By Astrid Zulhaime

More Than a Steakhouse: MeatMore by Chef James Won Sets Itself Apart

KL’s one and only Meat Specialist is now open for business.

Since his slew of award-winning fine dining eateries like Enfin by James Won and Shin’Labo, Malaysian-based food connoisseurs have all been holding their breath in anticipation of the next project from Chef James Won. This October, the wait is finally over following the grand debut of MeatMore.

Setting itself apart from his previous opulent eateries, the concept behind MeatMore is less grand and showy. “We are not a fine dining restaurant and we don’t pretend to be,” stressed the Won. Describing his latest restaurant as, “Convivial, sharing—something that Malaysians like,” Won is determined to showcase exactly how Malaysians eat—and many Malaysians love beef.

KL’s one and only Meat Specialist is located in Fahrenheit88, Bukit Bintang and it’s far from your average run-of-the-mill steakhouse. MeatMore was inspired by the chef’s experience of looking for a place to eat after attending a late showing of a Broadway play in London. He realized that Malaysians are in dire need of a restaurant that closes late enough to welcome people looking for a decent midnight meal. Enter, MeatMore.

A Different Take

When Chef James Won says “meat specialist”, he doesn’t just mean beef, thank you very much. MeatMore’s menu is a far more comprehensive list that includes chicken, lamb, seafood, and even vegetarian dishes. “How can you call yourself a specialist when you only have one style of cooking, right?” the founder of METTA Foodination said matter-of-factly. 

This philosophy is exactly why MeatMore has its very own butcher, binchotan grill, parrilla grill, smoker, and even an open spit with actual wood and charcoal. Sourcing meat from across the globe—New Zealand, America, Japan, South America, and Australia—proves that MeatMore takes its title as KL’s Meat Specialist very seriously.

But be warned: if you’re looking for the ideal spot to bring your first date, MeatMore is not it. Won stressed: “We are not a place for a first date because we don’t have tables for two. We only welcome big groups, we like noise… and music. We also have a great show at 9 PM every night.” Clearly, MeatMore is a restaurant to let your hair down and get loud with a huge group of friends—no quiet, romantic ambience will be found here. 

What you can find, instead, is a top-of-the-line liquid bar program, serving quirkily named Malaysian-inspired cocktails such as the Orang Kaya, the Bunga Raya, and the Bandung Sling. Not into alcohol? Never fear, MeatMore also serves mocktails like the creatively named Tiada Gin—all concocted by Grand Champion mixologist from Japan, Kenzo. Here, everyone is catered to.

Heavenly Palate

MeatMore may not be an upscale restaurant but it’s impossible to tell from their cuisine. Their specialty, the Mortlach-aged steak, is aged and cured in whisky for 35 days straight to achieve the “sweet spot between umami and amami… what all chefs in the world try to achieve.” Grainy and sweet, this buttery steak smells like fresh toasted bread and cereal with a texture you can sink your teeth into.

The meat is far from the only thing at MeatMore that’s worth a try. Amongst the inviting dishes to select from, Won raved about his Macaroni and Cheese—chosen by a starstruck German customer as the last thing she’d choose to eat before she dies—Caesar Salad, and crispy fries triple-cooked in tallow. These dishes may sound basic, but the chef assures us, it tastes anything but.

The list of must-try food goes on and on, so much so that even when pressed, the Michelin educated chef maintained that it’s impossible to select just one dish. “[MeatMore] is about sharing, it’s about experiencing a totality… [about] coming to absorb and enjoy the experience. It’s a place that I have curated so people have to keep coming back and keep wanting to come back.” Personally, we believe him.

Familiar Elements

If you’re familiar with Chef James Won and his decades-long career in dining, you’d know that he has previously worked with acclaimed Scottish whisky distillery, Mortlach. Last year at the chef’s transcendental fine dining establishment Shin’Labo by James Won, the pair offered exclusive dinner experiences accompanied with specially selected Mortlach whisky—a unique gastronomic journey. This year, their latest collaboration crowns MeatMore as the one and only home to Malaysia’s Mortlach Room, a space that the first and only Malaysian Krug Ambassade had a hand in designing. 

Speaking fondly of what he described as a very symbiotic relationship, the chef gushed, “[Mortlach is] known for their technical prowess… for being very precise, very meticulous. So that really is my kind of direction… It’s a great relationship.”

Mortlach isn’t the only signature of his that Won brought to MeatMore. All of his projects also share one similar trait—devotion to providing the best service possible. “All of my restaurants hinge on one service culture which is very Japanese driven called omotenashi, service from the heart. Everything is very genuine, we love to host, we don’t serve.” Malaysia is a melting pot of Asia, Won believes, and sharing is the best way to show how truly Malaysian we are.

Curious about what else MeatMore has in store for us? We’re in the same boat but we have to wait until Chef James Won is ready to officially break the news. Be sure to, as he so aptly put it, “Watch this space.”

Address: MeatMore, B2, B3, B4 Ground Floor, Block B, Next to Gold3 Boutique Hotel, No.179, Jalan Bukit Bintang

Opening hours: Tuesday to Sunday, 5pm – 1am

READ MORE: Les Bouchons Opens in KL, Plus Exciting New Menus to Try in October 2023