KUKI Vegan Japanese Restaurant in TTDI

KUKI Vegan Japanese Restaurant in TTDI

KUKI Vegan Japanese Restaurant in TTDI

Words: Matt Brown
Photos: Rich Callahan

While many restaurants may strive to create a sense of serenity in their surroundings and offerings, it was only when visiting the relatively new KUKI Vegan Japanese eatery at Menara Ken that I really got a zen-like feeling from the experience. It’s the authenticity of everything, with owner and all-around creative genius Summer Ng ensuring that no detail is too small to achieve the right tone across her gorgeous second space. Having already operated the highly popular KUSA in Bukit Bintang, Summer and her clever team have elevated Japanese vegan cuisine again, with more of a casual fine dining experience.

KUKI Vegan Japanese Restaurant in TTDI
Kuki Vegan TTDI

From the moment you enter KUKI and stroll along its tranquil garden path to get to the dining area, you feel transported. Real plants happily grow around the space, which is lit with an impressive eye for detail (and excellent ability at showcasing all of the incredible food).

Even those of us who try not to go overboard with picture taking when out to eat will find it difficult here. There are a plethora of standout visual moments even before a single dish has arrived, starting with the three private rooms built in the centre of the space. Raw and natural materials are the order of the day, with pine, stone, pebble floors, and stained and burned woods all making a visit a highly tactile experience. Traditional imported Japanese washi paper is used for the screens of the private rooms, as well as walls made of mud and rice straw. The tables are formed out of mud as well, contrasting wonderfully with the cutlery and crockery that also serves to showcase each dish perfectly.

KUKI Vegan Japanese Restaurant in TTDI
Private Room

The long table that runs parallel to the private rooms is an angular beauty, moulded in the shape of a soft K and partitioned by softly concreted partitions. Put it simply: there’s not a bad spot in the place, and the best part is after eating and drinking what KUKI has to offer, you’ll come back enough times to try every seating angle for yourself.

The focus here, according to Summer, is “food that doesn’t shout” – ingredients, herbs, flowers and cooking methods are highly refined and more detailed than you might think. Our party had a chance to eat through a multi-course degustation menu, and it was clear from the first dish that the spectacular architecture is matched by the food.

KUKI Vegan Menu

Most items served at KUKI take between five to six hours to create. The level of precision and love that goes into achieving the right textures and tastes is commendable. The kitchen will also take note of a guest’s order and save it for next time, to ensure that favourites are delivered and new innovations shared with each visit. All dishes we sampled are available a la carte or as a part of KUKI’s 5 and 8-course menus (RM 149 and RM 249, respectively.

Plant-based Side Dishes

The Crispy Layered Potato with yuzu chickpea mayo is a brilliant starter and indicative of the attention to detail across the menu. The potatoes are sliced, cooked, frozen, fried, layered, fried once more and served piping hot on a skewer with housemade yuzu chickpea mayonnaise that features ten ingredients. At the risk of destroying my word count early on, I will state now that KUKI makes everything in-house – sauces, fermented items, tofu, and hand-ground matcha … their commitment to quality and consistency is a standout.

KUKI Vegan Japanese TTDI
Crispy Layered Potato

The Nasu Kakuni is a fan favourite and so closely resembles pork belly in every respect that I could have been easily fooled into thinking that it was. A combination of fresh eggplant and tofu, there’s a secret sauce and some clever sweetness added using watermelon.

KUKI Vegan Japanese TTDI
Nasu Kakuni (Must Try!)

Ganmodokki is a traditional tofu dish, crafted here using a total of 22 ingredients (17 alone for the tofu itself), to be consumed after smashing the tofu and drenching it in the housemade dashi. If KUKI has a formal vision, it would be about focus. Focus on the visual, the taste and the nutritional content.

Best plant-based Restaurants KL
Ganmodokki

Salad & Soup

A Cubed Watermelon Salad is a striking presentation, with the cube of diced watermelon topped with tofu cream cheese and sitting in a dashi dressing. Refreshing and surprisingly complex in its lovely flavours.

