Beef is hands-down my favourite protein, even if my digestive system may not always agree with it having to work extra hard at breaking everything down.
Regardless, I don’t plan to shy away from the juicy cuts of red meat, like those that awaited me at Niku Kin along Craig Road.
The restaurant space is long and narrow, polished in hues of grey and brown, which stays true to the very typical clean lines that Japanese design is known for. But aesthetics aside, did this place meat my expectations?
First things first, this place stands out not only for its affordable 100% authentic Hokkaido wagyu (A3 to A4 grade) but also for introducing a farm-to-table concept that assures diners the freshness of its beef, as well as the premium quality of its cuts. How do they do this? They farm and import their cattle in Farm Chiyoda Biei Cho in Hokkaido.
Starting with the basics, we had the Wagyu Tartare (S$14.90), which was a humble portion decent enough for two to share. I’ve had beef tartare before that had a very odd smell and proved to be too eggy for me.
Once we stirred everything together, we portioned a small dollop onto sheets of seaweed and hoped that this tartare experience was better than any I’ve had.
We had a winner with this one! I suppose the saltiness of the seaweed helped add a boost of umami to the raw beef because I couldn’t detect a trace of egg in any bite. It tasted similar to beef carpaccio, but with a lot more mouthfeel, so it was amazingly satisfying.
Another light bite we had was the Wagyu Miso Tofu (S$5.80). Sitting atop jiggly pearl white cubes of beancurd is a small mound of miso-marinated wagyu. I can appreciate tofu as an ingredient, but having to consume it cold isn’t my idea of a great dish.
I struggled to find a valid reason to recommend it, only because it simply wasn’t something that suited my taste. If you aren’t against eating cold tofu, please go ahead and give it a try.
One of my favourite picks would be the Wagyu Aburi Sushi (S$7.90 for two pieces). The beef was thinly sliced and only lightly seared, so I still could enjoy the chewy, rare centre. It was also very subtly seasoned, so I could thoroughly appreciate the quality of the meat.
Don’t let this deceive you; this isn’t a piping hot bowl of noodles. It’s Remen (S$13.90), a bowl of cold noodles that is best enjoyed when mixed in with the accompanying tangy chilli sauce.
The texture of the noodles is similar to that of ramen, but because it’s enjoyed chilled, the bite and bounciness are more pronounced. I tried to get used to the idea of cold noodles, given I don’t often order anything similar, but I have to say, the tangy chilli sauce was quite tasty, and made this dish pretty enjoyable.
A dish that came highly recommended was the Wagyu Hamburg Katsu (S$12.90), a dense, deep-fried ground wagyu patty slathered in homemade katsu applesauce. I suppose a deep-fried beef patty is the stuff of dreams for some people, and this one sure didn’t disappoint.
The meat inside was still moist and full of flavour, with the homemade katsu applesauce brightening up the palate with acidity and sweetness. I could see why this one was a crowd-pleaser.
The pinnacle of the meal had finally arrived and we were presented with a platter of varying cuts of beef. Although the menu here showcases 32 cuts of beef, the chef personally selects eight different cuts to serve daily.
We had the Niku Blue Platter (S$128) which consists of five types of beef cuts, which comes to a total of 400 grams of luscious wagyu beef. The set comes with two bowls of Japanese Gohan (Japanese steamed rice) two bowls of Japanese kimchi. That evening, the crew prepared for us Chuck Tender, Bottom Round, Rib Finger, Chuck Roll (Kata Roast), and another Chuck Roll (Zabuton).
At this point, my expectations were set pretty high; I imagined that almost all the different cuts would impress me like nothing else I’ve tasted before. Sadly, the only one that won me over (and only marginally) was the Chuck Roll (Kata Roast).
It was tender, and ever-so-slightly chewy, with minimal fat. The rest, however, was quite tough the Chuck Tender tasting almost liver-like. The biggest let-down was the Chuck Roll (Zabuton), which was supposed to be the best out of all five cuts.
I found it exceptionally tough and was left with little choice but to swallow the entire piece whole. I had to give it props for having a profoundly robust flavour, however.
Overall, I love what Niku Kin is trying to achieve with serving diners high-quality wagyu beef, that’s curated daily by the chef to ensure that every plate served is the freshest and best representative of what the place aims to be.
Niku Kin may not be kind on the wallet, but given there are numerous pricier options for similar quality, I would say this is a great alternative for aficionados of meat.
Expected Damage: S$60 – S$80 per pax
Price: $ $ $
Our Rating: 4 / 5
53 Craig Road, Singapore 089691
53 Craig Road, Singapore 089691