During the National Day last Sunday, I had a shabu shabu dinner at Nagomi Shabu Shabu in Menara Hap Seng, KL. Ms Tam Poh Poh, the acting COO of Nagomi Shabu-Shabu was our host that night. My first impression on the restaurant was bright, classy and the huge entrance gives people a welcome feeling.
Shabu shabu means swish swish, referring to the swishing action when cooking thinly sliced meat in the broth. This method of eating was actually introduced by Genghis Khan in the 13th century, who intended to feed his army more efficiently by gathering them around the food cooked in a huge pot of broth. It was then introduced in Japan in 1948 and subsequently to the whole world.
We chose a window side seat, so we could enjoy Kuala Lumpur’s night view while enjoying our Japanese food. Shown here is the single pot each customer will be using for shabu shabu. Purpose is to promote a better hygienic dining experience. According to Tam, shabu shabu restaurants in Japan are small and they use only one pot for cooking.
Because of that, customers have to huddle around the pot and it could be pretty uncomfortable. Which is why Nagomi Shabu-Shabu chose the Japanese word ‘Nagomi’ as the restaurant’s name, it carries the meaning of peace and harmony.
Maguro Pirikaara Age, Fried Tuna @ RM18 is an appetizer consisting of white and red tuna. Behind the tuna are Japanese cucumber and fresh mango juice. The juices in Nagomi are prepared by blending freshly cut fruits with crushed ice and no sugar is added (honey is added into the cucumber drink) The fruit juice’s creamy and thick texture is nice but I would probably like it even more if it was sweeter lol.
If you look carefully you’d make out the white and red tuna in the dish. Red tuna would have a darker color and has a stronger taste compared to white tuna. Maguro Pirikaara Age is light and fresh in taste, a palate opener and an excellent way to start the meal.
Besides shabu shabu, Nagomi also serves good sashimi and sushi. There are over 30 items to be ordered from the sushi and sashmi menu alone. One of them being the Soft Shell Crab or Spider Maki @ Rm18. It is a delicious hand roll sushi made using generous amount of deep fried soft shell crabs.
Although the price is quite expensive, it is value for money because of the huge pieces – look at the big chunk of soft shell crab meat in the sushi, you can really feel its crunchiness in your mouth, damn nice. And the satisfaction of enjoying it in a mouthful was just indescribable, haha!
A set of shabu shabu in Nagomi, be it Sake Nabe, Ribeye Nabe or Chicken Nabe is always complemented with vegetables as side dish. There are three types of broth available in Nagomi – Nagomi’s signature broth, spicy or chicken broth. All the broth as well as the dipping sauces in Nagomi are specially handcrafted by their Master Chef Ikuo Tanabe-san. Tanabe is one of the most experienced Japanese chef and was also the head chef of Daikoku, now known as Kampachi in Equatorial Hotel.
The vegetables used for shabu shabu in Nagomi are all soaked in icy salt water for 20 minutes, twice. This process is done to remove all unwanted pesticides, bacteria and insects from the vegetables. I really felt the difference, the vegetables are fresh and have a sweeter taste.
Shabu shabu is best enjoyed none other than getting to dip and swish Kobe Beef in the soup, then savoring it. Since young, I have read a lot of comics and watched some dramas from Japan. So, I know a little about Kobe Beef, it is a top-grade beef from the breed of Wagyu cattle which is so expensive it can be considered a luxury.
How luxurious? At Nagomi, it is priced at RM125 for 120g. That’s more than RM1000 for a kilo for a kg of the meat! From what I read, Kobe Beef is so soft and tender it could melt in your mouth.. that’s how special the meat is.
For me, I have been wanting to try Kobe Beef ever since I got to know about it. And just recently I saw another food blogger blogged about her experience with Kobe Beef, which made me crave and hoping I could afford it one day. Luckily enough, I finally get to taste it in Nagomi.
Kobe Beef really lives up to its reputation and price tag, it is simply a heavenly meat with unmatched flavor and tenderness. Because they are sliced thinly enough, they usually cook within seconds in the boiling broth.
OMG I am drooling, lol! For a perfect Nagomi Shabu-shabu experience, follow the 5-step tips they have outlined:
- for a more flavorful broth and to bring out the taste of meat, first, cook all the white vegetables, mushrooms, bamboo shoots, onions and leeks to enrich the broth that will later bring out the sweetness of the meat.
- Dip a slice of meat into the hot boiling broth, and swish it back and forth for less than a minute.
- Dip the cooked meat in our homemade clear Ponzu or goma dipping sauce. Clear ponzu sauce is also great to accompany vegetables, and to suit the Malaysians’ taste bud, there’s always the Chili dipping sauce.
- Intersperse the cooking of meat with other green-leaf vegetables and tofu.
- Pour the bowl of steamed rice into the enriched leftover broth to epitomize your Nagomi Shabu-Shabu experience. Let the congee simmer a little, enabling the rice to absorb all the goodness from the broth.
Now, do you know how to enjoy shabu shabu better? I did, lol.
If Kobe Beef is too expensive, you can always opt for Ribeye which is available at RM21 (150g) via add on. For Ribeye shabu shabu set, it is RM39.
Nagomi uses only ribeye from Australia for its juiciness. While its flavor and tenderness are not as wonderful as Kobe Beef, it is still an enjoyable meat. Most importantly, it meets the budget!
The dipping sauces are (from left to right) Goma, Chili and Ponzu sauce. If you didn’t know, goma and Ponzu sauce are the two traditional condiments of shabu shabu in Japan. Goma sauce is made from ground sesame, soy sauce, kelp (seaweed) stock, sake and sugar, with a combination of seven different sauces. Both meat and vegetables can be dipped into goma sauce. This nutty sauce has a texture similar to peanut butter, but with the taste of sesame.
On the other hand, Ponzu sauce is made of soy sauce and juice pressed from a bitter orange, sweet sake and kelp. This sauce is nicest when eaten with raw salmon or tuna. Lastly, Chili sauce is there to cater for Malaysians’ taste buds. I like the Chili sauce the most, and goma sauce the least.
For sashimi we had some thick and juicy Sake (salmon), priced at RM28 for 150g. The salmon can be swished in the broth too if you like. But I will have it raw because I prefer the tender and buttery flavor it has when its raw.
The salmon used for sashimi in Nagomi is the not normal Norwegian salmon, but Salmon Trout which has less smell and better meat texture.
An overview of the feast we had. They are all good but if you ask me, I enjoyed Kobe Beef, ribeye and the Spider Maki the most.
Then we ended the meal with a goma ice cream, a dessert made of black sesame with soy milk from Nagomi’s sister restaurant – Dessert’s Bar. It was nice.
Nagomi also implements an open kitchen concept where you can see the chefs slicing the Kobe Beef and ribeye right in front of you. The meats are sliced using a machine as shown and then weighed on a weighing machine.
The process is very strict and the sliced meats cannot be too thick or thin, or they will not be served. Quality and waste control is heavily enforced.
Nagomi’s sushi bar. For those who want to enjoy sashimi or sushi with Sake instead of shabu shabu.
Throughout Ramadan month, Nagomi is having a special BUY 3 FREE 1 Ramadan promotion. This means if you have four in a group, one of them will be enjoying a free set or ala carte dish. You can also think of it as a 25% discount on the foods.
The only requirement to enjoy this promotion is that the free set or dish must be lower or equal value to the first 3 items. This is a great deal considering that most Japanese restaurants’ bento sets are usually priced at least above RM20.
Menara Hap Seng **MAP**
Suite 1-19, 1st Floor
Menara Hap Seng
50250 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: +603 2141 6332