[Penang, Malaysia] Japanese omakase dinner at Miraku, G Hotel Gurney

One of the things I really missed nowadays because of the COVID lockdown & quarantine rules worldwide is international travel - I missed how we could just hop onto a plane and fly somewhere to explore an exciting new food destination.

Japan was one of the countries where I’ll usually carefully plan a proper time in the year to visit, to take advantage of its seasonal offerings, for Japanese chefs have elevated the use of seasonal ingredients in cooking to an artform. Despite having made numerous visits to Japan in the past decades, one can never tire of its markets, its eateries, bakeries, even its small French-style cafes, with their impossibly perfect renderings of croissants or tartelettes, for most Japanese bakers & pâtissier seemed to possess that little bit of OCD so inherent in their society, to do everything faultlessly well.

Well, for the time being, I just had to be content with eating Japanese where I am. Not ideal, but perhaps the best that we can hope for. And my fave Japanese spot in Penang is Miraku at the G Hotel, overlooking Gurney Drive, Penang’s premier sea-fronting boulevard.

Miraku’s Executive Chef, Shingo Iijima, and General Manager, Kazuhiro Ugaeri. are both from Tokyo, but they chose to source much of their raw produce from Hokkaido. There, up north, the weather gets chillier than Tokyo at this time of the year so, by October, some species of the fishes there would have thicker layers of fat, and some would have firmer flesh.

Tokyo-born Executive Chef, Shingo Iijima, has helmed Miraku for the past couple of years, and has helped the restaurant maintain its perch at the top of a phalanx of very competitive Japanese restaurants in the city.

Our omakase dinner consisted of:
:small_blue_diamond: Marinated mustard leaf, grilled maitake mushroom and chrysanthemum, served with seared Hokkaido scallop - the myriad of flavours and textures were brought together perfectly. Particularly enjoyed the plump, bouncy grilled scallop. It was the first time I tasted pickled chrysanthemum flower petals - their subtle acidity complementing the sweet taste of the scallop, whilst the aromatic maitake mushroom provided the firm texture.

:small_blue_diamond: Blue fin tuna, hirame (flounder) sashimi & ankimo (monkfish liver) - the tuna and flounder were both buttery-rich and virtually melt in one’s mouth. But the revelation was the monkfish liver - practically foie gras from the ocean: deey, earthy pâté-like flavours.

:small_blue_diamond: Steamed egg custard, topped with grilled “unagi” (eel) and Hokkaido sea-urchin - I’d always liked Japanese savoury custards, and this chawan-mushi-like concoction was no less seductive: you have a raft of perfectly-grilled eel (and no one does eel as well as the Japanese, really), gently brushed with sweet teriyaki dressing, floating on a Lilliputian pond of golden, creamy egg custard bursting with umami flavours, topped off with some decadently-rich sea urchin. The whole construct was then lightly glazed with a translucent, viscous broth, with a tiny dollop of freshly-grated wasabi delicately perched on one side of it.
It was the kind of dish I’d want to let linger on my palate for as long as possible.

:small_blue_diamond: Saikyo miso “kanpachi” (amberjack), served with jumbo shitake, grilled chestnut, and finely-shredded sweet potato crisps - the centrepiece of this dish was the fat, luscious cut of the firm-fleshed amberjack, plus the impossibly luxuriant Hokkaido shitake - a virtual elven pillow of deliciousness.
But my favourite component in the carefully curated ensemble was actually the bursts of sweetness provided by the gem-like little chestnuts - I’m not sure what kind of treatment was given to the impossibly sweet chestnuts: slow-baked till the sugars inside were drawn out?

:small_blue_diamond: Australian wagyu beef with “beinasu” (two-tone) eggplant, gingko nut, “mukago” (yam) and egg-miso paste - I truly laud Chef Shingo’s brilliance in pairing meltingly-soft slivers of grilled wagyu beef with the sweet-creamy classic combination of egg-miso-mirin-dashi that dressed the carefully-grilled, hollowed-out eggplant vessel.
Little gingko nut and mukago (yam) baubles provided the the faintest hints of bitterness, and added an extra textural dimension to the dish.

:small_blue_diamond: “Kanpachi hara zuke” (amberjack belly), “engawa” sole fish, and “ttoro” blue fin tuna belly - this was the penultimate course to our omakase meal: traditionally, rice was served at the end, before the dessert makes its curtain call appearance. Here, the rice came in the form of sushi, hidden underneath some very choice cuts of fish: rich amberjack belly, even richer tuna belly, and toothsome sole fish. Each delicate morsel was expertly formed by Chef Shingo himself right in front of each diner.

