Text by Farrah Darma
Newly minted and touted as the ‘Best Japanese Restaurant in Kuala Lumpur’ for elevated yoshuku, Shin’ Labo brings us their latest, innovatively curated Lunch Set Menu – harmonizing flavors from the earth and sea.
Since opening its doors to gourmands, connoisseurs and food lovers in February this year, Chef James Won has been recrafting his distinctly flavorful cuisine ideology with flair, passion and fanfare.
Behind the lunch menu is Chef James’ intent to showcase Shin’ Labo’s dinner menu in a compressed style. “It serves as an introduction to what the dinner menu is all about. There are elements we have taken from our dinner menu to be featured during this lunch.” Guests will still be able to see the intricate play of work that goes behind dishes crafted for the evening menu.
“It’s something hearty and satisfying – perfectly designed for celebrations, hosting, client entertainment and executive lunches – all in a shorter period of time.”
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For your amuse-bouches, the lunch menu starts off with an elegant presentation of the famous trios Omurice, Hambagu and Korokke. All three delectables represent a miniaturized, contemporized, and elevated take on Japanese flavors.
Incorporating a unique twist to Omurice, the crispy chicken skin is beautifully battered and topped with an intricate piping of creamy egg whites, delivering a doughy and textured mouthful of flavor.
Eaten subsequently is the Hambagu, the Japanese interpretation of a hamburger patty – which is made with duck confit and topped with a dollop of sevruga caviar. The thin potato layering around the confit is accurately placed to introduce fulsomeness to the bite. Next, the Korokke, a Japanese interpretation of the croquette – completely melts in your mouth and leaves you just perfectly enticed for the next course.
A feature dish – Foie Gras and Truffle Chawanmushi with Pâte Feuilletée is a beautifully light, egg custard set in its very own Kiku broth. To achieve this perfect blend of flavors, the Chawanmushi is seared with Shin’ Labo’s foie and finished with a beautiful teriyaki glaze. The flaky pastry and shaved in truffle blanketing the bowl is a gentle add on to the heartiness of the dish.
Another must try – Chef James’ Hokkaido Scallop with oozing warm Uni Butter, Tobiko and Beurre Blanc. A simple but cheeky tease before heading to the main course.
Savor thick cuts of A5 Omi Hime Wagyu beef, complimented with Truffle & Mushroom Hayashi Rice and charred kai lan.
For the less ardent beef lovers out there, one could opt for the Bincho-grilled Teriyaki Anago (Sea Eel). Garnished with charred spring onion, the Anago is delicately grilled over a 22-hour slow reduction of teriyaki sauce. Shin’ Labo’s teriyaki flavors are well known for their three-month operation, ensuring the careful building of flavors – where chicken and duck fat are fully emulsified throughout the teriyaki, spotlighting a luxurious body to be relished.
Both mains are served on a bed of Truffle & Mushroom Hayashi Rice. These sumptuous ingredients are actually layered beneath the rice and coated in a sauce that is a regular feature in yoshuku dishes. “A rice dish everyone must have, not forgetting the glaze and onsen egg on top which further elevates the bowl.” The hints of umami with each layering of flavor allows you to unravel deeper into the dish.
Each Don is divinely paired with accompanying side dishes. You have a hearty broth, Soup Du Jour – that has been perfectly crafted for the soul; and the Akami (Tuna) Tataki – where dry ageing accentuates the rich flavors of the fish. These are then contrasted and further complimented with a mix of moderate tartness from the Tsukemono, also known as their house made pickles.
A perfect ending to the experiential menu is Shin’ Labo’s famous handmade Parfait Glacé –an intimate play on handmade French style ice cream.
Chef James explains his inspiration behind his carefully curated menu, “I’d like people to understand elevated yoshuku, the essence of Shin’ Labo. To show off French techniques and its savoir faire. The fusion of cuisines (like Foie Gras and Chawanmushi or the Truffle in Hayashi Rice) are all done deliberately to celebrate the fusion of different cultures.”
A pretty similar ethos to how Malaysia celebrates diversity and unique cultures.
Even through his take on elevated yoshuku, Chef James does not fail to leave out Malaysian representation and heritage through the curation of his dishes. His Chilli Farci with Tofu is a clear celebration of Malaysian indigenous ingredients, which takes an innovative spin on Hakka Yong Tau Foo. Balanced with salted fish and truffle, miso glaze and droplets of wild celery oil, Chef James tells us, “I will never leave out our main identity, it’s always there; and that is, to be proud Malaysians.”
What better way to celebrate Malaysia’s Independence this August than experiencing this elevated and diverse yoshuku storytelling, dishes crafted with extreme precision, thought and sourcing.
As this lunch menu gives us a sneak-peek into the culinary opulence of their famous dinner menu, “You can expect the same story telling during dinner. Though it’s a slightly magnified version during lunch with a few dishes served together, it’s still beautiful and elegant enough to celebrate your corporate lunch, birthday, or date at an affordable price point.”
Talking about “experiential” menus, if it’s your first time experiencing elevated yoshuku at Shin’ Labo, it is almost impossible to find a single Chef’s recommended yoshuku dish. “It’s an entire experience. I don’t believe in identifying with a single dish. It’s not about one big showcase, rather, it’s a summation of all the little details and dishes. You can’t say you’ve experienced yoshuku through and through unless you start from the very start to end.”
This all makes sense once the luxurious banquet of dishes is presented to you, where everything flows so seamlessly without possibly being broken down.
As we see this menu as another clear exposition of Shin’ Labo’s brilliance, guests can appreciate the myriad of elements, thought, and beautiful artisan that goes into each dish. To understand that there’s more going on behind a dish that it may appear, Chef James leaves us with a piece of advice, “It’s not your typical dining experience. Go in without a preconception of what it should be. If not, you’ll fail to experience what the chef is trying to give you. Let yourself find the little beauties along the way.”
With his continuous recrafting and fusion of luxe, cuisine and style, it’s just a matter of time before we hear the next pioneering menu Shin’ Labo has to offer.
Related: Shin’Labo By James Won Launches Elevated Yoshoku Lunch Set Menu