Japas: Japanese Izakaya Meet Spanish Tapas

Neon Logo Outside | Japas | Food For Thought

For those acquainted with the cuisine of progressive Japanese restaurant Babe by Jeff Ramsey, the latest offering by the renowned chef will be delighted with his stripped down and more casually titled Japas, a fun amalgamation of traditional izakaya and Spanish tapas. The menu itself is catered towards sharing plates in a fun and exciting manner, with a selection of sake and wines to match.

Jeff Ramsey | Japas | Food For Thought

Japanese Tapas at Japas by Jeff Ramsey

The new offering at Japas has taken quite a turn compared to previous Babe, with a more stripped-down menu. One big difference is the embracing of more traditional Japanese techniques, that you would find at an izakaya, with Spanish tapas to added for a truly interesting experience. The cuisine lends from both cultures which has embraced small bites and plates, which is great for sharing and enjoying together.

“We want to do something comfortable and chic, but casual so it is a neighbourhood place. The food will be simple and approachable: Japanese cuisine similar to what I did at Babe, in that we source the highest quality Japanese ingredients, but this time we keep it straightforward.” — Jeff Ramsey, Executive Chef of Japas.

Japas | Japas | Food For Thought

The Japas Menu

The new menu consists of a few sections, nibbles, small, big, desserts, true to izakaya and tapas culture, as well as the sashimi bar, much thanks to their successful run of Sushi Babe. The menu makes it easy for you to have a mix of everything, small eaters to larger portions.

Smoked Edamame | Japas | Food For Thought

Smoked Edamame

Soy brined and maple wood smoked
The simple Japanese staple was no ordinary take on edamame, with a pronounced smoky scent adding to the appetiser. Great for sharing.

Engawa Tsukudani | Japas | Food For Thought

Engawa Tsukudani

Simmered flounder fin with mustard seeds
A traditional way of cooking, the tsukudani, a form of Japanese simmering in soy and mirin, with the delicate flavour of the seared and fatty texture of the engawa which is highly prized. The mustard seeds added a layer of crunch and a mild punch of pungency. Fun fact, engawa refers specifically to the fin of the flounder, while the flesh is called hirame.

Smoked Ikura Tartlette | Japas | Food For Thought

Smoked Ikura Tartlet

Fromage blanc and yuzu
A signature dish of Ramsey’s is the smoked ikura tartlet has been on his menu from previous iterations, with that unmistakable flavour of umami from the bursts of ikura, with the creamy softness of the fromage blanc, sat on top of a wafer-thin tartlet shell. The tartlets are also smoked with 1000-year-old Japanese cedar called yakusugi, adding an exquisite aroma to the understated, yet technically complicated dish.

“It is illegal to harvest this tree in Japan, and we are only allowed to harvest once they have fallen on the ground. This is why this wood is so rare and prized.”

Toro Truffle | Japas | Food For Thought

Toro Truffle

Medium fatty tuna belly with tsukudani jus
Japas also offers a selection of high-grade sashimi, with the toro peppered with truffle, enhancing the taste of the chutoro. The tsukudani jus adds a deep layer of umami, balancing out the bite with elegance of the caviar.

Uni & Shiromi | Japas | Food For Thought

Uni & Shiromi

Seasonal white fleshed sashimi, ogo nori, truffle ponzu, spring onion and kaiware
The white fish used, a sea bream, also known as tai, a lean fish, was paired well with the truffle ponzu sauce, with bits of ogo nori adding an umami texture to the dish, whilt the uni adds layers of briny umami sweetness.

Torched Shimesaba | Japas | Food For Thought

Torched Shimesaba

Nanami, yokumi, umami, shoyu and lemon
One of their more visual dishes, the shimesaba, is a mackerel that is torched at your table, giving it that aburi texture, bringing out the flavours of the delicate fish. This dish is itself a showstopper as it is prepared by torching at the table itself.

Grilled Pulpo al Ajillo | Japas | Food For Thought

Grilled Pulpo al Ajillo

Spanish smoked paprika, aioli and lemon
A Spanish tapa, the grilled octopus was cooked in a Spanish style, cooked over binchotan for that crisp on the outside but tender on the inside. A key to a good pulpo is for the texture to remain springy to the bite but not rubbery, all signs of good execution.

Assorted Cured Meats Platter | Japas | Food For Thought

Assorted Cured Meats Platter

Chef’s selection of provision: Cecina, chorizo, salchichón, tongue
The cold cut selection is based on 4 cuts, depending on what’s freshest. The cuts comprised of the thinly air-dried Cecina beef, spicy chorizo, non-spicy salchichón and unique cured ox tongue. Each cut had a different texture and flavour, with the tongue being the most interesting.

