The successful Doraku franchise has now made its way to Kuala Lumpur, making this the first restaurant outside the United States
Founded by Kevin Aoki of the renowned Benihana restaurant group in America, Doraku is set to be one of the city’s leading venues for Japanese fusion cuisine with American-sized portions.
Set in the newly renovated Life Centre on Jalan Sultan Ismail (which has cleaned up really nicely), the restaurant’s chic and trendy interior is welcoming and spacious with an indoor dining area lined with bamboo and is Zen-minimalist to say the least.
Those who prefer the night air can head on to the al-fresco dining area with a view of the bar; and if you’re looking for a nice chill out area for drinks, there’s a nice open view of Jalan Sultan Ismail while you listen to the beats being dropped by the resident DJ behind the console.
For those more interested in the art of preparing food, watch as Executive Chef, Yutaro Tsuchiya (who has been mentored by Japanese Iron Chef Hiroyuki Sakai) demonstrates his master culinary skills at the sushi bar. Having cooked for many celebrities such as Tiger Woods, George Bush, Beyonce, Eminem, Black Eyed Peas, and Shakira just to name a few, rest assured that you’re in good hands!
“The concept of Doraku is simply an approach in the contemporary food scene that blends many different flavours, spices, and herbs. We enjoy exciting our diners with creations customised carefully to tantalise every taste bud! I feel that each creation in the menu is different than the other, which makes Doraku so special!” said Chef Yutaro.
He went on to say that another speciality of the restaurant is the impressive beverage list in which different types of drinks are served and customised to suit food pairings and individual taste.
“We are known for our selection of beverages, especially the sake. With one of the most extensive sake menus that are hand selected, the exceptionally flavoured sake provides customers with a range of their preferred taste and selection,” he added.
We had a chance to sample the Asian Mojito, which was an interesting take on the regular mojito as they used Gari (Japanese pickled ginger, usually served with sushi), shiso leaf and sake which made for a very interesting, yet tasty experience – a definite must-try!
Disclaimer: Let’s just start this off by saying that I’m not a big fan of seafood, specifically because I hate the taste of not-so-fresh fish. That said, I’ve had fresh sushi from Tsukiji market in Tokyo and I loved that so therefore, any place that serves tasty, fresh fish is good in my books.
Back to Doraku, the Salmon Carpaccio (cold dish) was sliced thinly, and served in a delectable creamy ginger sauce with red onions and tobiko. After taking a bite of the salmon, I knew I was going to enjoy the rest of the evening as it did not have that fishy aftertaste that I loathed so much. The zing in the ginger sauce balanced off the salmon perfectly.
Next up, was the Baked Mussel (hot dish) which was chopped mussels baked with tobiko, scallions and bonito flakes. Again, let me reiterate how much I detest shellfish and weird texture but because this was almost like a mussel mince infused with other ingredients, I really did not mind it at all – in fact, it was rather tasty!
Now, for one of my favourite dishes of the night; the Ahi Hawaiian Poke (cold dish) was the best surprise for me and perfect for salad lovers as it contained fresh Ahi Tuna, sweet onion, seaweed mix & nuts marinated in Doraku’s special sauce garnished with crispy green onions & Spring mix. I loved this because of how fresh it tasted – the tangy sauce, and the cubes of Ahi Tuna were absolutely delectable! I could not stop picking at this course despite being served other dishes in the meantime and was just truly blown away by how fresh the fish was served here.
Now, if you’re looking for something truly different and guaranteed to have you sitting straight up in your seat – try the God of Fire sushi roll. Remember how we said this was a Japanese Fusion restaurant? Well, they fused Japanese and Malaysian all right by including cili padi into this original creation. Along with tuna, tuna sashimi, cucumber, tobiko and spicy garlic aioli, they don’t call this the God of Fire for nothing. The heat hits you slowly, as you start to feel your ears feel hot and then bam, it’s too late. Make sure you order your glass of water beforehand – consider yourself warned!
Finally, we tried the signature Doraku Roll which is a crab meat and avocado roll topped with seared tuna, daikon radish, shiso leaf, and crispy garlic chips, tastefully finished with a special wasabi yuzu citrus sauce. This was something our tongue was thankful for after the God of Fire surprise as it was a more familiar flavour associated with sushi. Incredibly tasty, and still felt light enough despite being a fried dish.
Unfortunately, we did not get to try any desserts but a few friends have since gone back and tried some of the sweet dishes and have had only good things to say.
Doraku is definitely one of those places that I look forward to visit again as there was not one dish that I tried which was disappointing – I thoroughly enjoyed each one, and am curious to try other things on the menu (especially the dessert!). Due to the freshness of the fish served here, I have a new love for seafood (without having to fly 5,000km)!
Also, it’s good to note that since Life Centre has been renovated, it truly is set to be a new place to check out for fine dining. Valet parking is available which makes it convenient, and this is a key point for me when choosing a fine dining location. Doraku feels like a good place for a romantic dinner, reunion, or to kickstart a hen’s night with dinner and some pre-party drinks before heading off to Changkat or any other party locations in town.
Doraku is open from Sunday to Thursday from 12pm to 1am, and on Friday and Saturday from 12pm to 3am. Set lunches are available from 12pm to 2.30pm (ranging from RM26 to RM 38), and Happy Hours are from 6pm to 8pm daily.
Lot M-03A, Life Centre Building
20, Jalan Sultan Ismail,
50250 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
T: +603 – 2181 4828