Wagyu Omakase Review: Wagyu Dojo 🇲🇾

In town for a bit before flying off to Singapore, so decided to give this new establishment a try, since I saw in ads that they do wagyu omakase. When booking they specifically mentioned that they’re not a restaurant, but a “wagyu experience hub“. Color me intrigued!

Photo by World Orgs.com.

A small unassuming shop front hidden in a row of old car workshops & hardware stores just off Old Klang Road. The interior was cosy, just enough to fit an L-shaped bar that could host 3 diners on each stretch.

The bar counter.

Hello! You’re Tiffani, right?” I was greeted by name by a friendly, suit-clad server once I entered the shop, and while I sat down in amazement of the fact that they remembered my name from the reservation, I was even more surprised when I caught sight of my name on the place mat.

Spot the “Tiffani Lim” printed in gold atop the menu.

I arrived half an hour ahead of time for the 6:30pm session, and was told that they can only start serving food when two other diners for the session has arrived. Of course I said okay, and while sipping hot genmaicha I was given an introductory course to the basic types of wagyu and cuts, and shown the block of Miyazaki wagyu with its ID and certification.

They mentioned that they’ve been around for a long while as a wagyu supplier, and they’ve decided to branch out into a wagyu experience hub about half a year ago. Initially it’s just to serve their friends, but they recently started opening up for the public to reserve & dine in.

Soon after the other two diners (a couple) arrived, got seated, and after another brief round of introduction to their block of Miyazaki wagyu that’ll be used in the courses today, the server & chef started preparing the first course together. It didn’t take long, because it was sashimi.

1st Course: Wagyu & Tori Sashimi

1st Course: Wagyu & Tori (Chicken) Sashimi. The beef came with kombu salt, and the chicken was topped with special wasabi.

They checked prior to serving the first course if we were alright with raw food. I had no issues with the wagyu, but the chicken was a little iffy to me.

Out of respect towards the chef I took one bite of the raw chicken. It had a fresh springy texture but was relatively tasteless without the wasabi, and that’s when I decided that I won’t be missing much, and requested the chef to sear the rest for me.

While serving the seared chicken to me later they added that it’s common in Japan to eat chicken sashimi, and reassured me that they’ve tried it personally hours before serving it to customers and that they use food-grade sanitizer etc.

I knew that chicken sashimi was a thing in Japan, but I didn’t have the heart to tell them that my apprehension was stemming from the fact that we’re in a country where food safety is not as strictly-regulated, and I’m really not sure if they’re trained in handling sashimi properly. And even if they’ve tried it and survived doesn’t necessarily mean the absence of parasites or bacteria on other pieces that were served to us.

So though I allow myself to be adventurous with food at times, one bite was as far as I’d go this time.

A5 wagyu sashimi with kombu salt.

The raw wagyu tasted good with the kombu salt, though I also questioned if it would taste better lightly-seared. With my limited understanding of wagyu I imagined that a bit of heat would release the juices and melt the fats and make it taste more buttery. But that’s just my own speculation.

There was also a bit of silver skin.

2nd Course: Wagyu Spring Roll

2nd Course: Wagyu spring roll with tartar sauce.

The chef explained that the vegetables were fried using wagyu fats, but overall I didn’t really get much of a wagyu taste from the spring roll itself. Even when biting into the meat it was overshadowed by everything else that was going on in the spring roll.

I’ve never been a fan of spring rolls, so it just felt very… fusion. The homemade tartar sauce had a refreshing lemon tinge to it though.

3rd Course: Wagyu Brisket

3rd Course: Wagyu Brisket with Quail Egg Yolk.

The brisket was tender, but the fact that it was minced (iinm) was quite disappointing to me. It’s not that I wasn’t open to new ways to eat wagyu, but it simply tasted like minced burger patty, just a bit more tender and flavorful than normal beef I suppose.

