** This blog post was originally posted at ‘Sinfully Delicious Malaysia’ blog on January 10th, 2018

Last week, I was invited to sample the special limited menu from Nagano, Japan at Sou Omakase Dining located at The Gardens Mall, Kuala Lumpur.

Sou Omakase Dining will be presenting the limited menu from Nagano, Japan at RM88 starting from January 9th, 2018 until the stock runs out. The ingredients are imported from Nagano, Japan, and are very limited. A set includes:

  • SAKIZUKE – New Year’s Mix Appetizer “OSECHI” Plate
  • Special Limited AZUMINO IKEDA Lunch Course
  • Desserts – Homemade Dessert of the Day with Japanese Tea
  • FREE GIFT – A glass of “KITA-ALPS” Daigynjyo sake & “MIZUHIKI” Pin or Key-Chain by E&A Works

Nagano Prefecture, located 2 hours away by train north of Tokyo, is an area with natural resources and beauty and is also famous for its ski resorts and hot springs. Ikeda Town is located in the north/western area of Nagano Prefecture and is well known for its rich agricultural heritage.

I took the ETS train from Ipoh at 7.25 am. Luckily I didn’t miss the train. Reached KL Sentral at about 10 am and straight away took the train to Midvalley Megamall. After the event, I walked around for a bit and took the train back to Ipoh at 4.25 pm. A short trip but it was worth it. I needed a short break.

It’s a bit tricky to get to SOU Omakase Dining. It’s located outside of The Gardens Mall, not inside. You have to take the Riverview center exit out of the mall then walk to your left towards the Gardens Residences/South Tower.

What is “OMAKASE“?

OMAKASE is a Japanese phrase that means “I’ll leave it to you“. This expression is used at Japanese restaurants to leave the selection to the chef. The chef will generally present a series of dishes, beginning with the lightest fare and proceeding to the heaviest and richest dishes. At SOU Omakase Dining, they offer a new menu to meet the ingredients from Japan every month.

The restaurant is not that huge but it’s beautifully decorated, with inviting warm colors. When you enter, you’ll be greeted with a display of sake information and mizuhiki handcrafted items made by Aya Nomura of E&A Works.

A display of different glasses for the sake.

E&A Works collaborated with SOU Omakase Dining for this special Azumino Ikeda menu, where you will get a gift for ordering the menu. They also have a display of handcrafted mizuhiki made by Aya Nomura at the counter. Scroll down towards the end of this post to learn more about this.

First, we were served this Amazake Jelly made from sake komekoji, chia seeds, and yuzu.

AMAZAKE can literally be translated as sweet sake, a healthy traditional Japanese drink made from fermented rice just like sake (rice wine). It doesn’t go through the 3-4 weeks process of fermentation to create the alcohol so that’s why this variant is non-alcoholic. Another variant of ‘amazake‘ that’s made from sake-kasu is alcoholic.

It’s very nice and slightly sweet.

There’s also the ‘umezuke‘, salted mini plums that are salty-sweet-sour-ish.

*this is not part of the Azumino lunch course.

Then we were served the beautifully arranged SAKIZUKE – New Year’s Mix Appetizer ‘OSECHI’ plate.

The Japanese celebrate New Year’s day with traditional New Year foods called ‘Osechi Ryori‘. Every dish of these traditional foods has a special meaning to welcome the New Year.

The plate includes Datemaki – Sweet Omelet Roll (Scholarship), Kamaboko – Fish Cake (Sunrise), Kazunoko – Cured Herring Roe (Fertility), Kuromame – Sweet Black Soy Beans (Health), Ebi – Prawn (Longevity), Renkon – Lotus Root (Good Future) and more.

This “Osechi” plate will be available until the 15th at Sou Omakase Dining, which until then might be changed to a new menu.

Then the main course – Special AZUMINO Lunch Course.

The blue plate is the braised daikon with “GIN no MISO” from Azumino Ikeda, Nagano. It kinda has a sweet, plum taste.

The one in the middle is the grilled cod, marinated in “SHIAWASE-ZUKE”, “KIN no MISO” and “SHIO-KOJI” from Azumino Ikeda. This is my most favorite because it’s SO GOOD. OMG, seriously, it was really, really GOOD. It’s quite meaty and savory. Doesn’t taste like fish at all. I wish I had more!

I ate it with a bowl of “TSUYA-GOHAN”, steamed rice using Nagano’s rice. Ikeda is known as one of the leading rice-producing areas in Japan.

The red plate is the sashimi using the same ingredient as the cod & ikura. There is also tempura (prawn, okra, and mushroom), pickled vegetables, and osumashi clear soup with salmon.

Also included in the menu are cold IKEDA-UDON and IKEDA-SOBA served on a bed of ice with a bowl of mentsuyu (noodle dipping sauce) with added scallions, dried seaweed, and wasabi. Azumino grows the best authentic wasabi because wasabi can only be grown in the purest, cleanest water and they have sparkling clean spring water from the Japanese Alps. Trust me, it tastes different than the wasabi you have at Sushi King.

Honestly, I’ve never eaten cold noodles because I prefer hot noodles but it was so good and I loved it.

As for desserts, we had “SAKE-KASU” pudding with “KUWANOMI” (mulberry) fruit & “Apple Sherbet” made from 100% pure Nagano apple juice.

The pudding is soft, creamy, with a slightly sweet berry taste. So yummy. Then the scoop of apple sherbet was so refreshing. It’s sour and not sweet because it’s made with pure apple juice.

Also served together is the “KUWA-CHA”, tea from Azumino Ikeda made with dried mulberry leaf.

Isn’t this cute?

“MIZUHIKI” (水引), a decorative Japanese cord made from twisted paper into a knot, is always considered as auspicious Japanese traditional and good luck. Mizuhiki also means the bond between people and the stronger the Mizuhiki knotting is, the strong the bonding between the relationship is. It’s commonly attached to gifts for special occasions such as weddings. It can also be made into accessories such as earrings, necklaces, etc.

The purple one is like a ribbon that you tie around a gift, or envelope (like angpau). The bigger one can be taped to gift boxes. The pink one in the plastic we received as a free gift from Aya-san (arigatou~!). I chose the strap one so I could use it as a phone strap. Also, got an origami crane that was presented with the dessert.

You will get one of your own when you buy their special Azumino Ikeda menu where you can choose either a “MIZUHIKI” pin or keychain. Diners will also get a complimentary glass of “KITA-ALPS” Daiginjyo sake.

The mizuhiki are handcrafted with love by Aya Nomura of E&A Works. You can visit her website and like their Facebook to know more.

Oh and also, Isetan will be presenting THE TABLE×Azumino Ikeda in Nagano from Japan, a special collaboration fair that will be held at Isetan Japan Store for three days from January 19th to 21st, 2018.

Ikeda special menu can be sampled at each store from their special event THE TABLE×Azumino Ikeda Rice and Sake tasting.

Thank you for inviting me to sample the taste of Nagano and to learn and experience part of Japanese culture!

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G247, Ground Floor, The Gardens Mall,
Mid Valley City, Lingkaran Syed Putra,
Kuala Lumpur

Tel: (603) 220 2113

Opening Hours:
11:30am ~2:30pm (LUNCH) / 6:00pm ~ 9:30pm (DINNER)

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