Kouzu

Special thanks to Kouzu for extending this food review invitation.

Kouzu is a Japanese izakaya (居酒屋) in Taman Tun Dr. Ismail (TTDI), Kuala Lumpur. An izakaya (居酒屋) is a type of Japanese eatery where small portions of food are served alongside alcoholic beverages. It is a place for people to drink and socialize under a casual and relaxed setting. The Spanish equivalent of such a place is a tapas bar.
The dining section of Kouzu features colorful murals on the walls of both sides. Using spray painting, the murals took over a week to be completed.
Kouzu's food menu centers on Japanese fusion cuisine. Dishes are typically prepared in small portions as they are meant to go with alcoholic drinks. For example, yakitori (焼き鳥) is to be ordered by the skewer. Oddly, Kouzu's menu does not contain pork.
The first dish to be served is Sashimi Salad With Wasabi Mayo (刺身サラダと山葵マヨネーズ, RM28.00). The garden salad comprises of a variety of leaf vegetables, lotus roots and cherry tomatoes. More importantly, the salad also contains cubes of raw salmon (サーモン) and tuna (マグロ). The ingredients are brought together using light mayonnaise-based dressing. Vibrant colors of edible flowers provide aesthetic appeal.
From the charcoal-fired grill are skewers of Sirloin Kushiyaki (サーロイン串焼き, RM12.00 each). Cut from Australian beef, the skewers are barbecued to perfection. While the surface of beef is blessed with toasty aroma, the flesh beneath remains pink and juicy. Meanwhile, tanginess of lemon juice helps to soften the bold flavor of beef.
For even stronger flavor, the Rack Of Lamb (ラムラック, RM15.00 each) is an excellent choice too. Made from prime cuts of New Zealand lamb, the grilled meat is delectable down to the bones. Although lamb is known for a distinctive sense of oily aroma, this rack of lamb does not appear to be greasy because excess fat has dripped off at the grill.
Kouzu also features twenty types of japas. Japas is a contraction of the phrase "Japanese tapas". This emphasizes the fusion nature of each item on the menu. An example is the Pan Seared Tuna And Foie Gras (マグロのたたきとフォアグラ, RM28.00). A thick slab of tuna is seasoned with special sweet sauce, and then rested over a piece of foie gras. I feel that the size of foie gras is inadequate to make an appreciable impact on the overall taste.
One of my personal favorites this evening is Creamy Baked Oysters (牡蠣焼き, RM19.00). Each oyster is gratinéed with cheese to accentuate its freshness, but not to supplant the oyster in its entirety. Each order of Creamy Baked Oysters comes with 5 pieces that are served over a bed of coarse salt crystals. I cannot recommend this delicacy highly enough.
Beef Steak Tataki (ビーフステーキたたき, RM27.00) is lightly seared so that it remains somewhat raw. The tataki's rawness is suppressed by seasoning it with rice vinegar, ginger and soy sauce. The resulting beef is tender and moist, producing tantalizing mouthfeel during each bite.
Mango De La Mer (海のマンゴー, RM26.00) is a cheese-baked combination of mangoes, scallops, shrimps, shiitake mushrooms (椎茸), onions and miso paste. Seaweed (海苔) strips are used as garnish. I feel that the mangoes are quite sour; I think sweet mangoes would have worked better.
For something more filling, one may go for the Sashimi Donburi Topped With Avocado And Ikura (刺身丼とアボカドとイクラ, RM38.00). The donburi (丼) - more specifically, kaisendon (海鮮丼) - relies on slices of raw salmon for its appeal. Avocado and wasabi (山葵) provide cooling sensation, while salmon roe (イクラ) contribute some degree of saltiness. The heap of rice is also topped with sakura denbu (桜田麩, fluffy fish flakes), seaweed strips, diced cucumber, chopped scallion, and edible flowers.
The next dish is Ishiyaki Stone Bowl (石焼き, RM23.00). A preheated stone bowl is used to cook rice from its raw form. Rice grains that come in contact with the hot surface become burnt, resulting in delighting crispiness. This rice dish is served with unagi (うなぎ, freshwater eel), scallops, minced chicken, shiitake mushrooms, shrimp roe (えびこ) and an egg. While the bowl is still hot, teriyaki sauce (照り焼きソース) is poured into the bowl and its ingredients are stirred thoroughly. I like the overall taste of this dish because its constituents appear to work harmoniously with each other.
Japanese Escargot Pizza (エスカルゴ寿司, RM26.00) represents the assimilation of French, Italian and Japanese cuisines. I find it peculiar to use escargots as a pizza topping, but they turn out better than I had expected. Other pizza toppings are lotus roots, rocket salad, tomato sauce and cheese. Like all other pizza choices on Kouzu's menu, this 4-inch sushi pizza (寿司ピザ) uses a crusty base made from pressed rice.
As an izakaya, Kouzu keeps a decent selection of alcoholic drinks. Choices include sake (酒), red wine (赤ワイン), white wine (白ワイン) and whisky (ウィスキー). Draught beer (生ビール) is also available.
All in all, most dishes that are presented tonight are favorable to my palate. With the exception of several instances, the flavors are quite balanced and tend to take a middle ground which appeals to the general public. I am also impressed by the level of perfection that Kouzu's chef demonstrated in grilling meat.
Name: Kouzu
Address: 18, Lorong Datuk Sulaiman 1, Taman Tun Dr. Ismail, 60000 Kuala Lumpur
Contact: 03-7733-9309
Business hours: 5:00pm-1:00am, closed on Mondays
Website: https://www.facebook.com/Kouzu-Malaysia-1126859390701936
Coordinates: 3.14892 N, 101.62988 E
Directions: From Jalan Datuk Sulaiman, turn into Jalan Datuk Sulaiman 2 at the traffic light-controlled junction. Kouzu is located at the row of shops which faces the main road. Street parking is available in front of the shop and the road immediately parallel to it.

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