Fancy a delicious piece of meat with all the trimmings? Read on to find out where to stick that steak knife into for some of the best cuts in Kuala Lumpur.
BY MEL SIM
My most fond memory of steaks? When I was a university student in a small town in Missouri, USA. The restaurant – G&D – wasn’t a fancy steakhouse restaurant. It was a family-run restaurant with basic fittings, the main feature the steak grill and the burly guy manning it. Its melt-in-your-mouth steaks was enough to pull in the crowd, even a group of Malaysian students who would treat themselves once or twice a month to the 8oz G&D Special served with salad, a baked potato, and a super-greasy toast. What made it even more memorable was the price, at something like USD10.
So when I was asked to do a review on Kuala Lumpur’s steakhouses, I of course used this memory as my benchmark. Will my meat be cooked right (medium rare can often range from really rare to wow, that’s a tough medium.)? Will there be sauce (though if the meat is done right, you really can do sans sauce.)? Most importantly, am I getting my money’s worth? In my opinion, you don’t need to fork out a wad of cash to get a good piece of meat but if you are, every bite better be worth it.
And so I chewed and I tasted. And here’s my verdict on where to go and what to order.
FOR OLD TIME’S SAKE
Mention steaks and Coliseum in Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman comes to mind. What the restaurant – which was established since 1921 – is more popularly known for is its old waiters and cooks, serving good Hainanese cuisine and the signature sizzling steak. This landmark restaurant is now open in Jaya 33, where the staff is a lot younger but the menu remains.
I had originally wanted to try this place out on a weekend but it seemed that a whole line of customers outside had the same idea. So I came back on a Monday night – there was no line but the restaurant was still packed. My suggestion? Make a reservation well in advanced.
I ordered the sizzling steak to see what the fuss was about. To prepare me for my meal, my waiter tied a bib around my neck. Silly looking but absolutely necessary when my steak came sizzling hot in front of me. For sake of wanting to keep my meat tender, I had ordered a rib eye rare so that it would eventually sizzle down to a medium rare. Good decision – because of its soft and tender texture, the meat was easy to chew and had a slight buttery texture. If only the sides were more interesting (fried tomatoes, steamed vegetables and wedges).
Ground Floor, The Plaza, Jaya 33,
Section 13, Petaling Jaya.
Tel: 03-7932 3228 (I’m serious about calling to make a reservation, especially for weekends!)
THE BUTCHER OPTION
Meat lovers will enjoy themselves at Las Vacas. This butcher’s shop and restaurant offers not just a wide selection of carnivorous meals but also fresh meat from different cuts you can tapau and cook yourself.
I visited the branch in Jalan Yap Kwan Seng (Las Vacas is also available in Mont Kiara and Kelana Jaya). Since it is a butcher, you can order your steaks according to the size you want. I ordered a 250gm grain fed striploin, which was quite a chunky size. While my steak was slightly overdone (which was disappointing because I would have assumed a place like Las Vacas would get it right), it was still a satisfying meal with a bowl of side salad and garlic bread to go with it. But the way it was cooked really got to me, which didn’t make this a perfect 10.
But what makes Las Vacas a must visit is its wide selection of meats from the best Wagyu (at a marbling score of 10+ for RM140 per 100g) right down to the budget-conscious Australian rump (RM8 for 100g; minimum order of 400g). Friends have also raved about its burgers, especially the Wagyu burger and lamb burger. Another plus? Las Vacas is also stocked with various bottled sauces so it is really your one-stop place for your own cookout at home.
33, Lot 5, Ground Floor, Wisma Winbond,
Jalan Yap Kwan Seng, 50450 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: 03-2181 5586
THE FAMILY-OWN RESTAURANT
Maria’s Steakcafé was a pleasant surprise. It was unassuming, in its little quiet area in Metropolitan Square. I like the family touch to it; the cafe is apparently run by one of the daughters. Interior wise, there’s nothing to shout about – it’s about as a cosy as a family-run restaurant would be with its wooden tables and chairs, and classic chequered tablecloths.
The steaks in Maria’s are said to be the showstoppers, especially the Wagyu. So I gave myself a treat and picked a Wagyu grade 5 to try out (you can also check out the grade 7 at RM95 per 100gm, which is reasonably affordable compared to other steakhouses). Maybe it’s the cut or maybe it’s the friendly service, but Maria’s gets my vote. The steaks here are grilled with minimal seasoning and I can’t get enough of the sweet aftertaste from the caramelised bits of the meat. This was one steak I took time to enjoy, and was disappointed when I popped the last bit into my mouth. The veggies were done just right too – not too crunchy and not too soggy. All in all, the perfect piece!
Maria’s also offers a unique loyalty programme where you get discounts when you come back for its steaks or when you recommend it to friends. Oh and do try its homemade carrot cake too, a nice bite that’s not too sweet after a heavy meal. There is also set lunches and set dinners where the Black Angus Grain Fed is available at a reasonable price.
C313A, Center Wing, Metropolitan Square,
2 Jalan PJU8/1, 47820 Petaling Jaya.
Tel: 03-7725 2313
FOR A LITTLE POSH
I just had to check out a restaurant that claims it is the best steakhouse in Kuala Lumpur. Simply named The Steakhouse, this classic joint at Changkat Bukit Bintang serves five different cuts from two types of cows – Australian grain fed and Scottish Black Angus. It also helps that the steakhouse has a wine cellar with over 250 wine collections to go with your meat.
I ordered the Australian Grain Fed Striploin. At 300gm, it is a hefty meal, what more with its sides of onion rings, potato of choice, veggies and a bread basket served before your steak. There are five different sauces available, the red wine and bearnaise a must try. I like how you get a platter of salt flavours so you can season your meat yourself though I decided to give it a miss, which I shouldn’t have because my steak was a little bland because of that (no sauce either). But because of its size (what can I say, I’m greedy), I was satisfied. Service was prompt too. I just wished they wouldn’t decorate the restaurant with pictures of cows staring at you. It made it harder to swallow the beef.
Did it live up to its own claims? Tough one to call (I found it weird that it does not have any Wagyu or Kobe selection) but still worth checking out. Prices are reasonable (between RM68 to RM108) for what you get so you may want to consider that the next time you are craving for steaks. You can also make reservations online.
The Steakhouse KL:
48, Changkat Bukit Bintang,
50200 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: 03-2143 2268
OTHER PLACES TO CHECK OUT!
Lucky for steak lovers, Kuala Lumpur is home to plenty of steakhouses to dine at. Don’t miss these ones either.
213/26, Jalan Ampang Batu 4 1/2,
Jalan Ulu Kelang, 68000 Ampang
It’s super affordable, it’s yummy. The sizzling steaks here are popular and highly recommended if you want a fuss-free dinner. Just note that because it gets really busy here – especially weekends – you can end up waiting for 45 minutes for your steak.
JAKE’S CHARBROIL STEAKS
21 Jalan Setiapuspa, Medan Damansara,
50490 Kuala Lumpur
There’s a reason why Jake’s is still popular after all these years. Its flavourful steaks melt in your mouth and the baked potato served with sour cream and bacon bits is a winner. Order the potato skins – a personal favourite!
RIL’S STEAKHOUSE BANGSAR
30 Jalan Telawi 5, Bangsar Baru,
59100 Kuala Lumpur
This award-winning steakhouse has been getting a lot of attention lately for serving some of the best cuts in town. It’s perfect for groups as you can order either the Porterhouse steak at 1 to 1.5kg or the MB5 Australian Wagyu Tomahawk at 1 to 2kg to share.