Best Japanese Restaurants in KL

Best Japanese Restaurants in KL

Developed through centuries of culture and years of practice, Japanese food is an art to be appreciated. How lucky we are then to be spoilt for choice here in Kuala Lumpur with some of the best names in the world within our reach. Get your chopsticks ready to feed on this list, with stellar options like handmade soba in a classy restaurant, suppertime skewers at a neighbourhood bar and internationally-acclaimed omakase!
Burpple Guides
Burpple Guides

If you enjoy sushi omakase, this restaurant deserves the top spot on your wishlist. Tokyo-based Taka by Sushi Saito, touted to be the best Japanese restaurant in the world, opened its first international outpost this year in KL's St. Regis Hotel. The venue is tastefully outfitted — spot the lacquer doors and dining counters fashioned from 300-year-old hinoki wood. Helmed by three-star Michelin chef Saito, the omakase-only restaurant combines fresh ingredients (handpicked by chef Saito himself from Japan's Tsukiji Market) with the techniques of skillful sushi chefs to serve sushi aficionados. For special occasions with a loved one, the exclusive experience that Taka offers is one worth saving up for. If you're lucky, you might even get a taste of the chef's especially famous tuna sushi and Edo-style sushi, a preference for smaller cuts of fish with a touch of sea salt. Call ahead for reservations, as the private dining space only seats 16.
Avg price per person: RM1000
Photo by Burppler Amayzing

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A snug space that fills up nightly, this longtime yakitori bar is a surefire win when it comes to having a smokin' good supper with sake. Head here with a friend after an early dinner for a casual chat over great grills. Amidst sizzling sounds, the bar can be quite noisy so opt for a regular table if you're not planning to watch the chef work on the grill. The menu doesn't stray far from the classic yakitori selections, but we noted an exciting Gyutan (beef tongue, RM8) in the mix. If you have yet to venture into the wilder side of yakitori, this is a good place to start. Also done well here are less common parts like Bonjiri (bishop's nose, RM4) — fatty, flavoursome and perfect with a drink — and crunchy Nankotsu (soft bones, RM5). There is also comforting Satsumabata (baked sweet potato in butter, RM10), which Burppler Esther Chai commends for its superb seasoning. Supper cannot go on without a bowl of Edamame (RM8), the snack to go alongside some Sake (from RM54) to share.
Avg price per person: RM40
Photo by Burppler Ching Yean

This spacious 40-seater restaurant is a labour of Chef Hideaki Oritsuki's lifelong (knife)work and his excellent sushi keeps diners coming back for more. Nestled within ViPod Residences, the restaurant's top spot is a bar seat across from chef Ori — it comes with a conversation with the chef and a good view of his effortless sashimi-slicing. Bring a foodie friend who will match your enthusiasm in the experience. The omakase menu starts from RM350 and is the best representation of chef Ori's prowess. Thankfully, there are also the more affordable lunch sets available from RM128 that will still get you sushi made by the master. Go for the Iga (RM168) that includes eight pieces of chef specialty sushi with appetisers and sides. Hope for the maguro (tuna), horse mackerel and flounder sushi, all to be enjoyed on the chef-curated ceramic ware from Japan — rounded, green plates that are believed to soothe your senses and enhance the dining experience.
Avg price per person: RM180
Photo by Burppler Calvin Tan

A search for good ramen in KL will surely take you to Ippudo, but surprisingly, it is their creative fusion side dishes that you will rave about after! Visit the outlet in Bangsar Shopping Centre for dinner with friends or family in an intimate space. While options fill the ramen section, the Shiromaru Special (RM36) is all you need to satiate your cravings. The flavoursome tonkotsu broth is the focus and this special version comes jam-packed with pork loin, pork belly and tasty seaweed to complement the ultra-thin noodles. For sides, the Ippudo Pork Bun (RM8) never fails to deliver a delicious mouthful of braised pork belly laced in their special sauce. Taking inspiration from further regions are the Ippudo Original Spicy Pork Tacos (RM20.50 for two pieces). These crispy tacos will impress your tastebuds with juicy chunks of meat steeped in spicy-savoury flavours. It may be tempting to have this all on your own, but it's better to share the weight for a lighter bill.
Avg price per person: RM40
Photo by Burpple Tastemaker Sok Chien Lim

