The air is thick with the aroma of grilled beef. On the plate rests a thinly sliced Kobe steak, each portion of cherry-red flesh ornamented by wisps of succulent fat. One bite coats my palate with a flavour that is all at once beefy, sweet and nutty, and a texture that is every bit as tough as… butter. This richness puts Kobe right up there with delicacies such as foie gras, truffles and caviar.
Japan, the world’s great perfectionist, pursues its culinary art forms with a sacred zeal. A less sacred and more rambunctious version of that zeal is on full display at Torii tonight. I imagine it’s a scene regularly played out at the gastro-bar since the introduction of its Japanese steak menu.
“Torii is all about premium experiences,” says owner Terry Lim. “The Japanese produce beef that’s unequalled anywhere else in the world. Where better to enjoy this outside Japan than at Torii, the very place that pioneered the premium yakitori experience in Malaysia.”On Torii’s new steak menu is the A5-grade Kobe Zabuton – a tender cut from the short rib – and various grades of Kobe sirloin from A4 to F1. Each grade is an indication of the meat’s fat content and the degree of its buttery texture, flavour and juiciness.
Alongside the Kobe offerings is Matsusaka – Japan’s best-kept secret that some consider even finer than Kobe because of its higher fat-to-meat ratio. The beef comes from female virgin cows raised in Mie prefecture. Finished at 36 months old, they are alive longer than any other beef cattle. Many believe this unusually long life to be the reason behind Matsusaka’s inimitable taste and texture.
The luxury of such richness is not to be taken lightly – and certainly not on its own. Torii also offers, alongside its steaks, a variety of side dishes such as shaved fresh black truffle, pan-seared foie gras, grilled Japanese scallop and egg yolk croquettes.