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As years before, Zipangu’s interior continues to offer diners a soothing setting that ranges from an extensive open kitchen were staff work their magic to a glassed wall that opens onto a white-pebbled path and a meticulously manicured hedge. There are several dining options from private rooms surrounded by walls of wine bottles, bench top dining for a closer inspection of the chefs to comfortable table dining at honey-coloured wooden furniture. Zipangu has a loyal following of local diners as well as some guests staying in the five-star hotel.
Chawanmushi or steamed egg custard makes a pleasant start to the meal. Another noteworthy appetiser is the deep-fried soft shell crab roll, which is a combination of fluffy rice, crunchy soft shell crab and a drizzling of a light soy-based dressing.
Premium produce is a highlight of the teppanyaki grill with a selection of Australian Wagyu and Boston lobster. For prices lower down the stratosphere, the grilled chicken is filling and made more delicious with a tangy citrus soya sauce.
The saba shioyaki (grilled mackerel with salt) is a large portion of perfectly cooked whole fish presented with a slice of lemon and a salt pile.
Various rice dishes are available from plain rice to garlic fried rice and seafood fried rice, which is a small portion but with tasty seafood morsels.
The tempura moriawase of lightly battered and deep-fried vegetables, prawns and squid is noteworthy for its generous portioning and inclusion of asparagus and pumpkin but a tad overcooked.
Complete the meal with a selection of ice-creams (including green tea and black sesame), fruit and a signature dish of matcha ice-cream with rice dumplings, which are tender and well matched with the green tea ice-cream and sweetened coconut milk with sago pearls.
There is also a creditable and dedicated vegetarian selection of about ten dishes.
Diners have access to a comprehensive alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks selection with green tea being the beverage of choice for many. Draft beer was not available on the evening but bottled Japanese provided a suitable but more expensive option. Being located in a five-star property, no drinks are cheap with the price of a glass of wine almost equivalent to the retail price of a bottle in a supermarket. Just four reds and four whites are sold by the glass with the Raig de Raim, Celler Piñol from Spain being a superb wine that is appropriately shown and poured for taste by the staff at the table. Some lesser-known wines from Austria, Germany and South Africa create interest as does an extensive sake and sochu list.
Staff are welcoming and generally knowledgeable of menu and offer useful advice on dishes ordered. Phone reservations are efficiently handled by the hotel’s central restaurant booking service. One gets the impression that some of the staff are long serving and know their way around the restaurant. They ask about the delivery of the dishes and in what order, which is helpful in avoiding everything from arriving at once. The wine service is good in that wines ordered by the glass are poured at the table.
Premium produce and a prime downtown location means that Zipangu is one of Kuala Lumpur’s more expensive Japanese dining options but servings tend to be larger than most so seek the advice of the wait staff so as not to over order. Lunch and dinner sets present the best value and enable diners to keep a check on the total bill.