Fans of Japanese cuisine, who often have had sushi, ramen or other typical dishes for meal at their hometowns, are in majority surprised when they come over to Japan and have a taste of 'real' cuisine. Moreover, discoveries like "you don't have to put sushi in soy sauce every time", "some types of sushi are eaten with hands" and "ramen isn't the only soup in the whole cuisine" occur so often it's almost a usual thing to re-educate yourself on the topic. To know more and taste the real deal in Kyiv, Destinations gathered a guide on the best Japanese restaurants.
Japanese cuisine in its essence is incredibly diverse and extensive. Mostly, we only know about sushi, which made a loud entrance in the post-Soviet countries during 2000's, ramen, which is more of a latest trend and can be often seen on movies or anime, and sake — traditional Japanese alcoholic beverage. Naturally, there's more to it that meets the eye.
Luckily, restaurants of Pan-Asian cuisine nowadays try to extend their menu and surprise guests with new names and recipes. It is necessary to remember, however, that 'mass-market' restaurants like sushi-bars need to be checked via reviews and rating before visiting, as they may order products that aren't nearly fresh enough to be served.
That's why we gathered a list of the best Japanese restaurants in Kyiv for your pleasure and gastronomic discoveries:
For 30 years, main chef Fujiwara Yoshihiro has been spreading Japanese culinary traditions all over the world — his restaurants are present in the USA, Mexico, Europe, and, naturally, Japan. Opening a restaurant in Ukraine has an amusing story behind it — chef firstly thought the invitation he received invited him to Nice. However, in the end it appeared to be capital of Ukraine. Besides, Fujiwara opened another restaurant in Cherkasy, which became his hometown in Ukraine.
All restaurants follow the same principle — fresh-only products, perfect quality. Freshness here is indeed taken on another level — for instance, so called 'live food bar', which is a large aquarium filled with crabs, lobsters, crayfish and oysters for guests to choose for their dish. Like in any traditional Japanese restaurant, the team cooks according to main chef's technologies and extensive knowledge, passed from one generation to another. That's why high quality here is doubtless as well.
In the menu one can find well-known sections like sushi, sashimi and rolls, salads and hot dishes. Discoveries follow: soups include not only a classical miso, but several types of udon, there's a separate section for tempura (battered and deep fried shrimps and vegetables) and pan-fried Japanese dumplings gyoza, as well as Tsukemono – Japenese pickles like plum, daikon radish and cucumbers. Fujiwara Yoshi is rightfully one of the best restaurants of Japanese cuisine not only in Kyiv, but in Ukraine.
Address: 15A, Solomianska street; 11, Dragomyrova street (to be opened in March)
Located in downtown, this restaurant offers visitors to enjoy traditions of Japan, unique serving and cooking, and original menu developed with the help of Fujiwara Yoshi. To make a small note, Ikigai in Japanese means a reason of being, which upon finding brings incredible sense of deep-settled satisfaction. This Kyiv restaurant may help to find it in the culinary world. The menu offers a unique ceremony of kaiseki — set of dishes, cooked in different way from raw to teppan-fried, served at intervals of 10 minutes. To give an idea, some dishes include thin buckwheat noodles Soba with tiger shrimps and squid cooked on teppan — traditional iron griddle, light Dobinmushi broth with boiled mussels, sweet shrimp and King Oyster Mushroom, and Agemono — bluefin tuna in tempura.
Read: Wokupp Bar at Lukianivka in Kyiv
Besides, large aquariums with fish, lobster and crabs are available for guests who want to choose one for their meal. Ikigai also offers seats at the sushi-bar, where visitors have a change to witness how one of the best sushi in Kyiv are prepared right in front of them.
Address: 29, Pushkinska street
This restaurant can be easily recognized by the large statue of Japanese warrior's head standing right in front of the building. Ronin, meaning a drifter, is a samurai without a master in feudal Japan. While traditionally it was considered a shame, nowadays for some it embodies the spirit of freedom. The case with Ronin restaurant is the freedom of experiment and light atmosphere that is always present there. Cuisine in Ronin is based on a popular Japanese gastronomic trend called Nikkei — a tradition of Japanese immigrants in Peru, who upon moving cooked Japanese food with available Peruvian ingredients, unknowingly setting a trend for many years ahead.
