The word Kaijū (怪獣, kaijū) derives from the Japanese term known as “strange beast”, which talks about the popular Japanese film genre that brought us the likes of Godzilla. When speaking with owner, Edwin Yau, who has a breath of experience being a Japanese masterchef cum restauranteur in Malaysia, he talks about his love for kaijūs from an adolescent age and how each kaijū is unique with different characteristics.
Located in the creative industrial space at the heart of Bangsar that caters to the modern day urban millennials who enjoy overpriced brunches and coffee, Kaiju stands out in a big way, bringing together a collaboration between the locals love of both Thai and Japanese cuisine. Although only being able to accommodate small parties and having a strict ‘no reservations’ rule, Kaiju still manages to retain a healthy blend between loyal followers and new patrons alike. What makes Kaiju different from many restaurants is its ever-changing menu, that varies every couple of months. A never-ending journey of R&D, Kaiju isn’t afraid to add something new and exciting to its menu, which Yau has considered it to be crazy at times.
Drawing inspiration from the many bars and restaurants he has visited during his trips to Bangkok, Thailand, Yau also spoke about the similar traits and culture between the Japanese and Thais and how this made him want to come up with something different and original. Upon entering, you will be greeted with a behemoth paper craft of a dragon hung across the ceiling; a sign of good things to come when one embraces the wild side in life and living true to its name.
One downside of having a ‘no reservations’ rule is not being to hold lavish parties or celebratory dinners as Kaiju is very limited in terms of space and seating. However, this does not stop Malaysian foodies from making the trip down to Bangsar as Kaiju has been known to impress with every new menu it offers. As 60% of his ingredients come directly from Japan and the rest are sourced locally, Kaiju doesn’t offer the conventional type of Japanese cuisine so having your regular orders of sushi and sashimi is a no-go.
Being the brains behind the operation, Yau has significant input into each menu that Kaiju puts out, all of which comes with its own unique concept, which the chefs then bring to life. A good indicator on just how creative the menu at Kaiju can get was the introduction of the Whiskey Bubble Tea beverage, which was introduced in one of its previous menus. Revolving on the entire concept of adventure and discovery in APW Bangsar, this does give Kaiju plenty of leeway to work its magic into its dishes.
Ingredients are not the only key component in making the dishes come to life as Kaiju also focuses on presentation, making every dish Instagram-friendly. One such dish in particular is the Yoyoki Tuna Tataki, which features hand-broiled tuna and a side of mango salad with garlic and namtuk sauce on the side. With each bite melting in your mouth, the tuna was fresh with a distinctive taste and flavour profile, complemented with the mango salad that had a small burst of spice to give the local palette an extra kick in the taste buds.
Another dish that would make add a dash of colour and saliva onto your Instagram feed was Kaiju’s very own iteration of fried chicken, aptly named Kaiju Fried Chicken (KFC). Chunky, crispy and tender chicken strips backed by a sweet and spicy Thai chili sauce that packs a punch, the KFC was indeed one of the main highlights of the night.
However, if you would prefer something with a bit more spice, Kaiju’s own take on Tom Yum Ramen features chewy and springy ramen noodles mixed together shimeji mushrooms and a variety of fresh seafood, all of which sit in a steaming hot tom yum broth. Creamy, spicy and all-round delightful, the Tom Yum Ramen made the night worthwhile.
If you thought the creative juices had stopped flowing onto the dishes, you thought wrong as Kaiju even comes with its own signature cocktails, taking a childhood favourite like Ribena and mixing it with a healthy dose of sake. Made for the sweet tooth, the Ribena Sake was light and w
ell-balanced and will leave you feeling much lighter than you originally came. The Yuzu Sake, however, was a tad stronger but still had a sweet and subtle citrus taste to it without having the sake overpowering the overall integrity of the cocktail.
From its out-of-the-box menu paired with its small seating’s and overall minimalistic demeanour, Kaiju checks all the boxes when it comes to being original, creative and might we say, crazy.