From 8th to 14th April, Chef Tokukatsu Toh is taking over the kitchen at Lai Po Heen, Mandarin Oriental Kuala Lumpur to present his brand of Chuka cuisine to local gourmands.
If you’re a fan of both Japanese and Chinese food, then you must try Japanese-Chinese cuisine, also known as Chuka cuisine. Popularised in Japan in the late 19th century, Chuka cuisine typically consists of dishes that originated from China but have been adapted to suit the Japanese palate.
And who better to present this harmonious marriage of gastronomic influences than a Japanese master chef specialising in Cantonese cuisine? Chef Tokukatsu Toh fits the bill and more, being the third generation in his family to be trained in Chinese culinary arts.
His career speaks for itself. The Asakusa-born, Yokohama-bred chef cut his teeth at Kokiden Chinese Restaurant in Sunshine Prince Hotel, Japan before joining Kokyu Chinese Restaurant at Shin Yokohama Prince Hotel for 15 years. He continued to hone his skills at Ryutenmon, The Westin Tokyo in 2012 and was later appointed the Chief Chef of Michelin-starred Sense Restaurant at Mandarin Oriental, Tokyo in 2014.
Just last year, the chef moved on to establish his own restaurant, ‘KISEKI JPAN’,A in the Kanagawa prefecture. He has also undergone culinary training at several luxury hotels in Hong Kong and China, including The Westin Beijing, The Westin Guangzhou, The Westin Chosun and Le Meridien Hong Kong.
From 8th to 14th April, Chef Toh is taking over the kitchen at Lai Po Heen, Mandarin Oriental Kuala Lumpur to present his brand of Chuka cuisine to local gourmands. Guests can enjoy his specially curated lunch and dinner set menus or order from an a la carte menu featuring signature dishes such as Jasmine Tea Smoked Golden Pomfret in Honey Sauce and Tan Tan Noodles Japanese-Style with Minced Chicken.
For an idea of what to expect, take a look at the Emperor & Empress 6-course set menu we got a chance to taste.
Grilled tuna with seasonal vegetables and avocado
Don’t mistake this for your average appetiser as it comes with three generous cuts of grilled tuna – fresh and flavourful, no less. Try it with the soy sauce for a sweeter smack or the peanut sauce for an extra nutty bite in between helpings of salad on the side.
True to its name, this bowl promises to satisfy with large portions of seafood treasures including scallop, uni and prawn. The tobiko topping adds tiny bursts of umami to every spoonful of broth, while a layer of steamed egg (with the familiar texture of chawan-mushi) at the base helps to balance off the strong seafood flavours.
Jasmine smoked golden pomfret with honey sauce
After removing the overturned martini glass arriving with the dish, a (little too) strong whiff of smoke greets the nose before a perfectly smoky pomfret impresses the palate. Chef Toh clearly appreciates tobiko and edible flowers, as seen in the first dish and again sitting atop the crispy fish skin here. No complaints though, as the combination makes for a well-rounded dish.
Pan-fried beef loin with vegetables and wasabi jelly sauce
Next is a tender cut of beef loin served with an intriguing ‘wasabi jelly’ that tastes more acidic than spicy. Be sparing with the jelly and add a hint of fresh wasabi to go with the meat for a more familiar taste of Japan.
Brothless “tantan” noodles
A prime example of a Chinese dish that’s popular in Japan is the “tantanmen”, reminiscent of Sichuan noodles. Chef Toh prepares it the Japanese way with chilli oil and sesame paste but sans broth for a spicy and nutty carb fix – a must-have in every Asian meal.
Caviar and sesame soymilk pudding
Dessert brings to mind the slightly sweet and nutty aromas of almond pudding, except it’s made with sesame soymilk. We don’t recommend mixing the caviar with the pudding, however, as its sharp, briny character can easily throw the flavours off balance. Enjoy it on its own for a comforting finale.
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