Hokkaido Ichiba/Kita No Zen, Mid Valley1 Jun 2011
A good rule of thumb when unearthing new restaurants these days is to check out said eatery’s pedigree. If they are the latest progeny of a group that is of excellent repute, chances are high that they will be worth visiting. And so it is with Hokkaido Ichiba/Kita No Zen. The latest product from the team that gave KL the Rakuzen restaurants that are endeared for their imaginative hand rolls and sparkling salads, Hokkaido is blessed with the same quality, style and authenticity that have stood Rakuzen outlets in such good stead.
Never mind its location in a mall, since these days many reputable eateries wisely eschew the standalone strategy in favour of the traffic malls afford. What is most important is that the food is tangibly better than you’d expect after a hard morning’s shopping. At Hokkaido, the setting, whilst not show stopping, is an attractive combination of contemporary and traditional and the result is amenable, and even pleasant. The dining area, Kita No Zen is located adjacent to a retail section cum ice cream parlour—Hokkaido Ichiba—so named after the region in Japan in tribute to its spectacular dairy produce.
Don’t be intimated by the menus, of which there are many. The food is generally pretty palatable, and ranges from the slightly less conventional (grilled snow crabs and grilled lotus roots with spicy cod roe) to the pedestrian (teppanyaki, sashimi, hand rolls, tempura et al). By and large irreproachably fresh (regular fresh seafood supplies being a fringe benefit of being in a group of similarly themed restaurants), the menu has some notable items, including the urchin roe and the chawan mushi, a staple dish that also happens to be the benchmark of a good Japanese restaurant.
You would be remiss not to try Hokkaido ice cream; it is to Hokkaido what olives are to Spain. Thanks to the crystalline waters and rolling pastures of the region, the ice cream is excellent and it’s showcased to spectacular effect at Hokkaido. Do yourself a favour and step out from the comfort zone of the green tea and red bean varieties. There’s truly a whole new world of frozen dairy to discover at Hokkaido and you will more likely than not want to make it your mission to leave no flavour un-sampled.
Address: T201 The Gardens at Mid Valley, KL
Telephone: 03 2283 1060