When it comes to cuisine of choice on a date night, Jien and I tend to gravitate towards meat – beef, in particular. We love the idea of tucking into freshly grilled beef or steak, especially if it’s a delicious, tender cut. Shin Nihon in Desa Sri Hartamas is said to offer one of the best yakiniku in town; so we went.
Getting a table at Shin Nihon isn’t easy. You will need to call ahead to reserve as they are almost always full come dinner time. It’s even more chaotic on a weekend night, so we experienced. On our maiden visit, we sat by the bar downstairs and watched as the team prepared everyone’s order.
It would be a cardinal sin to skip the beef at Shin Nihon, unless you don’t take beef. And if you fall under the latter category, please don’t bother going. Australian wagyu and Japanese wagyu are available for order – and it’s best to start with the Australian beef and work your way up.
We ordered 400gm of Australian Wagyu (RM200) and got a platter of assorted beef cuts; ribeye, sirloin tip, eye round and brisket. You get a charcoal grill to cook your meat to the doneness of your choice. Don’t overcook the beef as you want to still enjoy the tasty fat and juiciness of each slice.
A minute (or less) on each side would render it medium-done, just the way I like my beef. Wanting more, we added on an order of Japanese Wagyu (RM80 for 100gm) and it was better than the already tasty Australian wagyu. The 4 beef cuts depends on availability, and subject to the chef.
Our Japanese wagyu platter featured sirloin, upper hind shank, lean top blade and brisket. I would have loved some ribeye but that wasn’t an option that night. Despite having more secondary cuts in this platter, the beef still tasted more superior than the Australian wagyu platter.
The Kale Salad (RM28) is worth checking out – a Shin Nihon specialty of kale drizzled with house special dressing. This is light yet flavourful, and very refreshing to go with all the fatty cuts of grilled beef.
Shin Nihon’s Wagyu Beef Tendon Stew (RM26) is one of the best delicious stews I’ve eaten, period. The tendon is beautifully tender to the point it melts in your mouth and the gravy begs for a bowl of white rice to eat with. Even the radish is cooked just right and has absorbed all the delicious goodness of the beef and gravy.
Jien loves the Beef Tongue Cream Croquette (RM24), a Japanese snack of potato cutlet – filled with chopped beef tongue in tasty cream sauce, breaded and deep-fried till crispy perfection. Very rich in flavour yet so moreish you’d be tempted to order a second portion.
On our subsequent visit, we ordered the Sliced Premium Wagyu Beef on Rice (RM50). There’s a method to eating this, so follow the instructions on the card provided for maximum enjoyment. You should try it on its own first, then add some seasoning the second time around and finally, some seasoning and a bit of dashi stock.
This allows you to slowly build the flavours and decide on which method you like best. For me, I like my rice to have as much flavour as possible so the third option is best.
I wasn’t as impressed with the Wagyu Beef Cutlet (RM45) as it was a tad tough with some parts being difficult to chew. For the category “wagyu” this sure didn’t taste like it. I reckon you’d be better off ordering the delicious wagyu tendon stew rather than this.
We also ordered the Beef Bone Broth Ramen (RM26) to share – tasted alright but nothing rave-worthy, I’d say. The noodles are a tad overcooked but the broth is savoury with underlying layers of beefiness. Better than the ramen from Kannicikan just down the road.
Overall, I like the food at Shin Nihon. What I don’t fancy is how difficult it is to get a table, and how (depending on your luck) cramped it can be. If possible, ask for the booth seat as I think it’s perfect for couples. The bar seat can get a bit noisy so it might not be “date appropriate”.
Prices aren’t cheap – expect to pay anywhere between RM100 to RM400 per head, depending on how much (premium) beef you order. And this is excluding alcohol.
Food: 7.5/10 (pork-free)
Verdict: One of the best yakiniku I’ve eaten in KL, so far.
No.26, Jalan 24/70A,
Desa Sri Hartamas,
50480 Kuala Lumpur.
Tel: 03-2856 7350