny ‘cakes’ feature a different flavour each: shoyu vanilla crème, caramel adzuki, and strawberry yoghurt mochi. The stones on the plate are edible chocolate!

The verdict

It isn’t easy to choose a favourite because each dish is delicious. Guests get to enjoy eating food made out of fresh ingredients such as Bidor duck, pucuk paku, paku rawan, and ikejime fish.

But if we had to choose, we liked the tender meats in Aji No Shinen (lamb) and Ahiru Ume (duck).

For something hearty, we recommend the warm broth Shiro Umami and the Zenraishi (crab).

We love the Imperial Zenmaicha for dessert due to its smooth and sweet flavours. However, the Mittsu Hoshi Wagashi is a delightful surprise because you wouldn’t know which flavour you picked up for the first and second bite.

Zen by Mel will launch publicly on 1 November so be sure to give it a try. It would be a wonderful treat for special occasions.

Zen By Mel

Address: F-10-01, Pusat Perdagangan Bandar, Persiaran Jalil 1, Bukit Jalil, 57000 Kuala Lumpur, Wilayah Persekutuan Kuala Lumpur (next to Tokyo 9 Bar, across Chagee).

Operation Hours:
Monday to Sunday, Closed on Tuesdays
First Session: 6.00pm to 8.00pm
Second Session: 8.30pm to 10.30pm

Instagram: Zen By Mel

For reservations: https://letsumai.com/widget/zen-by-mel


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