Ozeki- Japanese Food In Kuala Lumpur 城中最佳日本餐馆

(Updated 21st Oct 2008)
A Well-seasoned Chef

Name: Hitashi Kimijima
Position: Director cum Executive Chef at Ozeki
Age: 39 years old (married)
Place of birth: Yokohama, Japan
Professional Training: Schooled in Japanese cookery, trained in Italian and French cuisine
Years of working experience: 20
6 years dedicated to a French restaurant
6 years dedicated to an Italian restaurant
8 years with the present Ozeki.
He has been presented with a championship award at a cooking contest before.

Ozeki is probably one of the most affulent Japanese restaurants in town. The food here echoes modern Japanese cuisine and chef Hitoshi Kimijima heads the kitchen. The chef is always giving diners more new items on the menu and incorporates promotions for seasonal ingredients. For a good Japanese dining experience, head to Ozeki for a new feel. I had a quick interview with the chef to understand him better.

Question: Why did you choose to be in this line?
I worked part-time, delivering wine to restaurants during my high school days. There was this day, I met a restaurant big chef who happened to roast a huge slab of meat. He looked so impressive and this picture become the driving force for me.
With an ambition to be a chef, it is no wonder he has done so well.

Q: How long have you resided in Malaysia?
Since year 2000, I have stayed here for 8 years. My boss liked my innovative idea of incorporating a blend of Japanese, French, Italian cultures together and giving the recipe a tweak.
Every cloud has a silver lining. He has established well in this competitive F & B environment.

Q: What are your daily duties?
I have to attend to numerous things. Daily, I have to check with suppliers on ingredients available and determine on the freshness rate. Training of staff is rather a comprehensive module and even mini details like tuning the level of music volume has to be checked, not forgetting the cleanliness of the washrooms has to be looked into.
A dedicated chef can bring good quality control to a restaurant, not forgetting the total ambience.

Q: How well have you adapted to living in Malaysia versus Japan?
I like the warmth here as I never quite like the cold winters back home. Crime rate here is not as bad as Japan. I have a strong liking to local foods such as nasi lemak, Hainanese chicken rice and Bak-Kut-Teh ect…
How lucky we are to be able to savour these foods!

Q: Did you encounter any difficulties in the course of your work?
The hot weather and food were not much of a problem but the languages did bothered me a lot as I know not one word of Malay and English was limited to only customary greetings of "Good morning", "Good afternoon" and "Good evening". The dictionary was my friend and slowly I picked up words. As I improved, I am even able to pick out the correct word to remand the staff. Adapting to a new culture and learning about it, certainly goes hand-in-hand.

Q: What is your happiest moment?
When a dish is well-received by patrons, I really feel proud.
Chef Kimi can do very well in calligraphy and the menus are all handwritten by him.

Q: What are your plans for the future?
Three years ago, it did crossed my mind of going home. But it means I have to start from scratch which I don’t wish to. Now, it is my own philosophy to take pride in running this restaurant and see it grow.
This is the face of Ozeki.

Q: Do you want to thank anyone in particular?
I want to thank all the staff here as I know I have always been a disciplinarian but there should be no grudges.
Teamwork is a key ingredient in this hospitality line.

Q: Do you have any advice for the younger set of chefs?
Cooking good food alone is not going to make you a good chef. You must put your heart and soul into the running of the restaurant. Understand the needs of diners, be attentive and have good listening skills. It helps to know the whims and fancy of them.
Are you young chefs ready to take on the world?

Nicole has a smile to break the ice and is rather attentive. If you are at a loss with the menu, Nicole will politely offer some food recommendations.

Why named after Ozeki?
The restaurant takes its name from the title of being the second highest rank in a Sumo tournament. What comes across this concept is that it will bring motivation for everyone to keep on improving and become a winning restaurant one day.

Ozeki Tokyo Cuisine
Menara TA One, Ground Floor,
22, Jln P. Ramlee, 50250 Kuala Lumpur.
Tel: 03-2166 4263
Business Hours: Lunch: 12.00-2.30pm Dinner: 6.30-11.00pm

Seeking The Novel Japanese Meal

Malaysia is famous for her abundance of good street food but our multi-millionaire friend from Taiwan wanted us to recommend an innovative and superbly good Japanese restaurant to him when he flies in for some business arrangement. Now this is rather awkward as he is one with a very distinct palate. We need to look around for a good find.

The ordinary fast food types would not suit him and definitely not Sushi King or Genki Sushi. We have tried a certain Japanese restaurant in Mid Valley and KLCC but somehow it lacks the authentic touch (more of a M’sian cum Japanese taste). Well, obviously it has to be the finer circle like Kampachi in Hotel Equatorial or Benkay in Hotel Nikko. Overall, the ambience is decent and fresh seafood is flown in from Japan. Either one could be the perfect place for him to enjoy a fine cuisine.

It was one beautiful afternoon when we attended an exhibition on food products(FHM) at the KLCC Convention Centre. What struck us was this sign that states "The finest Japanese cuisine in K.L". Ozeki Japanese Restaurant is helmed by Hitoshi Kimijima, an Executive Chef schooled in Japanese cookery and trained in Italian, French cuisine. He is just slightly bigger than the word petite in build and comes close to being rather good looking with expressive eyes. This Chef speaks proficient English with a Japanese accent.

I started my meal with an appetizer. A rather special offering as the salmon and tuna came in thin slices and dressed in a special dressing. It had a good mix of citrus seasoning, olive garlic chilli oil, olive basil sauce. These are combined and topped on the fish slices, flavour rather unusual and can give the palate an intense feel. Salad has Japanese nectarines tossed with fresh kelp slices, fresh kombu slices, shredded lettuce. Dressing is drenched over and garnished with a topping of fried bread croutons. This dish holds your attention as interesting textures and flavours worked well together.

Main dish came as two types of sushi were presented and a spread of tempura served. One of the sushi had seaweed encased with 16 types of ingredients before finishing with another layer of seaweed and sushi rice. This roll needs a masterly skill as it is very difficult to assemble. The other sushi roll had deep-fried soft shell crabs as the main filling. Both of the sushi are good on its own. Tempura had seafood pleasers as variety. The big fresh prawns and the delicacy of sea urchins is something not to be missed. Perilla leaves deep-fried in batter came with a bit of sophistication as it had a touch of green tea powder and sea salt.

The food here combines fresh ingredients, first-class taste treat and great cooking technique. Popular with those who appreciate Japanese fusion food, this is obviously a restaurant that presents a dining experience in a charming and personified way.

OZEKI Japanese Restaurant
Menara TA One, Ground Floor,
22, Jalan P. Ramlee, 50250 K.L.
Tel: 03-21664263








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