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Who says Asians can’t do good Italian food? Just ask Chef Moka @ Bacchusj!

Who says Asians can’t do good Italian food? Just ask Chef Moka @ Bacchusj!

[编辑 Editor 吕大人   英译 Translator 刘大人   摄影 Photographer 刘大人]

 

When we first shared among our friends the Matsuzaka Beef we just had on social media, the unanimous reaction, including thumbs up from some of the seasoned beef aficionados and food connoisseurs that Bacchusj serves one of the best steaks in town is testimony enough on the quality of their dishes, and the pride of their chef-owners from Japan!

Puteri Harbour today is fast becoming a prominent location lined with several “atas” properties and neighbourhood of high land value, as well as home to many characteristic cafes and restaurants. Having received glowing reviews about a Japanese couple with an Italian heart and soul, we were also curious about how they ended up serving their menu of Italian fare in Johor Bahru, at this far end of the promenade at Puteri Harbour.

 

 

In case you are wondering, Bacchusj (pronounced, ba-cus-jay) drew its inspiration from Bacchus, the Roman version of the Greek god Dionysus. Usually depicted as a middle-aged man with a beard and a full head of hair that’s been crowned with an intricate headpiece filled with grapes and vines, legend has it that the god of agriculture and wine and the son of Zeus wandered the earth, showing people how to grow vines and process the grapes for wine. Associated with celebration, Bacchus almost always had a procession filled with followers who would dance while he made wine and it’s this revelry that prompted the owners to name the restaurant with a “j“, presumably paying homage to their home country and their new-found home in Johor!

 

Clad with a baby blue close to Tiffany blue, with its secluded location adding to the cosy ambience especially for diners who wish to enjoy their meal in relative privacy, Bacchusj has a choice of three seatings. The main dining room can seat 16 pax, while there are also two smaller private rooms that host 4 and 6 pax respectively (with minimum spending between RM800 to RM1,000). In addition, the marina terrace can hold a further 31 people.

 

A fairytale encounter in Florence…

A native from Yokohama, Japan, Chef Moka passion for Italian cuisine took him to the Italian city of Naples and Florence, where he met the lovely Noriko. We guessed their shared passion for fine Italian wine and dine brought them together. Subsequently, the couple decided to set up their own restaurant outside of Japan and were encouraged to do so in Singapore, before their consultants helped them to see the vast potential in opening their Italian restaurant in Johor. The benefits of quality education opportunities presented to their daughter in Iskandar Puteri also swayed their decision towards JB. In 2014, Bacchusj opened for business in Bandar Uda Utama, before anchoring at the more scenic waterfront promenade in Puteri Harbour!

As he explained his affinity with his wife, Chef Moka pointed to the two certificates that were awarded by the AIS (Associazione Italiana Sommeliers) in his name and that of Noriko.

 

Antipasto
Insalata di rucola e fette di pere con gorgonzola

Our starter of Insalata di rucola e fette di pere con gorgonzola is undoubtedly a mouthful when it comes to the pronunciation, but we had no issues with our appetiser and found this mustard-flavoured leafy green to be very fresh and not overly bitter. Overall, the salad is refreshing with sliced pear, and the gorgonzola cheese is a welcome change from ordinary parmesan; not to mention a healthier and tastier alternative too.

 

Matsuzaka Beef A5

Beef Ahoy!!! Check out this Matsusaka Wagyu beef, also known as “The Queen of Dignity”, is recognised as one of the top three beef in Japan and are typically fed with beer & wheat, receive massages and listen to Mozart’s symphonies for relaxation! Shiok lor, these cattle have better lives than us, no wonder they can fetch a hefty price of nearly RM400 per 100g! This slab of meat on the tray alone weighs about 5kg and easily cost nearly RM20K!!! No way are we going to let it slip through our butter fingers LOL!

 

Antipasto
Carpaccio of Japanese Beef

The play on textures is highly commendable, with the Carpaccio of Japanese Beef truly exemplary of this traditional Italian appetiser. Made with the very Matsusaka Wagyu beef striploin, and topped with shaved cheese, olive and wild rockets, the tender yet lean beef contrasts the crunchy green with a waft of subtle aftertaste, and the cheese adding intermittent bursts of dairy flavour giving a mix of bittersweet, sour and savoury in one mouthful. Truly glorious.

 

Antipasto
Parma Ham & Salami Napoletano

Here’s one of our favourite dish of the day, but not necessarily everyone type of meat! The Salami Napoletano was sliced pretty thin and yet remains rich in taste and spiced just right. When we try it, we initially taste all the robust flavour of the pork and aromatic herbs while the chilli is very gradually released reaching a fine crescendo of taste and heat on the palate. Brilliant. On the other hand, the cured Parma Ham added a touch of sophistication to the simplest of dishes, but admittedly the saltiness level is much more overpowering than we thought it might be.

 

Primo piatto
Spaghetti frutti di mare

On most occasions, we probably wouldn’t have ordered such a common dish, but we were tempted by the seafood. Boy, we were well-rewarded in this case, as this hearty heap of  Spaghetti frutti di mare is full of crustacean flavours with the noodles cooked al dente – firm enough such that the tomato sauce coated the pasta perfectly!

 

Carne
Bistecca Alla AUS Wagyu MB6

Happy cows produce happy meats, right? Their Australian cow-terparts are also having their fair share of the spoils and good life down under indeed. We had our Bistecca Alla AUS Wagyu MB6 with medium doneness, and its beautiful shade of reddish-pink is something that we personally love. While the steak was tasty and tender, we found the gamey flavour to be overpowering at times. That’s when we can sprinkle some sea salt on the beef to neutralise its gaminess or pair it with, surprise surprise, mustard and wasabi! Honto ni oishii yo!

See Also

 

Pizza
Margherita

Our mouths water just from the fresh aroma of tomato, mozzarella cheese and fresh basil of our next dish as it leaves the oven, and we dig into our Pizza Margherita immediately upon serving. From our experience, the “magic” lies in ensuring all sides receive equal char time so that the crust is crackling and crispy to the bite, and its distinctive wood-fired smokiness and crispy charred edges won us over.

 

Dolce
Semifreddo & Tiramisu

We have an incredibly soft spot for Tiramisu, and many around us can’t bear the idea of this Italian classic without liquor in the past. However, a trip to lo Stivale (the boot) in 2005 changed all that perception, and we’ve been craving for the original recipe ever since. Nothing fanciful, just plain tasty AND alcohol-free, we highly recommend this original Italian recipe at Bacchusj!

On the other hand, Chef Moka also insisted that we try the Semifreddo, with the berry nodes giving this homemade cold mousse an overall light and refreshing touch, a certainty if we want to clean our palate after a heavy and flavour-packed meal.

 

So, who says Asians can’t do good Italian food? Apparently, Chef Moka has shown his capability at adapting to our local market with his decades of culinary experience working in classic Italian restaurants, and Johoreans are indeed fortunate that this Japanese couple has made JB their home, and hopefully for a long time to come…

 

BacchusJ

📍 LG-18, Lower Ground Floor, Puteri Harbour, Persiaran Puteri Selatan, 79000 Iskandar Puteri, Johor
📞 +607-509 6722
🕛 Tuesdays – Thursdays and Sundays, 12.00pm – 11.00pm, Fridays & Saturdays 12.00pm – 12.00am (Closed on Mondays)
📱 BacchusJ
🍽️ NON-HALAL

 

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