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Kampachi Japanese Restaurant at Hotel Equatorial Penang is launching a new Omakase fine-dining menu, so how does it fare?

Fine-dining menus are usually immediately associated with western cuisines, however Executive Chef Koji Tamaru of Kampachi Japanese Restaurant bravely innovates at the Hotel Equatorial Penang with a new Omakase menu, as Zac Teo explores...

Executive Chef Koji Tamaru helming the new Omakase menu. Photograph: Zac Teo/

The basis of the Omakase menu originates back to the definition of the word itself, with it revolving around the meaning of "I'll leave it to you"! This is relatively common in traditional Japanese restaurants whereby diners entrust the chef to prepare a selection of dishes rather than choosing off the menu. In the Japanese culture, this is not taken lightly - it is a the pride and creativeness of the chef to create a menu using only the highest of high quality ingredients. 

It comes as no surprise then as Kampachi Japanese Restaurant located in Hotel Equatorial Penang has recently launched its very own Omakase menu, with the cuisine being inspired by Executive Chef Koji Tamaru. Located in the folds of Bayan Lepas, Kampachi has been a steadfast of the hotel for many decades now, and this Omakase menu is just an insight about how it has successfully kept current with diners in Penang.

In-house made selection of soy sauces at Kampachi Japanese Restaurant. Photograph: Zac Teo/

Following the relatively similar structure of a traditional Omakase, Chef Tamaru begins the menu with a series of light delectables which was preceded with gradually heavier tasting dishes. This 7-course meal kicked off with a Zensai platter - including red snapper belly, salmon maki, fresh Amera tomatoes and miso paste.

Executive Chef Koji Tamaru helming the new fine-dining menu. Photograph: Zac Teo/

This was followed up with the Dobinmushi, which is essentially clear seafood broth prepared in a teapot. Steamed for hours to ensure the broth draws flavor from all corners of the sea, the outstanding ingredient is the Hamachi fish along with mushrooms and shrimps.

The outstanding seafood broth to set up the Omakase. Photograph: Zac Teo/

As with most Japanese cuisines, the aesthetically pleasing dish is commonly the sashimi platter. Arranged exquisitely with great attention to detail, Chef Tamaru deftly sliced selections of the freshest salmon, tuna, butter fish, mackerel, squid and prawns. He strongly encourages these fresh cuts to be dabbed with the in-house selection of soy sauces. Impressive to say the least, as the evanescence of freshness hugs the tongue on every bite.

Executive Chef Koji Tamaru helming the new fine-dining menu. Photograph: Zac Teo/

Sake is readily available for pairing with the Omakase menu. Photograph: Zac Teo/

Next up were slightly heavier dishes to really get the savory senses started, and Chef Tamaru teased us with Grilled Sanma, or more affectionately known to the masses as grilled Saba (mackerel). This was served along a ridiculously fresh bulb of white radish. Not sufficient with that, the savoury selection was sequeled with the beef tenderloin shiokara. Tender cubes of beef lightly grilled to ensure all of its juices are well retained, each bite is just heavenly.

Grilled Sanma as part of the latter stages of the Omakase. Photograph: Zac Teo/

Tenderloin Shiokara remains a highlight of the Omakase menu. Photograph: Zac Teo/

Last but not least, a Japanese Omakase will never be complete with the chef's signature selection of sushi. Finely cut with precision from a seasoned chef; slices of squid, salmon and sea-eels are brought together with pillows of rice. More impressively though is the simplest of dishes, the tuna maki is top notch.

Selection of sushi prepared by Chef Koji Tamaru. Photograph: Zac Teo/

Customary to Omakase, or to other fine-dining menus to that extent, is a palate cleanser or dessert. Keeping it simple with a scoop of pumpkin ice cream, each spoonful leaves nothing much to the imagination - the ice cream is kept creamy yet diners are able to taste the essence of mashed pumpkin!

Pumpkin ice cream to wrap the Omakase menu at Kampachi Penang. Photograph: Zac Teo/

Executive Chef Koji Tamaru alongside Junior Exec Sous Chef Kenji Beh. Photograph: Zac Teo/

The Omakase fine-dining menu at Kampachi Japanese Restaurant has officially started, and reservations can be made by contacting the restaurant via +604 632 7000. This menu is priced at RM250nett per person, while the addition of sake will amount to RM360 per person. would like to record its appreciation to Hotel Equatorial Penang for extending the invitation to review this Omakase fine-dining menu.
Zac Teo

Zac Teo

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