Taka By Sushi Saito - Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia


#1

Kuala Lumpur’s dining scene is better known for the terrific local hawker/street food highlighting the fusion of its multi-racial culture and incorporating the rich spices available the region. Her high end dining scene however has never quite reached the heights of other major Asian cities like Singapore, Hong Kong, etc.

This changed abruptly in 2016 when Tokyo based 3* Sushi Saito unexpectedly opened his second restaurant simply named “Taka by Sushi Saito” at the new St. Regis Kuala Lumpur. What a coup! Not only did KL land it’s first top caliber international restaurant but to land the current #1 rated sushi restaurant as ranked by Tokyo diners was quite an incredible feat. I decided this would be a great fallback after failing to secure reservations at Sushi Saito in Tokyo. Apparently the waiting list is up to 9 months these days… :tired_face:

Reservations were a breeze, likely due to the stratospheric prices by local standards. I arrived for my lunch reservation in a virtually empty dining room. Save for two other diners, the 12 person capacity huge sushi bar with high ceilings felt cavernous; almost like sitting in an empty concert hall, albeit a very opulent concert hall. I think recreating an intimate 6 - 8 seater sushi bar ala Tokyo would have been a better option… Can’t fault their ambition though, note the beautiful huge hand painted lacquer door panels.


The affable Chef Kubota.

I opted for the mid priced (RM650) omakase option with a couple of additions towards the end. Sequence of sashimi/sushi as served.

Shiro-Ebi (Baby White Shrimp)

Hirame (Halibut)

Kinmedai (Golden Eye snapper)

Buri (Larger winter yellowtail)

Kohada (Gizzard Shad)

Akami (lean Bluefin Tuna) - Tuna from the waters close to Kyoto, incredible mineral flavors.

Chutoro (Medium Fatty Bluefin Tuna)

O-toro (Fatty Bluefin Tuna)

Sayori (Half Beak)

Kegani (Japanese hairy crab)

Anago (Sea Eel)

Negi-Toro (Toro and Japanese green onion hand roll)

Miso Soup and Tamago (Background)

Hottegai (Live Japanese Scallop)

Kama-Toro (Toro close to collar) - note the cuts made along the white gristle.

An excellent meal overall. Fish quality was excellent, purportedly the same sourcing Saito uses for his main restaurant in Tokyo. Highlights as follows:

  1. Kama-Toro (collar) - A spectacular cut. Muscular section yielded a more complex flavor vs regular O-toro
  2. Tamago - Wow, layering almost indiscernible. Silky smooth texture. The best tamago I’ve ever had.
  3. Anago - Super soft texture, melts in your mouth.
  4. Hon-maguro Akami from Kyoto - Amazing! Benefiting from the Japanese ‘aqua-terroir’:blush: I finally understand why top sushi chefs prize this cut above the fattier toro. The complex rich mineral flavors were incredible. (Only topped by the 8 day aged akami at Sawada a couple weeks later.)
  5. Akasu seasoned shari (see negi-toro pic)- Subtle flavoring, terrific firm texture

Ranks as one of my best sushi meals ever and easily tops the best sushi joints in LA. I doubt anything else in the city even comes close. It’ll be interesting to see how the restaurant and high price (by local standards) fares over time in KL… For now local sushi aficionados can celebrate the arrival of their first destination worthy sushi restaurant.

Highly recommended!


Soon: Sushi Amane at Mifune (chef Shion Uino of Sushi Saito, Tokyo)
Sushi School - Where should I begin?
#2

Terrific recent Tsukiji documentary, the supply chain in Japan is just incredible.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rc5yYiWUdK8


#3

Great report and pics, thank you. There really are different levels of sushi restaurants worldwide.

I recently had some honmaguro akami and chutoro from Kyoto, too, and it was surprisingly good! I agree that akami can be more complex and to me, it’s perhaps the quintessential piece of sushi when it’s really good.


#4

I thought it was just a myth that these top guys (i.e Saito, Sawada, Jiro etc) were sourcing the best tuna from Tsukiji. Very eye opening experience.


#5

To save everyone else the time it’s about $150 usd based on today’s exchange rate.


#6

So the price of good sushi is kind of standardized around the world? That’s like the same price as it would be in LA, isn’t it?


#7

Yes, seems to be the trend for these high end exports


#8

Some highlights from my recent lunch at Taka. Quality remains excellent and any negative comments are just me being very critical due to the relatively high cost. Service was very attentive and has noticeably improved from my last visit. Plates were cleared almost immediately and my tea cup was constantly refilled.

One of the highlights of the afternoon. Sliced off the largest lobe of ankimo (~12" ??) I’ve ever encountered. I wonder how large the fish was? Perfect smooth, soft, custardy
texture; amazing! Renewed my love for ankimo in the rights hands. Just wonderful, a new benchmark for me.

Aji sourced off the waters of Izumi - Kubota-san indicated this is the best source for Aji. Incredibly fatty and flavorful. Another highlight and new benchmark for me.

An elevated saba battera sushi, wrapped in nori. Well seasoned saba and the shiso leaf between the fish and shari adds a nice bright flavor.

Wonderful lightly charred Kisu (Sillago)

The excellent kasutera style tamago. Only complain is that it was slighly overcooked or left out for too long, there was a light chewy crust beginning to form.

Chutoro sourced from the waters of Okinawa. Good but not as good as the Kyoto sourced bluefin from a couple months ago. Perhaps due to waters warming up this time of year or a different aqua terroir, the flavors were not as complex as earlier this year.

Grilled nodoguro

Abalone and octopus. Both tender and delicious.


#9

That is beautiful. I love monkfish liver, but only in the right hands.