Kazoku-Ai Modern Teppanyaki Kitchen,
3A-G, 3rd Mile Square,
151 Jalan Klang Lama 3 1/2 Batu,
Kuala Lumpur.
Tel: 03-7983 1919
Business hours: Noon to 3pm, 6pm to 10.30pm.
Closed on Monday. Pork-free.

AS the saying goes, if the food is good, customers will come in droves. However, when a good restaurant is tucked away from clear view, it is a challenge to keep the momentum going.

Luckily, Kazoku-Ai has had a stream of return customers since they opened almost a year ago.

This modern teppanyaki kitchen is within the commercial enclave of 3rd Mile Square, which is visible as you drive along Jalan Kelang Lama, but you will need to explore the treasure trove of eateries located inside.

Restaurant owner Melvin Kuo said Kazoku-Ai in Japanese meant “family love”.

The interior of the Kazoku-Ai Modern Teppanyaki Kitchen.

The interior of the Kazoku-Ai Modern Teppanyaki Kitchen.

“We want to promote family togetherness and friendship. Hence, details like the red stripe in our corporate branding is always on the left side, which is closest to the heart,” he said.

But why risk setting up a niche teppanyaki restaurant?

“We decided to focus on teppanyaki and tempura because there are 18 Japanese-themed restaurants in the area.

“We are the only one focusing on teppanyaki and tempura while the others emphasise on standard Japanese cuisine,” he said.

Fear not, Kazoku-Ai is a full-on Japanese restaurant but they specialise in unique teppanyaki and tempura using only the freshest and best ingredients they can find.

As far as dining options go, especially when it comes to scouting for new restaurants, the mark of a good restaurant is that it is packed to the brim. Correct? Not so much for them, according to Kuo.

“Too busy is not ideal. A good night would be nine to 10 tables. Rushing to get food out will compromise the quality.

“When the food is good and arrives in a timely manner, our customers are happy,” he said.

More importantly, the prices are competitive.

“We feel we offer good pricing for our food. For four people to dine, the bill comes to about RM500,” added Kuo.

If the figure scares you, the restaurant has a Fishy Friday promotion, where you get to enjoy their Salmon Sashimi (worth RM30) at just RM1 if you spend RM100 and above.The Salmon Sashimi has seven healthy slices.

Speaking of fish, the restaurant prides itself on focusing on salmon and white cod.

“People who understand Japanese cuisine will know that the rice comes at the end of a meal, so you won’t feel stuffed,” said Kuo.

The Garlic Fried Rice and Mushroom Fried Rice (right).

The Garlic Fried Rice and Mushroom Fried Rice (right).

He was right. Save the Garlic Fried Rice and Mushroom Fried Rice (which has shiitake, enoki and shimeji) for last. A must-have is their Signature Maki – comprising tempura prawn, unagi, avocado, cashewnut sauce and tobiko (fish roe).

The Fishy Friday promotion allows diners who spend RM100 and more at the eatery to enjoy the Salmon Sashimi for just RM1. The regular price is RM30.

Kuo was nonetheless enthused about trying top-sellers like the US/Canadian scallops, Signature Fire Crab, Kagoshima Wagyu, NZ Lamb Cutlets, Tempura Moriawase and Spaghetti Mentaiko.

The teppanyaki scallops were garnished with crunchy Japanese Burdoch root, which gave it a pleasant smoky flavour.

The lamb was accompanied with a tasty wasabi cream sauce while the crabs were fresh out of the sea, because they were still alive before they were flambé-d to perfection.

The Saikyu Yaki Gindara.

The Saikyu Yaki Gindara.

The Saikyu Yaki Gindara, which is grilled white cod fish in miso, is also a must-try.

Each dish was presented in a tasteful and manageable manner in terms of presentation and portion, to enable room for the Killer Brownie. Kuo had auditioned 16 home cooks to see who could fit the bill in having their dessert on his menu.

The brownie just did it.

This is the writer’s personal opinion and not an endorsement by StarMetro

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