Thursday, April 17, 2008

Hajime - A Zen-sual Dining Experience

I’ve eaten at many traditional Japanese restaurants before, but I’ve never been to one with such an interesting menu that changes according to seasonal ingredients. Hajime offers a contemporary fusion menu and yet still manages to keep to a traditional setting with a cosy natural ambience.

The service is exquisite with everyone greeting me upon arrival to my tea cup being filled the minute it’s empty. The décor is very simple and minimalist with Japanese tables and mats on one end and conventional tables and chairs on the other with a large sushi bar at the end of the room.

As I sat down, the head chef and director Edwin Yau greeted me at the table and asked me if there was anything I could not eat. To which I responded that I was willing to try anything and that he could surprise me. This is a unique service that Hajime provides that is not typical of many places. A guest is able to give the chef a set budget along with his likes and dislikes and in turn he will get a customized meal instead of ordering something straight off the menu.

My meal started off with a sampling of a Japanese plum wine. Traditionally it is served straight from the bottle into a glass but here it is served over crushed ice with fresh chopped plums at the bottom. This was a sweet treat that left me wanting more.

For the first course I enjoyed two appetizers; salmon sticks served with Japanese curry sauce or a tartar sauce and a yellow tail Carpaccio topped with diced tomatoes and marinated in truffle oil. The salmon sticks were long strips of salmon wrapped in pastry and baked these tasted wonderful with the sauces. The Carpaccio was light and flavourful with a slight smoky hint of truffle.
Japanese chicken pizza bites followed; a thin crispy tortilla style base topped with grilled chicken, cheese and fish roe. While unusual, the flavours complimented each other well. As I was enjoying my pizza bites Edwin dropped by to see how I was enjoying the meal. This gave me the opportunity to find out more about where he draws his inspiration from. “I love art and I love colour and instead of using it like other artists do I choose to use it in food. Taste is very important to me so it has to look and taste good. I also try to give the dishes interesting names so it is easier for my guests to remember what they had” he explained.
I got a glimpse of these interesting names as my next two dishes came out; a Shake (pronounced sa-keh) Bomb and a Miami Ink. Shake is the Japanese word for salmon and this dish was a slice of salmon wrapped around Fois Gras and radish drizzled with truffle oil. Indulgent would be the word to describe this dish! In one bite all the rich flavours explode living up to its name. The Maimi Ink is a soft shell crab roll stuffed with avocado and cucumber and wrapped with rice and different layers of seasonal fish in place of the traditional Nori wrap.

Next up I enjoyed a light Miso soup and some pan fried seafood Gyoza filled with scallops, prawns, and minced fish served with a homemade sesame sauce. While these were more traditional in flavour the expertise in executing the dishes was apparent.
For dessert I was treated to a smooth pumpkin pudding served with a dollop of cream and a scoop of chocolate ice cream topped with raisins and wheat flakes splashed with Baileys. Both desserts were simple and light enough to enjoy after a heavy meal.

A meal at Hajime is certainly a delight and an experience not to be missed!

No. 64 Jalan Damai off Jln. Tun Razak
03.2143 0073
Hours: 11:45am – 2:30pm
6:15pm – 10:30pm


Lorraine E said...

Those salmon sticks look really interesting. I thought it was a potplant at first! :o I love seafood and those photos of the sushi rolls are making me drool!

WokandSpoon said...

Looks like you had a scrumptuous meal! Yum!

Janet said...

that does look like it would taste really good........