Hokkaido Ichiba/Kita No Zen
Time Out says
Mizu (in its earliest incarnation) taught me the valuable lesson that I should never predismiss a Japanese restaurant in a mall as crap purely because of its address. Since then, many reputable Japanese eateries have been quick to eschew standalone addresses in favour of mall locations because traffic is traffic and turnover is king.
The latest to jump onto this bandwagon is the confusingly named Hokkaido Ichiba/Kita No Zen, a subsidiary of the Rakuzen team. It’s an important fact that augurs propitiously, even before you’ve taken the first step into the restaurant. The quality, style and authenticity that have stood Rakuzen outlets in such good stead are evident at Kita, and the marriage between contemporary and traditional is amenable, and even pleasant. The dining area - Kita No Zen - is adjacent to a retail section/ice cream parlour (Hokkaido Ichiba), eponymously named after Hokkaido for the spectacular dairy products the region produces.
The menus may obfuscate (there is one each for a la carte, lunch, seasonal specials and Hokkaido ice cream) but invest the effort as the food really is pretty good. From the slightly less conventional grilled snow crabs and grilled lotus roots with spicy cod roe (yum, yum, double yum) to the ubiquitous teppan and sashimi, the food is fresh - try the delectable urchin roe - service is commendable (unless the restaurant is heaving and then it can get patchy), and prices are fair. The benchmark of a great Japanese eatery, chawan mushi at Kita is devastatingly irresistible. Easily one of the top three in KL, Kita’s chawan mushi has a silken texture that you’ll hanker after for some time to come.
But don’t get ahead of yourself because ice cream is to Hokkaido what foie gras is to France and you would be remiss to omit this vital signature specialty from your meal. The dairy farming kingdom of Fresh scallops Japan, Hokkaido’s vast grazing pastures, crystal waters and flat arable lands have produced excellent ice cream and it’s showcased to spectacular effect at Hokkaido. Apart from the bog standard green tea and red bean varieties, there’s a comprehensive choice of other flavours, all imbued with the same je ne sais quoi that is characteristic of Hokkaido dairy products. It’s my latest mission to try every flavour there is in the parlour, and there’s a good reason for it: it’s just that bloody good. Fay Khoo
T201 The Gardens at Mid Valley, KL
Tel: 03 2283 1060
Opening times: 11am-10.30pm
Nearest LRT/Monorail : Mid Valley (KTM)
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