Wagyu Yakiniku Kuala Lumpur

Niku 29 – Japanese Yakiniku Restaurant KL

Niku 29 – Japanese Yakiniku Restaurant, KL

Words: Stephen Reid
Photos: Han Sen Hau

Niku 29 Is a recent addition to the Curate group’s stable of restaurants and bars, which include Park Grill, Hide, Wagyu Kappo Yoshida, Sushi Ryu, Sushi Masa, Sushi Takumi, Sushi Sora and many others. You gain access to Niku 29 using a gleaming stainless steel escalator to the right of the Mercedes showroom; turning left, you soon encounter the slatted blonde wood walls and polished concrete surfaces that are a signature of the Japanese restaurant’s interior design and then see the large circular window, like a giant porthole that provides a view of the modern space within. Niku 29 opened its doors to the public in November last year. Kennix, our reelographer, remarked that, like the vehicles in the showroom below, the restaurant still had a ‘new car smell’!

Niku 29 Japanese Barbecue Restaurant KL
Niku 29

The restaurant’s interior has a sleek, modern design. There are polished concrete walls, whilst the tiles and wallpaper are in a soft shade of sage green. An assortment of elegant paper lampshades hangs from the ceiling. Together with the extensive use of blonde wood for the table tops and flooring in the main dining room, they all come together to create a calm, sophisticated and elegant space. Seating is a combination of smaller and larger tables and many booths. In addition, there are four private dining rooms hidden away behind sliding wooden and paper screens, two of which can be joined together for larger groups.

Niku 29 Japanese Barbecue Restaurant KL
Main Dining Area
Niku 29 Japanese Barbecue Restaurant KL
Pleasant Green Views
Niku 29 Japanese Barbecue Restaurant KL
Niku 29

Japanese yakiniku dining is a style of cuisine that involves grilling thin slices of meat and vegetables over a charcoal or gas grill, usually at the table. Yakiniku means “grilled meat” in Japanese, originating from Korean barbecue. Yakiniku is popular in Japan, other parts of Asia, and some Western countries, and it is proving incredibly popular here in Kuala Lumpur. It was my first time visiting this type of restaurant, although I had eaten food prepared this way at the home of a Japanese friend who had expertly grilled it for me.

Yakiniku restaurants can offer a variety of meats, such as beef, pork, chicken, lamb, and seafood, as well as sauces and seasonings to enhance the flavour. At Niku 29, their speciality is halal-certified Wagyu Beef from Japan and premium Black Angus from Australia. They offer curated set menus and a-la-carte options.

I discovered that yakiniku dining is a fun and interactive way to enjoy delicious food with friends and family.

Niku 29 Japanese Barbecue Restaurant KL
Yakiniku Restaurant Kuala Lumpur

Niku 29 Menu

We started our meaty feast with a beautifully displayed Beef Yukke (RM118). This dish is a style of beef tartare, where the premium wagyu beef is marinated and seasoned before being chopped very finely. It is served as a round disc topped with a layer of truffle caviar and a golden orange Kenkori egg yolk. We were invited to mix all the elements and spoon them onto the little toasts provided. The truffle caviar added a burst of earthy and salty flavour. At the same time, the yolk enriched the texture and gave a creamy contrast. The gold leaf flakes were a decadent touch that made the dish sparkle.

Wagyu Yakiniku Kuala Lumpur
Niku 29 – Beef Yukke

We followed this with Zabuton Sukiyaki (RM 158). Zabuton is a cut of beef from the cow’s chuck flap. It means “little pillow” or “flat cushion” in Japanese because of its tender and juicy texture.

Our friendly waiter Jebb expertly guided us through how we were to cook the slices of juicy beef. First, the two gas barbecue grills were lit, recessed into the terrazzo table top. When they reached temperature, Jebb showed us how to season the grill plate using a piece of beef fat. Then Jebb picked up a slice of the marinated Zabuton between a set of stainless steel tongs and quickly laid it on the sizzling grill.

I was amazed by how much flavour these fine slivers of premium Wagyu had. On a thicker steak, only a relatively small part of the surface gets seared by a hot pan or grill, and that’s where most of the flavour comes from, thanks to the ‘Maillard reaction’. This is when the meat’s natural sugars and amino acids heat up, concentrate, and create the juicy taste and sweet smell we crave. But with these thin slices, it’s all seared surface, and the sauce they soak in enhances the natural sugars even more. When they touch the flame, the rich fats in the meat melt and ignite, creating a sizzling and fiery spectacle. This magic results in a flavour explosion that you can dip in more sauce or egg yolk before savouring.

Wagyu Yakiniku Kuala Lumpur
Zabuton Sukiyaki
Wagyu Yakiniku Kuala Lumpur
Jebb Showing Us How It’s Done

By this stage, our photographer Han Sen, Monica and myself were excitedly getting the hang of grilling at the table; our reelographer, Kennix, was already several leagues ahead of us, so Jebb thought it was time to introduce our main course, Assorted Japanese Beef Sharing Platter Omakase (RM 388, for 200g – 2 people, or RM688, 600g for 2 to 4 people).

As someone who is not very familiar with this style of cuisine, I appreciated this helpful introduction to the different premium cuts of Japanese Wagyu. The cuts were arranged on a wooden board on a small platform with labels. The board was staircase-like, with the cuts going from lower to higher. The cuts we had were: Togarashi, a chilli-shaped cut from the shoulder blade; Tomosankaku, a cut from the area below the sirloin; Zabuton, a cut from the chuck flap that I mentioned earlier; Misuji, a very high-quality cut from the upper front leg with melt-in-your-mouth fat; Katasanaku, a cut from the shoulder clod area with a more meaty flavour and texture; and Shin Shin, a leaner cut from the inner thigh that is soft, juicy, and smooth.

