Saturday, January 30, 2010

Sushi Zanmai, the Gardens


So it was finally Friday, which I was actually looking forward to. Chong has arranged dinner plans for a sushi feast, and I have been dying to have one decent Japanese dinner for quite some time already. I may have given up on many obsessions I brought back from Perth, but my love for Japanese food has not wavered. Reservations were made at Sushi Zanmai in the Gardens, Mid Valley even few days prior to the dinner, and this proved to be a wise move. As we arrived to the venue, the line queuing to the entrance of the restaurant did not look very pretty. Nonetheless, we made our way to the reserved spots with no fuss.

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This was also one great opportunity for me to really try out my newly acquired lens, the Olympus Zuiko 11-22mm F2.8-3.5. Generally this is a super wide angle zoom lens, not exactly an ultra wide, but wider than usual wide ends offered by standard kit zoom lens. I have made up my mind to replace my standard kit lens with this 11-22mm, hence I am anticipating using this lens a lot more from now on. In fact, this will be my carry around lens, and most probably will stay with the body whenever long telephoto zoom is not required. Going out dining, 11-22mm will be the lens I lug along, and I believe this will be more than good enough to do the job.

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Tempura Mix, Beef Tataki, and Raw Beef Slices for some funky Soup Mix that Chong ordered. Yummy !!! However, the beef tataki slices were a little too chunky, and I would have preferred it to be thinner.

Low Light Photography

Since the lens offers F2.8-3.5, which is very bright for typical lenses, its use in low light condition is really welcome. With lower F-number, meaning larger aperture, I can manage to gather in more light, hence adopting the use of higher shutter speed. Therefore, lens shake has become less of an issue. For a wide angle lens, the shaking of the lens has also become less pronounced, in comparison to longer zooms. Coupling all this advantages of wide angle bright lens with the image stabilization in my camera, I can get blur free, tack sharp images every time, even under the poor ambient light circumstances. This surely was a bonus, and I did not use my external flash at all this time, for all the photos displayed in this entry. I did bring the flash along though, just in case, but did not find any need for it in the end. The F2.8 brightness did prove to be quite beneficial especially for indoor shoots.

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Chong in action with his Canon PnS camera. Do not underestimate him, do check out his food blog entries here. He has got some really awesome food photos going on there.

Lens coverage

I have never expected this lens to perform well in food photography. The previous staple lens I utilized for most of my food photography was 25mm pancake. Although I do feel that pancake was a near perfect lens for most food photography situations, but I could almost emulate the same angle of view, with slight loss of brightness at 22mm F3.5. It was no surprise then, I have let go of the pancake lens, and that contributed to the fund of this 11-22mm. At 11mm, I was provided with quite a new perspective in capturing food, I can fit the entire table with so many plates together in one single frame !! I can choose to emphasize on the plate that I wanted to bring the attention to, by placing it to the extreme front of the photograph, letting the distortion does its job in pulling the subject wider towards the edge. At 11mm F2.8, I did not expect the bokeh (background blur) to come out quite smooth and pleasing. Even though it was not as creamy and blur as longer zooms, but the evident bokeh was a welcome to enable me to isolate my subjects further. If there is a need to bring certain parts of the food closer, I can zoom into 22mm, at F3.5, and with close focusing distance of 28mm, I can make decent magnification, a very slight close up shooting capability I must say. It is not as good as a macro lens, but it does its job. Do check out the close up shots of some of the photos here, they do look very presentable !!

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Unagi. One of common favourites.

Photo Output

This is the second time using this lens, with extensive shooting. After reviewing the photos, and did a little pixel peeping, I was stunned with the image quality. I may have anticipated the higher picture quality, since this was after all a Pro Grade lens, but I did not expect to be this astonished. The sharpness and contrast level were a lot better than my kit lenses (duh !!) and somehow, the colour tone come out a lot more pleasing. The amount of details this lens was able to resolve was quite respectable. Even at fully wide angle end, 11mm, the photos come out really sharp from corner to corner. Center sharpness seems more evident, and I have not even stopped down to F8, where most lenses exhibit their greatest strengths. Better sharpness, contrast and colour, I am certainly very happy with what the lens is doing. I just could not wait to bring this lens out in the bright daylight and see what it can do there and then !!