:small_blue_diamond: Dessert: Black sesame curd on whipped cream, topped with gold leaf - truth be told, I’m not one for traditional Japanese desserts, much preferring Western-style cakes & pastries.
But this luxuriant take on a junket-like dessert was quite impressive, at least visually, if not for the taste.

Chef Shingo applying the finishing touches: topping the sesame curd with delicate feather-light gold leaves.

Chilled gold-flecked sake - I’m not too sure about this - it all seemed a bit ostentatious and over-the-top. I mean, we don’t ingest gold anyway.

With Chef Shingo’s inventive creations, and faultless service by its service crew, Miraku is definitely at the top of its game. We only paid US$95/£71 per person for this meal.

Miraku at the G Hotel
168A, Gurney Drive, 10350 George Town, Penang
Tel: +604-229 8702
Opening hours: 12 noon-2pm, 6pm-10pm.



1 Like

That is impressive! I had an omakase meal at a sushi place in the Tsukiji seafood market area in Tokyo and it was good, but this looks spectacular. Again, outstanding photography of a beautiful subject!

1 Like

Miraku at the G Hotel Gurney has just returned to its original location after a lengthy renovation of its premises. It was operating temporarily at sister hotel, G Hotel Kelawei’s rather awkward lobby area for the past 1.5 years.

Its sushi counter has retained much of its former look - slick and streamlined, manned by super-efficient chefs operating like clockwork.

Two significant changes occurred in the past year and the half: long-time Executive Chef, Shingo Iijima, had left - first back to his hometown, Tokyo, but subsequently to take on a new job in Singapore. In his place is new Executive Chef, Masato Tsuki, who hails from Kanazawa City.

Second, the restaurant now boasts a teppanyaki counter, manned by a meticulous, perfectionist Executive Chef (Teppanyaki), Tomikawa Yuji, a Tokyo native.

We started off with Miraku’s signature norimaki: the decadent Dragon Roll - a large, whole deep-fried prawn rolled up in sushi rice and sliced avocado, then topped with mayonnaise & ikura (salmon roe).

Miraku’s tempura moriawase is the best in town, without a doubt.

We chose two different teppanyaki lunch set options: the US sirloin steak one, and the seafood. Both were exquisite.

Miso soup and garlic fried rice

Every Japanese chef seemed to have that little bit of OCD that made them such perfectionists in turning out incredible plates of food.


Miraku had a grand ceremony to celebrate its re-opening at G Hotel Gurney last night, with nearly 100 invited guests, mostly regular customers, but also with Penang’s Chief Minister in attendance as the guest of honour.

The Chief Minister, together with Fumihiko Konishi (Chairman of Texchem which owns Miraku) performed the celebratory “𝘒𝘢𝘨𝘢𝘮𝘪-𝘉𝘪𝘳𝘢𝘬𝘪”, where the sake barrel is broken open by a wooden mallet.

The highlight of the evening was the carving of a 63 kg bluefin tuna (air-flown from Tokyo into Penang this morning) by Miraku’s Executive Chef, Masato Tsuki.

Guests were then served a celebratory omakase dinner, incorporating some of the freshest seasonal produce.
Starters included yuba (soy bean milk-skin) topped with uni (sea-urchin), pickled sakura ebi (tiny shrimps) with grated daikon (radish), black sesame mochi (glutinous rice cake) topped with sweet miso (fermented beanpaste), grilled fish and pickled lotus root.

Sashimi platter, including otoro (blue fin tuna belly) and mirugai (giant clam), with freshly-grated wasabi.

Simmered tuna with bamboo shoot & simmered stem sansai

Tempura with wakasagi (Japanese smelt), fish croquette, edible roots

Maguro no zuke-don (soy-marinated tuna on rice) - this was my favourite dish for the evening. So hard to get everything so simple to be done right: soy-marinated tuna cuts, freshly-grated wasabi, sweet pickled ginger, nori confetti-strips, rice of the right done-ness and moist-ness. Here, they got the dish done perfectly.

The accompanying miso soup was garnished with the elusive junsai) - edible little green pods with a gelatinous, slimy surface.

The tofu cubes were the only item which did not quite meet our expectations here.

Mochi rice ball filled with black sesame, sweet plum and Japanese melon

A good meal indeed, with broad smiles from all the sated diners - Miraku is well & truly back!


Incredible! What a beautiful feast! The tuna looks just about perfect! The sashimi platter looks “simple” and is perfect in its simplicity. It looks excellent.
But then everything does, right down to the smelt and fish croquette. The soy marinated tuna almost looked like salmon to this untrained eye, but it looks rich and delicious.
Thank you for sharing the photos and the descriptions!