After grilling our mouth-watering wagyu strips, we dipped them in a ceramic dish of assorted sauces to enhance their flavour. One was yakiniku, a fruity and sweet variation of the traditional tare sauce. For something punchier, there was a flavoursome onion sesame sauce, a serving of genuine wasabi sauce, or premium French fleur de sel (sea salt).

Wagyu Yakiniku Kuala Lumpur
Assorted Japanese Beef Sharing Platter Omakase – Niku 29

Han Sen and Kennix ordered a Beef Tongue Set (RM138) and fought over the last slice. They told us it tasted very tender, like a particularly soft piece of steak.

Niku 29 Japanese Barbecue Restaurant KL
Beef Tongue Set

Sides

We ordered some vegetable dishes from the side menu to balance what was a meaty main course. We opted for the Assorted Kimchi (RM 30), made from three types of vegetables bathed in rich chilli paste. Unusually, this Kimchi was unfermented. Nevertheless, Monica approached this with a bit of hesitancy, but she need not have worried; the chillis were relatively tame, and if anything, at the end of the meal, Monica mused that she would have perhaps preferred a little of the sourness usually found in fermented foods to contrast with the richness of the premium Wagyu.

Niku 29 Japanese Barbecue Restaurant KL
Assorted Kimchi

We also asked for a serving of the Watercress Namul (RM 12), a side dish made with watercress, a leafy green vegetable with a peppery and slightly bitter taste. The watercress was seasoned with garlic, sesame oil, sugar, soy sauce, cayenne pepper, and sesame seeds. This side dish disappeared very quickly, and I recommend ordering one each.

Niku 29 Japanese Barbecue Restaurant KL
Watercress Namul – Niku 29

Lunch Menu

For those taking a weekday lunch break or not having time to enjoy a more leisurely selection from the extensive menu, I was pleased to see a smaller lunch menu for people in a hurry. From the five items on this menu, we tried the Japanese-style beef Curry Rice (RM 58). Each lunch set includes rice, a delicious miso soup and a dessert.

I thought Japanese curry was new to me, but I was wrong. It is a popular and diverse dish in Japan, originating in India. It was introduced by the British during the Meiji Restoration. The British navy had adapted curry for long voyages and added meat, vegetables, and thickening.

There is a legend that some shipwrecked British sailors brought their curry powder to Japan, where the Japanese navy then created their own recipe, which then gained popularity. When I tasted this curry, I remembered my childhood in Northern England before authentic Indian or Bangladeshi curries arrived. The first curry flavours I knew were from the ‘Vesta’ meal recipe kits, which had a sweet and slightly more fragrant taste I had forgotten. The staff at Niku 29 made a much better version of this curry than my own early experiments with expanding my culinary horizons. However, I still appreciated this nostalgic trip down memory lane to my childhood.

Wagyu Yakiniku Kuala Lumpur
Japanese-style beef Curry Rice

We ended our meal with a tempting Custard Cream Pudding, which comes with the lunch set, although you can also order it separately for RM18. It came in a charming grey pottery cup with a sparkling gold leaf. As we dug into the smooth and rich custard, we discovered a hidden layer of syrupy burnt caramel at the bottom, adding a hint of bitterness to contrast the sweetness of the custard.

Wagyu Yakiniku Kuala Lumpur
Custard Cream Pudding

Drinks Menu

Having visited at lunchtime, we opted to stick to refreshing cups of tea at Niku 29. The attentive wait staff replenished them throughout our visit without needing to request this. Had we chosen to order from the beverage menu at any point, there was a handy little button in our private dining room to call staff where we could have chosen from a small curated selection of four white wines, five red wines, as well as a selection of sake and whiskeys. If you would prefer to bring a special bottle of your own choosing, the restaurant has a corkage charge of RM 100 nett per 720ml for wine/sake & RM 200 nett per 1800ml for sake.

Niku 29 Review

Niku 29 was my first experience with this style of yakiniku dining. It was lots of fun and somewhere I would return to with friends for a celebratory gathering. The restaurant is elegant and stylish, with a calm and peaceful ambience. I found the staff very helpful and attentive. Being somewhat of a novice, I found the labelling of the different cuts of Wagyu informative and helped me in comparing which of the selections I preferred.

Reasons to visit Niku 29: Niku 29 is a great place to enjoy a variety of dishes from the yakiniku barbecue tradition. Whether you need a quick bite during a hectic day, a cosy chat with your pals, or a festive treat for a special occasion, you will find something to suit your mood and taste. The best way to experience Niku 29 is to bring your friends and order the sharing platter. You will get to sample different meats, sauces, and sides and discover the rich flavours of this cuisine.

Niku 29
Unit 1-02, Level 1
Menara Hap Seng 3, Jalan P Ramlee
50250 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
+6019 257 2033
[email protected]
niku29-restaurant.com

Niku 29 Opening Hours
Monday to Saturday
Lunch: 12.00 pm – 3.00 pm
Dinner: 6.00 pm – 8.00 pm (1st seating) & 8.30 pm – 10.30 pm (2nd seating)

Find more Japanese restaurants in KL here and stay up-to-date with the latest gourmet and travel recommendations for Malaysia here and here.

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