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A sliding door veiled by Japanese blinds beckons passers-by into this modest restaurant for piping bowls of udon. If you work in Bangsar, make the short trip to this quiet nook in Lucky Garden for a reasonably-priced Japanese lunch. The Sanuki noodles are deftly handmade with Japanese wheat flour, and free of MSG or additives. Leading the line of favourites is a Kamatama Mentai Butter Udon (RM15). When mixed, the warm al-dente udon melts a hefty block of cold butter, to come together with mentaiko (cod roe), bonito flakes and a runny yolk for a slurpy, umami-packed dish. For something that resonates with the classics, the Aburi Char Siew Udon (RM15) with seared pork belly and seasoned boiled egg makes a bowl of meaty comfort on a rainy day. Be sure to end with dessert. The lady boss makes these delights herself and a handful of luscious selections deck the counters daily — look out for the Tart Aus Figues (RM12), a crumbly fig-filled tart.
Avg price per person: RM20
Photo by Burppler Rueann Dass

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This restaurant has reliably delicious Japanese food, friendly service and a resplendent setting — all ideal to romance your date. A seat at one of their fine wooden tables with a view of the Twin Towers will set the mood for the night. The menu will take you through an enticing list, but it is the simple Soba (RM33) on the last page that wins our praise. Handmade from buckwheat flour, the healthy noodles are low in calories, springy in texture and deliciously nutty in flavour. Pair this humble dish with a grand protein. The Australian Wagyu Beef (RM368 for 250 grams) is the result of a great ingredient put to good use and the meat tastes heavenly, especially when doused in the rich Kampachi truffle teppanyaki sauce. For something similar that won't break the bank, get the Beef Sirloin (RM148 for 250 grams). There is no shortage of delicate sashimi, prepared from seafood exclusively air-flown from Tsukiji Market.
Avg price per person: RM120
Photo by Burppler Sharmaine Liew

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Uokatsu was opened three years ago by Tomono-san, a Hokkaido local who sources fresh seafood from family back home, and the fish market-style restaurant has been a hit since. Cut back on frills and take your partner here for an honest-to-goodness lunch! For sashimi specials, look to the menu for the popular Botan Ebi (RM19), sweet succulent shrimp, and the Hamachi "Yellowtail" (RM30) — both are almost never found with such affordable price tags. Tomono-san's Malaysian wife Winnie also recommends their Homemade Air Dry Saba (from RM20). The mackerel is fattier than its regular counterpart, and boasts a juicy, piquant flavour that will go well with rice, which brings us to the Mentai Rice (RM18). A must-order here, the rice bowl is topped with three thick tamago pieces that sees a slightly charred mentai top. The small establishment seats a maximum of 20 so come early before the lunch hour rush to snag a table.
Avg price per person: RM40
Photo by Burpple Tastemaker Alyssia Yu

Set in lush greenery and decked out in floor-to-ceiling glass panels, this Zen fine-dining restaurant serves set lunches that are incredibly affordable for its standards. For a quiet getaway in the middle of the city with your favourite colleague, look to Fukuya on Jalan Delima. The Fuku-Fuku set is what most come for. The RM43 meal presents value in that you get to choose two main dishes from a list of mouthwatering options, running from butter sauteed scallops to cube cut beef steak. The salmon sashimi is consistently thick and fresh so get that and a warm dish for balance — the butterfish teriyaki and soft shell crab tempura are both formidable choices. The set also comes with rice, pickled appetisers, steamed egg custard, soup, and finally, fresh fruit to refresh your palate after the heavy meal. Pro tip: There is free valet service on the premise so skip the roadside parking areas and head straight here.
Avg price per person: RM60
Photo by Burppler Rueann Dass

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