This isn’t your typical Japanese restaurant serving up chicken teriyaki and california rolls. It’s one of the few street-food style Japanese restaurants run by a Japanese chef in KL that aims to show us what else the Japanese kitchen can offer. And it impresses!
First, the downsides, because there are so few.
There are only about 5 proper tables and chairs, which were already taken up when we arrived, so we were ushered to an empty high table and stools. I don’t like having meals on high tables and stools because I don’t feel very comfortable. Personal preference, perhaps.
There is very little air-conditioning, probably because the authentic street-style restaurant relies on the more moderate temperatures of Japan. But it was a cool evening, and to be honest, I don’t really see this as a downside if it’s part of the ambience. Just thought I’d mention it in case you really dislike the heat.
Everything else was good.
The service is great! The staff we spoke to – even the non-locals, which, as you may have experienced, usually don’t know anything because they have language trouble – could answer all our questions. Because we hadn’t been to this sort of grill restaurant before, we had to ask which dishes were for sharing, and how many portions of each dish would be advisable. The waitress was very helpful without sounding sales-y.
The prices are reasonable, considering that this is a good Japanese chef who’s making specifically authentic dishes for you. I wanted to try the half-cooked chicken – which I’ve eaten before at another restaurant – but as I’m breastfeeding, I didn’t dare take the chance. But based on the wonderfully tender and juicy (almost tasting half-cooked) skewered chicken with leek (pictured top right), I bet that dish would be mind-blowing. After having this sort of yakitori, I’m never ordering fully-cooked, dry yakitori at a “typical” Japanese restaurant again.
We also had the beef stew, the yam with land caviar, and mentaiko okonomiyaki (pancake, pictured bottom right). We loved everything, except the pancake, which wasn’t really to our taste. Texture was good though.
The drinks are very well-priced, with refillable green tea going for RM2, and a soft drink at RM4.
Overall, a great experience, the highlights being the juicy chicken and the fantastic service.
Grill & Bar Koike Shoten is located at 8 Jalan Telawi, Bangsar Baru, 59100 Kuala Lumpur.