Best plant-based Restaurants KL
Cubed Watermelon Salad

In a city that has spent the year impressing me over and again with its incredible corn dishes, KUKI moves to the top of my list with their Corn Soup, a truly delicious serving of fresh corn, soy milk and the husk served on top, emphasising the clever ways in which the kitchen manages to achieve their zero waste aspirations.

KUKI Vegan Japanese TTDI
Corn Soup

KUKI Vegan Sushi

There’s no point in putting your camera away when you visit KUKI, and if you’ve managed to resist the stunning interior and plated gorgeousness thus far, you won’t stand a chance when the sushi arrives at your table. Four different pieces are served, each bite-sized and absolutely gorgeous and made with the freshest ingredients available on the day – usually featuring 12-15 of them. Being bite-sized, we couldn’t exactly quarter them, so I tried the mushroom-inspired piece (made with five different types of mushrooms), and it was phenomenal.

Best plant-based Restaurants KL
Vegan Sushi

Plant-based Main Courses

With KUSA already renowned for its delicious vegan ramen dishes, KUKI adds to that reputation with a Goma Miso Ramen that will make you return all by itself. A highly layered dish that is so hearty and flavourful, the combination of handmade ramen noodles, mushrooms, baby siew pak choy, baked tomato, ginger and chilli oil may result in your slurping heard through the paper-thin walls – and possibly the concrete ones, too.

Best plant-based Restaurants KL
Goma Miso Ramen
Best plant-based Restaurants KL
Ramen

Fermented Sencha Ochazuke translates to Green Tea Over Rice and features the eponymous tea leaves, sesame seeds, agedama tempura, shio kombu, aojiso, nori, coriander and wasabi in a crunchy blend that complements tofu and ramen dishes very well.

Best plant-based Restaurants KL
Fermented Sencha Ochazuke

Plant-based Dessert

Made fresh every morning before lunch service and then again in the afternoon before dinner, the Warabi Mochi is deliciously chewy and light in flavour, topped with yellow beans rather than nuts in order to cater to those with allergies. Perfect for having with a warm tea.

KUKI Vegan Japanese TTDI
Warabi Mochi

The Matcha Tiramisu is KUKI’s unique take on the traditional Italian dessert, with cashews, tofu and a special strawberry sauce all layered beneath a strikingly verdant matcha topping.

Best plant-based Restaurants KL
Matcha Tiramisu

Drink List

There is a range of zero-proof non-alcoholic cocktails available, along with housemade kombucha in three flavours – barley, hojicha and chrysanthemum – all on tap. The Matcha Latte uses green tea from Kyoto and is completely handmade, from seed to plant to powder.

The Uji Matcha Sour contains 40 grams of matcha powder, which has been ground at KUKI by hand for an hour (sip slowly and with great appreciation).

There is an option to BYO wine for a corkage fee (RM80) and natural fermented sake is also available on the menu.

KUKI Vegan Japanese TTDI
Coffee with Oat Milk
KUKI Vegan Japanese TTDI
Kombucha
KUKI Vegan Japanese TTDI
Uji Matcha Sour

Reasons to visit KUKI Japanese Vegan Restaurant: It’s elegant dining that leaves you full, happy and appreciative of the effort put into every element. There is a strong commitment but also a great deal of joy behind every dish, and the high standards and brilliant experimentation make this an excellent location to introduce newcomers to the flavourful possibilities of veganism. Everything is exceptional, and it’s well worth taking a little stroll down that garden path.

KUKI Vegan – Plant-based Restaurant TTDI
Unit 1-8, Menara KEN TTDI
37, Jalan Burhanuddin Helmi, Taman Dun Dr Ismail
Kuala Lumpur 60000, Malaysia
+6012-551 2577
@kuki.vegan

KUKI Vegan Opening Hours
Open Daily, except for Monday
Lunch 11:00 am – 3:00 pm
Dinner 5:00 pm – 10:00 pm

Find more restaurants in with great vegan and vegetarian options here and stay up-to-date with the latest gourmet and travel recommendations for Malaysia here and here.

2 Comments

  1. Parece un lugar muy lindo. Y con rica comida. Gracias por la reseña.

  2. Vegan Japanese? Interesting!

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