Last updated April 2014
Here is my top list (not in ranked order), with validated choices from Japanese experts, as well as my own additional picks.
1. Kamo – The only Michelin-starred Japanese restaurant in town, and surely the only Michelin-starred establishment to offer an extremely affordable EUR 15 lunch deal and lunch combos for around EUR 20 (as of April 2014). There are also two menus for EUR 45 and EUR 60. Service is great and very friendly. The place itself is your typical, small and cozy Japanese restaurant, with a sushi bar and about a dozen tables. There are some original sashimi dishes you won’t see elsewhere in Brussels (e.g., half to be eaten as sashimi with a sauce and rice, the other half to be mixed with the rice in a broth) and delicious cooked dishes (fish as well as meat). (For sushi, I still prefer Samourai or Nonbe Daigaku.) Very fresh food with amazing taste. Book in advance – this place is always packed! Avenue des Saisons 123, 1050 Ixelles. Tel: +32 2 648 78 48
2. Yamayu Santatsu – top quality Japanese food, a top choice of Japanese businessmen, this restaurant located on the Chaussee d’Ixelles 141, not far from Place Fernand Cocq, offers authentic Japanese food worth the price you pay. However, if you do not speak Japanese, the experience will not be as rich, as the daily specials are written on a board in Japanese only and the menu you get if you speak Japanese is also different. Service is not always as friendly as one would expect from a Japanese restaurant, but that does not scare (most) customers away. They have a good weekday lunch menu (in 2010… need to go back and check again) for around EUR 12, which is a really good deal for what you get (amuse-bouches, soup and main dish to choose from among 5-6 options). Tel: +32 2 513 53 12
3. CLOSED Tagawa – Another favorite, but in more of a business setting (large restaurant, tables at a fair distance from each other so conversations cannot be overheard). Great Japanese food on Avenue Louise 279 (Tram stop: Vleurgat), with an extensive menu. People tell me the quality has gone down, so I would go for Santatsu or Samourai. Tel: +32 2 640 50 95
4. Samourai – [Went last in 2008, so another visit is due…] Small Japanese restaurant hidden in a shopping/office court next to La Monnaie (Rue du Fosse aux Loups 28). The restaurant opens only for a couple of hours each evening, but serves great (probably Brussels’ best) albeit expensive sushi. Also a favorite among Japanese business people, with a more intimate setting and less busy than the other two restaurants. I would go for this one. However, keep in mind that specials are sometimes only on the Japanese menu, so if you can, get a Japanese-speaker to go with you. I have been told that some of the fish is flown in from Japan, but again, this is not advertised on the regular menu… Tel: +32 2 217 56 39,
5. Chez Oki – The city’s French-Japanese fusion restaurant with original dishes, such as the signature foie gras sushi. The friendly chef is Japanese but trained in France and he successfully combines the two cuisines to offer you a savory dining experience. Can get a bit pricey as well (around EUR 50 + per person, with wine), but both the service and the food are great and the menu changes regularly (you can be added to the sms alert list). Located on rue Lesbroussart 62, between Place Flagey and Avenue Louise. Closed on Sundays, and Sat+Mon for lunch. If you want more information, read this more detailed review. Since I first went, the quality has declined, but it is still on this list because of its foie gras sushi. If anything, just go there for a drink and a foie gras sushi appetizer…
6. Izaka-ya – One of my top choices because of value and service. Located on Chaussee de Vleurgat 123, just off Avenue Louise, this small, casual establishment represents the typical Japanese venue where people go for drinks and a snack after work. It’s relaxed and fun, great to go with friends. They also have regular (large) dishes on their menu but the best option is to pick a lot of the smaller dishes and have a tapas-style dinner. Very popular on weekends so make sure you book a table. The lunch menu, which is completely different, is a great deal (between EUR 10 and EUR 15 for a main dish with two small side dishes and tea) and is also served on Saturdays. For a full izaka-ya experience, I would recommend going in the evening. Tel: +32 2 648 38 05. Another blogger’s review with nice photos here.
7. Nonbe Daigaku – The former chef of Tagawa decided to open his own restaurant on Avenue Adolphe Buyl 31 (Ixelles, just off Boulevard General Jacques), where he offers a great selection of Japanese dishes (sushi and other) that you are unlikely to see in other Japanese restaurants in Brussels. Tel: +32 2 649 21 49
Know of any other restaurants? Please share your recommendations!