Written by @joehairie (Photos by @curiostraveller unless stated otherwise)
Honestly, we are not into Japanese Cuisine. We actually rarely dine at any Japanese restaurant. We are not that familiar with the ‘protocols’ of eating foods from the Land of The Rising Sun. In both our minds, all that we can think of is Tempura. Our destiny and palate keep changing though. 2 days ago, we had this opportunity to dine at the award winning Nagisa Restaurant, Hyatt Regency Kinabalu. There’s this recently launched menu named as Sakana Oroshi Set, creatively prepared and presented by Chef Kenny Liew You Khen. In total, there are three different sets to choose from. We tried all three. Were we satisfied with the taste and presentation of all three Sakana Oroshi set? Did that menu change our mind and worldview towards Japanese Cuisine? Read further to find out…
Sakana Oroshi Set
Available from July 2016- September 2016, Sakana Oroshi at Nagisa consists of 3 sets. Guests may choose any of three different traditional Japanese cooking, either Parrotfish Teppanyaki Style, lightly fried and topped with shredded Japanese Daikon (Daikon Oroshi) or in a hot pot (Nabe) simmer with mushroom and assortment of vegetables. Cleverly and creatively created by Chef Kenny Liew You Khen, each set is priced at RM88.00 per serving. Personally, for both of us, all three sets are new kind of food waiting to be discovered. We’re a bit nervous but excited at the same time when we tried these dishes.
Parrotfish in a hot pot (Nabe)
This is the Parrotfish in a hot pot (Nabe) simmer with mushroom and vegetables. The set includes a bowl of rice, salad, sushi and pickled items. The portion is way big actually and can be shared by 2 people. However, we recommend that each person try a different set. That way, you will be able to taste perhaps all three sets, as we did.
We tasted the soup and we finished it all. It means, the product is great, a compliment from non Japanese food lovers. The broth was crystal clear and we both get to see everything inside. @curiostraveller is a die hard fan of mushrooms and he was happy to see some Shitake and Shimeji in the soup. He told me that the mushrooms and vegetable actually gave the distinct taste to the soup, only to be followed by the fish actually.
I love the fish meat. It was tender and tasty. @curiostraveller is one weird person. He just love to ‘play’ with any cooked meat presented to him, he will do that just anywhere. At Nagisa, he did the same thing with all the fish meat he’s about to consume. The reason, to see if the meat is easily breakable. If it’s breakable soon, it means the fish meat, tender enough for everyone. That’s his skill in determining the tenderness of any meat.
Did we enjoy eating this particular set? Yes. Both of us. While I prefer ‘voting’ for the fish meat and taste of the soup, @curiostraveller ‘voted’ for the mushrooms and vegetable. If we come again to Nagisa, will we order the same set? Definitely yes. A validation from 2 people who were not so into Japanese Cuisine. It is easy to get some ‘Yes’ from Japanese food admirer but not from those who dislike it. We are in the later group but finally we had to say ‘Yes’ and gave that validation to such new type of dish (for our palate).
Parrotfish lightly fried and topped with Daikon Orishi
This option has the same condiments with the previous set. The difference is the way the Parrotfish being cooked. It is lightly fried. It tasted so good! Heavenly delicious! Crispy but tender at the same time. @curiostraveller ‘played’ with the meat so it’s proven. Try that with the fried fish fillet in western way of cooking. @curiostraveller said that at times he encountered with a ‘stone’ fish fillet due to the thickness of the batter. At Nagisa, this particular fish fillet is crunchy and tender.
We did not know that Parrotfish is good to go for the frying pan. For fried fish fillet, we always think of Dory. Being able to present ourselves here definitely similar to attending courses as we learnt so many new things especially about Parrotfish. The Chef and his team took time to search for Parrotfish image for the two of us. We learnt not only theoretically but in real experience as well, we tasted the Parrotfish in fried version.
Believe me when I say that 3 pieces of that fried fish fillet ain’t enough. It’s big portion, yes. But for its heaven taste, you will definitely crave for more. Deep inside, I know @curiostraveller wanted more fillets. We both are so in love with this set. If we must choose one of the Sakana Oroshi set, we will 100% vote for this one. We strongly recommend this particular set but as we said earlier, if you come in a group of three, don’t share 1 set, order all three sets and you will be able to taste each of them.
Parrotfish Teppanyaki Style
Oh yes, though we ‘were’ not so into Japanese Cuisine, we know what Teppanyaki is. Teppanyaki is two words that describes the technique or style of preparing Japanese cuisine. The word teppan means iron griddle and the Japanese word yaki translates to broiled, pan-fried, or grilled. We had Teppanyaki long time ago. It was all right. We accepted that into our palate. Years later, we had the same style of cooking at Nagisa. This time around, it’s Parrotfish. Something new for us!