To name but a few examples from the menu, Ronin offers anticucho — seafood fried on Tepan grill with various sauces, Temaki — Peruvian tacos with rice, fish, avocado, tobiko and guacamole, soup with lobster and Japanese mushrooms shiitake, as well as Nikkei sushi – for instance, with sea bass, jalapeño and lime. Freshness is one of the attributes carefully preserved here — there are six aquariums with oysters and lobsters, so that guests know exactly where the food comes from. Ronin is a perfect restaurant for those who are already bored with well-known traditional dishes and want to discover something new in Japanese cuisine in Kyiv.
Address: 10, Zoolohichna street
Coming to Ukraine all the way from Japan, Menya Musashi has a rich history and whole bunch of traditions that are feverishly followed in Kyiv. Named after a legendary samurai Miyamoto Musashi, this restaurant was a true pioneer of new ramen in Tokyo – and soon spread worldwide. Chefs in Kyiv restaurants followed the principles of Japanese colleagues, making Menya Musashi the best place for Japanese ramen in Kyiv. For the first-timers, ramen is a soup which consists of broth, noodles and various fillings.
Read: Best Bargain Seafood Restaurants in Kyiv
In Menya Musashi, menu offers visitors a 'constructor kit' of ramen, where they are able to choose the broth and fillings. Thus, there are Classic Ramen with pork broth, dried fish and soy sauce, Red Ramen which is a mix of broths from pork and vegetables and a hot sauce, Black Ramen pork broth, dried fish, cuttlefish ink and sesame oil, and White Ramen — a mix of vegetable broth, coconut milk and red curry paste. As for the fillings, Menya Musashi offers Char Siu pork, seafood, pork rib, chicken of Aburi duck. The portions here vary from small to big, but for starters and new-comers there are tips to try the small one first, as the dish is quite nourishing. Apart from ramen, guests can try sushi, Tsukemen noodles, gyoza dumplings and desserts like tempura banana with caramel sauce.
Address: 19, Kostiantynivska street; 1B, Obolonskyi avenue (Dream Town shopping center); 3, Liuteranska street; 77, Olesia Honchara street
Noodle vs Marketing
One more place to try noodles in Kyiv, Noodle vs Marketing ditches any loud names, bright advertising and kitchy signs — here, quality of the product is valued way more than its advertisement. Lovers of ramen will find a classic option based on chicken broth, with more than twenty ingredients, like shiitake mushrooms, seaweed, sesame seeds and others. The whole process can be witnessed at the bar which overlooks open kitchen. Besides, English-speaking panels on the walls give recommendations on how to eat ramen better (in short: thoughtfully and thoroughly). Portions come in two sizes: Baby and Standard. It is worth noting that, spicy option is truly hot here, so better be careful. Apart from ramen, one can find rice, supplements and beverages in the restaurant's menu. Noodle vs Marketing is by far one of the unpretentious Japanese restaurants in Kyiv that nevertheless give delicious results.
Address: 8/9, Khrestovyi lane
ITIS Flower Café
This mono-concept café offers to taste an intriguing Japanese dessert – mochi. Essentinally, mochi is a rice cake, where rice is pounded into paste and then given a desired shape. The dessert is popular in Japan all-year round, but special attention is paid to it on the New Year — eating mochi is considered to bring luck in the coming year. The special attribute of ITIS café is a unique preserving and delivery method, specially developed for the café's needs – as the dish doesn't contain preservatives or GMO, making it impossible to store without deep freeze for more than 24 hours. Apart from the mochi dessert, ITIS offers a large tea collection, which includes a whole section of Japanese green matcha tea, made of powdered green tea leaves. Thus, visitors have a chance to try a classical matcha, and its modern variations popular in contemporary Japan as quick and refreshing beverages — matcha cappuccino and matcha latte.
Address: 6, Vadyma Hetmana street (Kosmopolit shopping center); 2, Henerala Vatutina avenue (Sky Mall shopping center)
Read: Boho: New Pan-Asian Cuisine Restaurant in Kyiv
Curiosity and desire for exploration are one of the best human traits, which come in handy while trying foreign cuisine. Kyiv with various Japanese restaurants, considered the best in the whole country, makes it easier to find something new and intriguing. Itadakimasu!
Photo source: Facebook pages of businesses mentioned above, shutterstock.com. All images belong to their rightful authors.