Zen By Mel – Welcoming Spring With Fresh Flavours From Japan And Malaysia [Review]
Diners get to enjoy the delicious 11-course or 9-course Niisho menu until July 2023.
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Zen by Mel introduces their Spring dinnertime menu called Niisho. The dishes are inspired by the springtime in Japan and the forests in Malaysia
The special menu will last until June/July and they’ll be refreshing the menu to greet another season.
Niisho features an 11-course menu but diners can also opt for the 9-course menu.
Here’s the food you’ll be served on the 11-course menu:
- Clam Latte
- Borneo Sharbetto
- Hana Fubuki
- Petit Four
The Taste Test
The first starter, Hajime and Tohoken, arrived on a beautifully decorated plate. At first glance, you’ll spot the panni puri and inside there’s a bit of sambal sudachi aioli, lime, pomelo, and Thai fish.
Meanwhile, the crystal bread is topped with flounder’s tail fin, uni paste and caviar from the Caspian Sea in Iran. It has a slightly salty or briny taste that leaves you wanting more.
Next up is the Nettaebbi and the roll comes nestled in a bird’s nest.
At the bottom, there are shishio leaves which give the dish a peppery yet nutty flavour. The Japanese tiger prawn is wrapped with sweet nori (seaweed) and kadaifi pastry strands fried with clarified butter. It’s topped with roasted Miyazaki mango with togarashi for a hint of spice.
To enjoy it fully, it’s best to wrap it all up like a taco and eaten in one to two bites.
The last appetiser is the Daiya, which means ‘diamond.’ It’s smoked hamachi doused with kelulut and dashi jelly and topped with uni crema mixed with asparagus cream and lantana flowers for a sweet and sour flavour.
Underneath the sashimi, there’s pickled sengkuang with sauce made from almond milk and caramelised onions. A few drops of sesame oil bring balance to the dish.
The Daiya has a citrusy flavour and the crunch from the pickled sengkuang bits felt like tasting a burst of Spring.
After enjoying all the tasty starters, we come to the soup course known as the Clam Latte. The unique name intrigued us and it came served in a bowl with foam on top.
The Clam Latte is a warm palate cleanser featuring peppery flavours from Bentong ginger and a hint of chilli padi with the addition of goji berries, sweet Hamaguri clams and baby scallops.
The first main dish is the KaiyonoMori featuring the red snapper. The fish is cooked using the kobujime technique, where the fish is prepared between layers of konbu to bring out the best flavours.
The fish is accompanied by the béarnaise sauce with bunga kantan (ginger rose), confit Japanese sweet potatoes and finished with brown butter and brown sugar for a caramelized effect.
The result was a delicious, buttery fish and the sweet potatoes help balance out the flavour profiles. I loved that I could add more sauce to the dish.
Next up is the Shinkarubi which is a must for all beef lovers. The beef dish also features kampung vegetables such as ulam raja, kacang botol (four-angled bean), and daun seluk dressed with wasabi vinegar for a slight kick and sour touch to the salad.
The beef has been braised for over 9 hours which explains why it melts right in the mouth and it goes well with the umeboshi (Japanese plum), Granny Smith gel and is sweetened with pomegranates.
After finishing the beef dish, we dive right into a rice dish called the Ji-tsubu. At first glance, it reminded me of risotto.
The Akitakomachi rice is marinated with a bit of shallot oil, smoked mushroom vinegar, and handmade furikake for the umami effect.
On top of the rice is the Japanese octopus capriccio (sliced thinly) with a hint of sea salt and two different types of mushrooms: the enoki and king oyster mushrooms.
The enoki is braised with brown butter, mirin, soy sauce and ginger. The king oyster mushroom was grilled using binchotan for a charred flavour and rubbed with roasted konbu powder.
The whole dish is drizzled with mushroom tea that has been steeped for 19 hours, making it a really hearty dish.
Finally, it’s dessert time! The first dessert is the Borneo Sharbetto featuring a mango sorbet together with roasted walnuts and raspberry crispies. Below, it’s raspberry consommé mixed with fermented melon.
The Borneo Sharbetto was sweet and citrusy which doubles as a refreshing palate cleanser reminiscent of springtime.
The second dessert, Hana Fubuki, was a dessert for the eyes as well. The pink Sakura floss resembles a beautiful tree and it’s held up by a biscuit as a tree trunk. A dollop of soursop ice cream sits beside the tree.
Below the tree is a cheesecake with a strawberry puree centre and covered with biscoff soil. The candy floss has a sweet, Sakura flavour while the soursop ice cream is smooth and creamy.
Lastly, the Petit Fours are as adorable as ever. The four tiny sweets are Sakura Yuzu Jelly, Chocolate Orange biscuit, Matcha Mousse, and a Charcoal chocolate biscuit.
Overall, I have a favourite dish from each course. For the Appetisers, I liked the Hajime and Tohoken. The Clam Latte was delicious but I might be biased because I love soups.
For the mains, I love the KaiyonoMori for the soft, buttery fish.
When it comes to dessert, I find it hard to choose between the Borneo Sharbetto and Hana Fubuki. Both were equally tasty to me.
The Niisho 11-course menu costs RM420++ while the 9-course menu costs RM320++.
READ MORE: Zen By Mel – Bringing Japanese And European Fusion Dishes In Omakase Style [Review]
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).
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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