A spark of an idea germinated when five friends realised they were eating so much Japanese food in KL that they might as well start their own Japanese restaurant.
“We are huge fans of Japanese food and were going to Japanese restaurants three or four times a week, so we thought instead of giving other people money, why not create our own?” says Raymond Ng, one of the co-owners of Tsukiji No 8, a charming new Japanese restaurant in the heart of central KL.
It’s the brainchild of Ng, a property developer and four of his good friends – Alex Fong and Rodney Ther, who are both in the automotive industry, Lim Chun Heng, who is in construction and Jwo Liew, who is in F&B.
The friends recruited Tokyo native Usami Yasuro, who has over 20 years of experience as their executive chef, and also worked directly with a supplier in the Toyusu market (the historic Tsukiji market has moved and is now called Toyusu) to get fresh seafood flown in three times a week.
“Not everyone can afford to go to Tokyo, but you can have the same quality of sushi here, at an affordable price,” says Ng.
As a group, the friends were in agreement that they wanted their restaurant to be a place where most people could afford to eat regularly.
“We told ourselves that our concept will not be high-end, we want to price ourselves affordably, so everyone can come and eat,” says Lim.
The restaurant has bluefin tuna, salmon and octopus all-year round but also gets seasonal produce like sayori (Japanese half beak fish), shirako (fish sperm) and Alaskan king crab, based on what’s fresh and in season at any given time. What is patently obvious from the get-go is that the eatery’s focus is on sushi and sashimi, although other cooking styles are available.
Start your meal here with one of the restaurant’s signature offerings – Ocean’s 8 (RM98). The dish is so named, because the sushi rice base is topped with eight different kinds of fresh seafood like scallop, tuna, snow crab, sea urchin and ikura, to name a few. This is a hedonistic seafood platter that offers lots of velvety textures – it is the gastronomic equivalent of luxuriating in a bed of pure silk.
There’s plenty on offer on the sashimi front too, and you’d do well to indulge in the various options on the table. Start with the rarer white tuna (RM78 for five pieces) which is light, and almost has a lustrous mouth feel. Then move on to the akami lean tuna (RM100 for five pieces) which is more full-bodied and solid, with a fleshy feel. Up next, try the chutoro (RM160 for five pieces), a medium-fatty tuna that gives a seductive sensation in the mouth, akin to a belly dancer showing glimpses of skin but not too much that she gives everything away. Finally, end your sashimi rendezvous with the triumphant otoro fatty tuna (RM200) which boasts tuna slices gilded with fat that glide down the palate like buttery velvet.
On the sushi front, there are plenty of seasonal delights to whet your appetite. The sayuri ngiri (RM34 for two) is available until December and features a delicate piece of fish balanced dextrously over a bed of sushi rice. The fish is incredibly fresh, with soft, slightly sweet flesh.
Then there is the negitiro (RM30 for one) which is made up of fatty tuna and lean tuna, rounded off by ikura and sea urchin. This little parcel is a literal flavour bomb, packed with richness and a luscious umami aftertaste.
The fresh ikura sushi (RM30 for one) offers something a little off the beaten path. Most people have never eaten fresh ikura before as the sort that adorns plates is often processed. This particular ikura is fresh and untampered with – it arrives on a mound of sushi rice, and resembles a string of pearls (they are all joined together). Taste-wise, it’s very different from what you might imagine it to be – briny, with very mineral qualities to it.
Having indulged in so much goodness, the ebi tempura (RM38) brings you down to earth somewhat, as the battered tiger prawns are good, but distinctly unmemorable.
Luckily, there is more elation to follow, with the revelation of the truffle chawan mushi (RM16). This is a creation that Ng contributed to as he is an avid home cook and loves experimenting with food.
“I just added some truffle oil to the chawan mushi and thought, ‘Oh, this is good,’” he says.
And boy, is he on the money! The light, satin-like chawan mushi has an opulent quality to it – each mouthful has an undercurrent of truffle in it and it is so good that addiction is virtually guaranteed.
Ultimately, Ng and his friends say Tsukiji No 8 is the first of what they hope will be a string of affordable Japanese restaurants.
“For our second restaurant, we want to do a soba bar – there’s already ramen and udon bars, so we want to do affordable soba,” says Ng.
TSUKIJI NO 8
1st floor, Wisma Lim Foo Yong
Jalan Raja Chulan
50200 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: 03-2143 8889
Open Monday to Saturday: 11.30am to 3pm; 6pm to 11pm