Tatsu Japanese Restaurant,
InterContinental Kuala Lumpur,
165 Jalan Ampang,
Tel: 03-2782 6118
Tatsu’s contemporary Japanese cuisine captivates the finicky palate of Genevieve Sambhi.
GENEVIEVE Sambhi was such a finicky eater as a child that she practically grew up eating mostly chapati and yoghurt.
The well-known model divulges: “I’m very particular about food, preferring to stick to the tried and tested. My all-time favourite is Indian food, especially home-cooked curries. When we eat out, I’d go for fried chicken, butter chicken and tandoori.”
She also has fond memories of eating chicken masala and tandoori naan from Shiraz and Omar Khayyam restaurants in Medan Tuanku where her parents’ clinic used to be.
During our lunch meeting at Tatsu, the InterContinental Kuala Lumpur’s upscale and stylishly conceived Japanese restaurant, Genevieve reveals that she loves salmon, whether it’s raw or smoked.
Consequently, executive Japanese chef Yanagida Tetsuya’s Thinly Sliced Salmon and Scallops marinated with Sesame Oil and Japanese Lime proved to be agreeable with her.
“This dish is not something I’d order but I wouldn’t mind eating it again. It’s nice, especially the mildly briny and citrusy dressing.”
According to Yanagida, the signature speciality serves as a perfect introduction to diners whose palates are unused to raw stuff like sashimi and sushi.
The chef explains: “I created it for a guest who told me he doesn’t eat sashimi but loves yee sang. After thinking about his dilemma, I decided to create a similar salad by slicing raw salmon and scallop thinly and topping them with freshly shredded radish and some radish sprouts. After sampling this, my guest has since learned to appreciate sashimi and sushi.”
Picking out the salmon-topped rice balls from the other sushi in the Matsu Sushi platter, Genevieve admits that she is not big on seafood.
“Occasionally, I’ll pick a small piece of shelled crab off my husband’s plate, but that’s about as far as I’ll go.”
When it comes to Japanese cuisine, her preference is for tempura or teppanyaki. “I dislike chawan mushi (steamed egg custard) because I can’t stand the fishy taste and mushy texture.”
Much to the chef’s delight, she had an additional helping of his Japanese Taro and Fried Anchovy “Bruschetta”.
She enthuses: “The deep-fried yam discs are so crispy! The topping of fried baby anchovies and chopped spring onion is equally simple but amazingly flavourful.”
Yanagida certainly has what it takes to helm Tatsu. (The Japanese word tatsu-jin means expert or master.) Not only is he pivotal in raising the minimalist concept restaurant’s culinary bar with his unique interpretations of classic specialities, he is also one of the few chefs in Malaysia licensed to handle fugu or puffer fish, a seasonal delicacy that can be deadly if incorrectly prepared.
Relishing the Grilled Teriyaki Cod with Sliced Foie Gras, Genevieve marvelled at the fish’s inherently rich and smooth texture.
“This is the first time I’ve eaten fish with foie gras, but it’s delicious! I like the sweetish sauce that goes with it, too.”
As a cervical cancer survivor, the celebrity ambassador for National Cancer Society Malaysia’s Power Over Cervical Cancer campaign affirms that she strives to eat healthily.
“It’s a misconception that cancer only afflicts old folks,” Genevieve says firmly. “I’m young and have always been healthy, yet I was diagnosed with cervical cancer.
“Every woman should know about the risks of cervical cancer and no woman should have to go through what I did. That’s why I always urge my friends and all ladies to have a pap smear done annually. That 20-minute check-up could very well save your life.”
Adroitly juggling multiple roles as wife, mother and professional model, the former beauty queen even finds time to cook for her family every night.
“My husband prefers Western fare for dinner so I’d usually make shepherd’s pie or spaghetti bolognaise. I don’t pander to my kids. At home, the house rule is eat what you’re served or you don’t eat at all.”
Nibbling gingerly on some Charcoal-grilled Wagyu Beef Slices with Pink Himalayan Salt that Yanagida proffered, Genevieve let slip that she eschews lamb due to its gamey taste.
Upon learning that Tatsu boasts a private sake bar that serves over 20 types of sake, sochu and wine, Genevieve tells Yanagida she plans to return with hubby in tow to seek the chef’s expert advice on sake.
Needless to say, Yanagida and his team would be delighted to welcome her back to Tatsu.