There is no denying that Penang is Malaysia’s (unofficial) food capital — well, most Malaysians will agree with me. And rightfully so, with hawker delights that not many other Malaysian states can compare to, like the char kway teow and curry mee, these are just the two of many, many delicious eats you can sample in Penang.
But the next time you’re in this cultural hub, why not try Japanese cuisine? To save you the hassle, we’ve found nine of the best ones worth checking out and spending money at. Whether a small family-owned eatery or an omakase restaurant, this list has it all.
1. Kazumasa Sushi Omakase
Known to be the first Japanese restaurant to serve traditional omakase in Penang, Kazumasa Sushi Omakase aims to bring its diners on a gastronomical journey with each dish served. If leaving the fate of your meal up to the chef isn’t for you, fret not. This restaurant also serves lunch sets and a wide variety of Japanese a la carte dishes for you to choose from.
Address: 50C, 1, Jalan Fettes, Tanjong Takong, 11200 Tanjung Bungah, Penang
Contact: +6018 297 1886
Operating hours: Tuesday to Sunday, 12pm to 2:30pm & 6pm to 10pm; Closed on Monday
2. Matsuki Japanese Restaurant
Excellent food doesn’t have to be expensive, and Matsuki Japanese Restaurant succeeds in this area the most. It appears to be a generic restaurant from the outside, but if taste is more important to you than appearance, you’re in for a treat.
Choose from one of their wholesome bento options, such as Miso Katsu Bento or Special Lunch Bento. Alternatively, go with one of the restaurant’s Kaiseki specialities, such as Special Tempura Kaiseki and Special Sushi Kaiseki, which all come with various side dishes.
Address: 62, Jalan Pemenang, 10250 George Town, Penang
Contact: +604 229 5504
Operating hours: Thursday to Tuesday, 11:30am to 2:30pm & 6pm to 9pm; Wednesday, 11:30am to 2:30pm
3. Hachiban Izakaya
Hachiban Izakaya, as its name suggests, provides customers with a casual izakaya atmosphere where they can drink and, of course, enjoy some grilled meat on skewers or kushiyaki. Speaking of the latter, they offer many options, like Gyu Enoki Maki (golden mushroom wrapped with sliced beef) and Nankotsu Iri Tori Tsukune (homemade chicken meatballs with soft bones).
On the other hand, those who enjoy seafood and pork might enjoy Buta Bara (pork belly), Hotate (scallop), and Surume Ika (squid). Their crunchy vegetable kushiyaki, such as Asupara (asparagus) and Negi (leek), are not to be underestimated.
Address: Level 1, 32, Jalan Kelawai, 10250 George Town, Penang
Operating hours: Monday to Thursday, 11:30am to 2:15pm & 6pm to 9:45pm; Friday to Sunday, 11:30am to 10pm
4. Sushi Kappo Miyasaka
This underrated restaurant is perfect for those looking to experience authentic fare in a Japanese setting. Sushi Kappo Miyasaka is managed by a Japanese chef, Chef Miyasaka, who is equipped with decades of experience. As such, there is a good selection of set meals and bento sets, and the food is excellent.
In addition, you’ll discover a wonderful selection of light dishes to pair with Japanese wine. Warm sake, which is hard to find on the island, is another popular beverage here. Some say this place has the best Japanese food in Penang.
Address: 397, Jalan Burma, Pulau Tikus, 10350 George Town, Penang
Contact: +604 226 6251
Operating hours: Tuesday to Thursday, 12pm to 2pm & 6pm to 10pm; Closed on Sunday & Monday
Dozo from London promised to deliver the tastiest Japanese food in town when it first opened its doors in 2020, and it has consistently been doing so. A variety of Japanese dishes are available on the menu, with prices that are slightly higher, but still reasonable given the serving size and standard of the meal.
Address: No. 1-1-26, 27 & 28 (Ground Floor), SummerSkye Square, Jalan Sungai Tiram 8, 11900 Bayan Lepas, Penang
Contact: +604 608 6296
Operating hours: Monday to Thursday, 11:30am to 2:30pm, 5:30pm to 9:30pm; Friday to Sunday, 11:30am to 9:30pm
6. Kirishima Japanese Restaurant
Since opening in 1998, Kirishima Japanese Restaurant in Cititel Hotel Penang is touted to be the best Japanese restaurant on the island. From a la carte to set food menu, you will have the opportunity to experience a real taste of authentic Japanese dishes.
Additionally, the sake and other Japanese alcoholic beverages selection at this restaurant is outstanding, and serve as the perfect complement to their incredible array of sashimi and sushi.
Address: Cititel Penang, 66, Jalan Penang, 10000 George Town, Penang
Contact: +604 370 0108
Operating hours: Daily, 12pm to 2pm & 6pm to 10pm
7. Aji Noren
Aji Noren, which has been around for about 20 years, offers a wide variety of options for dining. The restaurant’s décor, with its wooden constructions and bamboo-lined walls, is influenced by traditional Japanese houses rather than replicating Japanese design.
The menu includes everything from standard bento boxes to sushi and sashimi. You can pass the time while waiting for your dinner by reading the Japanese comics available on a shelf at the corner.
Address: 98-G-35, Prima Tanjung, Jalan Fettes, Kampung Belachan, 11200 Tanjung Tokong, Penang
Contact: +604 899 4720
Operating hours: Tuesday to Sunday, 12pm to 2pm & 6pm to 10pm; Closed on Monday
8. Aburi Sushi
Aburi Sushi is a brand-new restaurant from Edo Ichi, the same organisation that owns Edo Ichi, Sushi Zento, Azuma, and Ichiban Izakaya. Aburi translates to ‘partially grilled beef’ in Japanese, and is thus a major focus at Aburi Sushi.
The menu includes typical Japanese delicacies and a wide selection of sushi items, as expected. A great spot for those seeking variety, the prices of the dishes are reasonable, with good serving portions.
Address: 170-B-37/K21/K22, Plaza Gurney, Persiaran Gurney, 10250 George Town, Penang
Contact: +6010 378 8222
Operating hours: Monday to Thursday, 11:30am to 9:30pm; Friday to Sunday, 11am to 9:45pm
9. Moshi Moshi Modern Japanese Restaurant
Moshi Moshi takes pride in serving authentic Japanese dishes that are skilfully prepared by Chef Kato San, who hails from Yamagata, Japan. Additionally, the wide variety of ramen, donburi, and side dishes are also made with ingredients and recipes from the chef’s hometown. So, if you’re craving a bowl of mouthwatering ramen that will warm your soul or a hearty donburi set, this spot is for you.
Address: B-G-10, Vantage Desiran Tanjung, Jalan Seri Tanjung Pinang 1, 10470 Tanjung Tokong, Penang
Contact: +6011 6282 5668
Operating hours: Wednesday to Monday, 11:30am to 2:30pm & 5pm to 9pm; Closed on Tuesday
10. SUPE Vegan
In search of vegan Japanese cuisine? Add SUPE Vegan to your list since it serves tasty and aesthetically pleasing healthy options. The menu includes dishes like hearty ramen and packed vegan sushi. They are served directly to the table from takeaway boxes.
At SUPE Vegan, they take pride in using the best ingredients, and none of the dishes have processed or imitation meats. Additionally, meals served here don’t contain any egg, onion, or garlic.
Address: 12, Gat Lebuh Acheh, 10300 George Town, Penang
Operating hours: Daily, 11am to 3:30pm & 4:30pm to 9pm