#Live it* A magical dining experience

-A +A
One of J&P’s four magicians performing for the dining audience

FAMOUS phrases of “Now you see it, now you don’t!” to “Abracadabra” always brings to mind a rabbit being pulled out of a tall hat or a coin disappearing right before your eyes, and reappearing behind your ear. There is always something inherently fascinating about magic.

Although there will always be detractors who insist that these shows are nothing more than illusions and trickery, the vast majority of people are still overwhelmingly awed by things can seemingly vanish and reappear in the blink of an eye.

From David Copperfield’s famous escapes from burning rafts and locked cells to Barney Stinson’s magic parlour tricks on the much-loved American sitcom How I Met Your Mother, magic appeals to people of all ages and from all walks of life.

That was exactly what Japanese entrepreneur Taeko Hasegawa, and her husband Hiroyuki Hasegawa, had in mind when they brought J&P Magic House to Malaysian shores.

The eatery, with its grand, dazzling décor puts in a valiant effort in trying to bring the magical ambience of on-stage illusion into a rather restrictive space of a pre-war colonial home in Changkat Bukit Bintang, located in the Golden Triangle of Kuala Lumpur.

Leave it to the Japanese to put the “extra” in “extraordinary”. In everything from the grand stage, the chandeliers, to the minute, intricate details in the plating of the dishes and the cushions on the sofas exude an aura of having been hand-picked and thoroughly thought of by the designers and creators.

It might be simply a Japanese cultural thing to make sure that everything is planned, executed and performed to perfection, and it is most definitely something that the rest of us can learn from.

The spotlight of the outlet, however, is cast on an ensemble of four talented Japanese magicians. It is their sheer energy and upbeat attitude that truly brings the show to life.

Each and every one of the magicians with their enthusiasm captivates the audience — from their plentiful smiles and jokes from beginning to end. They draw everyone’s curiosity in and finish each trick with finesse, earning their audiences’ appreciation and applause.

Throughout the meal, J&P’s magicians visit each table to showcase some of their tricks that involve cards, tapes, and even some patrons’ belongings. Although none of the illusionists are native English speakers nor very fluent in the language, their talent and energy steal the show and make the outing an enjoyable experience.

Be wow-ed over at one of the stage performances by the magicians of the restaurant

The stage shows, on the other hand, are performed at the end of each meal and showcase three of the magicians — two of whom are twin brothers with incredible talent. Their finale is not to be missed; which is notably gasp-worthy, although somewhat reminiscent of the “transporting” act in Christopher Nolan’s 2006 movie The Prestige.

Meals at J&P are served in three sessions; the first at 9pm, followed by 11pm and the final one at 1am every night. The 9pm meal consists of five courses and two drinks while the other two include one meal and two drinks. Prices are RM188 (promotional price till Oct 31) for the 8pm session and RM88 for the latter sessions.

Ala carte dining is also available, and the restaurant features a full bar and dining facility upstairs for those who prefer to enjoy dinner and a magic show in a less frenetic surrounding.

Although the food at J&P is nothing spectacular — they serve your run-of-the-mill Italian dishes like pastas and such — it is hardly something to complain about since their star attraction is really their magic show.

Another highlight, perhaps, is that the entire establishment is non-smoking, something that would greatly appeal to those seeking a comfortable dining experience without having to put up with second-hand smoke all night long.

Through a translator in an interview recently, Taeko explains that she has expanded her business horizons by opening a Magic School, which is slated to be fully operational in September.

Their classes run every other Saturday at the moment, and everyone — parents, children, couples, and groups of friends — are welcomed to join and learn some magic tricks.

Hiroyuki (third from left) and Taeko (fourth from left) being flanked by their four illusionists

J&P Magic House is located at 19, Jalan Berangan, off Changkat Bukit Bintang, 50200 KL. Its opening hours are between 6pm and 3am daily. For more information, please call (03) 2210 0221 or visit www.jpmagichouse.com.

This article first appeared in The Edge Financial Daily, on September 2, 2014.