Culinary Journeys: Sake

Meet the man introducing Malaysia to new flavors

Lilit Marcus, CNNUpdated 8th October 2019
(CNN) — The first clue is the name itself: The Sake Place.
In busy Kuala Lumpur, Danny Leong's restaurant is a place to sit, relax and enjoy a glass of some of the world's best sake.
"I think the best way to get people excited about sake is food," Leong says. "Everyone loves food!"
And he knows what he's talking about.
Leong is the first person in Malaysia to earn the coveted title of Master Sake Sommelier, and he takes his role as a food and drink ambassador seriously.
While Japanese food is popular in Malaysia, the idea of pairing sake with non-Japanese foods is a new twist that has been bringing curious diners into The Sake Place.
"In this part of the world we use a lot of sauces and spices," Leong explains. His star dish brings sake into one of those trademark sauces: shellfish glass noodles in a spicy assam broth.
The Sake Place's diverse menu includes a delicious Asian seabass dish.
The Sake Place's diverse menu includes a delicious Asian seabass dish.
Courtesy The Sake Place
The Sake Place combines food and drink with education: Leong regularly invites sake experts and brand owners from Japan to give lectures, teach master classes and host pairings at his restaurant.
But don't worry -- this doesn't feel like a homework assignment.
Instead, Leong prefers to let the students dictate where the night is going -- he asks them to write down their impressions or rate the sakes they've tried, then has an expert weigh in to give more depth and history.
KL's The Sake Place combines food and drink with education.
KL's The Sake Place combines food and drink with education.
The Sake Place
There are no wrong answers, only opportunities to learn.
Even though Leong has his share of sake-related accolades, he never considers his schooling to be done.
"You've just got to find the right bottle for the right dish," he says, smiling. If there's anything this chef loves, it's a challenge -- especially a delicious one.
The Sake Place, F-1-16 Plaza Arkadia, Desa Parkcity, 52200 Kuala Lumpur, +603 6419 6981