I’m not sure about the act of mincing up wagyu though, like don’t you lose the original buttery fatty texture that highly-marbled wagyu is prized for? Maybe that’s the right way of processing that cut of meat. But from a diner’s perspective I don’t feel like it’s particularly tasty.

4th Course: US Wagyu Tongue

4th Course: Caviar on American Wagyu Tongue, lightly seasoned with Foie Gras.

It’s tongue. It’s chewy. And it’s not Japanese wagyu.

After the meal I reread the menu and asked the chef about the foie gras, to which they replied that it was lightly shaved onto the dish. I missed it though, was too caught up with chewing the tongue.

Anyway, the reason that I love wagyu so much is because it requires minimal chewing.

So if we’re trying to introduce wagyu to people or get people to fall in love with the texture that wagyu offers, I’m really not sure if serving chewy tongue is the right way to go about it.

5th Course: Wagyu, Enoki & Asparagus Maki

5th Course: Asparagus and Enoki Mushroom wrapped in Wagyu.

This one was really tasty and juicy. The seared wagyu went really well with the crunchy vegetables, and though the asparagus kept threatening to overpower the wagyu, it all melted together in the mouth into a perfect blend of juices. One of the courses I really enjoyed!

6th Course: Wagyu Katsu Sando

6th Course: Wagyu Katsu Sando (Fried Wagyu Sandwich).

This one was a pleasant surprise for me, one of the best wagyu sandos I’ve tried eaten. I think the bread made all the difference, it was coated in a layer of wagyu fat and lightly grilled so it was crispy and not oily at all. The wagyu too was crispy on the outside yet tender and juicy on the inside.

The plate came with some blueberry jam, a sweet juicy tomato and a small salad with strips of pear. It was a great mix of sweet and savory.

This was when we were also served a cup of sweet yuzu sake to be paired with the dish. The sake was so sweet that I didn’t manage to finish it; I suppose it was also meant to balance out the richness and oiliness of the sando.

I took my time to finish up this sando dish, alternating between sweet and savory as was intended by the chef. Everything was amazing, including the creative touch that was the blueberry jam.

7th Course: Wagyu Tendon Soup

7th Course: Kansai-style Wagyu Tendon Soup.

The soup was very rich in umami and flavorful, and the pieces of meat were surprisingly soft, tender and easy to swallow. I don’t particularly like soup, but this to me was acceptably tasty.

When the chef asked me how the soup was I wasn’t sure how to reply though. I figured in hindsight that at that point I was a little disappointed at how little wagyu (in the conventional sense & style of cooking) there have been in this omakase, and this was already the second last dish on the menu. So I went with a pretty bland,

“Uh, it’s soup lor.”

That was when they started asking me about omakases I’ve been to and which one was my favourite. They’re rather attuned to the omakase market locally, and introduced me to a couple of other must-try omakases.

But truth be told, I was unimpressed not because I’ve tried too many other omakases before, but because I love wagyu, I came for the wagyu and we’re at the 7th dish and I feel like I’ve barely had any wagyu.

8th Course: Wagyu Yakiniku Don

8th Course: Wagyu Yakiniku Don with Truffle & Egg Yolk.

This was by far the closest to what I came for, just grilled wagyu on rice, no frills, no fusion. But the sad thing was, by the time I got to this last course, I was already so full that I was hard-pressed to force the dish down so as not to let down the perfectly-cooked wagyu.

They should really have served grilled wagyu as one of the earlier courses.

This. Perfection!

There was also another surprise in the form of crispy beef fats (牛油渣). As a sucker for fried pork lard, I was really excited to try out the beef version. However, some pieces were impossible to chew, some had an unpleasant oily taste, some were just okay. Either the frying wasn’t done well or pork lard is superior.

Dessert: Wagyu Ice Cream

Dessert: Wagyu Ice Cream!

This was yet another surprise, this ice cream tasted like salted caramel with heavy hints of something meaty. According to the chef it was made with wagyu fats. It was rich and salty, with bits and pieces of what feels like beef jerky. Pretty unique as ice cream goes!


