RESPECT, honesty, discipline and creativity – these are the traits chef Zainurin Mohd Salleh believes are essential in mastering the art of Japanese cuisine.
“You need a good balance of all these elements to understand the cuisine and create new dishes that are unique. Having the right skills and techniques are also important, ” said the 51-year-old.
If one lacks creativity, for example, he said they might find it difficult to find innovative ways to present the same ingredient each season.
During his early days, Zainurin worked with local chefs from Japan who shared their approach to cooking and taught him to have respect for the ingredients he worked with.
The Melaka-born chef has over 30 years of experience in Japanese cooking, and has worked in hotels and restaurants as well as a three-year stint in the Bermuda Islands.
He revealed this after conducting a cooking demonstration at Still Waters at Hotel Maya Kuala Lumpur.
The restaurant offers diners a contemporary dining experience with emphasis on Japanese food.
Having joined in mid-July as the hotel’s executive sous chef, Zainurin recently revamped the menu at Still Waters and introduced a line-up of new dishes.
His approach to the menu includes highlighting seasonal ingredients and varied cooking methods.
“As winter is approaching, I am introducing three new signature dishes typical of the season.
“During winter, grilled dishes using charcoal are common. I also use a blowtorch to lend a charred flavour to dishes, ” he said.
Zainurin’s signature dishes are the Hotate Mentai Mayo Yaki (grilled Hokkaido scallop with fresh mushrooms topped with mentai mayo sauce), Dragon Roll (king prawn tempura rolled with seaweed, topped with fresh salmon) and Beef Sirloin Steak (pan-fried beef sirloin with garlic sauce and rocket salad).
Also available are six new bento set dishes, which Zainurin said were ideal for those who want something quick.
“These bento sets were created based on customer favourites. There are both raw and cooked protein options, ” he said.
The bento sets comprise Yaki Zakana Set (grilled salmon with salt or teriyaki sauce), Salmon Sashimi Set, Tempura Set, Sashimi Mori-awase Set (assorted raw fish), Sushi Yaki Zakana Set (assorted fish slices with vinegar rice) and Ramen Gyoza Set (ramen noodles with condiments). Most sets are served with rice, salad and miso soup.
The signature dishes are priced from RM22 to RM34 nett per item; the bento sets are priced from RM30 to RM38 nett per set.
Both menus are available for lunch and dinner.
In addition, a Japanese buffet is served at Maya Brasserie on Saturdays, from noon to 3pm.
Prepared by Zainurin and his team, the spread offers Japanese favourites such as sushi, sashimi, sushi rolls, tempura, robatayaki (grill) as well as a selection of cooked dishes.
These include salmon, butterfish and tuna sashimi, salmon mayo and chicken karaage sushi roll, pumpkin, carrot and crab stick tempura, chawanmushi as well as Grilled Saba Mackerel with Salt, Mushi Gyoza, Squid Teriyaki and Japanese Garlic Fried Rice.
“The Japanese buffet is a revamp of an existing promotion. We have tweaked it as part of our efforts to enhance customers’ dining experience and to offer a wider range of dishes, ” said Zainurin.
The Japanese buffet is priced at RM78 nett per adult; children aged five to 12 get to dine at half price.
STILL WATERS, Level 1, Hotel Maya Kuala Lumpur, 138 Jalan Ampang, Kuala Lumpur. (Tel: 03-2711 8866 ext 260). Business hours: Noon to 2.30pm, 6pm to 10.30pm (Monday to Friday). Closed on Saturday and Sunday. Pork-free. – The Star