KUALA LUMPUR, July 19 —Spend enough time walking the back streets of any major Japanese city and it’s clear every salaryman loves his yakitori. These skewers of grilled chicken (the non-chicken counterparts are called yakimono, which simply means “grilled foods”) pairs well with a bottle or two of Asahi or Sapporo beer, which makes them the most popular after-hours snack.
Closer to home, in the location vacated by long-time Desa Sri Hartamas Japanese restaurant, Aoyama the Green Room, is a new contemporary yakitori bar with the mysterious moniker of BWB Yakitori Bar. When I asked manager Annie Lau about the name, she grinned and asked me to guess what the acronym BWB stood for. “Maybe we’ll have a competition once the bar is fully launched in August. I can’t wait to see what names customers come up with!” she said.
Though BWB is still in its soft launch phase, many curious onlookers (ourselves included, looking for an alternative spot to fill our bellies after giving up on waiting for a table at another popular brunch spot nearby) have been dropping by.
Certainly its casual ambience is welcoming, especially for those looking to kick back with a beer or two while waiting for their skewers. The yakitori sticks may not be the first dish to arrive though, not if you’ve ordered their house specialty, the seemingly MMA-inspired Bare Knuckle Don.
When it arrived though, we discovered it’s less of martial arts in a bowl but close to something our moms would have dished up for us at home. The rice is lovingly topped with falling-off-the-bone pork knuckle, braised for 72 hours in their central kitchen in Kepong, muy choy (Chinese preserved vegetables) and a perfectly cooked onsen egg that spills its golden, liquid yolk when pierced.
Mix it all together and you have a spoonful of the ultimate comfort food in every bite.
Once the freshly grilled skewers of meat arrive, you may have the delicious dilemma of deciding which stick to sample first. The most attention-grabbing one is likely the duck bacon-wrapped foie gras (listed as “kamo foie gras”), succulent and decadent. A worthy challenger would be a whole tiger prawn, blackened delectably in parts, the flesh still moist beneath the shell.
There is also escargot for those seeking a French twist, Wagyu beef, squid, salmon and generously-sized scallops. A crunchy shishamo (smelt) invites you to devour the entire fish, tiny that it is, and order more of its siblings.
The above, however, aren’t strictly yakitori as meat, fish and seafood are hardly fowl in nature. Yakitori purists may delight in chicken wings and gizzards; for the connoisseurs, the charmingly named “chicken tail” is a must, assuming other yakitori fanatics haven’t ordered the lot already.
Fly to Japan for some yakitori? BWB may stand for “But Why Bother?” when we have authentic skewers in our own backyard, so to speak. Certainly this yakitori bar will more than satisfy your cravings for grilled bishop’s nose on a stick till your next trip to Tokyo.
BWB Yakitori Bar
8, Jalan 27/70A, Desa Sri Hartamas, Kuala Lumpur
Open daily 12pm-12am