Expectations vs Reality

To be honest, when I saw “wagyu omakase“, I was expecting more wagyu and less omakase. Perhaps my expectations were a little misplaced, which is why at some point during the meal, I started to wonder – where is the wagyu?

Also, the price point is set at RM 628 per pax. My initial thought process was along the lines of, based on the market price of raw wagyu steak that I’ve bought from suppliers before, sans the service & presentation, I should at least be expecting 300g+ worth of wagyu.

Truth be told, I was expecting a full educational course on how wagyu should be prepared, with the melty buttery meat served in different cooking styles; perhaps the chance to explore the differences between wagyu from different prefectures/farms.

Some different unconventional cuts and small creative dishes are welcome, but preferably not anything filling.

Comparison with Yakiniku Great’s Wagyu Omakase

I tried another wagyu omakase in KL about 4 months back, at Yakiniku Great. I went for the RM 390 per pax one, and I remember it to be a pretty darn good meal full of buttery wagyu goodness.

My only complaint about Yakiniku Great is the lack of personal touch in terms of service, as they had the servers going from table to table serving and explaining each dish. There were no counter seats where the chef would cook, serve while chatting with you about wagyu, which is different from other omakase experiences. And the wagyu they used was from Kagoshima, which in my limited knowledge is not among the top wagyu brands (cmiiw).

For Wagyu Dojo, they use primarily Miyazaki beef which is presumably superior, but it’s more of the style of cooking which I feel takes away from the experience.

I can understand where Wagyu Dojo is coming from, since they brand themselves as the wagyu experience hub, that perhaps this omakase is meant to be an introductory course to someone who’s had beef before but not Japanese wagyu per se, to be shown the difference between the two.

But personally, the soup, tongue, spring roll & minced brisket were a tad far from what I expected. Not about the type of the dish or cuts, but more of the texture.

The Wagyu Dojo chef cooking the briskets & chatting with us about the types of wagyu.

In terms of the omakase experience itself, Wagyu Dojo did it much better. The ratio of 2 chefs to 3 diners made for an intimate session; the friendly and down-to-earth mannerisms of the chefs, patiently explaining about the wagyu, and politely observing before clearing / serving up each dish making you feel comfortable without being intrusive, also added a lot to the overall experience.

Having a friendly and chatty chef who’d excitedly and proudly chatter away about the food they’re serving, to me has always been a big factor in omakase.


Food: 7/10

I especially liked the katsu sando & truffle don. The rest of the dishes are nice, but not something you’d expect to eat at a wagyu restaurant, especially considering the fact that what most wagyu lovers like about the coveted type of beef is for its high marbling ratio and the resultant melty buttery texture, and there wasn’t much of that in the omakase.

I mean it’s okay to introduce some variety or different flavors to avoid overwhelming diners with the jelak feeling from too much oily wagyu, but they really shouldn’t take the spotlight away from wagyu itself.

Service: 10/10

Personalised place mat and greetings, intimate 2 chefs to 3 diner ratio. The chef & server were really friendly; they patiently explained to us about wagyu, types of cuts, other omakases in different parts of the country, and sincerely asked for feedback at the end of the session.

Verdict

Nice omakase experience, but can really do with more wagyu content, or wagyu-like textures.

Purely based on the amount of wagyu served, I personally feel it’s not really worth the price, at least not the current menu that I’ve tried. But they seem really open to receive feedback, so I might give them another chance later in the future.

Damage: RM 628 / pax (RM200 paid in advance as deposit)

About the Restaurant

Exquisitely curated with novelty, introducing Malaysia’s very first House of Wagyu! In the spirit of gastronomic excellence, Wagyu Dojo pursues the finest state of Wagyu culinary perfection.

If you wish to visit Wagyu Dojo, here’s the address:

Bandar Park, 48 Kompleks Bandar Park Jalan Mega Mendung, off Jln Klang Lama, Old Klang Road, 58200 Kuala Lumpur