Beef Tartare | Japas | Food For Thought

Beef Tartare

Yukhe style with Asian pear
A traditionally Korean preparation, yukke is an adaption into Japanese cuisine, with the ones here being done well. The meat was sinew free, had a nice bite with sweetness from the Asian pear adding crunch and texture. With high quality beef, this dish was prepared perfectly.

Kale Smoked Salmon Salad | Japas | Food For Thought

Kale Smoked Salmon Salad

Radish and lemon
An easy dish as a side salad, the kale salad was served with a simple tare, crunchy and a great for cutting the fat of the meats.

Yuan Miso Marinated Salmon | Japas | Food For Thought

Yuan Miso Marinated Salmon

Teppan grilled, miso, anchovy cream, dill oil and ikura
A simple yet effective dish is the yuan miso, charred on the surface for that aburi texture, the dish also had a mild miso flavour with dollops of anchovy cream adding a layer of refinement. The dill oil gave it colour and grassy fragrance, while the dollops of ikura gave it texture and umami bursts.

Truffle Chicken Truffle Shavings | Japas | Food For Thought

Truffle Tatsuta Chicken

Black pepper and truffle vin, mizuna and radish with add on Perigord truffles
Another traditional Japanese form of preparation the deep-fried chicken tatsuta style, which is fried in potato flour, giving the chicken a slightly chewy but interesting texture to the dish. What really added to the dish was the generous amount of perigord truffles shaved on top, mild but effective. This dish also comes with the option of adding caviar, for that added luxury.

Vacum Steak | Japas | Food For Thought

Spanish Rib Eye Steak

Vacum beef with assorted yakumi of Murray river flaky salt, black pepper, pickled daikon radish, yuzu kosho, arima sansho, and smoked dijon mustard
The Spanish cut comes from vacum beef, a Spanish breed that is known for its flavour. The cut here has a nice beefiness to it, which is perfect for those who prefer a leaner cut and that fragrance.

Steak | Japas | Food For Thought

Japanese Wagyu Striploin Steak

A5 Kagoshima beef with assorted yakumi of Murray river flaky salt, black pepper, pickled daikon radish, yuzu kosho, arima sansho, and smoked dijon mustard
Easily one of the best cuts of wagyu, the A5 Kaogshima striploin was beautifully marbled and flavourful, with each bite perfect on its own with a dollop of salt, without needing much help to the high quality cut. This cut is perfect for sharing as a slice or two is great for complementing the meal.

Desserts | Japas | Food For Thought

Harajuku Burnt Cheesecake

Tokyo style Basque cheesecake with vanilla cream
One of their signature desserts, the Harajuku burnt cheesecake is soft and creamy, without being too sweet.

Melon & White Wine

Fresh melon, yuzu curd & wine jelly
An interesting dessert with the white wine adding a level of funk to the simple dessert. Quite interesting.

Hojicha Crème Caramel

Sannoutou Sugar
One of the more understated dishes, the hojicha flavour permeates the dessert well, with a deep almost nutty flavour, with a sweetness that is balanced. This was our favourite dessert.

Villa Antinori Bianco Toscana 2018

Pineapple, jackfruit and lime
The Villa Antonori was both dry and acidic, and worked well with the umami heavy dishes. Perfect with the simmered sashimi dishes.

Kid Junmai Ginjo

Dried apricot, juicy ripe pineapples & green apple
This sake had a fruity note and clean taste on the palate, which worked perfect with the leaner fish cuts and lighter dishes. 

Marsilea Bobal Premier Organic

Wild flowers, earthy and black pepper
The Marsliea bobal was a more robust red, which also happened to lean towards the dry side, great for the stronger dishes such as the steaks, but was a good drink on its own.

Skyline | Japas | Food For Thought

The Japas Experience

You would think that the rebranding of Babe would result in the same experience, however, the change up is quite apparent. From the cuisine itself to the feel of the restaurant, it has settled into a more casual setting which can be experienced with loved ones, and not to mention, the price point has become incredibly more affordable, allowing patrons to taste a wider variety of selection. All in all, the new concept has made it more approachable, a coming together of flavours and cultures, all on a tasty plate.

For other related restaurants, see Jeff Ramsey.

11th Floor, Work@Clearwater,
Changkat Semantan,
Damansara Heights,
50490 Kuala Lumpur
+603 2095 8599
Opening Hours:
Tuesdays to Sundays, 6.00 pm till 11.30 pm
Closed on Mondays.


Nicholas Ng

Nicholas Ng is a restaurant critic, travelogue and opinion columnist which is curated on Food For Thought. He has been a freelance writer for 10 years and has previously worked as a lawyer. He currently is the Principal Counsultant of A Thoughtfull Consultancy.

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