Japanese cuisine has been inspired by other cultures’ cuisines, but it has embraced and polished them to establish its own cooking style and eating habits. Around 300 B.C. China was the first foreign influence on Japan when the Japanese learnt to harvest rice. Chopsticks were invented in China, as was the usage of soy sauce and soybean curd (tofu).
Another key effect on Japanese food was Buddhism, which is one of the two major religions in Japan today (the other being Shintoism). The development of Buddhism in the 700s (A.D) led to a ban on eating meat. As a result of the ban, the popular dish sushi (raw fish with rice) was born. Cooking styles got more straightforward in the 1800s.
Using one of five common cooking procedures, a wide variety of vegetarian (meatless) dishes were provided in small servings. All foods were categorized into five colour groups (green, red, yellow, white, and black-purple) and six taste groups (bitter, sour, sweet, hot, salty, and delicate). This method of cooking is still used by the Japanese.
Trade with other countries began introducing Western-style influences to Japan in the early 1200s. Corn, potatoes, and sweet potatoes were all introduced by the Dutch. The tempura was introduced by the Portuguese (batter frying).
During the Meiji Period (1868–1912), beef was allowed to return to Japan after a thousand-year taboo. Bread, coffee, and ice cream, among other Western delicacies, were popular in the late twentieth century. The adoption of time-saving cooking procedures is another Western impact. The electric rice cooker, as well as packaged meals like instant noodles, instant miso (fermented soybean paste) soup, and instant pickling ingredients, are examples of these. However easy the aforementioned techniques may be, the Japanese remain true to their classic cooking techniques to this day.
Given the popularity of Japanese cuisine and the hearty nature of the food, it is considered quite a favoured delicacy in Malaysia. Japanese food is delicious, sophisticated, and the variety is endless. There is always something for someone and something for every occasion, whether it is a late-night urge to gnaw at Onigiri or the need to celebrate a milestone in a Japanese restaurant that has a warm ambience that drips with class, there is always an option available. It may not be known, but it is there.
Below is a list of the best Japanese restaurants in and around Kuala Lumpur. The list has been broken down into three sections, special occasions, casual dining, and buffet-style, for the ease of scrolling.
Hanare Japanese Restaurant is a popular choice among locals. If one wants to treat themselves or a loved one to some delicious food, this is the place to go. Hanare serves omakase, ala carte, and Kaiseki sets, as well as bento dinners. The sushi and dishes at Hanare, which is located in Kuala Lumpur, are made with seafood that is hand-picked and flown in twice a week from Tokyo’s famous Tsukiji Fish Market, and then prepared by expert chefs with years of experience. Plus points for the restaurant’s stylish yet friendly décor and intimate vibe, which are ideal for date nights or hangouts with friends.
Fukuya, a wonderful Japanese restaurant in the centre of KL, is also a great site for special dates and anniversaries. The restaurant is proud of its kaiseki cuisine. For those unfamiliar with the phrase, kaiseki is a traditional Japanese multi-course supper consisting of a variety of small, beautifully designed, and delicately presented foods.
Traditional set meals are also available at Fukuya, which include tempura, sushi, grilled eel, beef teriyaki, chicken katsu, and more. Each set includes an appetizer, steamed egg custard, miso soup, rice, and even dessert to round out the meal.
Cureé is a cute Japanese restaurant type cafe hidden amongst a cluster of shophouses in Jalan Imbi. It may be difficult to find, which adds to the charm of this hidden gem that serves Hokkaido-style soup curry, Japanese curry rice, and chicken katsu. Their distinctive Hokkaido Curry Soup is totally customized, with three soup bases to choose from, as well as a preferred level of spiciness, rice portion size, and the main dish to accompany the curry (vegetables, fried chicken, prawn tempura, or even avocado).
Aside from the food, the cafe’s ample seating, minimalist décor, white theme, and wooden furnishings give it a nice and homey feel.
Nippori Cafe tucked away on the first level of Empire Damansara, is one of the few remaining businesses in this otherwise deserted mall. This tiny gem is run by a Japanese family, and it’s where one can eat wonderful Japanese home-style food on tatami seats in a nice environment!
Nippori Cafe has a large selection of ala carte and set menu products that look and taste wonderful. This is the place to go if one wants to enjoy freshly cooked food created with only the highest quality ingredients, free of MSG and artificial flavouring.
Mo-Mo Heaven is the greatest paradise on earth for fans of Japanese hotpot! This Tokyo-based hotpot chain specialises in shabu-shabu, kara miso broth, and sukiyaki, and was started in 1993.
If one likes, they can make a pot with two flavours or a pot with just one sort of broth. Dip fresh slices of beef and pork, veggies, and udon into the soup and fill one’s tummy within a 100-minute buffet time frame, which is ideal for a relaxed lunch with pleasant conversation in between.
Mitasu is another well-known Japanese buffet in KL, with an ala-carte Japanese buffet that is reasonably priced. The buffet comes with the added advantage of table service. A patron can order food from the menu of the restaurant and have it delivered to their tables rather than strolling around with a plate-like one would at a typical buffet
Customers come here for the all-you-can-eat fresh fish and varied sashimi but don’t forget to get some oysters, tiger prawns, and grilled octopus to satiate their seafood desires.
While some of the aforementioned places may offer Japanese food delivery in KL, there is no guarantee. What is guaranteed, however, is a good time and a soul-satisfying meal!