Kampai Japanese Restaurant – A Toast to A PioneerAugust 11, 2011 | 9,064 views
#1 – Sushi as part of the SET. Kampai offers various lunch and dinner sets, at extremely affordable prices. And they do not skimp on the portions either.
This blog hits another milestone today. 3 million hits, and counting. Thank you dear readers, for staying sane and still having faith in this motormouth of a glutton-cum-writer. Time flies indeed, and soon enough Motormouth From Ipoh will hit its 4th year on the web.
I feel old. And the recent amnesiac attacks came in a slurry of unfortunate incidents; from leaving my diary in another meeting room, to paying at parking machines and completely forgetting to retrieve the paid ticket. Lucky me, good Samaritans all around with angelic halos hovering above their heads ….. I was saved from the hassle,shame and ultimately, penalty ($$) of having to pay for the lost ticket.
Here’s a very simple yet heartwarming piece on Kampai; one of the pioneers of Japanese cuisine in Ipoh.
#2 – A deadly combination that’s both addictive, healthy (?) and perfect for sharing. Oh, and to get the young ones to eat their greens? Japanese seaweed salad, or chuka wakame. (RM12.95/USD4.30)
And doesn’t this just make you wonder why this is the FIRST time I am writing about Kampai? When they have been in business for close to two decades now?
Beats me. I have more than a few folders full of pictures taken at Kampai. From shots taken with my handphone (the ever trusty Nokia 5610 back in 2008) to a few folders containing pictures from my Panasonic Lumix LX3 era. And now, the last visit in July with pictures taken by my current camera.
Somehow, procrastination is the biggest of all evil.
And the deluge of Japanese restaurants in Ipoh (lazy to name, just read through this list) got me all wide-eyed, jumpy, excited and had me completely forgotten about my roots.
#3 – Gyoza, or pan fried dumplings. Kampai does NOT serve pork by the way, but they do serve alcoholic drinks.
My parents and the owners of Kampai have known each other for more than 20 years. Maybe 30, but I was not born then so I would not have known. But as far as my memories allow me to reminiscence, we have been family friends prior to my primary school days.
Before this concept of a marriage between Japanese+Western cuisine restaurant was incepted. And definitely way before my palate was inducted into the Japanese food extravaganza.
My first experience however, was at this Japanese restaurant at Lot 10 in KL, situated on the 2nd or 3rd floor. But no longer there, and I would appreciate if someone can come back to me with the name ….
#4 – And no, not another food blogger’s privilege, but more of a “friend-friend” situation …. when we always get freebies, ice-cream at the end of the meal and additional 10% discount.
And so, before there was even Moritomo, let alone Kizuna etc, there was only Kampai. And another Japanese restaurant on Jalan Kampar at Fairmont Hotel. There was also this Bushi Japanese BBQ restaurant in Ipoh Garden, facing Hospital Fatimah.
Needless to say, all of those mentioned (aside from Kizuna’s era of modern Japanese restaurants) have been etched in the hall of fame ….. or shame. None still operates up until today, but Kampai still stand strong albeit stiff competition from the younger generations of fusion Japanese cuisine, sushi outlets, etc.
#5 – Slices of sashimi also part of the same SET. (RM48/USD16 that’s enough for two)
If you’re wondering about authenticity and the freshest of imported ingredients, then you might be in for a disappointment. Not that we cared back then …. when Japanese restaurants were not a dime a dozen, and dining in authentic Japanese restaurants in KL would have cost a bomb back then!
Furthermore, when I was still in my schooling days, I did not give a damn whether my maguro (tuna) came fresh from the sea or from the canned variety. Nor my tempura to be eaten only with tentsuyu sauce with lots of radish, or did it go well with mayo/chili sauce.
Only when the onslaught of Japanese restaurants arrived in Malaysia, paired with the immense marketing (brainwashing?) effort by Sushi King, Genki Sushi and Sakae Sushi, that we were exposed to what’s raw, what’s hot, what’s local and what’s not in Japanese cuisine.
#6 – Dad’s favourite; Seafood Teppan Yaki (RM28.95/USD10) came loaded with every seafood imaginable, including scallops, oysters, soft shell crabs and prawns.
As time goes by, when this discerning tastebud started to pick up on the finer flavours and the mind started to lean towards the ‘authenticity’ of fresh, imported ingredients, that my visits to Kampai were lessened. But still, the current batch of Japanese outlets in Ipoh have much to catch up with before staking claims on the prized throne of being crowned the top Japanese restaurant in Malaysia.
#7 – Batter-coated Soft Shell Crabs (RM23.95/USD8) – Served with an interesting tangy plum-based dipping sauce.
Lo and behold, we still appreciate the sentimental values of eating at the same old spot time and again. Especially during my secondary school-university days, when paying more than RM15 for a lunch set sounded ridiculous. And Kampai came in with hands down; the BEST offers the others could not match.
Set lunches at around RM10 each; in sizeable portions and more varieties than even Sushi King. And thus, we found ourselves going back again and again … for they serve the BEST tempura in Ipoh (still do, in my opinion), and still had no air about them.
No such distinctively ‘atas’ (high class, exquisite, premium) aura that makes you squirm in your seat. At Kampai, you can be in your short pants and sandals, chat loudly in your most obnoxious manner (but please don’t), and feels right at home.
#8 – Tempura, Tempura & More Tempura. Funny this 4 shots were taken at 4 successive visits. Mum’s favourite, and mine too.
No, Kampai does not hire a Japanese chef for show or bump up that ‘authentic’ ambience.
No, they STILL do not have a proper menu with beautifully designed layout.
And No, they have not increased their price much since a decade ago. Yup, lunch sets hovering around RM15 still, and no skimpy, pretentious bento sets.
Kampai. Cheers to the two decades of Resilience. Here’s to many more to come!
To me, Kampai is still my favourite Japanese-Chinese restaurant. If there ever was this category. But if you’re a local in Ipoh, you must have heard of this place or eaten here before. Share your memories (good or bad, doesn’t matter …) with all please.
Awkwardly, I sense a rush of filial piety in me as I put my thoughts into words for this review. Much akin to closing a chapter of my life. Phew.
“With that, I would like to thank each and everyone of you, especially those who have endured my endless ramblings since day one.”
KAMPAI JAPANESE RESTAURANT (pork-free)
5-7, Jalan Lim Bo Seng,
30300 Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia.
Tel No : 605-242 3688, 242 5388
Business hours : 12.30pm – 4.00pm (lunch sets available), 6.30pm – 10.30pm
Google Map to Kampai
GPS Coordinates : 4.600381,101.084409