Kitano Japanese Restaurant Penang – Kitano @ Jazz
Since Kitano @ Jazz opened, I have dined there four times since Chinese New Year. Many friends have asked why I prefer to go back to the same restaurant again and again.
One of the questions that are inevitably asked is, “So you eat free ar?”
I find this curious question a little amusing. This is not a free meal feeding frenzy, my dear curious friends. If it is, you will find me at every “free” invited hotel buffet, especially during Ramadan and Christmas promotions.
But rather, sometimes I go back to the same outlet or restaurant because it simply means I like the same consistently good clean taste, clean food prep with premium ingredients and par excellence service.
Japanese dinner at Kitano @ Jazz
You will like the ambiance at the restaurant which is contemporary and tastefully designed. There are two cordoned off the semi-private area with a long table for family and friends gatherings.
There are no traditional Japanese style rooms (和室, washitsu) with tatami mats flooring. Having a meal on a tatami floor around a low table may appear engaging.
Believe me; I can never get comfortable sitting on the floor to eat. Dining Table and chair and utensils are good.
The overall decor is clean and reminiscence of a Japanese tea house.
Kitano Japanese Cuisine
Kitano offers a menu of delicious contemporary Japanese cuisine.
For years, we have had the pleasure of dining with Japanese Chef Alex preparing our food for us. It has become a norm for the girls and families to gather for a nice relaxing dinner and to catch up.
When Chef Alex was at Matsu, we would gather there to dine. So it is only natural that we follow Chef wherever he goes.
When it comes to food prep, I know Chef Alex is meticulous and very detail in his selection of condiments, tempura oil, and even the salt and pepper!
So if it’s your first time dining what would you order?
Freshest Salmon Sashimi
I accompany a friend who likes to eat conveyor belt sushi. Most of the time, she will order an extra Salmon Sashimi for me. Every time I would decline, and stick to munching on salted Edamame (boiled Japanese soybeans in the pod) and eat fatty Chicken Katsu and counting calories.
She would ask, “Don’t you like raw fish?”
I would smile and stick to my beans and chicken, these make a good protein-dense cheap meal.
One day I took her to dinner at Kitano and we ordered Salmon Sashimi and we ate together.
She looked at me and said, “Now I understand why you would only eat beans and chicken.”
There is a difference in the color, texture, and taste of when different techniques are applied for butchering a whole salmon, versus say a conveniently filleted salmon at your local seafood section in the hypermarket.
There’s a difference between raw salmon and salmon sashimi. Salmon used for sashimi has been “super frozen” at minus 40°C.
This process kills parasitic worms that fish are host to but doesn’t break down the flesh. So the fish flesh remains fresh.
THE abiding rule, when it comes to sushi and sashimi, never buy pre-cut fillets from the wet markets.
Do I eat Sashimi at Kitano? The answer is yes.
Why do I eat there? The restaurant uses the freshest raw saltwater fish and premium ingredients.
Sashimi Moriawase (5 kinds of imported raw fish to chef’s selection)
Sashimi is eating raw thinly sliced seafood, which includes fish, shellfish squid or octopus. Only the freshest catch is used.
Sashimi is made by cutting the seafood into bite-sized rectangular shapes, thin diagonal slices, small firm squares, or thin julienned slivers —that is served without rice.
Sushi is not raw fish, but rather vinegared rice that is topped with other ingredients, which may or may not include raw fish.
If you’ve never tried Salmon sashimi is the easiest to try as it has a very mild fish flavor, with a very rich, smooth taste.
Reds like tuna are a lot less fatty and have a much firmer texture.
A nice Sashimi Platter has Tuna, salmon, sea bream, mackerel, yellowtail, squid or octopus, shrimp, scallops, clams.
The taste and texture of sashimi depend on the type of fish that is used.
At Kitano, you can order a Sashimi Moriawase with 5 kinds of imported raw fish to the chef’s selection.
Mega Mango Maki Madness (mango with soft shell crab reversed roll)
This Mango with assorted raw fish reversed roll is a dish recommended by the restaurant which everyone loved.
Yaki Niku Wahyu Rosu (grill wagyu rib eye on charcoal brazier-sumibi-yakiniku)
Yakiniku is the art of Japanese barbecue which simply means “grilled meat cuisine”.
This was popularized by Japanese writer Kanagaki Robun in his Seiyo Ryoritsu in 1872.
If you ask me which food item, I would save up to eat, it has to be a Yakiniku which is my absolute favorite.
I remember when I was in Tokyo; we went to a time-sensitive Yakiniku (Japanese BBQ) Restaurant.
There was a mild tremor and the gas was turned off. It was incredibly funny as we got a little hot under the collar waiting impatiently.
There’s not a chance of that happening as Kitano uses a portable charcoal brazier.
Tori Teriyaki (grilled chicken with teriyaki sauce)
My favorite meat is chicken and this juicy tender chicken thigh glazed in a sweet and savory teriyaki sauce hits the right spot for comfort food.
Tempura Moriawase (assorted seafood and vegetable tempura)
When it comes to battered fritter deep frying, the tempura is a Japanese dish that is a crowd favorite with crunchy taste vegetables and seafood. The most popular seafood tempura is probably Ebi (shrimp) tempura.
Chef Alex makes it crisp without any oiliness!
Salmon Skin & Soft Shell Crab Salad (crisp salmon skin and soft shell crab salad)
Before the advent of that dangerously addictive Salted Egg Salmon Skin snack from Singapore, most gourmands wouldn’t think of just eating salmon skin per se – even though salmon skin is usually considered safe to eat.
The skin contains more of the same minerals and nutrients contained in salmon itself.
If I were to tell you where soft shell crabs came about, you might not be so enthusiastic to order it. Let’s save that story for another day and in the meantime, we just eat dinner.
The crispy crunch of fresh greens and Salmon Skin that look and taste like crackers are good. The salad is one of my favorites to order at Kitano.
Kurogoma Ice Cream (black sesame ice cream)
You may have tried the popular Japanese flavored ice cream such as Green Tea and Red Bean. For me, it is the Black Sesame Ice Cream, fully transformed into a peculiar dark gray Color, which surprises with unique nutty toasty flavor.
The first time I had the mysterious Black Sesame Ice Cream was at the Japanese restaurant in Matsu at Lone Pine Hotel. This to me is a perfect finish after a nice Japanese dinner.
I would describe it as a vanilla ice cream base mixed with black sesame paste (neri goma) to give it that dark grey color and tasty sweet and nutty flavor.
For Asians, black sesame flavor is commonly used in desserts – the Black Sesame Soup is a popular dessert. This is typically served hot in Chinese restaurants. The main ingredients are ground black sesame seeds, rice, and water.
In Cantonese cuisine, it takes the form of tong Sui, or sweet soup, with greater viscosity.
This I can assure you that this is very different from tahini. I remember a young man who once fell in love with the hot Peanut Tong Sui. He told me that he used to replicate it by adding half a jar of peanut butter into a bowl of boiling water.
It doesn’t work this way, okay?
The black sesame paste is made from roasted black sesame seeds before these are ground into a paste.
What else would I recommend? Simply order all these and more. I think Kitano @ Jazz has an extensive menu that I would return to again and again to try out. Except, every time we go, we always order our favorites.
Tell me what else you tried that you think I should eat next!
Kitano Japanese Restaurant Penang – Kitano @ Jazz
Business Hours: 11am – 2.30pm, 6pm – 10pm daily
Jazz Hotel Penang
No. 1, Jalan Seri Tanjung Pinang 1,
10470 Tanjung Tokong, Penang.
Tel: +604-375 3333