MeatMore – Steakhouse & Cocktail Bar, Bukit Bintang
Words: Jacob Weber
Photos: Monica Tindall
Make a beeline for Bukit Bintang, head for the side road by Sephora, and dip down the stairs towards the big double doors with a tell-tale glowing sign – and you’re no longer in KL. You’ve arrived in Manhattan.
MeatMore is a trendy SoHo-style concept restaurant – “Kuala Lumpur’s first and only meat specialist” – helmed by Chef Patron James Won. It’s a stunning, industrial-chic space with exposed brickwork, artistic neon lightning, gleaming stainless-steel counters in the open kitchen, and a soft bass-heavy house music soundtrack. Very New York and very trendy.
There’s also alfresco seating if you prefer to eat outdoors, but trust us – you’ll want to be inside for this. Ideally, at the Chef’s Table, an omakase-style counter with a front-row seat of the kitchen and all the magic that happens there.
Chef James is only too happy to explain what “meat specialist” means – and makes it clear that MeatMore is not a steakhouse. This is a place for lovers of meat and proteins. USDA prime cuts of beef are sourced from all over the world. There is a dedicated in-house butcher overseeing both wet- and dry-ageing programs. Raw and cooked meat is on the menu (tartare and carpaccio come highly recommended).
There are three types of grills in the spotless kitchen: a hardwood, smokeless Kancho grill, a charcoal Parilla, and an open-fire pit, naturally. This isn’t a steakhouse – this is a laboratory.
MeatMore is built around the communal experience of large platters and small plates and pays proper respect to “the art of ageing, slicing, and tenderising” quality meat. You’re sure of a warm welcome and excellent service; the team practices “Omotenashi”, the Japanese culture of hospitality that means to cheerfully and whole-heartedly look after guests. And they’ve got it spot on.
Fittingly, our warm welcome starts at the bar, where Head Bartender Kenzo – a Japanese Grand Champion for mixology and flaring – presents us with some expertly crafted cocktails.
Happily for Monica, Kenzo’s signature cocktail is the Bunga Raya (RM58), also known as the ‘Brave Negroni’. The classic version gets a twist, with Montelobos mezcal and homemade hibiscus syrup as a base. Mezcal in a Negroni gets two thumbs up from Monica’s indisputable rating system, and I have to say I quite like this version as well (I don’t usually like Negronis). It comes with a massive chunk of hand-picked ice that could sink a ship.
I get the Saint Yunos (RM58), MeatMore’s version of a Whiskey Sour. It’s very refreshing and aromatic, thanks to the yuzu and elderflower brightening up the bourbon base. There’s a wonderful contrast and an eyebrow-raising punch.
It turns out that every night at 9 pm, Kenzo and his talented troupe of bartenders put on quite a show, spinning and flipping and mixing cocktails with glasses and shakers flying around at a terrific pace. Time your visit accordingly.
You could come to MeatMore for the cocktails alone – the vibes and the drinks are as good as any speakeasy bar – but you’d be doing yourself a disservice if you didn’t eat. This isn’t just excellent food; it’s an education, a showcase of expert protein preparation and presentation.
We settle down at Chef’s Table, tie our bibs tightly, and get stuck in.
For starters, the Mamak Tail Bone Broth (RM38) – a glorious sup Tulang-style dish with wagyu oxtail beef that just melts off the bone into the rich stew. This is proper comfort food with a classy touch. (It would be great on a hangover.)
Next up is a smooth, silky Beef Tartare (RM89), made with tenderloin wagyu and served with quail egg and farm herbs. The perfect texture and pickled onions and herbs add a nice kick.
(All carpaccio and tartare dishes are made with tenderloin here – that’s why they’re so good.)
By the way, it’s not all beef at MeatMore. There are seafood, white meat, and even vegetarian options alongside luxury cuts of premium steak. We try the Baby Snapper (RM28/100g), beautifully cooked Cantonese style, with an incredible house-made soy sauce and a beef tallow dressing that is amazing with the flaky fish.
One bite of the Bone Marrow (RM58) on the crusty farmhouse-style sourdough bread (also baked in-house), and you’ll make one of those involuntary noises reserved for deeply satisfying food. The rich marrow scrapes smoothly off the bone with a spoon and feels very indulgent indeed.
Triple-cooked Chips (RM18) arrive, and they’re the best chips we can remember having in a long time. Cooking them three times in beef tallow does the trick.
