Inside Wagyumafia: Now open at Via Riyadh
Does it live up to the hype? The team at What’s On finds out…
Wagyumafia’s arrival in Riyadh is among the most anticipated in a city of new openings.
Hailing from Tokyo, it has been the centre of much hype due to it being an exclusive members-only restaurant that offers champion-grade Wagyu beef. The brand became a global sensation after introducing the Kobe beef Chateaubriand cutlet sandwich in 2017.
Now open in the capital’s latest hotspot, Via Riyadh, the restaurant currently accepts reservations from non-Wagyumafia members for a limited time. Diners can expect a prix fixe menu here – a 14-course meal for SAR1,300 per person.
The hidden restaurant
Wagyumafia shares the same space as its sister venue, Yakinikumafia, but with an entrance masked as a heavy-duty freezer door at a yakiniku restaurant.
@whatsonksa Experience the world’s best Wagyu at Wagyumafia – now open in Via Riyadh to non-members for a limited time. #whatsonksa #wagyumafia #viariyadh #coolinc #riyadhrestaurants #saudiarabiatiktok ♬ Makeba
Walk through the black door, and you’ll be greeted by a staff in the walk-in freezer, who will present you with your first course: beef jerky and a homemade limoncello shot.
We’re then led through another freezer door, revealing Wagyumafia’s main dining room. The interiors of this hidden restaurant are in stark contrast to the bright, casual vibes of the yakiniku restaurant outside. It is intimate and moody – think neon lighting, outfitted with sleek, dark wood furniture and touches of industrial décor.
It also houses a counter seating for 14, facing a gleaming stainless-steel-clad open kitchen. This means front-row access to the chefs, giving diners that feeling of exclusivity but with the conviviality of being in the heart of the restaurant.
The high-energy setting, the thumping music where you invariably end up singing along, and the shouts of “Itterasshai!” reverberating through the darkened space will immediately plunge you into a scene reminiscent of underground hangouts with Japanese mafia vibes.
Nearly every plate we have is a hit
While Wagyumafia has us at ‘hello’ with its unique entrance, the food has us equally impressed.
The menu focuses on dishes grilled with the Josper oven, delivering the full flavour of each ingredient, and, of course, the rarest cuts from the most prized breed – the Ozaki Wagyu beef from Miyazaki, Japan, celebrated for its rich marbling and unctuous texture.
As soon as we settle in, they serve the chargrilled edamame with truffle salt. And then, the decadent meal begins, starting with three thin slices of wagyu sashimi. To fully appreciate the meat’s delicate flavour, it is served with freshly grated wasabi, salt, and soy sauce.
The Ozaki beef appears in other iterations during our meal. The wagyu gyoza comes next – the flavour is fantastic; intense beef and umami, and the juices drip out as we sink our teeth into it.
For an extra kick to the dishes, you can add a couple drops of Wagyumafia’s house-made hot sauce ‘Wagyusco’, available in three flavours made of yuzu pepper (yellow – mild spice), habanero (red – medium spice), and Carolina Reaper (black).
The epic 14-course menu also includes other luxurious dishes such as caviar wrapped in Nori (seaweed), followed by downing an Arabic dashi shot, and melt-in-your-mouth beef sukiyaki served in creamy egg foam and topped with freshly shaved truffles.
The pièce de resistance? An impossibly perfect sando made from airy crustless white bread stuffed with a breaded cutlet of buttery Chateaubriand.
Another highlight is the Wagyu Yaki Shabu, the tenderest, most delicate piece of beef we’ve eaten – even better when you devour it with the accompanied Japanese radish with yuzu sauce.
And who knew white asparagus could taste so good? It’s topped with “beef snow” made from Wagyu fat, giving a non-greasy flavour.
There’s also the finely sliced green peppers with yuzu-chilli and kombu – so refreshing and the perfect palate cleanser before we dive into the Ozaki steak. The latter is perfectly grilled and served with wasabi, sansho buds, ground black pepper, and salt.
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Here, the simplest of ingredients are given their time in the limelight. That salt in question, for instance? It’s flavoured with kombu, shiitake mushrooms and dried scallops.
The Deeping ramen topped with grated fresh truffles signals the end of our savoury courses. The only way to eat this? Dip the noodles in the gorgeously umami-heavy and sweet gravy studded with chunks of beef, beef fat and leeks, and then slurp like a boss. The staff then pours some dashi to dilute the gravy, making it a sippable broth. Such an indulgent treat.
As dinner draws to a close, we’re served grilled black pineapple, followed by beef fat ice cream sando; both of which are light and refreshing. A lovely way to end our hearty meal.
Get ready for a raucous evening
As far as Japanese food is concerned, the Riyadh restaurant scene is already rather saturated. But Wagyumafia sets itself apart from the pack, especially for intrepid meat lovers. So, if you’ve ever wanted to sample the prized Ozaki beef, make your bookings as soon as possible, as it’s only open to non-members for a limited time.
Meanwhile, the service is on brand with Wagyumafia’s sister venues. You’re getting efficient, knowledgeable staff who will present each creative plate in their signature dramatic fashion. This means lots of intense shouting and that unique and Instagram-friendly way it is served – thrust towards you on a plate with the server staring intently behind it.
Thankfully, they’re good-natured about it because it’s likely your fellow diners will be making them do it again and again in front of their cameras – and for better or worse, you’ll be hearing “Itterasshai!” throughout your meal.
P/S: Those after the full Wagyumafia experience would be wise to look into becoming a lifetime member, with a one-time fee of SAR900 since that will extend to all Wagyumafia’s outlets. Members will also get priority bookings and access to limited cuts of Champion-grade Kobe. You can apply for the Wagyumafia lifetime membership here.
Wagyumafia, Via Riyadh, Al Hada, Riyadh 12912, daily 6pm to 11.30pm. @wagyumafia.sa