Once again, I had to rely on @curiostraveller ‘role’. He ‘played’ with the fish meat and it took him about 10 seconds to get the fillet ‘divided’ into few small pieces, not using his bare hand, he used the chopstick, something that he rarely use when dining. It’s breakable which means it’s good for everyone else regardless of age. Simply put, tender. Taste wise, it’s good but not that great as the other two sets.
However, we still recommend this dish for you to try as different people have different thoughts about most things. Maybe we were too much in love with the hot pot and fried version of parrotfish. A bit biased perhaps! Not a sin though. Human beings always have some preferences and so the two of us.
Though the fillets presented to us had some watery ‘juice’ produced during the grilling process (perhaps in the end to moisten the fillets), we still think that it was a bit dry inside. Tender, yes but it’s lacking of moist, honestly. Remember @curiostraveller role? It took him less than 5 seconds to break apart the fillets from the first 2 sets but this set he needed about 10 seconds.
That ‘dry’ thing perhaps was the main reason for being a bit tasteless in comparison with the fillets in the first 2 sets. Don’t get us wrong. We have no intention to say it’s not a good dish. It’s definitely good but not that absolutely great. We have to be honest when we review food and this is our own thoughts. Some other people might think differently.
Remember when I mentioned that it’s better to order a set of Sakana Oroshi for each person (If you come in with friends)..? Each diner will get this Green Tea Ice Cream or Matcha Ice Cream. Or shall we use the term Matcha Aisu Kirumu? The presentation is simple but the taste is definitely heaven. If you share one set of Sakana Oroshi with a friend then you will have to share this one scoop of delectable dessert. No? You want one serving for yourself? Then you have to order 1 set of Sakana Oroshi for each person. We love this Matcha Aisu Kirumu. The texture-soft and taste wise, green tea of course! We took time to finish this lovely ice cream and we were sad when we finished it. That much, our love to this delicate dessert.
Award Winning Nagisa Restaurant
Apart from being the only Japanese Restaurant in an international five-star hotel chain in Kota Kinabalu City, Nagisa is also recognized as the Best Restaurant in Hotel Category during Kota Kinabalu Food Fest in 2012. In 2014 and 2015, the Editors and Readers of Malaysia Tatler have acclaimed Nagisa as one of Malaysia’s Best Restaurants for its exceptional cuisine and service.
Nagisa Restaurant-The ala carte menu
To start our lunch at Nagisa, we had this amazing delicious appetizer, Maguro Tataki Salada. It’s a seared Salmon salad (you may opt for Tuna) and priced at RM40. This appetizer is not in the Sakana Oroshi. It’s in the ala carte menu from Chimni and Sunomono category. @curiostraveller will write an article about this Maguro Tataki Salada for our partner, Kulafoods which is based in Sydney, Australia. We love this dish so much. The Salmon fillets were tender and tasty! We strongly recommend this dish to those coming to Nagisa.
We purposely took the menu file to have a look at the ala carte options. When we read someone else eatery/food review, we always wish that we can see the ala carte menu as well. Therefore, we took the initiative to present to you the ala carte menu of Nagisa @ Hyatt Regency Kinabalu. Do take note that if you come to Nagisa months or years later, this menu might be drastically changed. This is just a simple guide for those coming to Nagisa in the near future. Pardon us for the not so aligned photos, we captured it in a hurry manner as we had something else to do.
Nagisa Restaurant-The layout
Some people might have never been to Nagisa at Hyatt Regency Kinabalu. So again we took the initiative to take photos of every angle at this amazing restaurant, from the entrance right to the Exclusive Tatami Dining Room.
This is the entrance to the Nagisa Restaurant. It has the same feature as any other Japanese Restaurant, the curtains.
The first thing that you will get to see is the reception and waiting area. Some cool features and decorations indicating that this is a pure Japanese Restaurant.
I am not familiar with this tool but I guess, traditionally it’s being used to grind rice, one of the process in producing sake. Lovely feature though! It’s a big statement indicating that this is a Japanese Restaurant.
The narrow alley going or exiting the Nagisa Restaurant. It pretty reminds me of the Machiya, a term used to describe traditional wooden townhouses, bitter sweet experience when I visited Kyoto long time ago.
Another cool feature/decoration that related to Sake!
Luckily this is just a decoration, if it’s a real thing, people will line up at this barrel here during buffet session!
The Sushi Bar
The open Kitchen
The exclusive Tatami dining room! Take off your shoes please…
Common dining area 1
This alley leads to the common dining area 2
Dining area 2
We must first say BIG Thank you to Chef Kenny Liew You Khen and his wonderful team for creating/preparing such an amazing Japanese Cuisine for us and other guests at Nagisa. We love how he infused his thought while creating such genius dishes. Using Parrotfish is indeed a bold step. It gave us lessons, we learnt new things and we ate new kind of food. As mentioned earlier we were not in the same boat as the other Japanese Food hunters. Now, we are on the boat, perhaps one day become the captain. Fingers crossed! All because of one noble invitation, we were able to taste good foods at Nagisa.
