If you're up for a sushi experience where the food does the talking, sit back and submit to the will of these sushi chefs for the best omakase and sushi meals in the city.
RECOMMENDED: Best Japanese restaurants in KL
Chef Ori upholds a standard of unyielding perfection – he rocks the compulsories (nigiri and sashimi) but aces seasonal ingredients, from Seiko snow crabs and shirako (cod sperm sacs) to the freshest Hiroshima oysters. The Japanese maestro knows his onions (and wasabi too), which probably explains the lunch and dinner menus available in preordained multi-course sets – you only have to sit back and submit to the will of the chef. The most affordable set lunch, seto (RM88), for example, is a carnival of colours, showcasing an appetiser, eight pieces of sushi, one sushi roll, steamed egg custard, miso soup and dessert. Oribe is making triple axels in a Japanese-saturated dining scene: technically sound, classy, with a polished culinary sensibility.
Deceiving as the restaurant’s monotone façade may be, what lies inside compensates in brilliance. While the founding chef Hideaki Oritsuki has left Sushi Hinata to open Oribe, fear not, for Sushi Hinata remains in the upper echelons of Japanese dining in the city. Now helmed by Chef Yoshiki Yamada (hailed as the best sushi chef amongst all three Sushi Hinata outlets in Nagoya, Bangkok and KL), Sushi Hinata maintains the highest standards for Japanese fare, using freshly ground mazuma wasabi from Shizuoka, home-pickled ginger with red vinegar, and fish flown in thrice a week from Tsukiji fish market and Fukuoka market.
Hidden in the wilds of Hartamas is one of the most underrated omakase restaurants in town. With less swank and more focus on the food, the somewhat gritty Kame is a restaurant headed by Chef Masahiro. It’s tiny – we counted fewer than 14 seats at the counter, and a handful of private rooms – but the food is undeniably good. Make a reservation, grab a seat at the counter, and let the food do the talking.
A Michelin-starred sushi restaurant from New York, Sushi Azabu imports their seafood from Japan two to three times a week, and they specialise in tuna, sea eel and gizzard shad (a type of herring). You’ll be spoilt for choice here with a varied selection of fish that includes amberjack, big-eye snapper, horse mackerel, eels and more.
Seats at the three-Michelin-star Sushi Saito in Tokyo are hard to come by, which is all the more reason one should make a pilgrimage to Taka by Sushi Saito, Chef Takashi Saito’s maiden venture out of Tokyo. Here you'll find nothing less than first-rate seafood flown in from Japan thrice a week and a collection of the finest sake. Definitely one for the bucket list.
Business deals have been sealed and marriage proposals made at Kampachi’s stunning flagship outlet at The Troika. The space is a knockout with hundreds of sparkly bulbs suspended from the double-heighted ceiling and heads of sexy, pink fish at the display counters. The grandiose setting is not the only reason Kampachi took home three Best Japanese awards at past TOKL Food Awards, the sashimi-topped sushi is dependably well-executed as is the crowd-pleasing shake aburi maki (salmon roll topped with grilled eel). All seafood is air-flown from a designated vendor at Tokyo’s Tsukiji fish market who sells exclusively to Kampachi.
Fukuya is that ‘KL away from KL’ type restaurant with a green tranquil setting you imagine in a Yukio Mishima novel. Chef Takao Ando loosely adheres to tradition with exciting and prettily presented sushi like the chili padi maki and various foie gras-topped things. Should you stick to the kaiseki (a multi-course meal), starkly fresh fish is draped over tiny mounds of rice for the perfect fish-to-rice proportions; the yellowtail in particular is seared into our minds.
It’s easy to get overlooked when Yeast, Devi’s Corner and a slew of trendy coffeeshops surround you. Matsuya, however, doesn’t attempt to be conspicuous and instead chooses a dim, moody interior adorned with textural art pieces. Don’t skip the grilled gindara (cod) in ohba leaf (Japanese basil), but where sushi is concerned, the salmon ikura cheese maki is a comforting roll of salmon, cream cheese chunks, juicy roe and teriyaki sauce. Sweet, creamy and unapologetically delicious.
Decked out more sleekly than many of its Japanese counterparts in KL, Kinme is that modern sashimi bar we’ve longed for. Chef Voon, formerly of Hilton KL’s Iketeru, picks the day’s freshest catch depending on season and market availability. The nigiri plate is an assortment of tuna, yellowtail and mackerel among other premium catches assembled in a line with housemade pickled ginger. The portion of sushi’s topping far exceeds the rice that holds it, a case for good value and wise sushi-making.
Sushi rules at this tiny bar in 1 Utama’s Eat Paradise. Unassuming they may seem, the sushi specialists behind the bar pull off wicked gunkan maki that overspills with creamy uni or slimy natto beans. If you’re in the area at lunchtime, order the lunch set that comes with your choice of futomaki or nigiri and sides of chawanmushi, miso soup, tempura and salad – all around RM20. Cute novelty factor: Punch in your orders on iPads and track your spending as the meal ensues.