In anticipation of the main course meat dishes to arrive, we select a red wine. The Terrazas de los Andes Cabernet Sauvignon 2020 (RM41/glass; RM198/bottle) is a pleasant, bold vintage from Argentina with oaky notes and a juicy finish, and really whets the appetite.
Our first treat is a USDA 30-day Dry-aged T-bone Steak (RM88/100g) – which immediately raises the bar very high for the rest. There’s an incredible flavour to this meat without any sauce or seasoning, which is a testament to its quality.
The 30-day-aged USDA Rib Eye (RM280/±400g) is equally expertly cooked, browned nicely yet buttery-soft, with just the right amount of crust. Tender, rich, and a smart choice.
And then the Macaroni Cheese (RM26) shows up and blows us all away.
This might be my favourite dish of the evening. I know how absurd that sounds in a place like this. But – with all reverence and respect to the outstanding steaks and their expert butchery and masterful cooking – the Macaroni Cheese is jaw-dropping.
So simple, but so well done – and there’s no secret ingredient. It’s just quality cheddar, mozzarella, crème fraîche, breadcrumbs, and pasta. Nothing complicated, nothing contrived – but still luxurious as anything.
For a very special treat, we get to sample the Mortlach New York Strip, USDA prime sirloin aged with Mortlach 12-year whiskey. This is usually reserved for patrons of the private dining experience in Malaysia’s first-ever “Mortlach Room”, with a specially curated menu that pairs quality whiskey with premium beef, as well as specialty cocktails. (RM5,000 min. spend, up to 12 pax.)
And boy, are they lucky. (As are we.) The depth of flavour is just incredible, with a vibrancy and richness from the whiskey-ageing process and a leftover residue from the booze. It’s not the usual ‘melt-in-the-mouth’ texture; in fact, quite the opposite, and all the better for it.
The Mash & Gravy (RM22) is another simple side made with a quality touch. There’s no starch or other shortcuts here; the gravy is rendered straight from neck bones over a three-day period. It’s rich, creamy, and oh-so-satisfying.
If you prefer your beef between two pieces of bread, you’ll love the burgers (pictured below are slider versions, allowing us to get a taste without taking up too much precious stomach space), which are served with those excellent chips and a delicious onion marmalade. The minced beef patty is a combination of Australian and Wagyu cuts, and it’s very tasty.
For dessert, a classic Creme Brûlée – again, no secret ingredients or cheap tricks, just a firm respect for the traditional recipe. It’s sweet without being sickly and has the perfect creamy consistency.
A Scottish Kopi (RM48) to finish; a warm and comforting after-dinner cocktail that settles the stomach and brings a smile to the face. It’s a twist on Irish Coffee that replaces Irish whiskey with Scotch and is mixed with Malaysian white coffee and a pandan cream foam. It’s a great end to an excellent evening.
I’ve not had the pleasure of eating at one of James Won’s fine dining establishments. I’m sure it’s exquisite. But there’s something about this place – seeing our chef in a baseball cap and jeans, excitedly ordering more food, waving fries around and enjoying this meal as much as we are – which feels just right.
Chef James is foregoing the fancy stuff to focus on the food he enjoys cooking and eating himself. The burgers are a homage to McDonald’s; the Mash and Gravy, a nod to KFC. Much of this menu is high-quality comfort food expertly elevated without sacrificing any substance.
It might be ‘simple’, but there’s nothing basic about any of it – not least the meat, which has to be some of the best and most masterfully prepared you’ll find in Malaysia. The range of international types of premium beef available is eye-opening and mouth-watering. There are vegetarian and pescatarian options, too, but this really is for the carnivores seeking the highest-quality cuts.
There’s fine dining. And there’s happy food. This is both.
Reasons to visit MeatMore: Stunning SoHo-concept space in the heart of KL, with comfortable seating and great ambience; excellent cocktail menu and enthusiastic bar staff; incredible meat-forward menu with premium-grade international cuts; side dishes that would be the main attraction in many other restaurants; extensive wine and spirit menu.
MeatMore – Steakhouse KL
B2, B3, B4, Ground Floor, Block B, No 179 (next to Gold3 Boutique Hotel
Jalan Bukit Bintang, 55100, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
MeatMore Opening Hours
5.00 pm-1.00 am (Tuesday-Sunday)