While we love all three sets, we ranked the dishes according to our preferences and palate. Here it is:
- Parrotfish lightly fried and topped with Daikon Orishi
- Parrotfish in a hot pot (Nabe)
- Parrotfish Teppanyaki Style
We recommend all dishes. Try it all especially if you are coming to Nagisa with friends. While we did have a little issue with the Parrotfish Teppanyaki Style due to it’s dry state inside the fillets, we still think that overall it tasted good and worth trying. The other 2 dishes were absolutely of high standard and the best Japanese Cuisine that we ever had (although we rarely consume Japanese Cuisine).
The menu line-up changed both our thoughts, our world view and perception towards Japanese Cuisine. We are now becoming more enthusiast in looking for Japanese Cuisine. Honestly, we didn’t prefer Japanese Cuisine when dining. We applied past tense (didn’t) to describe our stand before coming to Nagisa. The Sakana Oroshi set triggered that change! We validated the food in terms of taste and presentation. There were previous reviews about Sakana Oroshi, they all love Japanese Cuisine.
To get a validation from bloggers and foodies who weren’t into Japanese Cuisine meant only 1 thing, the Sakana Oroshi set and we dare to say all the food at Nagisa @ Hyatt Regency Kinabalu, are of the highest standard, ably to change mind sets of some stubborn foodies! Ain’t a biased review as we did highlight the DRY state of the fish fillet in the Parrotfish Teppanyaki Style.
We love to say this again and again, Nagisa is a great Japanese Restaurant and so are the sets of Sakana Oroshi. We STRONGLY recommend this great restaurant if you are looking for high quality Japanese Cuisine. Try the Sakana Oroshi set, you will not regret, trust us. The portion is way much bigger than the price itself. For those who don’t prefer Japanese Cuisine, we both recommend you people to come to Nagisa @ Hyatt Regency Kinabalu and try any of Sakana Oroshi set . Try it first and you will definitely be amazed with the beauty and taste.
Smile Campaign Cycle 2
While we intend to write-up our dining experience at Nagisa @ Hyatt Regency Kinabalu, we bumped into 2 amazing staffs with genuine smile. We decided to include them into our exclusive smile campaign contenders list (Cycle 2). To get familiar with our smile campaign, click HERE. Here are the 2 front staffs that we think has the best smiles!
Clevenieo and Collete, we love your smiles!
Our Rating for Nagisa Restaurant (Overall view)
Category: Cafes/Restaurants in Hotel/Resorts
Dining Theme/Category: Japanese Cuisine
Date of Visit: Wednesday, July 20, 2016
We rated our experience as : EXCELLENT.
Food-Presentation and Taste : 5.00
Beverage-Presentation and Taste: 5.00
Service by front Staffs: 5.00
AVERAGE SCORE: 5.00
We STRONGLY recommend Nagisa Restaurant (Japanese Cuisine) as an excellent dining outlet in Kota Kinabalu City.
For cycle 2, we will be using new rating system for all Cafes/Bars/Restaurants/Lounges. We will use a straight forward indication as shown below.
In need to have the same experience? Head to:
Hyatt Regency Kinabalu
Jalan Datuk Salleh Sulong
88991 Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia
Tel : + 60 88 221 234
Fax: + 60 88 225 972
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Twitter: Click HERE
“Hyatt Regency Kinabalu has been awarded the 2016 certificate of excellence for superior service by TripAdvisor”
About Hyatt Regency Kinabalu
Hyatt Regency Kinabalu, a 288-room hotel, is located in the heart of Kota Kinabalu’s business, shopping and entertainment hub, overlooking the beautiful coral islands of the Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park and the South China Sea. Hyatt Regency Kinabalu offers newly renovated guestrooms, exceptional service, modern comforts, and a dazzling choice of local and international cuisine. Reservations for Hyatt Regency Kinabalu can be made by calling +60 88 22 1234 or visiting www.kinabalu.regency.hyatt.com .
About Hyatt Regency Hotels
Hyatt Regency offers a full range of services and facilities tailored to serve the needs of meeting planners, business travelers and leisure guests. Properties generally range in size from 200 to over 2,000 rooms and are conveniently located in urban, suburban, airport, convention and resort destinations around the world. Hyatt Regency convention hotels feature spacious meeting and conference facilities designed to provide a productive environment. Hyatt Regency hotels in resort locations cater to couples seeking a getaway, families enjoying vacation together and corporate groups seeking a relaxed atmosphere in which to conduct business and meetings.