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Some really funky Salad, and a really weird looking sushi we saw on other serving tray that we decided to order one for ourselves.


Japanese Feast

Alright, enough of lens talk. I do have to apologize, for getting into my own world again rambling about really photography/technical stuff. Do bear with me, because this was my new lens, after more than a year of not adding anything new to my gears.

Thanks to Chong, I had a friend to dine with. This was my second time to Sushi Zanmai, and I must say their food quality and services are quite recommendable. Their sushi and other Japanese dishes may not exactly appear and taste like their authentic original counterparts, but they do have their own unique style and pattern to it. Food serving size was not overly huge, but generous enough. Some people may actually prefer to have Japanese buffet, at places like Jogoya, Tenchi or Shogun, but somehow, if you want quality, you are unlikely to find the best in those buffet places. Made to order dishes have always been superior in many aspects. This fact was proven right at Sushi Zanmai.

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And a round of Coffee to round the evening off. Iced Caramel Machiato and Cafe Latte.

It was quite a fulfilling dinner I must say. Filled my tummy with good Japanese food, had a chance to really utilize the new 11-22mm lens, and catch up with Chong, a great friend, blogger and photographer. This was certainly a wonderful way to open up to a long weekend !!

Do expect a lot of shutter therapy sessions coming up. Have a great weekend everyone !!

15 comments:

  1. That's when the bugger MMS-ed me the picture of Unagi to tempt me. Gggrrr... *shows fist at Chong*

    Awesome food photos. I shall hide my food pictures. *sniff sniff*

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  2. And look at the beeffffffffffffffffffffffffff........


    T_________________T

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  3. Hey Jason,
    LOL so he did !!! ahahaha he did not even tell me anything about it.
    Haiyooo.. the food photos are nothing la compared to what you can do !!! Seriously, im not kidding.

    And whats with the beef?

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  4. The beef looks so.. delicious. T__T

    Damn it, after I look at my sushi zanmai pictures, mine sucks man. Doesn't look tempting compared to yours.

    *mumbles* Shit shit shit, robin is overtaking me. *mumbles*

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  5. hey jasonmumbles,
    yeah, the beef was quite good !! ahahaha wish you were there with us.
    But I am NOT overtaking you lah !!!! WTF !!!

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  6. Jason : Muahahahaha :P

    Robin : You really like to create your own dishes name, eh... Great photos btw. Robin 1 - Jason 0. Hehe.

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  7. hey chong,
    LOL... I paid for the food, I took photo of the food, I ate the food, so practically the food is mine to name anyway I want !! aaahahaha
    aiyer... where got like that one... jason more like 21, and robin is 1 only ahahahaha

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  8. I was really hungry when I read your post, and I finished hungrier still.

    Love this set.

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  9. Hey Dienasty,
    It is time for some Japanese Food !! they have really good ones in Singapore. Go go go.

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  10. singapore has great japanese food but only the premium ones are the freshest if u are rich enough!

    perth's jap food is kinda like sinpapore too. matsuri and fuji station is ok. the best is still tsunami at freo but very expensive if u don't have the discount card!

    -Marcus

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  11. Hey Marcus,
    i have tried matsuri and fuji station, but never tried the tsunami you mentioned !
    Zen at Subi was quite good too, but slightly on the expensive side also.
    When wallet is thin, there is always taka !!! I love their tempura udon... only 5 bucks back then !!!

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  12. yes yes taka is still the best for the poor uni student LOL! free flow of green tea too! i think i miss taka the most despite it being the cheapest and least good of the lot. a lot of awesome memories back there especially at the one just across wellington st station! omg i can't believe it took me a few seconds to recall that name! must...go...back...

    -Marcus

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  13. hey marcus,
    Yeah, there was once I used to eat at taka at least once a week !!! crazy stuff.
    LOL... yeah I agree, must... go... back !!!

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  14. Yum... the beef looks tempting man.. and about the Unagi--Common favourites, erm.... hv to think think again... Muahahhahaa.... :p

    Frederick

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  15. hey frederick,
    LOL... Unagi rocks !!

    ReplyDelete