Lifestyle

Zen By Mel’s ‘Volume: Jordan’ Menu: a Harmonious Blend of Japanese & Southeast Asian Flavours

Iqmal Hakem
18/06/2024
07:37 MYT
We’ve long been fans of Zen by Mel and Chef Jordan Alexis Yap's culinary work. We reviewed its menus from its launch in 2022 and earlier this year with its Sansho omakase experience.
Every time we’ve experienced the menu at Zen by Mel, we cannot help but commend them for introducing our palates to innovative combinations of flavours and foods of different cultures and origins.
With its newly launched Volume: Jordan menu, which offers a delightful blend of Japanese and Southeast Asian flavours, this was no different.
The menu features an à la carte lunch selection (starting from RM118), their renowned 11-course (RM388) dinner, and a lighter 8-course (RM288) dinner, with each dish reflecting Chef Jordan's unique culinary journey.
For our review, we tried the 11-course Volume: Jordan menu. Although the thought of an 11-course meal might sound overwhelming, as we've mentioned in our previous reviews, the omakase experience at Zen by Mel is more of a guided tour of each dish with the chef as your trusty tour guide.

Starting off with a bang

We were first served the three appetisers of the meal (Akaebi, Wagyu/Scallop Tartare, and Potage), which were presented beautifully on a tray. After serving the tray, Chef Jordan gave us a brief summary of each appetiser and guided us through how to have them. He recommended that we go for the Akaebi, the tartare, and then finish with the potage.
The Akaebi was simply an explosion of different flavours, all thanks to a combination of citrusy fresh prawn with crunchy kerabu encased within a crisp pani puri shell, topped with a few fragrant drops of kaffir oil which we were instructed to drip ourselves.
Although Chef Jordan recommended that we use one to two drops, as we loved the scent and flavours of the kaffir oil itself, we opted to give the Akaebi a more generous dripping.
The next appetiser was the wagyu and scallop tartare, which came in a small tin mixed with edible flowers, beads of basil, Sicilian dressing, basil, and ume (Japanese plum) vinegar. It was topped with Iranian caviar, often labelled the best in the world.
While both were great, we preferred the wagyu tartare, which, due to its fattiness, simply melted in our mouths.
Whereas the two appetisers were lighter and fresher, the potage, made of potato mille-feuille dipped in kelulut (stingless bee honey), chilli glaze, and sesame seeds, was rich and quite filling. The fusion of kelelut and chilli glaze gave it a nice balance of sweet and spicy.

On to the heavier stuff

The next dish, the Maguro, consisted of smoked tuna served two ways. The first was finely chopped maguro rolled up with sushi rice in nori, while the other was served nigiri style, and both were served with a dash of Hainanese chilli crema.
Although we loved both, I personally enjoyed the finely chopped maguro more as the combination of flavours was much more apparent than the nigiri maguro.
Next was the sweet corn soup, served in a teapot and made of local corn, baby corn, leek, and burnt onion, combined and cooked into a dark, rich broth. This was served with goji berries and Beijing-dried scallops, adding an extra layer to the dish.
As someone who isn’t a fan of corn or soups, this was probably my least favourite dish of the night. But that isn’t to say that I hated it. The broth was super hearty and reminiscent of an herbal soup, and although the main star was the corn, I was surprised to find that the taste and scent of corn were quite muted in this dish.
This was followed by the first main of the night: spring chicken served on a bed of cauliflower mash alongside edible flowers and grilled kailan.
While the spring chicken cooked to juicy perfection was supposed to be the star of the show, the cauliflower mash and sauces elevated this dish to much higher heights. The cauliflower mash was the perfect amount of creamy, and when eaten with the chicken, it gave a rich and decadent mouthfeel.
Our next main dish was halibut, famed for its mild and buttery flavour paired with puttanesca, Kalamata olives, yuzu, young papaya (somtam), elderflower, peanuts and okra.
Despite thinking that the spring chicken couldn’t be topped, this was the one dish I will remember forever. The halibut was cooked perfectly and paired flawlessly with the somtam. While most of the other dishes had more of a Western and Japanese fusion feel, this dish is where the Southeastern flavours shone brightly.
While you can opt for other mains instead of the halibut, including steak cut, Hokkaido scallops, or Iberico lamb, each with different additional pricing, the halibut is simply not a dish worth skipping.
The final main course of the night was the Quack-nabe, masterfully smoked and thinly sliced Perak duck served alongside duck tare, Japanese rice, shallots, and black bean vinegar. Think duck rice, but a thousand times better.
The smoked duck paired with the rice produced an umami explosion in every spoonful and got us scraping the pot to ensure we finished up every grain of rice. It’s safe to say that with this dish, we ate and literally left no crumbs.

The sweeter side

Despite feeling pretty full after the 8-courses, as they say, there’s always more room for desserts.
The first dessert was the Ume sorbetto served on a bed of almonds and dried raspberries. This tasted fresh and light and was a fantastic palate cleanser after the heavier dishes earlier.
Next up was the star of the dessert section of the night, the Imperial Matcha 2.0. This completely changed my perspective on matcha as someone who doesn’t like it due to its earthiness and bitterness.
The smooth ceremonial match paired with the sweet raspberry and creamy yoghurt made me realise that perhaps I haven’t given matcha the benefit of the doubt. It was everything you’d ever want in a matcha-based dessert: sweet, smooth, creamy, with tons of umami flavour.
We ended the night with Forest Gump, an assortment of desserts served on an adorable forest-themed platter.
These consisted of dark shrooms made from dark chocolate mixed with mushroom and truffle powder, a bandung lychee piece with sweet and familiar flavours, and a tart passionfruit one. Our favourite was the bandung lychee one, which simply melted in our mouths and left us wanting more.

The Volume: Jordan 11-course experience

We enjoyed the entire experience and loved how Chef Jordan put everything together and guided us through his dishes, being open to answering any questions we may have had.
Although some dishes, such as the sweet corn soup and potage, weren't particularly impressive to us, we’re sure this was due to our preferences and tastes, as others might think otherwise. Meanwhile, we think the number of courses was just right and left us feeling quite full and satisfied, which is something that I often don't leave with when dining at semi-fine or fine dining eateries due to the smaller portion sizes.
We can’t wait to see what else Chef Jordan and Zen by Mel are cooking up for their future menus and iterations.
Full details of Volume Jordan menu:
  • Lunch: Ala carte menu starts from RM118 per pax
  • Dinner: 8-course menu RM288 per pax, 11-course menu RM388 per pax
  • Address: F-10-01, Pusat Perdagangan Bandar, Persiaran Jalil 1, Bukit Jalil, 57000 Kuala Lumpur, Wilayah Persekutuan Kuala Lumpur
  • Opening hours: Wednesday - Monday, Tuesday Closed. Lunch Session First Session: 12.00 pm to 1.30 pm Second Session: 2.00 pm to 3.30 pm Dinner Session First Session: 6.00 pm to 8.00 pm Second Session: 8.30 pm to 10.30 pm
Reserve your spot here. Find out more here.
Featured Image Credit: Provided to Rojak Daily
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